We made it to Amman Waves after all on Thursday. It was just as much of a cultural experience as any other site we’ve visited in Jordan. Even something as seemingly generic as a water park takes on the characteristics of the country that runs it.
The first thing I noticed upon arriving were the signs everywhere that said “Families Only.” It took me a few moments to figure out what that meant: no random crowds of leering shebaab! Hallelujah.
We paid the admission price – Miriam was free – and entered the grounds. The park itself was indeed filled with “families only.” There were tons of kids running around, sometimes supervised by no more than their 8-year-old sibling. There was a whole area just for kids, which was basically a fun playground partially submerged in a 2-foot-deep pool with lots of fountains in it. An inner-tube river encircled it.
Otherwise, there was just an artificial beach with a wave machine and four water slides. I was amazed at how little kids were going down the water slides. I saw one mom go down the slide and then wait at the bottom while an employee sent down her very young son. He couldn’t have been much older than two years old. I guess Jordanian kids are just gutsier than American kids. They’re gutsier than me, anyway.
Yes, there were veiled women swimming there, in their modified, hijab-friendly swimming suits. But there were also veiled women not swimming, as you see in this picture. In my opinion, the admission price is a bit high to pay if you’re just going to sit on the patio and smoke a nargileh, but who am I to judge? Maybe they got a discount.
Speaking of swimwear, this place had quite the variety. Speedos were specifically forbidden by the park, but for women, I saw everything from bikinis to the afore-mentioned full-body covering. Even some young girls had modified swimsuits, sometimes wearing knee-length shorts underneath their swimsuit.
Except for the veiled women swimming, I could have almost forgotten that I was at a water park in the Middle East except for one thing: the music. In the Arab tradition, they blasted the music over the whole park at an unreasonably high volume. The playlist was dominated by Amr Diab and Nancy. In fact, the playlist was dominated by one particular song from Nancy, which for the first few hours we were there was actually played every other song. I promise I’m not exaggerating (it’s still stuck in my head).
Overall, we had a fantastic time. Miriam, of course, had the time of her life (see how tuckered out she was when we got home?). I had never realized how much fun it can be just to watch someone else having fun, even if that someone is only 10 months old. I used to think paying to go to places like this was only worth it if your kids could remember the experience, but now I think it’s worth it just because I’ll remember them having the experience.