Ryan and I at the sushi restaurant. The view was amazing! Funny thing- it was only the seventh floor. Amman, JO.
Hello! I’ve been missing in action and I’m sorry! Unlike being abroad, there are not as many exciting things going on in Jordan. But, I know my trusty followers (hi parents, hi ryans parents) are getting curious about life in Jordan for the past two weeks. Well, not much has changed but I will give you a run down of the latest and greatest.
On Wednesday night Ryan and I were in our usual cab ride back from the gym. In summer, it has been extra hard to get cabs at night because people are always out later- example a- entire families at the supermarket until 12 am. Anyway, we finally got a cab. We entered the traffic circle and I notice two huge black SUV’s sandwiching a tan SUV (one in front, one in back). The black SUV’s had police lights flickering from inside. In typical Jordo Cabbie fashion, our driver tries to sneak in front of the end black SUV to get a better place in the traffic. Quickly, two heads pop out from the car and yell at our cabbie… a little intense even for Jordan traffic. Then, I started to realize something strange was going on. We followed the SUV’s out of the circle on our usual route home. The back SUV was swerving like crazy behind the tan one. It was as if it was trying to make sure that no cars could get next to the tan SUV. I began to see that the SUV’s were protecting a certain someone in the tan SUV. For some reason our cabbie didn’t get this and tried to take a right, pulling up alongside the black SUV. NOT A GOOD IDEA. The man riding shot gun in the back SUV started yelling and throwing up some very inappropriate Jordanian hand gestures. Our cabbie wasn’t backing down until…. SUV man jumped out of the huge black car and marched over to our cab. He thrust his hand through the window and around our cabbies next. HE WAS VISCIOUS. I was like holy shit, it’s the kind, and we’s gon get shot!! We didn’t. Our cabbie was super super freaked out though and had us write down the license plate of the black SUV. Not sure what he plans on doing with it but… nice try bud. Ryan asked some of his co-workers and they said it def wasn’t the king, he gets a huge motorcade (duh) with snipers (duh) but it was probably a member of the Royal Family.
IS THIS A FRAT HOUSE OR THE AMERICAN EMBASSEY?
On Thursday night Ryan, Brian, and I headed to the American embassy for a party thrown by the Marines. The American Embassy is massive, I’m actually not sure that it isn’t from a fairy tale. There’s a pool in there and nice basket ball courts. There’s also the marine club house… or frat house as I like to imagine. It’s a medium sized building with a dance floor, couches, DJ booth, and bar. You know your in Jordan when… your “frat house” has a huge patio outside for smoking hookah (argeela) complete with a bait shar (Bedouin tent). It was a really fun night and I finally got to meet Ryan’s work buddy- Rob- who is a hilarious person, along with a bunch of other Americans and Jordanians. Might have had a summer drink or two and been in hefty amounts of pain on the treadmill the next day but oh well!
HOAST FAM & SOUQ JARA
On Friday after the gym I went over to visit my old host family. I was worried that they would try to shove food down my throat but honestly I felt just like I was living there again. It was great to catch up with my host sisters about what they’re doing this Summer. They made me Mansef (Jordan’s national dish) and I ate it happily. But, in all honesty, it’s not as good as I remember. The sauce and chicken weren’t so great. But, Baba’s rice is still the fluffiest I’ve ever had. It’s something about the garlic and fat he cooks and adds to the rice. Of course the visit wasn’t finished until I’d had mint tea…SO GOOD. My second cup was actually mint apple, also delicious. The visit was good and I hope to see them again before I head back to the US.
I’m pretty sure I wrote about Souq Jara when I was abroad in Jordan. I went on one of my first weekends in town with some gals from SIT. After a quick dinner on Friday night Ryan and I headed down to the souq to check it out at night. It was PACKED! All of Rainbow Street was actually packed. Kids, adults, foreigners, merchants, etc etc- endless people. Souq Jara is only open during the warm months because it is outside in a small street that connects to the larger Rainbow street. There were merchants selling everything from apricots to Bedouin jewelry to hair bows. In addition, there is a little food alley part of the souq. It is highly populated with smoothie makers who hand out tons of free samples- I was really into the lemon mint smoothie but I wasn’t hungry enough for it. People also sell crepes, smores, tacos, shawerma, popped corn (not pop corn), and other treats. Ryan and I walked all the way down to the end of the souq and there was a live concert going on! Because we are cheap college kids we didn’t pay the admission to get in and instead snuck a view from through fence- hey it sounded the same! The band was allllmmoossttt good. They had a little reggae going on, a little coldplay-ish going on, and a whole lot of Arabic. It really is hard to make Arabic rock sound good. But, it was still nice to hear some live music and it felt like Summer!
SUSHI IN MY BELLY
Saturday night we headed out to Vinaigrette, a fancy sushi restaurant that has awesome views of Amman. When I saw fancy you think expensive… WRONG. There is a special going on at a group of Amman restaurants called hungry hour. This offers 25% off from 5-7pm at a bunch of nice restaurants. This discount, combined with the fact that I had already scoured the menu and decided what to get (this is true) to make the money worth it resulted in edamame, a grilled veggie plate, and a sushi boat with 21 pieces for only 30 JD. WIN. The sushi has rice (duh) which is not Paleo but it was delicious and a nice “treat” (not really though, treats should be sweet). Even better than the food was the view and the company (Ry and I were the only people there until 5 mins before we left). It was a delicious dinner to end a good weekend.
