The Other Side of the Jordan

The Other Side of the Jordan

The Other Side of the Jordan

The Other Side of the Jordan

Excerpt

To the unlettered Arab it appears to be more than passing peculiar to see a foreigner walking carefully up and down and around an antiquity site, photographing, making sketch plans, collecting potsherds, and asking all sorts of questions about sources of water supply, names of the entire locality, whereabouts and directions of all the roads and tracks, and identity of the tribes, without giving him to understand what it is all about. I have on occasion been assiduously collecting sherds on a tell , when suddenly an Arab has appeared so to speak out of the blue, and asked whether or not it is some precious metal I am looking for. and if perchance the frenji , i. e. the foreigner, possesses some magic whereby he can change the dull pottery to glittering gold. Whenever possible, therefore, the polite and sensible thing to do upon entering a certain area is to find out who the paramount chieftain of that particular district is. and where he is camping, and seek him out, and pay one's respects to him. After all, one does not wander about in a strange territory, carefully picking up fragments of pottery from all possible places, without first making oneself known to the inhabitants and allaying the suspicions which naturally arise with regard to strangers in little visited parts of the world.

The hospitality of the Arab is a virtue which reveals him at his best. With much ceremony the visitor is ushered into the guest tent, in which there seems always to be a group of men seated around a ceutral hearth, among whose coals a pot of long-brewed, bitter black coffee flavored with cardamon seeds is simmering. Room is made for the guest, extra blanketa placed on the ground for him to sit on, a camel-saddle shoved next to him to recline on. Salutations are exchanged, one's health and well-being graciously blessed, and soon one is given repeated cups of the exceedingly strong black coffee, of which, to be sure, there are only a few sips in each tiny cup. It is a wonderful stimulant when one is very tired, but I shall never be able to understand how the Arab can drink cup after cup of it all day long at times, smoking innumerable cigarettes of native tobacco in the meantime, and still survive.

Then tea is served, and Arab tea is a concoction all in its own right. A small kettle of water is set on the fire, filled about half full with sugar, and when that has been brought to a boil, a handful of tea leave is thrown in.

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