An Internship Starts & A Roommate Departs

Trip Start Aug 24, 2009
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Trip End May 24, 2010


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Flag of Jordan  ,
Wednesday, September 2, 2009

If you are interested in too many details about my life here in Amman, please continue:
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Sunday:

Oddly for Americans, Sunday is the first day of the work week in Jordan. So the week goes from a case of the Sundays to TGIT (Thank God It's Thursday). My first full work week in Amman began by heading to the FoEME office with Rebecca and Ali. For me it was my first day and for them it was their last. The office is a little ways away from our apartment since we are located near the 5th Circle and the office is near the 8th Circle in an areas that I think it called Biyader Wadi Al-Seer. I met all the office staff (six people), met with my immediate boss (Abed), helped Rebecca finish her last project, blogged a bit, and watched the BBC run around the office filming and interviewing people. It is a small but cheery office and everyone was very nice although busy due to the visit by the BBC. The three of us left around 2:00 pm as work tends to get out early during Ramadan and the rest of the day was kind of lazy. I finished Carmen Bin Ladin's book (it was a fast read and also interesting since my knowledge of Saudi life is pretty minimal) and then we all watched a crazy conspiracy movie called Zeighiest
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Monday:

I didn't get up and go into work Monday morning because there was a big meeting scheduled for a presentation in the Jordan Valley for the afternoon. Instead I got my very first solo cab and headed to the Shmeisani Police Station to check in my residency. I probably could have walked there but no one knows the name of street here because they were just named not too long ago and there are like no maps in this country. Whatever though. I made it there in one piece only to be turned away because the computer was "closed." Awesome. Back to the apartment to get ready for the Valley.

We left for the Jordan Valley around 5 pm. It takes about an hour to drive out of Amman, through Salt, and a building run by the Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) that over looks the Valley. I drove in Munqeth's car (he is the head FoEME honcho). I notice that people are pleasantly surprised to find out that my family is part Lebanese, but when I tell them our family name they like gasp because it apparently the name of a very influential family in Jordan. Then we have to clarify. It is probably a pronunciation difference, but what do I know. Back to the Valley. Driving, driving, driving. The was a beautiful drive full of goats and date palms. You can see Syria and the West Bank from the Valley and we drove through a few Jordanian check points that didn't seem interested in us. The building that the JVA runs was pretty neat. It is one of the few old style adobe buildings around, complete with doors just my height, walls thicker than a donkey's rear, and peaked roofs that have a hole at the top for letting hot air out. Since the Valley is about 15 to 20 degrees hotter than Amman it was surprisingly cool inside where we waited...and waited...and waited. All tired and hungry, waiting for the presentation of the Eco-Park's master plan that Ali prepared while she was here, and almost more importantly we were waiting for if-tar (I hear the JVA really does it up delicious style). ::tummy rumbles:: Now, you might have already made the (not so) logical leap to what ended up happening but in case you didn't, let me spell it out. No one else arrived but FoEME and our community partners. The JVA made a scheduling error and BAM the whole thing was canceled. Awesome. At least the view was amazing. On the way home we stopped at some small food stands in Salt and bought a couple cases (and I do mean cases) of fresh figs for 1 JD a piece. So I got to see the Jordan Valley AND taste my first fig! It was yummy and I will now be consistently stalking my aunt's fig tree when I get home to the states. 

