This I believe…Change Comes in Only One Flavor: A swirl of Good and Bad
Back to my father’s homeland, where the grass is greener, the sky is bluer, the air is cleaner, the food is fresher, and the people are nicer…or so I hoped.
Throughout my life, I don’t think I went one dinner without hearing: “This would have never happened back home, only in America.” My father grew up in Palestine and Jordan where he recalls having the time of his life free from the stress, the weirdoes, the bratty children, and the drunkards he encountered as a liquor store cashier in Southern California. For me, this meant picturing a place where beauty sprung from the dirt on the floor and rose to the heights of the small buildings that was the little town of his youth. I envisioned a place where everyone would recognize you or even be related to you. I hoped for a place that was free from the detriments of Western influence.
It was the summer before my sophomore year of high school when it arrived: my journey to the holy land, the land of my forefathers, and the land so great that they said I would only believe it once I saw it. After a bumpy seventeen hours of flying, we got off the plane and, to my father’s dismay, realized we had arrived at the wrong destination: present-day Jordan. As we called for a taxi to drive us to our hotel, my father tried to lighten the mood by striking a conversation with the driver who ended up not being the most polite person. The driver made the wrong assumption that we were Americans who could not understand Arabic and began cursing us for being the type of people who brought this to his country. “Brought what?” I thought. Well I found out what it was when we drove up to Amman.
I rubbed my eyes not in fascination of the beautiful sights and smells, but in disbelief that I had actually gone anywhere in that seventeen hour flight. The city was indistinguishable from any other bustling city back home in the States. As we walked into the hotel we were scanned for bombs. And now not only did I feel like I had stayed in the U.S., but I felt like they raised the level on the Homeland Security Advisory System. As we spent our first night in Jordan looking out from the hotel to the streets filled with traffic and smog and feeling sick to our stomachs from the food, I hoped tomorrow would bring a brighter day.
My dad and I walked to the park where he used to play. However, sadly no park remained, only a nightclub. Still hopeful to prove the greatness of his homeland, my dad decided to cut the trip short in Jordan, (mostly because the church he attended there now was an empty lot with a Pepsi-cola billboard), and move on to Palestine. We tried to go to Israel, but at the time they were at war with Lebanon, so we had to wait another week in Jordan before going.
However, to both my father’s and my surprise we were able to locate distant relatives in one of the biggest games of luck ever. You might call my dad strange, but whenever he grew bored when we were taking a taxi he would ask the driver, “Min daar meen inte” which is Arabic for “whose house are you from?” (a friendly way of asking for someone’s surname) and most drivers would choose not even to reply, but this one was different. Our driver answered that he was from the same family as my dad; in fact they were third cousins.
After such luck at finding people who would be welcoming, our trip in Jordan changed dramatically for the better. Our relatives there, whom I didn’t even know let alone still lived in Jordan, explained how the recent investments in Jordan have really changed the way of life there. Although my dad hated knowing that the place where he grew up no longer existed, our relatives said the changes have brought both good and bad to the country and soon after I realized that although I anxiously wanted to visit Jordan, I never really could have imagined living there with none of these modern day advancements.
As I enjoyed my stay in Jordan visiting awe-inspiring sights like Petra and the Dead Sea, I realized the disadvantages, the advantages, and the inevitability of modernization. I was lucky enough to end my trip in Jordan doing what I always intended: learning.