Monday, September 20, 2010

The First 18 Days

Alright, alright. If everyone else is going to have blogs, then I guess I will too. Not just because I want to join the bandwagon, but also because I enjoy reading other people's accounts of our time here in Jordan so much that I feel like I should contribute. So, here it is.

Today is Monday, September 20, which means I arrived in Jordan two and a half weeks ago. Since then I've slept in a nice (but too expensive hotel) in Amman, on a mattress on the floor of a very generous Couch Surfer's apartment, and on many different couches/beds in a pseudo frat house in the lovely neighborhood of Abdoun. All of these places offered me a welcoming and entertaining view of Jordan. Our Couch Surfing host epitomized a phrase that I have heard so many times since I've been here: Welcome to Jordan. His welcome was genuine, but I am still navigating the "Welcome" and "Here is my mobile" offers that I receive so many times each day. (Which also come in the form of "You must try this and eat this and drink this and please sit and eat eat eat!") In Abdoun, I was fortunate to stay with three Fulbright dudes who all speak Arabic (Egyptian American, Jordanian-born American, and Middle-East-ophile American), share my love of Subway, and took me up on my offer to cook and chauffeur for a place to sleep. I think I had intended on staying a couple of nights, but that turned into ten very fun days.

A little bit about my time in Amman - I arrived during Ramadan, which meant the city was packed with people but moving slowly because of the daytime fasting. In my first couple of days, I visited the Citadel ruins, ate mass quantities of hummus and foul, and drank quite a few $5 cans of Amsdel. I also took trips to the Dead Sea and Wadi Mujib (which = one speeding ticket, whoops!). Wadi Mujib is the Grand Canyon of the Middle East. 15 of us drove there in an Italian Job-like caravan of Nissan Sunnies. With our sexy life vests on, we trekked up a 6"-18" deep river, climbing some short waterfalls along the way, and ended up at a giant waterfall where tiny little fish bit at our ankles. So far, I think this is my favorite place in Jordan, and I definitely plan on going back.

One of Amman's many hills as viewed from the Citadel

The Roman Theater

Woah. Big old stuff.

Six travelers-worth of luggage, at the Abdoun elbow-in-the-road.

Blue Fig, Amman

Dead Sea Spa
Dead Sea Monsters - Jonathan, Francisco, me, Meredith, Nicole, Laura, Victoria, Sharief

Looking across to the West Bank

Tom and Tariq - P90X at the Frat House

While most of my colleagues are based in Amman this year, I will be in Aqaba with Francisco, a classy dude who represents the fastest growing minority population in Iowa. Francisco and I intended to head down to Aqaba on September 15, but due to a notice of "imminent threat" from the US Embassy, we waited until September 18. This notice put us slightly on edge, and perhaps caused my heart to start beating a little faster when we saw a hundred members of the military running down the street as we were viewing a potential apartment. But again, it all comes back to the Sunny. Either Francisco's black Sunny or my silver Sunny would make excellent get away cars! (Come on Mom, I'm just joking!)

We drove along the Dead Sea Highway, which is a longer route from Amman to Aqaba, but also calmer. Fewer trucks, more camels. On another trip, I look forward to taking more time and visiting the few villages and many biblical sites that we passed, like Jesus' baptism site and Lot's cave. I am also sure I will get some amazing close up photos with those camels!

On the way to Aqaba, finally! (And another view of the Dead Sea and West Bank)

Aqaba is really beautiful. It's right on the Red Sea, and a short strip of empty land separates it from Eilat, Israel. It is much more quiet than Amman, and because of that Francisco and I are eager to get settled and figure out what is what. We are definitely missing all of our friends, the kids, and the frat boys (is anyone reading this offended by being labeled??). We had a tiring day of apartment hunting yesterday, which was made 1000x easier by a very kind Jordanian friend named Rami. This morning, with help from another new friend, Francisco found an apartment that suits us both. Visitors are welcome, though the two requests for this weekend might have to be turned down if we are still in a hotel waiting for the place to open up. (If this is a sign of things to come, once the weather turns cold in Amman we will be running a hostel.)

Um, really?

The lights of Eilat, Israel, from Aqaba

Me and Francisco, aka Fernando, Paco, Enrique, Franny, Frank, etc.

These last two pictures were taken from the roof of my hotel, called My Hotel (this has made for some great/stupidly annoying phone conversations). Like I said, it is really beautiful, particularly toward the end of the day. I can't wait to unpack my suitcase and start planning trips to the beach, snorkeling, camping in Wadi Rum, hiking....

The Aqaba lighthouse and port area

Amazing Aqaba mountains


  1. I love it all! It looks so beautiful, and so different from here, and it must be amazing!

    I hope you keep up with this blog, so I can see it all!

  2. K, this is amazing!! Sounds like you are making great friends and having a lot of fun! I'm stoked for you! Gosh, I wish I could get out there to visit. Let me see what I can do. Keep the pictures coming. Rhea and I are thinking and praying and if you need anything let us know.

    Oh yeah, is that Sunny super charged or what?!?!

  3. I'm not offended by labels of kids, babies, or fratties. Thanks for sharing and please keep writing. Looking forward to coming down there once you guys are situated. p.s Nice title.

  4. A few other important words to know:

    Insha'Allah - God Willing
    Bokra - Tomorrow
    Malesh - Never mind/No worries

    Sounds like you are having an amazing time.