Amman sprawls, sun-struck, on seven hills, like a latter-day Rome, only less so. It was, in fact, once Roman, as the ruined theater downtown attests, but today the grown children of sheikhs drive herds of camel-colored Mercedes down the steep wadis. These castoffs of the rich Gulf nations bellow in the narrow streets of the souk, where the voices of gold and silver merchants buzz in their beehive shops. The cries of muezzins from a dozen mosques buzz likewise on the outer hills, blunting their stings against the double- glazing of the wealthy. A water peddler hawks the sweat of his brow in a neighborhood frosted with roses. How wild, how strange it all seems, as exotic as a rose thrown in the face of a thirsty man.
From The Invisible World by John Canaday. Copyright © 2002 by John Canaday. Reproduced with the permission of Louisiana State University Press. All rights reserved.