Two weekends ago, when the team went to Petra, we stayed at the Ammarin Bedouin Camp. Where is the Ammarin Bedouin Camp? Why haven’t I heard of it before? The Ammarin Bedouin Camp is located in Beidha which is just 10 km north of the Petra Archeological Reserve and lies in the sandy enclave surrounded by amphitheater shaped rocks and is untouched by mass tourism.
What does hospitality mean to the Ammarin tribe? To Ammarin tribe, hospitality is just not a job, but also a way of life. This principle is shown the Bedouin coffee ritual that we were able to participate in. To the Bedouins and the Arabs, coffee is more than a drink needed to keep awake to pull all-nighters, rather it is not only treated with reverence and a traditional sign of respect but also a way to bring people together and a sign of hospitality and trust.
What is the coffee culture in Jordan then? The culture is pretty similar whether you are at a Bedouin camp or invited to a co-workers house for dinner. In the Bedouin culture, the mark of man is how he treats his guests. The traditional coffee ceremony is served with 3 cups. Each cup has a specific meaning. The first cup is called “le khayf” which is for the guests and indicates hospitality. The second cup is called “le’ kayf” which is for mood and indicates a relaxing mood. The last cup is called “l’s sayf” which is for the sword which shows that when there are any animosity has evaporated.
The way that the coffee is made in a way that is completely fresh, but is also accompanied by songs that tell of the history of making coffee. It is also noted that the way that the smoke that comes from the fire allows those who are lost to be able to find their way and a place the stay. Also, if someone comes into the tent in the middle of the night, then the hosts are inclined to serve them tea or coffee in the morning as a sign that they are also part of the family and not just a stranger.
So when participating in the coffee ritual what are some important things? Some important things to note about the coffee ritual is that the host drinks the first cup of coffee which is to check if it is well prepared or not. When the host serves coffee to the guest, they usually start either to eldest or the leader, then working their way anti-clockwise from the right side of the room.
The fact that the coffee ritual is not just a sign of respect, but also a way to bring people together. When we were in Madaba, we visited Yosef’s shop and sat down for at least ten minutes catching up and learning about some of the adventures from past archeological digs. I think that this is a good example of the coffee culture. While we were served tea, it still shows the same ideals. From these ten minutes or so, we learned about Yosef and what he does and his contributions to past archeological digs.
Besides the coffee ritual, just being able to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and just being able to relax is something that I needed for a long, yet didn’t act upon. I enjoyed the fact that electricity is limited and there is no internet access, which allows the visitors to be able go or talk to others rather than being stuck inside with their electronics. For me personally, this experience allowed me to finally slow down and finally enjoy something fully.
While at the camp, there some things that were more modern such as the showers and the tents in which we were sleeping in. Yet there were some things that were very different, one of these things is the availability of electricity. Since electricity is provided by a generator, the summer hours are from 6pm-11pm. There is also no access to internet which allows visitors to connect with the nature that is around them. Nowadays, it is hard to get away from all the hustle and bustle of life. While at the Bedouin camp, I was able to get away and for once slow down and relax. After the coffee ritual a group of us went out star gazing. It was amazing to be able to finally see the stars and see the constellations that I learned about in elementary school.