On CIEE’s recent trip to Azraq and Shomari I saw a side of Jordan that one does not experience when living their daily life in Amman. As we entered Shomari Wildlife Reserve we immediately started a jeep safari tour where we left the concrete overcrowded jungle of Amman and traded it for the dusty desert savannah. On our adventure we learned about animals such as the wild onniger, Arabian Oryx, a desert hawk, which I discovered had very soft feathers, and a delicious tasting plant that I put in my water bottle. After our safari, my group ventured out to the once prosperous Azraq wetlands Reserve. Upon arrival we learned that illegal pumping left this once luscious preserve in the shadow of its previous glory. Despite this sad news, there are still many pools of water and amazing wildlife, such as water buffalo. Additionally, I learned that 4 out of every 10 glasses of water come from this preserve. To finish the trip off, we visited two desert castles. One, called Qasr Amra, is a UNESCO world heritage site due to its well preserved Ummayad fresco’s. The second, named Qasr Al-kharanah, was a beautiful desert castle where we could explore several rooms that contained doorways that opened to the interior courtyard. Overall, it was an amazing trip that I will never forget!
I found myself sitting in a tent sipping tea while my friend asked religious advice from the Bedouin Sheikh with a master’s degree. I stared into my tea and wondered how all the little moments in my life brought me here. This morning, I piled into a car with a group of rowdy Jordanians who were all ready to get out of the city. We drove nearly three hours to hike 20km through Wadi Dana. We eased ourselves down the road unnavigable by vehicles. At the wadi floor, we heard a Bedouin man playing a flute. My companions demanded that I take out my flute and “battle” him. Back and forth, we attempted to repeat each other’s melodies that echoed through the breathtaking canyon. The sheep he was herding soon took him away from his music, and we played leap-frog over the day. After a stunning couple of hours hiking, his livestock army stampeded into our little circle. We invited him to join us and in turn were invited into his home -- Jordanian hospitality. The stop resulted in 4km of night hiking under the desert stars and a late return. I will continue to be grateful for and wonder about all those little moments.
Claire Dumont, University of Vermont
A few weeks ago, we had a mosaic workshop here in the study center. Even though it wasn’t exactly what I expected, it was a lot of fun and a really great cultural experience! The group of us who had signed up, about a dozen students, walked into the staff office to see the table covered with innumerable stone sticks, and quite a few tools we weren’t quite sure how we would use. All of us were given a template, and off we went! As it turns out, making mosaics is actually a lot of work. Each tile has to be cut from those stone sticks and carefully placed onto the template with some glue, and tiles for the central letter (we were working off letter templates) has to be cut down to size and shape properly. This all requires a lot of focus, and before you know it an entire afternoon has gone by! However, all that effort pays off, because our finished mosaics looked good enough to go on any wall. All in all, an afternoon well spent!
Jacob Noble, Earlham College