Mansef, Public Hangover, and Climate Action Day

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


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Flag of Jordan  , Amman,
Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thursday:
After work I was invited to Moha's for lunch/dinner because his mom had made Mansef...basically the national dish of Jordan. I met his whole family including all the little ones, they were a riot, and ate my first mansef. It is basically rice with almonds that has chicken and sort of a hot yogurt on top. You are supposed to eat it with your hands but Moha assured me that i didn;t need to since I already wasn't eating it traditional style, i.e. with a billion people crowded around a giant platter. Since I came after work everyone else had already eaten so I got to eat out of the watchful eyes of the cooks, lol. I was stuffed when I was done but Moha still gave me a hard time for "hardly eating anything" but I swear I was like a stuffed pig. Then I just chilled outside with Umm Moha, his siters, and some of the whipper-snappers...tea, coffee, rock hard watermelon seeds, sheesha, fruit...the feeding never stops here. I learned that some people read the leftover crude from the Turkish coffee and can tell your future. 7aram but m3a alena. Mohamad's sisters are super spirited and funny and the kids were hilarious. They kept putting flowers in my hair and trying to quietly sit closer and closer to me. Somehow I weaseled away before Moha went to buy kanafa which would have been delicious but I had already been there three hours I needed to get ready for Zoe's birthday. 

When we were ready, Jess and I headed to 51. [Annette has been out for the count with the flu or something so that sucks...right after Jess started feeling better too, so the three of us still haven't had a chance to go out together.] I didn't really like waiting on the corner for a cab all dressed up but we had shawls and got over the extra honks as best we could until a taxi finally came by. We actually made it to 54 before Zoe, Rawan, and everyone. There was a man and a woman with our group already there but we had never met them before so we got acquainted. The dude told us that owl breeding -in order to control the rodent population in the valley area- has apparently been the most successful cooperation project between Israel, Palestine, and Jordan to date, lol. And the woman was from Canada so we started chatting about hockey and it turns out she is from Windsor (howdy neighbor!) although she is a Penguins fan. Boo hiss! But all is fair in love and hockey and I enjoyed talking about it with someone else who enjoys it. So that was cool. She said she couldn't even hear my Michigan accent which was odd to her because no matter where she travels in the world she says she can always pinpoint the Michigan accent. Once Zoe got there the birthday fun began. Rawan's friend from Irbid also recently returned from the UK and she was pretty sweet. Grey Goose and Red Bull arrived at the table and pandemonium ensued. Dancing, laughing, picture taking, cheers-ing Zoe a thousand and one times, apparently there was a cake but I have no memory of that (it might have arrived after I left). Having just recovered from being sick, Jess left early in the night and I stayed to represent the Shmeisani Trio and represent I did. Eventually it was 2:30 am, I was partially deaf, mostly drunk, and a bit hungry. I had no idea when the bar was supposed to close since I was pretty sure they told me 2am earlier in the night and I was even less sure of when everyone from our group would be leaving or if they would have room for me. Basically I wanted to avoid a 3 am drunken cab ride with me, myself, and the driver so I decided I would try to wait until the group was leaving and see if they could fit me in one of their cars. That was my plan BeFoRe I decided to take a bathroom break. In the bathroom it was quiet and I was standing still...well attempting to stand still...and as I tried to steady myself without touching the bathroom walls which may or may not be very clean, I thought to myself, "Whoa, Self, you are drunk." Of course my Self concurred on this issue, did it's job distracting me from the sick drunk feeling and used my digits to dial adib's phone (since Annette was out for the flu count and I know his work keeps him up late) and slur something like "hey, could you maybe pick me up and drive me home" in a pathetic voice that probably sounded like I could pass out at any moment...which I feared might actually happen. I headed back to the group to let them know I would be leaving and magically the loud music and active dance floor helped bring me back to happy drunkville versus "uh-oh" drunkville. I was happy that the feeling of being on a merry-go-round had ended but I also knew I was done, 5alas, finito for the night and that the rest of the group had no plans for leaving soon so hugs and kisses all around before attempting to gracefully exit the bar (I was mostly successful on this point but ended up sort of tripping when I got near the car..."no one saw that" (yes they did)). Minus the fact that I was probably behaving about 50/50 foolish/passed out I managed to successfully eat something AND brush my teeth (it's the little things) before conking out like a rock.  

Friday: 
The Saturday story doesn't end there of course because I woke up hanging a bit and still had to get up and go with Jess and meet Yoichi at the Friday flea market. Sure I could have cancelled since it is just the flea market but Halloween is next weekend and this would be my only chance to try and find a cheap and fun costume so I braved the market, how bad could it be anyway? The answer to that question is: Bad. The first thing that got to me was all the smoking. I was almost certain that the first puff of smoke that was blown in my face was going to push me over the ill edge. So everyone is smoking and it is crowded and loud with vendors constantly yelling, and I do mean yelling, things like "every shirt half a JD," "three for one," "pretty for you." Did I mention they are yelling these things? I think I did. Yea, yelling...over and over again. Then there are all the smells because it is crowded and there is food mixed in between clothing and everything is just fragrant in a bad way. Finally, if loud, stinky, smoky market wasn't enough for my after party, it was probably 80 degrees outside...and only about half of the market is covered so I was jetting from tent to tent because every step I took in the sun made me pretty sure I was going to vomit. I mean, I was so sure at times that I tried to concoct elaborate exit strategies, none of which I expected to be very successful. Thank Jesus, all the martyrs, and the creators of the Teletubbies I found an outstanding outfit a second before I was going to say 5alas and we were off in a taxi taking me to apartment sanctuary. I want to formally apologize to anyone I have ever mocked while they had a hangover in public. I realized this was the very very very first time I was ever hanging while out and about, trying to function, and it sucked major ass (sorry for anyone trying to edit this while they read it out loud to people like my grandpa but it did suck ass, plain and simple). Being back at our apartment made me feel 40 percent better than I was already feeling. We had Yoichi over for coffee and a costume trying on party and then I laid down for a serious nap. [I know the anticipation is killing you so let me get this out of the way, Jess found an actual costume which was a shock to find and it is Alice in Wonderland, American style, and I am going to be Nancy Kerrigan circa 1994, found the perfect outfit for 2JD). The hangover sucked, but positive highlights of the day include finding the Kerrigan outfit, napping, going grocery shopping, getting money from the ATM, and going to bed early.

