We arrived in Amman, Jordan, about 6 p.m. local time to temperatures in the mid-90s and a slow, steady breeze.
Clambering on buses we headed into downtown Amman, created by billboards for billboards for all-variety of high-end goods (watches, flat-panel televisions, to name just two). We also passed a road sign showing the direct route to Iraq. We didn't make the turn.
In downtown, traffic tightened considerably on our two-lane road with very pale lane markers. I noticed that cars really don't follow lane markers so much as their own desire to dodge in and around traffic. The main streets signs are in Arabic and English while most local businesses announce themselves with billboards in Arabic.
Near the Four Seasons, the press hotel, we spied a string of familiar fast food restaurants: Burger King, Popeye's and Kentucky Fried Chicken (known now by its universal KFC logo). The massive U.S. fast food places announce themselves in Arabic and English.
A giant traffic circle near the hotel showed how traffic moves -- no rules, but eye contact and speed rule all maneuvers and it appears to work. En route to the hotel, we warned about walking in Jordan. It's safe, but there is no tradition of yielding to pedestrians. "No one will stop for you and there are no crosswalks or pedestrian crossings of any kind. So be careful."
Obama's traveling advisers appear very upbeat about the Afghanistan and Iraq parts of the trip. A press conference with Obama and his traveling companions, Sens. Jack Reed D-R.I., and Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska, is planned at the Citadel in Jordan tomorrow. We were advised the press conference setting is very hot and to wear lots of sunscreen -- an Obama advance staffer said she wore SPF 70 sunscreen and still got a bit burned. The Bourbon Room is thinking of arriving in a burlap bag -- hot, but no sunburn.
More updates to come.....especially as we get a better sense of the policy agenda as far as Obama's meeting with King Abdullah tomorrow.