Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | November 21, 2010

The Journey Across the Jordan: Natalie and Ron in a Neighboring Land

Two of FoEME’s youth Water Trustees from Israel share their experience about visiting Jordan, where they were invited to present at the 7th annual Good Water Neighbors conference. The Water Trustees take part in FoEME’s community-GIS project, a joint Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian educational initiative.

This was our first time in Jordan.  As was to be expected, we saw things that were completely foreign to us and were exposed to a very different mentality.  We left Beit She’an in the morning and headed to the border, which we thought would be a fence with a booth in the middle where we would show our passports and our bags and would continue on our way.  We had no idea that crossing the border would take so long.  When we got to the border, we exchanged our Israeli Shekels for Jordanian Dinars and found out are more expensive than the Euro!  We then waited in the Duty-Free for an hour for a bus to take us across the Sheikh Hussein Bridge to Jordan. Then across the border, we underwent a passport, bag, and visa check again.

Immediately, we could feel the difference between Jordan and Israel.  Everywhere we looked we saw pictures of the Jordanian Royal Dynasty, the current Jordanian King and his family, Jordanian flags, Jordanian soldiers in uniform, and Muslim women wearing veils and long clothes.

"Jordan River", "Dead Sea", Jordan, Israel, conference

Natalie and Ron presenting at the conference in Jordan

On the bus ride towards Jesus’ baptism site in the Jordan River, we saw Jerusalem and the Beit She’an region from the Jordanian perspective. We went though many small villages, open areas, and agricultural fields, which all reminded us of the Arab villages in Israel.  While on the bus, we were served water and sandwiches.  The water was served in cups – not bottles – and we were taught about the immense water shortages in Jordan.  On the rooftops of the houses, we saw large iron containers that collect water since there currently there is no running water in the taps, and store-bought water is very, very expensive.  When we got to Amman, the capital, in the early evening, we immediately noticed the differences between the city and the small villages we passed on the way.  Amman is much more modern than the villages we saw on the way: it has tall buildings, new cars, hotels, and shops.

We felt like ambassadors or other important government officials, because were accompanied by security guards. Whenever the group stopped for coffee, waiters would come immediately with pitchers of water already in their hands.  Everywhere we looked, we saw hookahs, even in the cafes and the restaurants where we are not used to seeing them.

The next morning we got ready for our presentations to the ambassadors.  We met with Jordanian youth, Palestinian youth from Jericho, and youth we had met last year from the King’s Academy in Jordan.  We spent the rest of the day in the hotel participating in lectures on the Jordan River.

"Jordan River", "Dead Sea", Jordan, Israel, conference

The group of Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian Water Trustees attending the conference in Jordan

Related blog posts:
FoEME hosts conference in Jordan: One Basin, Conflicting Visions
FoEME films Water Trustees in the Jordan Valley

Share

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Thank you for your observations on Jordan, I hope you enjoyed your trip.

    I just wanted to clarify a couple of points:

    Jordan is the poorest country in the world in terms of drinking water per capita. The dryness of Jordan is compounded by Israel’s diversion of a significant amount of water from the Jordan River, and by the pumping of aquifers by illegal settlements in the West Bank.

    The large iron containers are water tanks which receive water from the municipality via pipes once a week. All houses and apartment blocks have them, and a tank of water is normally sufficient for most families for a week. Most if not all houses have running water in taps.

    You are lucky that you’re not West Bank Palestinians who have to cross the Israeli border, because if you were you would be held at the border for hours while young Israeli soldiers humiliated you.

    I hope you will get a chance to visit Jordan again soon to understand more of the Arab way of life.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: