Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ancient city, youthful charm

Whereas the two items on my wish list were Petra and canyoning, my mother wanted to do nothing more in Jordan than go to Jerash, the largest Roman city outside of Italy.  Her excitement peaked when she discovered daily chariot races are held in the ancient hippodrome.  Her discovery occurred at a moment we thought canyoning might not be a possibility.  I was discouraged, and in her pitiful efforts to cheer me up she chimed "but Claire, the chariot racing will be so much cooler than canyoning!"  "No, mother, no it will not," came my response.  "Well, at least it will be just as cool," she argued.

Just for the record, I would have won had we made a bet.  While my eyes rolled during a very long 45 minute show comprising of mock fights and 3 second chariot racing, my mom laughed out of embarrassment for ever thinking the show would be worth seeing.
One of many "thrilling moments" in the chariot race show
The city ruins on the other hand were interesting to see.  We arrived at the same time as a few busloads of school aged boys. They ran around the ancient city, playing football (soccer) in the city square, climbing on buildings and taking constant pictures.
My mom and I found a quieter area and took a picture or two ourselves when one boy came up to us and asked "take your picture?"  Assuming he was asking if we wanted him to take our picture for us, I politely declined.  A few minutes later my mother determined it was imperative to have a guide, so she went off in search of one while I sat on an archway overlooking the entrance to the ancient city.

 "Take your picture?," another boy came up to me and asked.  "No thank you," I responded.  Soon after, I noticed one boy after another strategically place himself in front of me, while trying to act inconspicuous, to have his picture taken.  It then dawned on me what they were actually asking.  "Hey," I called to one of the boys standing a few feet in front of me, "do you want a picture with me in it?"  His eyes lit up and he nodded his head.  "Sure," I smiled, "I'll take a picture with you."

Hoards of pre-pubescent boys rushed to my side and passed cameras back and forth, snapping photo after photo.  The session was cut short with the return of my mother with our guide. In their gratitude, I was presented with a poppy to adorn my hair.

Those boys were never too far away, though, as we toured the cobblestone roads.  For when the poppy began to wither in the heat, I was immediately presented with another, and another, and another.

If only experiences like that would happen to me in the rest of the world... but by men who were in their 30's as opposed to boys who were 13.

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