Today we left Amman fortified with Turkish coffee and manakish - flatbread with thyme and sesame seeds or with cheese, and toasted in a pizza-style oven in front of you, and started off on the drive south to Ma’an, a historic town central to Jordan’s history. It has always been on the pilgrimage route and even today, the city lies on the Desert Highway, Jordan’s north-south highway that cuts through the badia (stony desert steppe) like a die.
After driving round a bit we came to old Ma’an in the form of half stone-built, half mud-brick ruins, surrounded by date plams and tamarisk. The ruins were hard to date for the layperson but had clearly been re-built at different periods; one round tower, one square tower, different size stone, etc. and the denizens had incorporated the ruins into their housing. There was nary a plaque or a signpost in sight, nothing in the guidebook, and my guide had never been there before.
We set off to find someone who could tell us about falling-down Ma'an, stopping at a 16th century Ottoman-era renovated khan to talk to the local Dept of Antiquities, but they could not tell us anything about 14th century Ma'an. We then got somewhat distracted by the shops which were old-fashioned in a way that reminded me of the Old American West - perhaps not so far off the mark in these rebellious parts....... Moawia bought a sheepskin and was a fraction away from possessing several Bedouin flatweave rugs. For my part I almost came away with a metre long coffee-bean roasting spoon. I came to my senses just in time.