Sunday, July 25, 2010

My English Class

My host Mom got me hooked up with the Women’s Union here in town teaching English. I give class once or twice a week. Most of the Women are students between the ages of 17 to 22. We practice conversational English by playing games, reading children’s books, and talking about everything. We recently had a potluck, and the food was great. We took all the recipes and wrote them out in English. I’m going to print them out and make copies for all the girls to have their
own cook books.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Birthday Party

The other day we had a surprise birthday party for Etedal, my host Mom. It was a surprise to me too, since no one told me it was her birthday. All of a sudden the whole family started to show up with food and drinks. We set up a large seating area outside, and a fire where we cooked galiah pandorah, which means pot of tomatoes.






Geliyah Pandorah

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Game, Madaba, and Jerusalem

.......................................The Game........................................

يا حرام المانية I was so disappointed in Germany. They played great against Argentina, but were horrible against Spain, and Spain ended up taking the cup. I have to admit, taking part in the "football" (a.k.a. Soccer) fun has been an awesome part of the experience here. Coming from a place where soccer is really not much of a big deal, I was quite surprised to see flags of every nation on earth all over the place. On cars, on windows, outside of shops. We had a good time hanging out at a local Caffee watching Argentina get their butt whooped. Spain vs. Germany was enjoyed on the roof top of a restaurant in the city circle here. They had a tent on the roof with a TV, as well as hookah, refreshments and food. I stayed home for the last and final game because I had a big trip the next morning to Jerusalem.

At the Cafe during the Germany vs. Argentina game.

A view of the circle at night on the roof at the Germany vs. Spain game.

Madaba is a town about 45 minutes away from Fuheis. My host Mom's sister Haifa and her family live there. I went there to stay for a couple of days. We had a good time eating chicken mensef, smoking hookah, and hanging out. While I was there Raad, Haifa's son, was nice enough to take me to a local church to see an ancient map, as well as to a place where they make mosaics by hand, and to mount Nebo. Mt. Nebo was the place Moses looked out and saw the promised land before the Israelites went in to possess the land. I thought it was fitting to stand in that same place and look out at Jerusalem before I went there.

This was the place I stayed at in Madaba. As you can see, they were rooting for Germany.

This is , he showed me around Madaba.

This was taken at the mosaic "factory" there. We went there right after we went to the ancient church with an ancient mosaic map on it's floor. In the mosaic factory every thing is made by hand by local workers, and I got a tour and was taught how they make the mosaics step by step. The interesting thing is, once they found out that I spoke German, they wanted to give me the tours in German, both at the church and the factory. I never thought I would be speaking German in the Middle East, but the were very happy to speak it.

This was the look out point on top of mount Nebo, where you can see Jerusalem. I saw a big group of Mexican tourists here.

These are the guys I went up the mountain with.


The trip to Jerusalem was very interesting and gave me a good perspective on Arabic culture outside of Jordan. Of course the majority there are Jewish, and I did have some good conversations with some very nice Jewish people there, but I also spent hours navigating my way around the old city speaking Arabic. The people there were very nice, but also very determined to make sales. Asking simple directions there could get you invited in for coffee, but beware, they also want to make a deal. Over all, it was a cool trip and I'm glad I got to experience it first hand, and see with my own eyes a little bit of what is going on there.

This is a Jewish girl I met on the bus on the way to Jerusalem. She lives in a town an hour or so south of Jerusalem and was on her way to get her sister. Her name was Noah, and we talk the whole way to the city. (In Hebrew Noach is for boys and Noah is for girls.)

This is a well that was in an Arab man's shop in the old city. He said it was the deepest well in Jerusalem. The guy was very nice. He invited me in for tea and to talk. He was the only Arab man in the old city who invited me in just to talk and did not try to sell me something.

This was another man I met in the old city we talked for a while, and he sold me some traditional Arabic cloths.

The western wall of the Temple Mount, where the Jews mourn the loss of Solomon's temple which once stood atop the mount.

On top of the mount, an up close shot of The Dome of The Rock.

Jaffe Gate, one of the entrances to the old city.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Arabic Wedding

Today we went to an Arabic wedding. It started off with a sort of reception at the brides house. This was where the ancient Arabic tradition of the drinking of the coffee took place. I was told that in the old days, when the grooms family wanted to take a bride from her family, they would go to the bride's family's house for coffee. The brides family would prepare the coffee, and when they sat down to drink the grooms father would say, "We will not drink this coffee until we have what we came for," what they came for being the bride. When the bride's family agreed, then the grooms father would drink the coffee, and that was the "handshake" that sealed the deal. The reception we went to today started with the bride in a room with all her bridesmaids in a circle around her. A man (the bride's cousin) played the drums, and the bride and some of her close relatives danced in the middle of the circle. They did this for a long long time, and after a while the groom and his family came, and they drank the coffee. Then the grooms parents took the bride to the church, and they had the wedding. The wedding ended with a long line of the brides family standing in one place, while everyone went through and shook all their hands and congratulated them.

