Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In a hurry, but...

I'm sitting in the Language Center's computer lab right now, typing furiously while other students wait for the machine. So, I'll take my time. So much has happened in the last few days; I feel as if I have been in Jordan for weeks, not mere days. Less than 24 hours after I arrived, I had signed the lease to my apartment. We moved in last night, late, and are still in the process of unpacking.

First of all, though, an update on Ramadan. Ahhhh! I hate to confess this, but I cannot wait for it to be over. Although, now that I have an apartment, I actually have a place to eat and drink. You see, it is FORBIDDEN to eat or drink on the streets or in public during the month of Ramadan. Haram owii. After I arrived the first night, I ate some granola and fell asleep, expecting to find a meal the next day. Alas, to no avail- here is not a single restaurant open (except for the occasional fast food) during the daylight hours. My hotel, it must be said, was in a beautiful area, a 20 minute or so walk from downtown. Downtown, of course, being the 'Arab' quarter, with souqs, snarled traffic, narrow alleyways, leering men, alley cats, fresh bread, fruit markets, echoing mosques, etc. Very fun, btw. So, I ambled down there, found an ATM, pop, a bag of chips, and hiked back. Remember what I said about the hills? I definitely tackled several hills on my way back, as well as a mobile store. Dripping with sweat, I flopped on my bed to cool off in the non-air-conditioned heat of my room and listen to the sounds of life in the Arab world flit past my window.

I contacted at girl, Kathy, I 'met' on the internet, and she was downtown, so, a few hours later, I mustered up the strength and trekked down through the palpable heat and dust of midday to meet her. She has been in Jordan for a couple weeks, and spent part of that time apartment searching. After chatting, we decided to become roommates (isn't it marvelous how easily people decide to live together?). She's 20, a darker blonde (than me, of course), and currently dating a Bedouin from Petra, Fadii. He has very, errrm, interesting friends. One of them, Mahmoud, began talking with me and told me he was a horse trainer. Sigh. I think I may have sighed audibly, because he sensed the opening and went for it. After knowing the man for less than 5 minutes, I was invited on a 3 day horseback ride around Petra with him-just him, I suspect. No, I haven't gone...yet :) Nor will I. Although I made the mistake of giving him my mobile number, and now he sends me random texts. If I'm feeling

However, Kathy's friends are somewhat humorous, and they may take all of us (Me, her, and Jess, whom you haven't met yet!) to Petra/the desert one of these weekends, Bedouin style. Could be fun :)

So, Kathy and I went to meet the owner of an apartment she really liked-another of her random Arab friends, Hani, came along to translate. We loved the apartment-beautiful, within walking distance to campus, safe neighborhood, spacious, modern, good price, etc. With Hani's invaluable translating skills (my Jordanian is still limited to shoo fiih? What is there?) we signed the lease, and I put Jess' name down, hoping she'd like it.

By this time, I needed to go meet Jess, who was arriving from America that evening. After a brief stop to meet Kathy's Danish friends whose couch she was occupying, we raced over to Jebel Weibdeh, and rushed into the lobby. I feared she was waiting with all of her stuff, unable to get into the room because I had purloined the key. She wasn't there, so we sat in the relative coolness of the building for a few minutes, letting the sweat dry on our faces. I decided to go upstairs and see if she happened to be in the room, opened the door, and saw her napping on the bed! So, I've never been very punctual...After hugs, and explanations (she and I had been talking alot in America on the phone), I introduced her to Kathy, announced that we had signed a lease, and then welcomed her to Jordan. Perhaps it was slightly overwhelming, considering she had been in the country for a total of 1hour!

Rather than do the sensible thing and sleep, we ventured into an area of Amman that I had visited before-Abdoun Circle, full of posh restaurants and swanky clubs. Meeting another of Kathy's friends (she certainly gets around ;), Ben, and adorable Brit, we reclined in a hip cafe, munched on hummus, translated the Ramdan, Arabic-only menu, and relaxed, finally. A breeze whispered through the valley below, carrying with it the distant scent of olive trees and the coolness of the desert night. Close by, cars winked across the newest architectural wonder of Jordan-a suspension bridge lined with flourescent strips with iron girders spiking into the sky. As the scent of sheesha wafted around us, the seductive taste of lehma (lamb) filled my mouth, and Arabic filled the spaces around us, I settled in, content to be back in the Middle East, learning the language that I, damnably, love.

Hmmmph. So, Jess and I returned, both of us exhausted, to our hotel, showering off the day's 'pungent' odors and chattering, happy to finally meet. She, too, received the NSEP scholarship, and is enjoying her year abroad at the expense of the government. I think she was a little nervous about the apartment; after all, she was to live there for a year and had never seen it. I tried to reassure her that it was perfect, but I think she remained slightly unconvinced, although even Ben (on whom we both have a little crush, and who saw the apartment first, with Kathy) told her it was lovely. And Ben has been living in Jordan for almost a year, with spectacular Arabic.

Anyway, we woke absurdly early, in time to hear the mosques call the faithful to prayer before the rise of the sun. We sat in our room, ensconced by the haunting voices of the muzzeins, watching as the sun slowly brightened the horizon. Sitting in the windowsill (no screen) we talked until the sky grew bright, snoozed, and finally wandered downstairs for breakfast, eating the small repast in the shade of our hotel courtyard. Afterward, we took a cab to campus, quite a drive from the hotel, and passed through the main gates of our home for the next several months. The University of Jordan campus is beautiful! It's also surprisingly large; I was expecting something on the scale of the AUC, and I was mistaken. Wide, tree-lined avenues branch off into smaller walkways, with the classroom and administration buildings set modestly apart, all constructed of beautiful white stone. After walking the length of campus several times, we finally mustered the courage to ask for directions, several times, and found it nestled behind the Faculty of Arts building.

And...I think my time on the internet is drawing to an end, for now, my dears! If you're patient, I shall soon tell you about our Carrefour adventure, and the apartment move-in.

Until next time,


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