Sunday, February 27, 2011

How to pass the time on your next Jordanian roadtrip

We took lots of car trips when I was younger, and therefore played innumerable car games. There was the license plate game, the word game Ghost (which is phenomenal, yet 99% of people refuse to play with me, you know who you are), and others - but none so truly Midwestern as The Silo Game. Pitting the left side of the car against the right, the rules were simple -- you counted the silos that passed by on your side of the car, and if you passed a cemetery you lost all your silos. Whichever side had the most silos when you arrived at your destination was the winner.

Some friends and I took a road trip to the Ajloun Forest Reserve today, and as we were driving along I was inspired to adapt this to the Jordanian context. Just as silos are ubiquitous throughout the Midwestern countryside, so pictures of King Abdullah II are ubiquitous throughout Jordan. And when I say ubiquitous, I mean ubiquitous -- they are everywhere, of all shapes and sizes, on the side of buildings and in shops, featuring the king in all manner of poses, outfits, and situations.

After some debate on how to replace the cemeteries, we selected the trucks that drive around delivering cooking gas, with ice-cream-truck music announcing their presence. Some special scoring is still under debate, regarding what bonus points should be awarded, if any, if His Majesty appears in the photo: 1) engaged in an activity (playing soccer and using the computer were spotted); 2) with a member of his family, such as his father the late King Hussein, his wife Queen Rania, or his son the Crown Prince Hussein; 3) in a keffiyeh and/or full military regalia, etc. A discussion regarding whether waving qualified as an activity also generated some heated debate, which I had to settle by playing the I-made-up-this-game-what-I-say-goes card in favor of it not being an activity (clearly).

We started the game as we set out from the reserve, and before we had even reached the city of Ajloun 6 km away, each side of the car already had more than 25 Abdullahs. (This should illustrate just how many of these pictures there are!) But we each then promptly got our Abdallahs wiped out by the unfortunate passing of gas trucks on both sides. I'll skip the back-and-forth along the rest of the hour's journey to the part where we got back to our neighborhood in Amman and each again got hit by a gas truck. The timely appearance of His Majesty's picture in two adjacent shops gave the left side of the car an edge over the right, ending the game at 2 to 1. It's difficult to estimate a total of pictures we passed due to the occassional do-over caused by a gas truck, but I'd conservatively guess we spotted more than 200 pictures combined.

So next time you are roadtripping in Jordan and need to pass the time -- try the Abdullah Game, it's fun for the whole family!


  1. i played this game on road trips to the grandparents in Pennsylvania...only we were counting cows! haha.

  2. Wow! This game seems wildly entertaining! I love how the gas trucks act as bombs, demolishing your running total. I would agree that the hand waving king Abdallah should not count towards added action points but would have to say that any picture with him wielding a semi-automatic weapon or any other high velocity weaponry should be counted as bonus points.

  3. Great game, Curtis you beat me to the punch on the assault rifle Abdullah. I once saw one where he was standing in front of a low rider... I agree waving is out but how about that as an activity?