WE MADE IT TO JORDAN! Barely. Our flight out of Dulles was super delayed, so by the time we got to London, we had to be escorted through the airport (and got to skip all the lines) in order to make our connecting flight to Amman, Jordan. But make it, we did! With a few moments to spare. We made it to Amman after 24 hours of travel, exhausted but happy. Because we got in so late last night, we stayed in a tiny little Jordanian hotel. From the rooftop, we had an incredible view of Amman. Here are two pictures from opposite sides of the roof:
I will be in Amman for 4 weeks of intensive Arabic classes before I head to Palestine. We got our books today, and I'm already a little overwhelmed. Arabic is an incredibly beautiful and complex language, and while I'm thrilled to begin to study it, I'm also nervous that I wont catch on. Luckily, I'll be taking these classes with two other girls who have placements in the Middle East, and one of them already speaks a little Arabic. She was so helpful while we were going through customs, and she's already helped us learn a few words.
While I'm in Jordan, I'll be living with an incredibly wonderful Christian host family. Luckily for me, they all speak fantastic English, and are being patient and helpful as I learn more Arabic. My host mother, Rula, has told me over and over that I should think of their (amazingly beautiful) home as my home, and their family as my family. Rula works with the Women's Christian Association here in Amman. Her husband, Emad, is the head of surgery in the the only children's hospital in Jordan (which is actually an incredibly beautiful, 2 year old hospital that is shaped like a boat). He is an incredibly accomplished surgeon, and is a fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and The Royal College of Surgeons (in the UK). They have two children; Zaid who is almost 22, and Amer who is 19. Zaid is studying Accounting at the university here in Amman, and wants to move to the US after graduation because he's bored of Jordan. He says that Jordan is super expensive, and people don't make much money (for example, as a starting accountant here, he'll make just $6,000 Jordanian Dinars a year, which is equal to about $4,250 American Dollars). Amer just graduated from high school despite his developmental & social challenges, and while he spends all his time staring at me, he absolutely refuses to speak to me even though his English is great. His parents say that it takes him a few weeks to be able to speak to a new person, so I'm hoping that eventually he'll warm up to me.
One of the first things that struck me about Jordan is the seemingly overwhelming love that these people have for their king, the head of their constitutional monarchy. I have only heard King Abdullah referred to as "wise," "kind," "intelligent," and other flattering things. As a Westerner, I always kind of assumed that everyone under a ruler with such power must be miserable, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. Everyone especially raves about the equality that the Muslims and Christians both have in Jordan.
Another fascinating thing is that because we are in Ramadan (a month-long period of time when Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn until dusk), and about 97% of Jordanians are Muslim, it is ILLEGAL to eat or drink in public. If you eat or drink on the street (or on your porch, or on the sidewalk, or in your front yard) you could be fined, or even arrested (although thats apparently very uncommon). It's really fascinating. At 7:20pm when the fast was over for today, the streets were absolutely empty because everyone was at home eating. We were literally the only car on the road.
All in all, I'm loving being in Jordan. The weather here right now (at 11pm) is about 75 degrees with no humidity. Even when it gets quite hot during the day, the dry heat is quite manageable. The people are kind and hospitable, and while I've talked enough about American politics to last me a lifetime, I know that I'm going to truly enjoy my time here.
In Jordan, it's normal to stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning, but I'm definitely still an American in that its 11:30 and I'm about to pass out. Goodnight, or as we say here in Jordan: