After a quick visit to downtown Amman this morning and a really hectic taxi ride back to our hostel, it is now really time to leave Jordan and head back to normal life. Looking back on my week in Jordan, I can honestly say that it has been an amazing week and that Jordan really surprised me. Before coming here, I was quite nervous about the termoil in the region and the cultural differences between us tourists and the locals. It was during my first hours in Amman that I already realized how friendly and welcoming the Jordanian people are. Besides some staring men and honking cars in the streets, everybody was very kind, asking us where we are from and why we visit Jordan. I was amazed by the beauty of the country, gazing upon all the impressive sites we have seen. I gazed upon the locals, and the locals gazed upon us.
John Urry (1991) has described the tourist gaze as a way in which tourists are characterized. According to him, tourists have a desire to gaze upon what is different and unusual to escape their daily lives. They travel to local communities to gaze upon the people, their culture, landscapes and historic locations. The things they gaze upon are usually interpreted according to symbolic frameworks and stereotypes. Tourists also try to capture these places through photography. I do recognize myself in this description, having a stereotypical mindset about Jordan before I visited the country and trying to capture all the beautiful sites we saw on camera.
Before I left for Jordan, I was interested in the Western influence in Jordan and whether the conflict in the region has affected the country. I was surprised by the lack of Western influence in places like downtown Amman, still being traditional and untouched by Western culture. I was also relieved that the conflict in the region has not made Jordan a dangerous country, although many people do think this is the case. Tourism has dropped significantly the last few years and this is really sad, because Jordan is a beautiful country that definitely deserves a visit. For me this is not a goodbye, it is a see you later!
Reference: Urry, J. (2002). The Tourist Gaze (2nd edn.). London: Sage. Wood, R. (1998). Tourist ethnicity: A brief itinerary. Ethnic and Racial Studies 21, 218--241.