Wednesday, September 9, 2015

It's never what you think it is.

What would you think is was if it is the first thing you saw when you woke up on a lovely Monday morning?
A. You are in a dream
B. Fog
C. Clouds
D. Dust

Normally, the white would be a view of Amman's many neighborhoods and landmarks. 

If you guessed dust, which was my last guess, then you are right. The above are the order of thoughts that went through my head, and any of the other options would be better than dust, because they can't actually hurt/attack/get inside your body/apartment. 

The latest updates on me include: a hiking trip (post to follow) which left me with a broken ankle on Friday, a blackout in all of the area I live in on Sunday, and a dust storm lasting for about three days now. 

Normally, the black bottom part of the photo would have just as many lights as you see in the background.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Jordan Does Birthdays Best

It was my 22nd birthday week and I was prepared for a small celebration consisting of a delicious dinner on my birthday. But my Jordanian family exceeded expectations as they do at all things consisting of hospitality and friendship.

It all kicked off Saturday evening, when I was cleaning my room and found the first gift hidden in my room. A set of lovely handmade ceramic Arabic coffee cups with a pink floral design and Arabic writing that I've had my eyes on since I passed by the shop and saw them only halfway complete.

This was followed by a bringing in my birthday at midnight with a surprise party... at my house! Like how did they even manage that?! The cake was carrot cake, which is my favorite and I did not tell anyone that. I was sung five different versions of happy birthday, only one of which I understood. I also received a 100% glass shisha/hookah/argeeleh that I have been eyeing for about a year. 

The next day I was kidnapped to go and pick out new plants and flowers for my roof (some of them had died from the sandstorm and heatwave). I was then surprised with a cactus delivery from my parents, which didn't have a name or note so I was left wondering for a while and quite hysterically who sent me a cactus for my birthday... an enemy? A secret admirer? Or did my parents actually send me a cactus, and yes they did I found out... That is after I called and asked: "Y'all didn't send me a cactus did you, because someone did and there is no name or number or anything?!" Don't get me wrong though, I totally love it!

I had my delicious dinner which consisted of Indian food. A few days later I also had a meal of birthday mansaaf. 

Because what birthday is complete without mansaaf?

Oh and sometime during my birthday week, my friends planned a movie night and turned my roof into The Broadway Theater. We watched The Grand Budapest Hotel with a projected screen, popcorn, and candy. And don't let me forget to mention that there was a meteor shower that same night so we saw shooting stars while watching the movie. 

So as far as I am concerned, this birthday is one for the books and Jordan absolutely did it best. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lexington vs. Amman

You can't be homesick, if you always feel at home. 

Long time, no post. What motivates me to write? Boredom. A slow day at the office. Isn't that funny? Office. I work in an office. In Amman, Jordan. I have a lovely view of Amman, but in the distance sits Mukhtar Mall. Reminding me of my past. When I was here this summer to study Arabic, I went to Mukhtar Mall basically everyday. And it's not for the enjoyment of going to the mall to go shopping (as Mukhtar Mall is literally the worst mall in Amman and should not even be called a mall), it's because it was literally the only thing that was walking distance to where I lived to buy groceries. Walking distance is funny also. In small town North Carolina, we were never concerned with "walking distance" because nothing was walking distance, not even the end of the driveway. The only time we walked anywhere was if we were specifically going for a walk. 

Lexington vs. Amman. I'm not sure two places could be more different, yet I gladly call both of them home. 

Similarities: hospitable family and friends, food delivery, most people from either place don't really know where the other place is, cookouts or barbecues are always a success, the weather temperature is pretty similar throughout the year (although humidity and precipitation differs exponentially), agreement that Coke tastes better in a glass bottle (although in Amman you order Coke as cola and Pepsi as Pepsi). 

Differences: In Lexington we walk around barefoot but in Amman sometimes sandals even seem questionable; In Lexington there are BBQ restaurants on every corner, but in Amman there are falafel stands; In Lexington you may see one taxi once a week, but in Amman you will see a taxi before any other mode of transportation; Lexington doesn't have any malls, but Amman has many; in Lexington you munch on carrots with a little hummus if you want to be healthy or fancy or different but in Amman we eat hummus by the breadfuls when we are poor or as a side dish at basically every meal breakfast. lunch, and dinner; in Lexington we drink iced sweet tea, but in Amman that's a specialtea (pun intended); in Lexington you see cows grazing, but in Amman you see camels (they are also available for giving rides at any moment, just ask), in Lexington the average glass size is anywhere from 21 to 32 oz, but in Amman it's about 8 oz, also refills aren't really a thing in Amman. 