3 WEEKS LEFT
Ryan informed me today that we have 20 days left in Amman. Is that a lot or a little? The weekend of the 25th Brian, Ryan and I will be heading to Israel so we really only have two weekends left. I still have so much hummus to eat!! This Thursday marks the beginning of Ramadan which should be super interesting. I’m pretty sure that I will be working shorter days (9-3 possibly?) but otherwise I don’t think life for me will change that much… makes sense… I’m not Muslim. But for the large majority of Amman there is no eating, drinking, or chewing gum when the sun is up (4am-8pm approx). BUT, as soon as the clock strikes 8pm all of the restaurants open back up and the city comes alive. During the day, the city is pretty dead. Chewing gum in the street or eating in public is frowned upon. My host family said you could get taken to the police station for this but I’m not entirely sure about that. On the weekends people stay up REALLY late… all night. Restaurants stay open until 5 am. I have made it a personal goal to get Hashems falafel at 1 am… if the king does it so can I. Tonight Ryan and I are heading to Carrefour, a massive supermarket, where there has been a Ramadan tent set up for about three weeks. I wanted to go back and check out the merchandise. We need more dates! They have a huge section of dried fruit, nuts, and little munchies. Apparently people buy a lot of that in Ramadan… not sure why… guests maybe? Anyway, I will hopefully snag some pictures.
Alright well, Ramadan Kareem!!!
**written June 25th**
I’VE BEEN MIA SORRY!
WORK (yes, that’s what I came here for)
Work has been going pretty well. I actually have things to do instead of just read. Weeeellll that’s most of the time at least, right now I have nothing to do but I only have an hour left.
Last week was pretty cool. Shaiban took me with him pretty much all day to different meetings at different ministries. We went to the Ministry of Justice, Labor, and Interior- in that order. It’s funny, you’d think the ministries would all look the same- big stone buildings standing together in a line. So wrong, ministries all look different. Justice is random building where you can walk right in without any security check. We met with the minister of human rights about the publications library I had compiled. He spoke English so I could take some notes. He also requested print out copies of a lot of the publications. So I have begun to print those our… prettttyyy sure I single handedly destroyed the printer.
The Ministry of Labor was a little more intense with a metal detector and a sign in log. There we met with the Minister of Inspection (he heads the department that makes sure workers are being treated fairly and working in safe conditions). He didn’t speak any English but was super nice and Shaiban translated a little for me. There, we checked out the meeting room we will be using for our Hotline trainings (starting tomorrow).
Finally we headed off to the grand finale- Ministry of MAGIC… lolz jk, Ministry of Interior. This place is freaking huge. It was the only ministry to have its own parking lot. Once you park your car you can see a small hut with lots of windows and people swarming around it. This is located in the parking lot and is where people get their papers to become a citizen, get property rights, achieve dual citizenship… aka anything having to do with the interior of Jordan- the inner workings. We headed up to a polished looking set of buildings. There were separate entrances for men and women for security. Once we were both through, a long hall appeared with waiting seats opposite windows. It was like the DMV on crack. There were tons of people there, especially Libyans and Syrians looking to get different types of permits. Shaiban made some calls and got us upstairs (more security). After a heated chat with a very sweaty short man, Shaiban procured a set of numbers. We took that downstairs, gave it to a man behind a window and returned back to the IOM with a set of authorized papers. You might wonder, what was this exchang? NO CLUE- Shaiban wouldn’t tell me. However, he did say that politics was all about knowing people…. Okay then.
At the end of the week Raluca (my other boss, young, Romanian woman- super cool) gave me a real assignment. The Counter Trafficking just submitted a grant to the EU for a huge 6 country program. Wellll we got the grant! It’s a hefty chunk of change (millions) but the EU only pays for 80% of projects. Soooo I was given the task of taking the 40 page project report and trimming it down to a 3 page letter/ overview that could be sent to embassies asking for funding. Sounds a little daunting but it wasn’t too bad. I finished it up yesterday and Raluca and I have since been back and forth about edits. I’m really happy I got this assignment because it feels like I’m doing something pretty cool for an intern.
Sarah and Amy are here from Cairo and DC to do the trainings tomorrow for the hotline workers. These trainings will go for three days but I will only be here for tomorrow. I am hoping to talk to them about their jobs.
The weekend was casual. Ryan and I went to dinner at this AMAZING Lebanese/ Armenian restaurant called Levant where they served me my shawerma dangling from a stick (see pics). Ryan’s chicken pot came covered in bread (that’s how they cook it!) so it was super moist.
Ryan, Brian, and I went to souq abduli on Friday for some bargain shopping. That place is cray. There is SO MUCH but you really have to dig. It’s like a jack up thrift shop. I found an Alice and Olivia (sold at neiman brand) in a size small but the sequins were coming off. I bet it would have costed about $300 originally. Buuttt I couldn’t buy it just for the bargain, I knew I’d never wear it with the sequins hanging off. I did snag a tshirt for Ian though.
After, Ry and I went to see Snow White and the Huntsman. I’d been dying to go and he kindly obliged. There were some corny parts (the blind dwarf) but otherwise I liked it.
I only have a half week this week because I’m heading back to the US on Wednesday morning so it’s going by really fast. I’m going to be doing a lot of traveling in a very short period of time… hello jetlag. But I am so excited to see my family (especially the twins!!!!!) and for DELTA GAMMA CONVENTION! So jetlag, bring it on.