Monday, June 27, 2011

The Family

So in Jordan when you stay with a host family you don't just meet mom, dad and the meet the sister, the grandma, the neighbor, the neighbors dog, and all the friends of the family who by the way are free to drop in at any given time and hang out for lunch, tea, argila (hookah) and cards.

Lol but meeting the family has been an entertaining affair and it has been fun being included in the family activities and outings. :) Some days we all pile into the car and go, usually it is to the supermarket, but of course we make a stop at Teta's (Grandma's) on the way- this tends to last several hours and then after finally making it to the store we come home, make dinner and sit around with the family talking and later watching the Arabic News.

Today was one of those days...we had a huge lunch because Subhi one of our program directors came over to eat with us. Our host family prepared a famous Palestinian dish called Ma'luba which is yellow rice, roasted chicken, onions and lebaneh. And when we walked in we found the whole family including the grandma and our host mom's sister. Needless to say it turned into a party. We all crowded around the table and passed around the salad, the leban and the Ma'lube. The food was so delicious and we all had fun laughing and talking about traveling, Jordanian life etc... After a while, tea was prepared as well as turkish coffee (kind of like Cuban cafe) and we sat and talked with Teta, Subhi and our host parents. The kids were running around and playing and we spent most of the afternoon like this.

Afterwards we went to visit a family friend and then later once we got back home worked on homework.

Whew a full day indeed!

Well that's all for today, but we are heading to Mt. Nebo and the Baptism site of Jesus this weekend so I hope to have many more stories to share!!


Saturday, June 25, 2011


AL-Urdun :)


Here in Jordan the weekend does not begin on Friday, but rather the day before :) So Thurday nights in Amman are full of energy and practically the whole city goes out to Sharea Reenbow or Sharea Wakalat to have some shay (tea) or shawerma (kebob style chicken) or just to hang out with friends.

We had heard about a film festival coming to Amman, so on Thursday night we decided to check it out.  We arrived a bit early so we could scope out some seats but ended up sitting on some cusions in the front next to a family who had packed a whole picnic dinner :) The show was outdoors and we had a wonderful view of the city at night.

The director was there and it was so interesting to hear him speak about his creative process and how important film making was to him. The film was called MICROPHONE and it was about the underground music scene in Alexandria, Egypt. We all want to find the movie soundtrack somewhere becuse it included Arabic rap, hiphop and even bluegrass! :)

On Friday I met up with my cousin Marlene and she came over to have lunch with me and my host family. It was so great to see her lol especially on the other side of the world. We ate rooz ma jadara (rice with lentils) and it was yummy!! Then we headed to Mecca Mall and later on we went to the famous Souq Jara (Friday Market).

The Souq has everything from jewelry, to handmade rugs to fresh falafel and fruit juice. Marlene and I tried a Watermelon smoothie wich essentially was crushed fresh watermelon and ice- really refreshing and tasty!!

Then we headed to AMIGOS a local hangout near the Souq. We met up with some other kids form our program and we watched Star Academy- A Lebanese version of American Idol with contestants from all over the Arab world.

It has been a fun weekend so far!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Classes and Cafes.

Khalas yesterday we began our first day of INTENSIVE Arabic classes. And by intensive I do mean 5 hours of serious MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) and Colloquial Jordanian instruction, plus homework...but we are learning lots of phrases and words that we can put into practice immediately in a real context which is certainly a great opportunity.

My favorite class is Ammiyya (colloquial dialect) class. We learn to speak like Jordanians and I have personally witnessed a difference in the way taxi drivers respond when they are spoken to in their local dialect. After the first Ammiya class my usual 2 dinar taxi ride to school miraculously became 1,25!... hmm a coincidence la a'arif (I dont know)

Our class is really motivated to learn and we all help eachother out. Our teachers are encouraging us to use the new words we learn as much as we can and ya'ani (u know) we are working hard to do so.

Not all my time is spent in class here in Amman, sah (right) we do still make time to check out new places in the city and to relax with friends.

