My Home Sweet Home: The Texas of Jordan
I live in what my villagers have dubbed The Texas of Jordan. The Badia region (in the Northeastern armpit of Jordan) is, in terms of scenery, population, and ratio of animals to people, not unlike Texas. The yee-hawing cowboys that my neighbors know only from horrible Western films are synonymous to the Bedouins: they ride horses; we ride camels. They wear cowboy hats; we wear red- and white-checkered scarves over our heads. They have a distinct southern drawl; we have an accent that causes the city folk in Amman to question our literacy rate and educational status.
After hearing that I lived in Texas for five years, my villagers exclaimed that I must feel at home – isn't the scenery in our village just like Cowboy Land? I have to admit that, for the better part of the year, the landscape here is as bland as Houston's flat and undramatic surroundings. My village comes in shades of brown – dark brown dirt, dried tree branches serving as feed for livestock, brown goat and donkey poo pebbles, brown-haired camels, white-haired camels that wear a layer of light-brown dust, light brown donkeys, and brown wooden sticks that the shepherds carry as walking aids and herding tools. The only color variation doesn't even come from the Bedouins; the Byzantines, the first to settle in this area, are still remembered by their ruins that lie at the base of my village, a collection of black stone buildings that are remarkably intact and used as hideouts for rebel teens to light their first cigarettes.
For three weeks each year, however, my village is given a taste, a tease, a glimpse of what it must be like to live in greener pastures. About a month after Prophet Mohammed's birthday (or for American readers, mid-April) comes nearly twenty days of saffron-colored peaches, exotically dark purple eggplants, a rainbow of green, red, and yellow bell peppers, a collage of sun-kissed lemons with zebra-striped green watermelons, plump-as-boobies tomatoes, and bite-sized black and lime-green grapes. For these three weeks, I visually feast on the freshness and vitality of color, greedily soaking it up. The Bedouin farmers generously treat me to daily gifts of just-picked fruits and vegetables that would make a Whole Foods Market jealous. I spend as much time outside as I can without frying my skin, eagerly waking up for my 5:30 am runs and patiently watching the sunset on my neighbor's porch while we play Teach the American Dirty Bedouin Words. This brief but awesome three-week period is worth all those 11 months of brownness. Kinda like how each Ramadan meal at sunset is worth those 16 hours of hunger. I'm gonna miss my Texas of Jordan village when I leave in September.