If you’ve decided to build with Habitat in Jordan you are in for a real treat! The deep dive into the culture is one of the best aspects of this program. Along with keeping busy on the site, each night we shared a meal with a local family, exchanged ideas about culture, customs, music and dance, and, of course, food.
Leading a Global Village team in Jordan is a true pleasure, in no small part because of the local team, chief among them our host coordinator Mohammed. His passion for his job and for Habitat’s mission drives everything he does and working alongside him is a special experience for everyone. The warm welcome extended from everyone else we met from our local CBO leaders to host families, community members and tour guides. You’re sure to feel the love!
I’ll take this opportunity to share my tips for making your time in Jordan a rewarding one, and to pass along what I’ve learned from others in a format that is easy to digest. Here goes!
[PRO TIP: Consider flying Qatar Airways. They have an incredible stopover program. Read my post to take advantage!]
THE GLOBAL VILLAGE BUILD
If you plan to visit major sites in Jordan consider buying the Jordan Pass online prior to your arrival. It includes your visa. Simply print a paper copy of the pass (do this even if it’s on your phone) and when you arrive at the airport get into the line for Jordan Pass. Present with your passport for entry. Simple. Most of our group stayed for a tour after the build, and we used the pass many times, which also saved money.
When you arrive at the airport use the ATM or currency exchange. It’s helpful to have Jordanian Dinar (JD) on hand at all times. [PRO TIP: Use every opportunity to get change when you pay for something. Small bills come in very handy.]
*Check out my post on our post-build R&R for details on extended travel.
Teams arrive and depart from Amman. We stayed at the Seventh Star Hotel Suites. There is a huge Safeway supermarket and a couple shops where you can buy wine (not during the build, but if you arrive early or stay longer) within a short walk.
There’s so much to explore in Amman and I recommend a few things, as your GV Build itinerary will not include anything outside the hotel. Use Uber to get around. Eat falafel as often as possible; it’s the best I’ve ever tasted. I recommend Al-Quds on Rainbow Street, world famous Hashem on King Faisal Street and Abu-Jbara. The food at these places is AH-mazing, served fresh and fast and for just a few JD.
We wandered about for an afternoon, starting on Rainbow Street, where at the end you’ll find the most lovely boutique, Ola’s Garden, on Khirfan Street. Ola is a truly talented designer and her shop is filled with colorful handcrafted baubles and textiles of the highest quality. Our group visited several times!
If you have a walkabout consider using Maps.me, my preferred offline navigation app. Download the map in the app while you are connected to the Internet, and then use offline. We found it to be helpful weaving our way around town.
There are other sites to see in Amman and I talk about them in my post describing our team’s optional R&R. If you only have a day or two, you’ll want to considering seeing the Roman Theater and the Citadel possibly the Blue Mosque and an afternoon or evening at Beit Sitti cooking school.
My team built in Ammar Ben Yasser in the Jordan Valley in Tabaqat Fahl, near Pella in early March. The weather is a bit warmer in the valley at this time of year, but very pleasant for building. We were blessed with dry, sunny days.
Our team of 16, including Mohammed, stayed on the second floor of a rented home near the worksite. The view from this house was nothing short of spectacular. We slept on upholstered, foam core mats, Jordanian style, with two rooms for the ladies, en suite, and one for the men, who had their own bathroom down the hall.
We had a full kitchen, the heart of our home, and a covered balcony with seating for meetings and hanging out. But the roof was a favorite!
We met as a team a few times between cleaning up after work and leaving for dinner at 6pm. The days went by quickly, and downtown wasn’t a focus, although we were usually back no later than 9pm, plenty of time to rest before heading out in the morning at 8am sharp.
On site we were blessed to have a tented area for our bags, eating and gathering. We had all the tools we needed, hardhats and gloves.
Our site supervisor, Ramadan, was amazing! When you reach the point of having inside jokes between people who don’t speak the same language, well, that the magic! Tea breaks were a welcome twice daily treat and lunch was as delectable as dinner.
Most likely you’ll visit the impressive Pella ruins. One of the ancient Roman Decapolis cities, first occupied in the Stone Age. You’ll most likely have the place to yourself!
We also visited a local bakery to watch dedicated bakers making fresh bread, served at every meal. [Worth noting, special diets, including gluten-free, and easily accommodated in Jordan.]
At the end of our build week we were certainly sad to say goodbye to the many people we met, but grateful for social media to keep in touch. I’ll end by saying Jordanian hospitality is the best I’ve experienced on a build, and it holds true for the rest of our travels in this peace-loving nation.
Check out our music video to get a visual gist of all we did and felt.