The party for the wedding was actually this last Wednesday. They had a lot of tables in a party hall, and everyone sat around eating and drinking, and they had dancing. The dance started out with people standing around the bride clapping to the beat while she danced, then everyone joined in. Later there was all sorts of line dances and stuff, it was a lot of fun.

Other than that the last few days have been good. The Arabic lessons have been paying off. I now know at least enough to go anywhere I want on the bus without much confusion, and I have even had a few conversations with people on the bus or in town who don't speak any English at all.



This is the part at the brides house where it is sort of like a bridal shower. The women clap and chant around the bride who is in the middle in white.

More of the chanting and dancing. You can hear the elder women of the family leading the chant, and yes, those are gun shots.

My host brother فادي (Fadi) playing the drumb.

A series of the elder women in the family took turns chanting.

The grooms family beings to arrive, while the women continue to clap and dance in the other room.

This is where the groom's father takes the coffee, you can see him drink it if you look close.

The bride makes her way to the grooms family, who will take her to the church to get married.

The bride and groom enter the church together.

Friday, June 25, 2010

المدينة جرش

اليوم جمل في جرش. هذا بلد روماني قديم مع اثار. انا ذهبت من بيتي في الساعة الأثنى عشر و نصف وذهبت بباص إلى صويلح, مدينة قريبة من الفحيص. هنا سائق الباص قال لي خذ سرفيس, هذا سيارة مثل التكسي لكن ارخص. وجدت سائق سرفيس اسمه مالك. هذا رجل لطيف جدا. هو أخذني إلى جرش, للأثار القديمة, لأكل, إلى حلق لقص شعري, لشرب قهوه, وعدنا إلى صويلح, كل شيء ب 25 دينار, هذا يعني 35 دولار للقص, والطعام, والقيادة. الطعام هناك في جرش كان لذيذ جدا. أكلت سندويتش دجاج وخروف, هم مثل بوريتوس في نيو مكسيكو. انا اخفت رقم مالك ونحن سوف نذهب للتسوق هذا الاسبوع. والان انا أشرب القهوة التركية الذيذة وأكتب هذا لك. سلام

اثار قديم

بوابية اسمها عمان

تحت القوس وفي حلبة سباق الحصن

على طريق العودة للبيت

أضا على طريق العودة للبيت

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Past Few Days

The past few days have been nice. The language barrier is more evident some times than others. My host family speaks excellent English, so it's always easy to communicate here. They teach me Arabic in little bits here and there, and my host sister always tries to engage me in Arabic conversation and is very patient with me. Today my host mother also gave me an Arabic lesson, which helped me out when I went to the store.

One thing that was so surprising to me was how helpful everyone is here. Like today, I was waiting on the side of the road so I could flag down a bus, and a guy about 18 years old comes up to me and starts talking to me in Arabic. I never saw him before, but that didn't stop him from going on the bus with me and helping me find what I needed in the town, and then introducing me to his friend. He didn't speak a word of English, so that Arabic lesson was put to good use. Everyone has been like that here, very kind, loving, and helpful.

I have met a new friend who lives in a town only 5 min. away from me by bus. His name is Yousif. I've been spending a lot of time with him and his family lately. He has a lot cousins and uncles, and I try to practice my Arabic when I am with them. They also like me to help them with their English. Yesterday they made Mansaf for me, a transitional Arabic dish made with meat and rice. It was fun eating it, because it's traditionally eaten with your bare hand. We also went to their farm where they are building a house.

My host sister Rawan and her husband Saif.

Sunset at the farm.

A view from the farm.

A sign on the street.

Me eating Mensaf. :P

My friend Yousif with his dad and grandma, she's 100 years old.

A garden they have.

Some of my new friends.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

First Couple of Days in Amman - يومان الأول في عمّان

So far, I love Amman. The place I'm staying is called AlFuheis (الفُحيص), and it's like a suburb of Amman. It is a Christian Village and the people here are very nice. The sunsets and sunrises are gorgeous, set above the large rolling hills of Jordan. I was surprised how green it was here, and also how large the city is. Luckily, the bus system is good here, so getting around is not a problem. I arrived Wednesday night wiped out after two days of travel, but the next morning I was ready to travel some more. I went with Ismael, a new friend, to Madaba, a city near where I am staying. We had a good day traveling around and I got to see a lot of interesting sites and start improving my Arabic. After I got back I went with his friend Ahmad and his family for coffee, and had a good time getting to know his sons, one of whom was very kind in going way out of his way to help me get home, which I had forgotten where it was.
The next day was Friday, and this is the first day of the weekend here. People spend the day relaxing, as well as Saturday, but more so Friday because it is like the Sabbath here. So Friday I just hung out at the house with the family and talked, watched the game on TV, and we practiced our English. Today I went downtown to see what was going on there, and I learned that the city wakes up late on the weekends. Even by 10am most of the shops are still closed, but I managed to get a nice pair of black pants for a wedding I will attend in a couple of weeks. I don't have to to many pictures yet, because I don't wan't to look like a tourist carrying a camera everywhere I go, but I have some, and I promise to get more soon.

A beautiful sunset view from the house.

A view of the front of the house.
Fadi, 16 years old, host brother.
Etedal, host Mom.
Off to the side of the house.