This week will be my first full week of work, and things have been going well. I am working at a micro-business incubator that assists people both in starting new businesses and bettering existing businesses. A new business training workshop just started, with 26 participants. I was able to attend two nights of the training, and even though the instruction was entirely in Arabic, I understood a lot of what was happening. My organization seems to be well-received in Aqaba, and the staff does a lot of work to build awareness of our services. I am still working on figuring out my own role. Lately that has involved quite a bit of online Access training so I can design and build a fabulous (Arabic) database in the next few weeks.
Since moving in to our apartment a week ago, Frank and I have already had two visitors. I really enjoy the company, so I am looking forward to many more over the year. We also spent the a few nights with our friend Rami. We went to a restaurant called Jaffra for appetizers, and accidentally ordered an enormous amount of food. Lesson: when the waiter looks at you like he is confused, don't have two other people repeat what you just said. "Wahid hummus. Wahid hummus. Wahid hummus." = three hummus. The food below is only 2/3 of what we were served, and this is for three people.
Francisco and Rami
I had a really great first weekend down here. Friday, F, J, and I went snorkeling in the Red Sea. At first I was wary of wearing a swimsuit, and next time I go to that particular beach I will probably wear a t-shirt and shorts. While there were a couple other women (tourists) wearing less than me, I still don't enjoy being stared at. I also don't want to make anyone else uncomfortable if I can avoid it so easily.
The Red Sea. Downtown Aqaba is to the right, the Saudi border about 10km to the left, Israel across the water to the right, and Egypt across the water to the left. What an amazing meeting of places!
On the way to the Saudi border. My sense of adventure failed me as I told J to turn around every 10 meters as we got closer to the checkpoint.
On Saturday, J and I went SCUBA diving with our new Australian dive instructor / friend. The day started with some paperwork and a description and demonstration of the equipment. Luckily, it was just the two of us and the instructor, so there was plenty of time to ask questions and no time waiting for other people to gear up. We walked from the dive center down to the water (me leaning forward 30 degrees to make up for the weight of the tank on my back), put on our masks, and
After that, we went under and stayed under for about 45 minutes. We learned how to take the regulator out and clear it of water before we started using it again. We also learned how to clear a mask that is 1/4 full with water. And finally, we practiced adjusting our buoyancy by adding and removing air from our dive vest. (There is a word for that...B-something-D...) 12 meters (almost 40 feet) under the surface, the Red Sea is amazing. Tons of colorful corals and fish and enough light to see everything clearly - parrot fish, clown fish, little families of fish and big schools of fish. I hear there are also turtles, but we didn't see any this time. When I finally get Internet at my apartment, I am going to do the online portion of the PADI open water certification so I can do the rest of the dive training in the water. And then, to go on a dive will be inexpensive enough that I can go whenever I like. I am really looking forward to this part of living in Aqaba.
Other highlights from the past week: N stopped by for a quick visit when work brought her from Amman to Ma'an; F and I played ultimate frisbee with a group of locals and expats, finally getting some exercise; we stocked up on stuff for our apartment at the Chinese market; we started to navigate our 500+ television channels, finding at least four in English and one in Spanish; I am getting used to the 100 degree heat.
This weekend, we are heading to Amman to visit with our friends, have brunch with a kind host, and go on a hike. Looking forward to getting back to the big city for a bit...