The Hijaz Railway

Today we rode the Hijaz Railway, an ancient, rickety railroad built by the Ottomans, originally extending from Damascus to Mecca. It’s definitely seen better days–the section we rode today was mainly through trash-strewn deserts and what looked like newly flattened land waiting for construction. It seemed like it was going to be a pretty average trip, the odd dog or herd of sheep breaking up the landscape, until all of a sudden a group of Bedouin “bandits” on horseback overtook the train and demanded “hostages.” A few of the students, me included, got to ride with the Bedouins, a student and tribesman on each horse, to their tent. As an aside, anyone who knows my history with horses (Emma, Molly, Natalie and Will) will understand my initial hesitation, but how many chances do you get to ride a horse in the desert? Luckily this time I didn’t fall. At one point my guide asked me if I wanted to go faster (Bi sor’a?) and I answered him with “La la la la (No no no no)!”

Bedouin horsemen

After we all arrived at the Bedouin tent, they served us cookies and their own freshly made bread, or “sherak.” Our tour guide Ibrahim explained a bit of Bedouin tribal culture, and then we boarded the train again, eventually making it back to our bus.

For lunch we went to Kan Zaman, a castle-turned-restaurant on the outskirts of Amman. It was really beautiful inside and out, and we ate buffet-style–fresh falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush, salads, yogurt, bread. I’m sure it’s going to be really easy to be vegetarian here.

The restaurant

Dessert was Um Ali (Mother of Ali), a bread-pudding style dish with sweetened milk.

Um Ali

We were on our own for dinner tonight, so a group of us went to a place called Lebnani Snack. Not that great vegetarian-wise, but other people had lamb shawerma, chicken sandwiches, and burgers. They had really great fruit “cocktails,” which is just what they call smoothies.

We have a late start tomorrow–a tour of the University of Jordan and more orientation stuff.

–June

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Hijaz Railway

  1. Nabeel Khan

    We rode camels through desert in Egypt, an extremely uncomfortable experience lol.

    Keep bloggin!

  2. Jasper

    yo june, glad to hear you’re doing well. It seems like an amazing experience already.

  3. I’m starting a world-beat band called Lebnani Snack as soon as I can get to some hand drums. Enjoying the posts!

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