Mea Culpa


not dead yet

Once again, I’m not dead yet.  Despite radio silence, I’m very much alive and currently peeling potatoes for a desert Thanksgiving.

To tell the truth, about a month ago I sat down to describe Petra and felt absurdly inadequate for the task.  Not even thesaurus.com could assist.  The logical step was to give up on writing entirely- and thus my recent hiatus.

I realize the error of my ways and vow to make amends soon.  In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving.  All manner of Christmas music and It’s a Wonderful Life is cued to start in T minus twenty hours and for the first time, I feel the smallest twinge of heartsickness for this season back home.  But I am so, so happy to be adventuring!  I’ve lined up Christmas in Bethlehem, and that makes up for any number of sparkles and carols and evergreen for a year.

More soon, I promise.

I rode a camel. NBD.

Jordan was a whirlwind, a completely different perspective of the Middle East, and heaps of fun.  I’ll give a thorough run down later, but for now the most important thing to know is that I rode a camel.  I saw Petra, I camped with Bedouins, I swam in the Dead Sea, and I rode a camel.

The school sent a group of teachers to Jordan for visa paperwork and another teacher, Emma, and I extended our trip by three days and toured ourselves (and I rode a camel).  The vast majority of photos you’ll see are Emma’s work; without her, I would have little evidence of having been anywhere. (Or having rode camels.  Which I did.)

Jordan is so different from Kuwait, both the people and the land.  The people are poorer but more relaxed; the women cover here as much as in Kuwait, but with more color, not in black.  The men are amorous to say the least; on the street, shopkeepers call out at you, “Beautiful lady!”, “Beautiful eyes!”, “I love you!”, “Welcome to Jordan!” which is mostly salesmanship, but there’s underlying good humor to it.  The women are friendly and helpful, too, which I find far more comforting.  On the other hand, men got a bit handsy with both Emma and I during the busier part of the evening, and we were glad to retreat to the hotel at the end of the day.

Jordan’s terrain is more rock and earth than sand, and you can see surrounding mountains in the distance.  Vineyards, olive groves, shepherds and goat herds line the roads outside of the cities.  Geographically, it reminds me a lot of a less verdant California.

I’ll give a history lesson and a detailed itinerary soon, but here are the highlights:

Amman itself is a mish-mash of tourist shops, hotels, businesses, apartment buildings, Roman ruins, and bars, all perched and carved into the sides of mountains.  It reminded me a lot of San Francisco in more ways than one.DSC_4357IMG_0570Petra was astonishing.  My words fail me, but it’s staggering to imagine an entire civilization carving out their homes, their temples, their theaters, their aqueducts, their monasteries from cliffs and crags.  We hadn’t nearly enough time, but we climbed up and overlooked the valley.  It was breathtaking.

IMG_0662 IMG_0663 DSC_4520We saw the sunset and camped at Wadi Rum, “The Valley of the Moon.”  Bedouins certainly capitalize on tourists, but the natural beauty was striking.IMG_0810 DSC_4683

In case you missed it, I rode a camel.  This guy was my buddy.  We’re pretty tight.IMG_0807 DSC_4722The Dead Sea was mostly comical.  You physically cannot dive under the surface (and when you do, the salt in your eyes burns like no dried contact ever could).  I felt like a bit of styrofoam in the water; I wish there were a more romantic simile, but there you have it.  Lumineers appropriately ran through my head as I drifted.DSC_4738

The last key difference between Kuwait and Jordan?  alcohol is legal.  Believe me, we put the law to good use.  There is nothing like six dry weeks to make one thoroughly appreciative of the finer things in life, even at 8 am in the airport on our way out.IMG_0432 IMG_0463 IMG_0812

 

 

 

Oh yeah…. and I rode a camel.

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In the details

A final word on Morocco, and then I’m overdue to tell you about Jordan, plus an aside on camping in a bombed-out Iraqi bunker last weekend.  There’s not enough time!

I feel in Morocco I saw tourist attractions and took my pictures, but really I peeked a glimpse of daily life.  Buying onions, playing with the kitten, visiting the one English bookshop, passing the same doorstep every afternoon that’s what persuaded me that I could live in Rabat.  It’s a shame you don’t take pictures in your everyday life because it’s what you really remember of a place, but you don’t forget it, either.  These are the last pictures of Morocco and they don’t nearly capture it, but I earnestly hope there will be more someday soon.

Sunset from the top of the Kasbah:

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A Muslim graveyard; the graves are so small because all Muslims are buried facing Mecca, which in Morocco means they’re on their side:

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The souq, the medina, and the river:

IMG_0226 IMG_0227 IMG_0143 IMG_0162 IMG_0233 IMG_0160 IMG_0159 IMG_0234 IMG_0237 IMG_0207My welcome gift to Morocco- traditional house slippers.  They are the most comfortable footwear on the planet, and everyone wears them, not just tourists.  I love mine; they are as agressively cheerful as I am:

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The sweethearts of Morocco:

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