During my final week we visited a beautiful Bedouin family in northern Jordan to eat a traditional Jordanian meal and to experience a traditional cultural setting. On our way to the Bedia we stopped by two caves, one being the supposed resting spot of Christ.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the large Bedouin family with much love and hospitality. We were told from the first few moments we were there, that their home should be considered our home as well. The home we were visiting was a Bedouin sheikh’s home.
We were informed that the sheikh is in communication with the king and was appointed his current position by the local tribe members. The sheikh and his wife have twelve children and over thirty grandchildren. I enjoyed seeing all the children running about the breathtaking home nestled in the countryside.
After we were seated in the dining room, we were brought coffee. Though it is said that each guest should take three small glasses of coffee as a response to the hospitality offered, the hosts kept pouring the coffee for us. I drank a total of six little cups of the coffee. After the coffee and ritual hand washing, the traditional Jordanian dish, mansaf, was brought out in large platters and set before us as we sat upon the floor, barefoot. Mansaf is a delicious rice dish with peanuts and parsley topped with lamb and yogurt sauce. The meal was incredible. It was actually quite fun eating only with my right hand and not using silverware. It felt like a natural way to eat and I enjoyed the communal aspect of all sharing the same serving dish and eating with our hands. It was a beautiful experience.
Following dinner, we headed outside the house to a fire pit area. We were then given mint tea, shisha, a small little dessert and more coffee. Our hosts also played us traditional music and I enjoyed watching the people dance as well. I wish I, along with the other women, could have participated and danced as well, but unfortunately I do not think that would be culturally appropriate. But, I did very much enjoy watching the others dance, especially the sweet children who were dancing all around.
It was honestly a dream, just sitting outside, listening to the music and enjoying traditional mint tea. One of my favorite parts about being outside was when the sheikh told us history of the Bedouin lifestyle and education and, when he told us the story of his arranged marriage to his wife.
It was so interesting listening to the story of the sheikh, who married his wife when he was 19 and she was only 13 years old. I loved hearing about his persistence in asking for her hand in an arranged marriage and seeing the fruits of the marriage in their large, beautiful family.
Something else I really appreciated about the night in the Bedia was that the men who were present also helped serve the food, the tea and set up the meal. When visiting and having dinner with another Arab family, the women did all the serving of the coffee and tea and the men did not help. I did, however appreciate that the men did help serve the food and drinks when visiting the Bedia. I found this particularly interesting.
I loved the trip to the Bedia and it was definitely one of my favorite activities we have done in Jordan. And, to my surprise I loved the mansaf. Our meal there turned out to be one of my favorites, if not my favorite meal I have had since arriving in Jordan. I love the way that the family operates and how all those present were so warm, welcoming and generous. I will take back what I have learned about hospitality, kindness and love and share it with all those I encounter at home. I will also, as the sheikh stated, not forget to tell others about the loving, friendly Jordanian culture, that I have now experienced firsthand.
Stay true, live justly and always travel on.
Peace and love.