Saturday:
More later. Bekafi for now.

Ok, I am back with a whole new edition (like Ice)...Saturday was Climate Change Action Day and I spent the whole day with FoEME helping run an event related to 350.org. My day started out with me finally stopping at the Sandwich Dude I pass everyday on the way to the bus. This was how I was introduced to a yummy sandwich and to a sweet cabbie who was also grabbing his breakfast. We both agreed that he could drive me slowly to the RJ station because we wanted to take our teas alone for the ride. At al-dawwar al-sabaa7, some helpful 20 somethings pointed me down a dirt hill toward the station where I finished my sandwich and waited for Hadeel and Amany. Then we boarded the bus with some King's Academy students, headed to Madaba to pick up the rest of the students, and off to the Dead Sea we went. I was busy most of the ride reading Confessions of an Economic Hitman but at some point I looked up and BAM....I thought I was peering at the Great Lakes for a moment. Quite a surprise when you are staying living in a desert. The Dead Sea was gorgeous and the only apparent difference from our lakes is that (1) you can see the insane salt deposits on the shore where the tide breaks and (2) you can see land across the way (Palestine to be exact). 

At the Dead Sea we gathered with King's Academy students (high school aged), CIEE students (undergraduate Americans), and locals from some of our partner communities in the Jordan Valley to form 350 while my boss chilled on the side of a cliff right below Lot's wife and snapped pictures of us. There was some celebratory juice and dabke dancing (if I can ever get videos to download on here I will be sure to post that one) and for practical reasons we split into two groups based mostly on language. My group was of course in English and included King's and CIEE students. We headed to see some of the nearby sinkholes and to discuss what is happening environmentally to the Dead Sea and the area surrounding it. We also saw some of the farms and spent time helping to harvest melons and green beans. The group was a bit big to have educational discussions with the landowners/farmers but I tried to talk a bit with them and learned a little bit about the middlemen who move the produce from the villages to Amman and about their kids, ranging from 5 years old to 8, who were out in the field helping us (or I should probably say that we were helping them). After the farm visit we had a delicious lunch of chicken, a yummy red sauce thing with onions, and this delicious bread that is giant and flat, kind of like a crepe but made of dough. I even got a chance to make some of this bread. I'm no expert like the woman humoring us (or maybe humoring herself) but I did okay. She was a pro. Bam bam bread. Bam bam bread. The meal was fantastic, but the flies were insane though! If you had a video camera you could have spliced footage from our lunch into those commercials for sponsoring children in unnamed countries of Africa and the only difference would be that we are all between the ages of 15-30 and mostly white. I was honestly afraid I would eat a fly by accident because there were so many...on us, on the food, everywhere. As one might guess that didn't stop me from eating though and I was a stuffed piggy before lunch was over. Other than eating food and avoiding eating flies, I spent most of lunch chatting with Amany and these two guys who joined us for the day as volunteers (one is also writing about the event for an upcoming magazine/newspaper called Jordan Youth Live). They were both very nice but had opposing opinions about the safety levels of a nearby city outside Amman that I want to go visit. A grain of salt. This was all taking place in South Ghour and after lunch we bused to a water source in Karak and began hiking it. It was gorgeous. It started off as this small, tiny canal of fresh water and then we saw that it was a tiny tiny stream and eventually we were walking through a decent sized stream (no river or anything, but a fast ankle-deep stream). The water felt great on my Chaco-ed feet and the vegetation was like an oasis...palm trees, cat tails, tall grasses, short grasses, other trees, etc. It was so nice. Mini waterfalls too. In the end there was a natural pool that water from the mountain  was running into (and then out of to form the stream). Some of the students swam in it and others of us just chilled on the edge with our feet dangling in the water. After our hike back we got on the buses and headed to Amman, probably arriving around 8pm. One of the volunteers I mentioned offered me and the other volunteer a ride home so it was nice to not have to catch the bus at night. I actually don;t even know if the buses keep running at the hour but I am sure it would have been an experience (maybe I would have ended up downtown, lol). 

I don't remember too much about the rest of the night except that I was starving so I fried up some strips of potato, onion, carrot, and koosa with olive oil, garlic, and a hot pepper. Yum. Lest you feel worried about me...by "some" I mean a lot. It hit the spot as did the shower I took afterwards to wash the stinky off me. 

A New York Times article posted the next day regarding Climate Action Day and mentioned FoEME.  
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