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.
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.