By the way, Happy Hummus Day. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Café Culture

42 days in Jordan; 38 different resumes, CVs, and cover letters; 30some days of applications; 12 pairs of Rockports, 7.50 in taxi fare; 4 hours of interviewing; I have a job! 

When asked in the interview: What do you like least about Jordan? My immediate response is how long it takes everything to get anything done. But in the end it worked out. I've thoroughly enjoyed spending my days forming a solid group of friends at the cafe, practicing amiya arabic, and participating in local culture (which essentially revolves around when and where we are going to drink tea, juice, and/or coffee). Pretty sure my tea palate has become more refined than my amiya, but I am keeping my hopes high. 

Darat al Funun makes turkish coffee with a bit of turkish
delight more evilly tempting than the White Witch herself. 

Perfectly blended Lemon Mint at Fann wa Chai
7 minutes and .75 cent for a freshly baked baguette at the French Institute Cafe  
مطعم الخال اللويبدة
The perfect spot for a quick bite and the roughly 2JD a person price can't be beat. 
Casual visit to the Citadel, just after having tea and just before having coffee.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Weather or Not

I find the weather a really hard topic to write about... so not a lot of words but I'll just let the photos speak for themselves. I've seen sun, hail, rain, and snow all in Amman now and all in one day. Just when I thought North Carolina didn't have competition for crazy weather schedules, I officially believe Amman can compete. Oh and remember that viral video of the weatherman freaking out over "thundersnow"? Yeah, that's a totally normal thing here. 

We were supposed to go to Aqaba this weekend, but due to the anticipation of rain, wind, and snow the government declared it a national holiday, aka, a state of emergency. As a result, most businesses closed and the buses to beloved Aqaba, were canceled. Local businesses remained open at their own risk, but pretty sure most of those owners lived within, if not within walking distance, of those shops.

For anyone wondering how we are managing to stay warm without another outrageous electricity bill, well the 10JD sleeping bag from Carrefore has worked absolute wonders. Yes, I can still see my breath inside the apartment; yes, it's an excuse to go to the cafe for heat; yes our fridge has indeed decided to quit working again so, yes our foods are on the balcony; no, I don't know how we still have power; and no, I don't know how we still have internet; oh and yes, I still believe these are going to be some of the best months of my life. 

I didn't visit the Citadel in the snow, but remember the lovely view from my balcony I mentioned? It's above.
The garden below my balcony in the snow. It's kind of adorable right? I doubt the fruits are thinking that.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bikinis, Booties, Beanies, and... Blazes

Casual day at City Mall. Doing your everyday shopping for bikinis and beanies, right? Well that's not really two things you normally buy together, but when it's 40 degrees in Amman and you are getting ready for a warm weekend in Aqaba, it is. It was really the perfect time to buy because stores are cleaning out their fall product and getting ready for spring styles so I got a beanie for 4JD, but also the leftover bathing suits are from last season so Tara got that for only 2JD! It was a win-win. 

Oh and there was one other small win... 2JD leather booties. What? How does that even happen? I'll tell how. You find something in a store without a tag, with only one left, and it just happens to be in your size, and when the sales associate can't seem to find it in the computer, boom it's 2JD. Then, you rush out of the store in a retail high because you feel as if you have literally stole something and someone may chase you down, realizing the mistake they have made and ask you to pay more. Luckily that didn't happen. 

The 2JD booties.

So, as the lovely shopping trip comes to a close Tara and I are waiting on Nicola to finish up and then we look up and Aldo is on FIRE. Okay, the "o" was on fire. Next thing I know Tara is running to tell the store that it is on fire and moving much faster than I. Luckily, that gave me time to video and get photos of the incident. Within a few minutes the fire was out and we were on our way home. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It's Electric

We got our electricity bill this week. For one month, it was 315 JD. That's about 445 USD. For an apartment. We don't have central heating or air, but we do have 4 space heaters. And apparently that's the kicker. An expensive electricity bill for Amman is normally 100 to 150 JD, so while this number remains unconfirmed, we remain hopeful...

In other electrifying news, the fridge decided to take the weekend off and the freezer has completely given up on life. All of Nicola's bread making stuff has gone bad. So that means no crumpets for anyone. Someone was going to be here around 5:30pm to check it out... it's now 10:41pm. This takes arab time to a whole new meaning. Also we could have expected someone in 30 minutes from 3pm to explain the electric bill and they have yet to show also. That takes bad landlords to a whole new meaning. 

All in all, we are just thankful that at the end of the day, we have wifi, and can watch Katy Perry from "Left Shark's" halftime show on repeat... oh wait. 

Get a copy of your free left shark while you still can.