The other night we went to a hip cafe on the famous Sharea Reenbow (Rainbow Street). It is a very artsy street with tons of shops, cafes and parks where many young Jordanians hang out. We walked down to the end of the street where the Books@cafe is located and had some shay (tea) on the balcony overlooking the city at night. The view was amazing!! And the shay was yummy as always :)

So many new things to do and see!! and hear - 5 times a day ;) I wish I could record the call to prayer that we can hear form our flat, it can be heard all over the city and is really peaceful  :)

Ok gotta get some zzzz's long day of exploring tomorrow!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Falafel, Philidelphia, and al-Arabiya

Ahleen...So today was our orientation with AMIDEAST :)

We met the other students in our program took a placement test and then went out for a tour of Amman.

At first we were a bit skeptical when we entered the velvet curtained van that was to be our tourbus, but once we got settled the driver cranked up some Arabic tunes and our guide led us on a great tour showing us some great places to check out all around the city.

One of the highlights was when we saw the Roman ruins of Philidelphia which included a GIANT amphitheatre and also a place called the Citadel which back in the day housed an impressive monument to Hercules. Unfortunately all that is left are fragments of his right hand and elbow. I took a bunch of pictures so I will let them do the talking:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dead Sea

O Beach

Lost Luggage and the Dead Sea

Well... after several hours I finally arrived - in Madrid.  Even just being in the airport brought back nice memories of my time in Sevilla :) lol guess what the first thing i did was when we landed? That is besides finding my gate, ordering a "un manchado"of course!!

The rest of my journey was nice, I met a lady from Madaba and a little boy and his family who spoke spanish, arabic and english :) The lady helped me out so much when we arrived in Amman, because somehow my bag had got lost so she helped me file a claim. Lol long story but apparently it somehow ended up in France and will be here sometime soon.

Reem's family has been more than hospitable :)  they welcomed me into their home and helped me get settled, find a phone, and try some Arabic food.

Yesterday we met up with some of Reem's friends from Amman and we headed to the Dead Sea. We went to a day resort called O Beach which was beautiful! It included several pools and access to the famously salty Dead Sea.

After swimming and a nice lunch we headed down to the sea. There were giant salt rocks surrounding the water and a little boardwalk to help eager swimmers climb in safely. As soon as I got in, I tasted the water - probably not the best idea in the world but hey- and man was it SALTY. We all had fun taking pictures and floating around like corks. Then we watched the sunset as we headed back to Amma. :)

In Jordan people eat dinner later in the evening once things cool off around which is usually around 9 or 10pm. One of Reem's friends invited us over for a party at her Aunts house after we got back from the Dead Sea. We got ready and headed over for an evening of fun! Tala welcomed us into the party introducing us to her family and friends. We had kibeh, tabouleh, hommos, lahm...and lots of delicous food and after we ate and sang happy birthday (in english, arabic and french lol) they put on music and the party continued.

Today needless to say we took it easy, had a nice late breakfast and hung out with the family :) Amman is great so far and I am really excited to start classes and explore more of the city.

Shookran to Reem and her family who have been so gracious to host me these past few days!!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Airport Extravaganza... despite my various globe trotting experiences and suitcase packing skills, traveling never ceases to challenge and surprise me. 

It all started shortly after the seamless 45 minute flight to ATL...

Somehow I had gone out of the secure area where you catch connecting flights and so I had to begin the process ALL OVER AGAIN within the 30 minute window between my flights- and when i say 30 minutes I mean from the second i deboarded the first plane until the second one took off!! Once I saw the line for security I was basically in tears as it seemed impossible that I would make it to the gate in the 5 minutes before it was scheduled to leave. So I began formulating plan B as I walked in the direction of my gate.

I began to speed up as I saw a passenger at my gate!! I ran the rest of the way and as the door was closing I pulled out my boarding pass and was encouraged to HURRY onto my plane which was running a few minutes behind schedule :)

I borded completely out of breath and then met the nicest guy who was travelling to Madrid for study abroad. The funniest thing was that he was also studying Arabic and had just been to the Middle East the  summer before. We traded travel stories and recommendations (vino tinto in Spain and watermelon in the Middle East). And good thing we had lots of stories because guess who were the only 2 without a functioning entertainment center?? Yup, Row 32 :) But hey the old school style traveling was rather refreshing.

Ok well I am off to my gate for the final leg of the journey to Amman!! :)


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Jordan...T - 10 days

I am about to embark on my next adventure... into the heart of the Middle East!

During this trip I will be practicing Arabic in school and with my host family and I cant wait to get started :)

Feel free to add your comments to the post.
I look forward to sharing my trip with you all

Ma'selema!! (until later)