My Love Letter to Jordan: A Tapestry of Culture, Cuisine, and History

Jun 13, 2024 11:00:00 AM

Saletta Coleman

In September 2023, I joined the Jordan Tourism Board as their Trade Marketing Communications Manager. I am a Florida born, Black woman who has enjoyed many of the perks that come with a career in this industry. I’ve worked for two airlines and one of the largest consortia for the travel and trade industry. Yet, amidst this vast tapestry of cultures and landscapes, Jordan has carved a space in my heart that resonates with warmth and admiration. Allow me to pen a love letter to Jordan—a land that has imprinted its essence upon my heart and soul like no other. In my journey spanning 25 years traveling the world, it is within the embrace of nearly two months worth of days that Jordan's warm hospitality and rich tapestry of culture that I have found a profound connection, a sense of belonging that transcends borders and time. 

This essay is a testament to the profound influence this land has had on my perception of Arabic culture, its flavorsome cuisine, rich traditions, spiritual depth, and its monumental historical significance. Not only was my heart left with the people and places I’ve connected to but I’ve come home feeling as if I was reborn and the blood of their ancestors are also my ancestors. I feel like one of them.

Let me whisk you away on a voyage through the labyrinthine streets of Amman, where the pulse of the city beats with an energy both ancient and modern. My first steps into this buzzing metropolis were met with the hospitality and open-heartedness of its people, whose pride in their city is as obvious as the historical layers etched into its architecture. Here, amid the bustling markets and serene mosques and churches, one can glimpse the colorful mosaic of Jordanian life—a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation that captivates the senses and stirs the soul.


And oh, the culinary festival that awaits! From sizzling falafel stands on Rainbow Street, eating chicken shawarma and savoring every sip of lemon mint drinks in downtown, or being invited to join a friend's family for an aromatic plate full of steaming mansaf, Jordanian cuisine is a symphony of flavors, each dish a testament to the country's rich culinary heritage. In the bustling kitchens of Amman's eateries, I discovered not just food at Sufra, Dar Ne'meh and Jasmine House but stories—narratives woven through generations of mostly strong women, shared with every delectable bite. While you’re eating in Jordan, ask for one of the JR Wines offerings or treat yourself to a visit to the tasting room and a tour of the JR Wines production facilities. 


When you venture beyond the Amman city limits, and you'll find yourself traversing the desert expanse, where ancient castles rise like mirages from the sands. Jordan's Desert Castles are beautiful examples of early Islamic art and architecture. They tell stories of life as it was during the 8th century. Among these majestic ruins, the spirit of Jordan's storied past whispers on the desert winds, offering glimpses into a history that spans millennia.

Trading the desert's expanse for the verdant ranges of Ajloun was akin to discovering a hidden gem. The mountains are not only a visual treat but are steeped in history, with the Ajloun Castle presiding over the landscape, a sentinel to the region's historic narratives. The enchanting city of As-Salt, time seems to stand still, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature and the charm of local life. Here, amidst quaint shops and awe-inspiring mosques, one can't help but be humbled by the beauty of simplicity and the warmth of human connection.


But it is perhaps in the vast expanse of Wadi Rum that Jordan's true magic reveals itself. Beneath the blanket of stars that adorn the desert sky, the Floridian in me became entranced by the timeless beauty of this otherworldly landscape. Here, amidst towering sandstone cliffs and shifting dunes, I experienced the customs and traditions of the Bedouin culture—a way of life shaped by centuries of resilience and reverence for the land. It connected me to my upbringing and the reminder that we are more the same than we are different.

As my team journeyed to the ancient sites of Madaba and Mount Nebo, I felt the weight of history upon my shoulders—a palpable sense of awe and wonder at walking in the footsteps of prophets and visionaries. Amidst the ruins and relics of civilization's past, I found solace in the enduring legacy of faith and the eternal quest for meaning.

And then, there is the Dead Sea—a place of sublime beauty and serenity, where the waters hold the promise of renewal and rejuvenation. Here, amidst the luxury of world-class resorts, travelers can bask in the healing embrace of nature, allowing the cares of the world to dissolve beneath the buoyant salt surface.


Why should you come to Jordan, you ask? For the untold stories waiting to be discovered in the hidden corners of ancient cities. For the flavors that dance upon your palate and linger in your memory. For the breathtaking landscapes that stir the soul and inspire wonder. But above all, come to Jordan for the warmth of its people—for in their embrace, you will find a home away from home, and a love that knows no bounds.

With love and wanderlust until I can return.

Saletta Coleman

Written by Saletta Coleman

Saletta Coleman is the Trade Marketing Communications Manager for the Jordan Tourism Board North America. Joining the team in September 2023, she embarked on her first adventure travel conference in Jordan shortly after. Saletta's travel industry career began in 1998 at US Airways. Passionate about curating memorable experiences for travelers, she has predominantly worked in corporate sales and luxury advisor training environments. Saletta has garnered extensive experience in the airline and cruise sectors, planning events, excelling in travel advisor product training, marketing support, and escorting groups to global destinations.

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