By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
With the exception of a tour of the Nabataean stone city of Petra and a trek through the red sand dunes of Wadi Rum’s red desert landscape, Huda Tal, wife of Jordanian Ambassador to Mexico Mohammad Mustafa Cyel Mustafa Wahbi Tal, managed to transform the garden of her Lomas de Chapultepec home into a whirlwind magic carpet ride through the Hashemite Kingdom for 25 international diplomatic ladies and close friends on Wednesday, Nov. 11.
The immersive one-day Jordanian experience, titled “Welcome to Jordan,” included a succulent buffet of traditional Jordanian cuisine, a sampling of Dead Sea mud treatments, henna hand painting sessions and even a makeshift Jordanian street market, replete with a display of spices, handcrafts and traditional fashion.
In observance of social distancing protocols due to covid-19 pandemic restrictions, Tal first welcomed her guests into her impeccably appointed and airy, open-air living room with warming cups of freshly brewed cardamom-scented coffee to help set the mood for the veritable tour of Amman.
Next, the guests were ushered into the garden, which had been metamorphosed into a mock Jordanian Eden of exotic sights, sounds and aromas of a Middle Eastern wonderland.
The ladies were invited to indulge in hand masks of authentic Dead Sea mud, known for its unique healing and rejuvenating qualities thanks to its natural abundance of magnesium, sodium and potassium.
The Dead Sea — the lowest-lying body of water on Earth, at 434 meters below sea level — with its curative, black, clay-like mud, cobalt-blue, ultra-saline (34 percent) waters, and air so rich in oxygen that it protects against sunburn — is one of Jordan’s premiere tourist attractions.
For centuries, its mud has been used to purify and rejuvenate skin, and countless cosmetic and beauty brands around the world use Dead Sea mud in their products.
Later, a specially trained Jordanian hand painter offered each of the ladies the chance to decorate their hands with mehndi henna tattoos.
Throughout much of Asia and the Middle East, henna tattoos have been used by women for more than three millennium as a form of feminine body art, often linked to marriage and other social ceremonials.
Henna bridal nights remain an important custom in many parts of Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries, particularly among traditional families.
Posters of various Jordanian tourist destinations and cultural venues — including Petra, Wadi Rum and Amman — helped create the illusion of a true visit to the magnificent 90,000-square-kilometer nation that lies at the crossroads of what Christians, Jews and Muslims alike call the Holy Land.
Petra, with its stunning red, pink and orange walls split over the centuries into cragged canyons of drizzling sandstone rainbows, is Jordan’s crown jewel of archeological wonders.
Believed to have been inhabited as far back as the 4th century BC, Petra was the ancestral capital of the thriving Arabian Nabataean civilization, which managed to elevate the rock-cut treasuries and temples of this breathtaking venue to one of the most important trading outposts in the region.
Wadi Rum, in southern Jordan, is a natural wonder of rocky limestone escarpment that rises and falls under the un-scorched, deep orange and red of the Arabian sun.
Huge bluffs of rock-ribbed mountains loom on its horizon, and mythic Nabatean petroglyphs hide in its nooks and crannies.
The bustling Jordanian capital of Amman is the political and economic hub of the multicultural Hashemite nation, whose people trace their cultural and ethnic origins to the Biblical cities of biblical kingdoms of Noab, Gilead and Emon and their name to the River Jordan, where it is believed the Israelites crossed into their Promised Land and John the Baptist baptized Jesus of Nazareth.
Amman’s serpentine streets weave and wind through the hectic center of the capital to a kaleidoscopic mosaic of frenetic souks and echoing mosque minarets that make up the famous area of Balad.
The city’s world-renowned Roman Theater and Ammonite fortifications juxtaposition gracefully with a medley of mosques, churches and palisades that make up the Jabal al-Qal’a citadel.
The parade of Jordanian images sparked a profound wanderlust in all the event’s attendees to visit the mystical monarchy.
But the highlight of the “Welcome to Jordan” experience was the lavish buffet of Jordanian delicacies, including mansaf, Jordan’s official national dish, a delicious lamb head cooked in a sauce of fermented yogurt and served over a bed of steamed rice with dried fruits and nuts.
“Mansaf is a very special dish in Jordan, served only on special occasions for special people,” explained Tal.
“Since my guests today are all very special people, I am serving this dish, which is an entire meal in itself.”
Sweet lemonade and sage-flavored tea complemented the mansaf and other Jordanian delicacies.
Tal’s three small children helped liven the event by helping their mother pull off what can only be described as a social and cultural feat in the midst of the covid-19 lockdown.
“I really want to introduce the people of Mexico to my country, and I think food and culture are a great way to transport people to new places,” said Tal.
At the end of the event, each guest was given a goodie bag with Dolmen Dead Sea body mud and bath salts, fresh dates filled with sweet nuts, and Jordanian travel brochures.
And everyone left with a dream on one day visiting the real Jordan.
…Nov, 13, 2020