I'm here to tell you that picnicking in this part of the world is truly an art. Particularly in Jordan for some reason. Starting in early spring, most weekend days if you go for a drive along any highway, there will be families scattered all along the road- quite literally at the very edge of the highway in some cases which I don't understand. In my mind the perfect picnic spot would be far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. That doesn't seem to be the case here. They just pull off on the side of the highway if there is a flat space, unload their plastic chairs, small grills and whatever food they have brought along and voila- the perfect picnic spot. Sure there are parks and certain hillsides and wider open spaces that attract a larger number of people, but you will literally see families everywhere, all along the roads.
Last weekend after having the earliest baseball game of the day, we realized we still had lots of daylight left on a beautiful weekend day so we decided to have our own family picnic. Made a quick trip home from the ball field, changed clothes and packed up a somewhat random variety of picnic food (this was not exactly planned in advance...) and headed out. Not far out of town, is the beautiful Yarmouk river- maybe a 15 minute drive so we decided that was our destination of choice, as opposed to the side of the highway...
Thankfully it wasn't too crowded when we arrived- still early yet especially for this culture as it was only right at noon. The girls loved climbing on the rocks and wading through the river.
Little bit was very excited about the water gun that big sisters brought along...
So at this time of year in Jordan, it's still fairly cool, unless you're in the direct sunlight. Unfortunately, we realized that there really weren't any accessible spots in the shade so we spread out our blanket by the river and soaked in the rays. It really was a beautiful day!
Other local picnic seekers soon started arriving and it became a bit comical. I mentioned that there were not really any ACCESSIBLE spots in the shade. Well, apparently one family begged to differ. And when I say family, I mean FAMILY- as in aunts, uncles, cousins- about 20 people and all their picnic gear. One thing I didn't really clarify, is that a picnic here does not equal PB&Js and Ruffles chips. They go all out, and it is an all day affair. So when I say "picnic gear", I'm talking mattresses to recline on, grill to cook on (along with all the food that needs to be cooked of course), bags of all sorts of other side items etc etc. So this family decided that there was a lovely looking picnic spot on the other side of the river and they were bound and determined to get there. The only thing separating them from their spot? Well, the rushing water that was about waist deep at this particular spot was the main thing... That, and all their picnic gear that had to be toted across, not to mention that all of the women in this group were fully covered Muslim women, thus the wading across the rushing water would be a bit of an issue.
(I couldn't get great pictures as I wasn't sure how they would feel about having their picture taken, but I was able to snap a few...)
Here they had formed a human chain to help each other get across....
These ladies had their skirts hiked up to their armpits and were dragging purses, grocery bags and who knows what all through the water. Most of them had on sparkly ballet style slippers and fancy jewelry- not sure where their husbands told them the picnic was going to be!
At one point a little boy, slipped and starting floating quite quickly down the river. The dad jumped in after him but it was quickly obvious that he couldn't swim either. Thankfully they regained their footing. Jason about went in after them!
Here's another shot of our girls wading around and if you look towards the top left corner, you can see the guys of this big river-crossing group carrying their grill down along with mattresses to sit on from the parking area. They actually got it all across pretty easily much to my surprise!
We settled into our own picnic area and enjoyed our PB&Js, chips and fresh fruit. In my opinion, everything tastes better on a picnic!
And of course, no picnic is complete without a little good natured competition... As we were sitting, finishing up our lunch, Jason quips, "I'll give a JD to the first person who can get a rock in that circle over there...."
(this perfect target was right across the stream- can you see the circle of rocks?)
Anyway, Abbey immediately picks up a rock from where she's sitting and hurls it straight into the circle of rocks. Jason should have known better- this is not the first time he has casually offered money to the "first person who can/will...". I believe last time it involved either a piece of anchovy pizza or an incredibly hot pepper...
Anyway, let's just say the competition was on! It soon turned into who could get the most in out of 10, then who could get 3 out of 3 etc etc. Oh, and at one point who could hit the yellow sign tacked to a tree way up the hillside (pretty sure Abbey was the only one that hit that). No money was on the table anymore, this was all just in the name of good competition.
Here they are gearing up for their turns to throw. Even Anabelle got in on the fun. Hurling rocks to the water at her feet yelling "3 out of 10, 5 out of 10, 9 out of 10" (no one got 9 out of 10 by the way....)
All in all, a beautiful fun day- perfect for a picnic. And next time we know to bring our water gear so we can stake out the perfect spot in the shade!