Global Village is going on right now in Amman. We weren’t exactly sure what it was until we showed up, and even then it wasn’t entirely clear.
At first we saw only rickety roller coasters and deserted cafes, and thought we’d just wasted 2 JD each. But as we went farther in to the complex, we got to the good stuff.
The best way to describe it to an American is that it resembles a county fair. There are minor amusement park rides like a Ferris wheel and a ghetto roller coaster that Jeremy was too afraid to ride. There are also adults dressed up in various gigantic animal costumes selling cotton candy and balloons. A few of them tried to get us to buy a balloon for Miriam by approaching her and handing her one, hoping she’d grab on to it (and then we’d have to buy it, right?). We were so proud of her when she didn’t fall for it. Maybe she was scared of the huge animal holding it out to her – the giant tiger only had one eye (the other one had fallen off).
The best part, though, is the global village itself. Many different countries each have their own pavilion, and have decorated the outer façade as a representation of their country. Inside each pavilion, there are booths selling wares from that country. For example, Yemen had lots and lots of different kinds of honey for sale. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, had nothing else to offer besides diapers and those inconsequential snacks and juices that are so ubiquitous here. And who knew Turkey was so famous for sunglasses?
Palestine’s pavilion was one of my favorites. Besides the usual array of traditional Middle Eastern handicrafts, there was one booth devoted to patriotic trinkets such as flags, keychains, and jewelry. I was excited to buy a Palestinian cell phone charm for only half a dinar. Jeremy got one of those ripoff Livestrong bracelets with the Palestinian flag on it. I passed on the Che Guevara keychains, though.
India, Egypt, and Syria also had an interesting array of things for sale. I was amused with some of the things Syria had on display. In addition to the usual traditional souvenirs, there were also things like underwear and everyday kitchen goods available for purchase. Oh yeah, and Turkey was selling IKEA rugs, outright. There are two IKEA stores in Turkey (Istanbul and Izmir), but that doesn’t make it right.
I’m not sure what the requirements were for a country to participate in Global Village. The countries I remember seeing were an odd mix of Middle Eastern and Asian nations. Jordan (duh), Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Syria, Palestine, and Iran were all there, but Morocco, for example, was not. India, Thailand, China, and Singapore were there, but Japan was not. And so on.
There are great times to be had at Global Village. It’s definitely a family-friendly event – there were TONS of families and kids and babies there, some of the babies being extremely tiny. I promise you’ll have fun, as long as you stay away from that one-eyed tiger.