27 December 2010

al Wehdat - Christmas Day

On Christmas Day we made a trip to one of my favorite places in Amman... al-Wehdat! al-Wehdat is the second largest Palestinian refugee camp in Amman. It was set up in 1955 after the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Over the years it has evolved into a suburb of east Amman. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency operates twenty schools that run on two shifts to accommodate nearly 12,000 students as well as two health centers treating about 1,500 patients each day.

 I love the huge variety of things you can find there. I love the vitality of the area. From every direction come the booming voices of vendors hawking their products; basal!! (onions), sabanekh!! (spinach), jazar!! (carrots), zaytoon!! (olives) and every kind of vegetable or fruit you can imagine. You will find clothes, cosmetics, shoes, toys, bicycles... there's just no end to what can be found. Or so I thought. We went to the stall of a seller known to Mohammad to buy a couple of oil lamps to help us in our somewhat frequent power outages. Candles are a pain in the ass. He was sold out. He gave us the standard "maybe next week" with a generous smile and shrug of the shoulders.

I remember from childhood how my Dad extolled the virtues of the humble chestnut. The family roasted them in the fireplace and the taste was something from just this side of heaven. They were a special treat around Christmas-time. Nat King Cole and many others have sung the song that begins; "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." Chestnut trees were the victims of the "blight" back in the early 1900s and by 1940 they were completely extinct. They apparently are not extinct on this side of the globe, because I saw bin after bin with huge piles of chestnuts for sale.

Each time I have shopped at al-Wehdat the crowds were massive. It's impossible to progress through the labyrinthine maze of stalls without jostling and being jostled by the little kids, old women and people of every size, shape and description. It's exhilarating! With each step your senses are assaulted with a different aroma emanating from the bakeries and quick food shops that abound in the area. If you haven't been to al-Wehdat, or if you haven't been for a long time you are depriving yourself of a wonderful sensory experience!

Almost there! The anticipation grows!

Closer and closer we INCH!

Traffic was lighter than usual, thank God!

This poor cat has seen so many fights, his ears are almost gone!

Need a new rug for the living room or the salon?

You just might be able to find a rug here...

Young girl peruses the veggies

Almost inside, just looking for a place to park

A nice variety of goods

Lots of diapers and soap

DVDs and CDs are available for about 1 dinar or so

Tom (garlic) and jazar (carrots) 

The olive crop was beautiful this year

1 comment:

Chubby said...

Interesting post Jim. my parents keep nagging on me to go there and buy stuff but i keep on refusing. I don't like it there. Glad you enjoyed it.