Captain’s log: it has been approximately 4 weeks since the temperature has reached more than 18°C. I am thankful that my every move doesn’t induce a pool of sweat but I am quickly regretting only packing clothes suitable for the desert. How dare I, am I right?
Besides the weather, I still love Amman very much – although, I am both excited to return to the United States and am sad to leave the culture, my host family, and the wonderful people I have met at CIEE. My goal of being able to hold basic intellectual conversations in Arabic has been achieved. I more capable of navigating myself around the city and communicating my whereabouts to my host family as well. Above all else, I think this is what I am most excited to take back to the United States. However, with my time winding down, I am going to take this opportunity to recap on my semester in Amman.
History that hasn’t been ruined...
One of my favorite things to do in Jordan is visit the plethora of archaeological and historical sites the country has to offer. From the Syrian border to the Red Sea, Jordan has been endowed with rich history from the civilizations that have resided here over the years including Christian and Muslims tribes, and the Roman Empire. The most famous of these is Petra, an old city in the south of Jordan that was built into the mountains. You might remember Petra’s treasury from the movie Indiana Jones the Last Crusade with Harrison Ford. Petra has been around since the 5th century BC and has been very well preserved, which makes this place so stunning.
My personal experience in Petra, this time around, has a special place in my heart as I have left a piece of me, quite literally, in its historical magnificence. Pictured here, you see me with a wrapped head, colleagues, and CIEE staff after I fell into a Roman Temple tomb because I thought a selfie-video would be a good idea. The story gets better, and I should preface it by saying that while I did not ask for any extra treatment, when hospital staff found out I was an American they put forth their absolute best effort.
After CIEE staff came to my rescue, they called an ambulance which arrived in about 10 minutes with a paramedic. Generally, ambulances in Jordan do not have a paramedic, nor do they have the materials to take care of anyone until they arrive at the hospital – the function of an ambulance in this country is to transport someone that had an accident to the hospital. So, I was put into one of these ambulances, but the Jordanians didn’t think it was “good enough for the American” and half way to the hospital we pull over, I am removed from the current ambulance and put into a much nicer, air-condition, well equipped ambulance. The Jordanians absolutely loved this! The paramedic was laughing the entire time and I learned a few Bedouin songs along the way. Needless to say, if I was in any real danger, I wouldn’t be alive to tell the tale. Once we pulled up to the hospital, every member of its staff was waiting for me at the lobby entrance to “take care of the American.” All that was missing was the red carpet and paparazzi. I was rolled into the emergency room accompanied by 4 nurses, 2 doctors, 2 drivers, 2 CIEE staff members, 2 tourism police officers, and 1 paramedic. After a few x-rays of my leg and head, I received 2 stitches and the doctor’s orders and went on my way. The entire trip was very inexpensive (*cough, cough* America) and I was very thankful for Jordanian hospitality and care.
Thankfully, the rest of my time has been hospital free and I was able to enjoy Jordan’s rich history without falling in a hole. We went to Aqaba to snorkel in the Red Sea, Wadi Rum to ride camels in the desert, in the north for the Ajloun Castle, and the Baptism Site of Jesus at the border with Israel.
These are a few of my favorite things
Over the fall break I had the opportunity to cross off my bucket list a country that I have wanted to visit for a long time – Israel. I have studied the Israeli/Palestinian conflict since I was a Junior in high school. Being able to see the very things I studied in person put it all into perspective for me. The process to get across the border into Israel from Jordan was long and stressful but an experience I would never trade. After an Uber to the border and a Jett bus to Israeli border control, we arrived in Jerusalem by taxi after 4 total hours of traveling. We spent 2 days in Jerusalem walking around the Old City and seeing many of the Christian and Jewish religious sites. The most fascinating part of the Old City was the various quarters for Jews, Muslims, Armenians, and Christians. With today’s climate concerning the region, it was refreshing to see all types of people walking freely throughout the city, interacting and enjoying life. What really put the 70-year conflict into perspective for me was our day in Bethlehem. On our way out of the city, I saw the wall that separates the West Bank from Israel decorated with graffiti in protest of settlement construction and a desire for self-determination. It was sad to have met such wonderful Palestinians that day and know that this wall separates them from a world of freedom. Day 3 was spent in Haifa where we walked through the beautiful Baha’i Gardens and a night walking through the city. Day 4 we went to Tel Aviv, a beautiful coastal city that contains both Old Jaffa and modern infrastructure. From my interactions with Israeli’s you can tell that they understand the conflict that surrounds them, but they continue to live life with zeal and take no thought for tomorrow. The trip back to Jordan was just as stressful, but alas, I made it home without any issues!
The most rewarding day of my time in Jordan happened recently during a community service outing with CIEE at a small school just outside of Amman. The school is only 2 floors containing a few classrooms for students up to 6th grade. The students were descendants of Palestinian refugees and because of the tribal nature of Jordan most of the students were related to each other in some form or fashion. Being a public government school, it wasn’t in the best shape and the area was impoverished. I honestly didn’t do that much work besides paint a few walls, but I had the opportunity to hangout with the best Arabic teachers of all time – sixth graders! They were so understanding and easy to talk to even with my Arableezee (Arabic-English kind of like Spanglish). A day later I found out that the students were asking about me, which truly pulled at my heartstrings.
It’s almost over
My second time in Jordan is closing in on its final days. I am missing the United States, but honestly the thing I miss the most is getting in my car at anytime of the day and driving. I am so thankful for the opportunity to live in this country for 4 months. I have eaten the best foods and have seen the best sights. Through my most embarrassing moments speaking Arabic I have learned these are the best opportunities to learn the nuances of the language. It has been a fulfilling semester and I am excited for my next adventure. Even though I will be leaving Jordan, it certainly won’t leave me.