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Bedouin Hospitality at a Cafe With a View

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June 1, 2014 / Arab / By
Rachael

"Welcome. Welcome to the cafe with a view."

A shout rang out as I climbed off the bus at Wadi Al Mujeb in Jordan. The cafe owner was right. This was indeed a view, stretching out over the desert, the rock formations adding their own drama. But where was the cafe? I looked to the left and there waving was the friendly Bedouin owner.

"Come. You are welcome. Here in my cafe with a view."

As I walked along the cliff edge towards his tent I noticed a row of faded sofas perched outside, facing towards the abyss and inches from the edge. How had they all got here?

"Sit down. Enjoy the view. What would you like to drink?"

This was a departure from conventional health and safety regulations but I sat in the morning sun and waited for my coffee. Behind me, over a fire, the Bedouin was busy grinding coffee and brewing the distinctive cardamom drink famous in Jordan. Starbucks had nothing on this experience.

I sipped the bitter and strong coffee whilst drinking in the desert scenery below me, sat at the edge of the wadi cliff.It was a very special flavour, a nutty spicy tang mingled with strong coffee and so fresh. I had never tasted anything quite like it.

"You like my view?" came a voice from the tent.

"Oh yes. There's nothing quite like it."

"Look at my loo with view," he laughed.

Sure enough, at the opposite edge of the cliff was a box like structure with three covered sides. The toilet did indeed look out towards the desert, being completely exposed at the front.

"Do you want more coffee?"

I later learned that coffee is taken very seriously in the Bedouin community. Grinding fresh beans and cardamom is expensive and takes time. To accept a cup of coffee is a welcome and the host drinks with the guest, making them feel safe. The second cup is for enjoyment. But the third cup taken with the Bedouin is a sign the host will protect his guest. The Bedouin will protect anyone who has taken the third cup of coffee with them. As I learned, this is the law of the desert. There is a saying in Jordan that there is one coffee for the guest and one for the sword.

Coffee is sipped and Bedouin take the drink in one or two sips. When a guest has had sufficient coffee they wiggle the cup gently from side to side. For me, one coffee was enough and at one of the most memorable cafes I have ever visited.

All too soon it was time to leave. "How much is the coffee please? " I asked. After all, this was the Cafe with a View.

The Bedouin smiled. "You are in my country. You are here so you love Jordan. I love my country and you are welcome. For my coffee there is no set price. You pay with your heart. If you like my view you pay with your heart."

What price can you put on hospitality like that?


N/A

Country: Jordan

Province/State: `Amman

City: N/A

Address: N/A

Zip/Post Code: N/A

Location Tips: N/A

Phone: N/A

Website:N/A

Price Guide:N/A (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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