Dinner consisted of shwarma with Ali, Casey, and Tony and then I ended up being picked by a strange man I didn't know to hang out with people I didn't know. Haha. That was just to see if you are still paying attention...no, actually that happened minus the "strange" part. My friend from Kzoo spent last summer here and she hooked me up with a group of her friends in Amman and night this was the first time I was meeting them. Adib picked me up and we went to his friend Firas's house where I met three other Jordanians. I forget what you call them but they are a part of the my-aged people Rotary Club here. It was quite an experience. Firas's home...well actually his family's home...was very nice. i say his family's home because Jordanians stay at home a lot longer than American's in general (although some of my cousins and I are trying to set a record for this back home). The house was large and in charge with an interior that was very nice although not American style at all. We might call it gaudy but here it is more normal style for middle class families as far as I understand. Let me say, this gathering began at 9:30 pm-ish and I think Adib dropped me off at 2:00 am PLUS he was going to hang out with other people! They all told me that Arab style is to stay up super late hanging out and then somehow wake up for work in the morning. In the U.S. I believe we call this Matt Morey style, Haha. No, actually they stay up even later during Ramadan because they can eat while the sun is down. Anywho, it was a blast. We played cards, had coffee, had sweets, had Turkish coffee, and then had more sweets. So much coffee and sugar...at such an odd hour! Everyone was so friendly and nice and even though they spoke Arabic maybe 96% of the time they tried to keep me included and were flat out hilarious with each other. I especially liked their friend Leen who is like this amazing spunky funky woman who runs the event circuit for Red Bull around here. Firas's mom and dad came around for a bit to and even though I couldn't understand them they really seemed like sweethearts. Good stuff: (1) the Rotary peeps are going to help find me a host family in Amman and (2) I got to finally sleep on a bed in a room instead of with a fox in a box because today was Rebecca's last day.
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Tuesday:

No work for me Tuesday because I really needed to get the Police Station thing straight. Adib offered to drive me which I thought was unnecessary but nice so I took him up on the offer. Basically that is what the Rotary peeps do, help outsiders get acquainted with the city and such, and since he knew Jenica well I have like a special in even though I am not here through Rotary. Anywho, any thought that it wasn't necessary to have an Arabic speaker with me at the Police Station quickly dissolved once we got there, lol. He had to haggle, scraggle, and maggle with these guys just to figure out who to talk to for what I needed. Jeez. Needless to say I was glad Adib was there because I think they would have just told me "no" and I wouldn't know the difference. After my passport finally got stamped with an extension like nine hours later, we headed to the French Cultural Center and I looked into Arabic courses. I am really excited about taking Arabic there but I have to wait until October for the next session so I will have to continue reading body language for awhile (I might actually get a tutor but that is still up in the air). 

When I got to the apartment I went full steam ahead trying to clean my room as best I could with a vacuum that had the force of a hand held battery operated fan on a hot day in July in the upper deck of Tiger Stadium...in reverse of course because the vacuum was sucking, in more ways than one. It gets very dusty here because you leave the windows open for this incredible breeze but we are in a desert...hence sand, dust, grit. Once I triumphed over evil I made mujadrah for Casey and Ali. It was good but we only had bismanti rice which was sort of weird and the stove is touchy touchy so it was always either boiling over or hardly on. But they liked it so I lived to see another day, proud that I can cook something with lentils.

When Devan got home the two of us headed to the coffee shop on Rainbow Street to post an ad for our third bedroom which will be free after tomorrow and as luck would have it Adib, Firas, and their other friend Mohammad, were down the street at Jara Cafe. We met up for coffee, tea, and nargileh. Jara was awesome. We were outside under the moon overlooking a large part of the city and listening to some great live music (traditional songs). Firas knows the owner of Jara so we met him as well. Overall it was a good time. Devan got to meet them and I swear we have a thousand plans for after Ramadan, haha. The top phrases I hear are "Welcome to Jordan" (usually when something goes wrong like the Valley incident) and "Wait until after Ramadan." It is nice to know some local people our age though. They invited us to a couple if-tars which is sweet because they will be with their family and friends at their homes and I even made a date to try cooking with Firas's mother! Things are looking up.
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I was a bit sleep this morning but as Matt would say, "I'll sleep when I die" and right now I just want to do as much as possible (for as little as possible) all the time. Now that I have written this short  biography of the past three days I should get back to work (not that I have anything to do yet since this is my first solo day at the office).
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