Monday, June 27, 2011

TOWANDA: the diary of a mad white woman.

So, I’m dedicating this blog post to one of my favorite movies, Fried Green Tomatoes. These last couple days I have discovered my inner Towanda. Please consider this quote for a moment. (excuse the language)

“I never get mad, Mrs. Threadgoode. Never. The way I was raised, it was bad manners. Well, I got mad and it felt terrific. I felt like I could beat the shit out of all those punks. Excuse my language. Just beat 'em to a pulp. beat 'em till they begged for mercy. Towanda the avenger. And after I wipe out all the punks of this world, I'll take on the wife-beaters, like Frank Bennett, and machine-gun their genitals! Towanda will go on the rampage. I'll put tiny little bombs in Penthouse and Playboy so they'll explode when you open them. And I'll ban all fashion models who weigh less than 130 pounds. And I'll give half the military budget to people of 65 and declare wrinkles sexually desirable. Towanda, righter of wrongs, queen beyond compare!”

Think this is a little extreme? I think not.

A couple days ago Janae and I discovered bug bites on our arms and legs that itched like crazy. I looked like a Dalmatian, but instead of black dots, I was covered with tooth paste dots all over my arms, legs, and hands. By Sunday I had had enough!

Sunday is our water day so we can use as much water as we please without paying for it. I was fully prepared to take advantage of it and came home straight from work and skipped the gym. My first plan of attack was to clean all of my clothes. This process is very time consuming so while that was ensuing; I started in on the bed. I took my bed apart and dosed it with our bathroom cleaner that is so strong it disintegrated a rubber band. I then proceeded to scrub it off with boiling water. I felt that it would do the trick. After that I scrubbed my floor through the same process. I washed my sheets and bedding in the shower, again with boiling hot water and soap. This created the most disgusting orange/brown color of water that I have ever seen. Basically someone who has never drunk water in their life and has a disease would have produced this color of water. And I was sleeping on that! The bedding soaked up almost all the water and became 200 lbs as I carried it to our balcony to dry. Then I carried our large bedroom rug out to the balcony to give it a good disinfecting. I scrubbed that thing with our squeegee until I had collected more than a handful of hair and disgustingness from it. As I set those out to dry I finished the rest of my laundry and cleanup my mess from operation: ‘kill every damn bug.’ Today we set up booby traps around our beds and sprayed every inch of our room with ‘all bugs’ killing spray. I’ve been sleeping on the couch for three days, I have nasty-a bug bites all over my body, and I itch like a mad women. I do hope at least one bug survives so that he can tell his friends about me, because Towanda is here to stay.  


I have a confession. Living in Jordan has created more opportunities of swearing, (just a few choice words) which I have taken full advantaged of and embraced. I’ll try to work on it. We’ll see what happens. 

I'm up in the gym, working on my fitness

After a couple weeks of Jordanian food, I soon realized how quickly I needed to find a gym. This search led me to Aspire. It is located across the street from Jordanian University. After looking at many other gyms, this one is by far the best. It’s a women’s only gym which I would prefer. It isn’t too expensive either. It offers classes almost every hour and spinning classes. It has all the weights and gym equipment you need to work out, which I couldn’t say for other gyms I’ve seen here. Go figure. It has a hot tub, sauna, and salon. They blast American and Arab pop music all day and the AC is always running. (Pun not intended) I also enjoy reading Arabic subtitles of Grey’s Anatomy, Dawson’s Creek, and Arab soap operas. I usually try to go every day after work. The transportation is burning through my budget. My second day there I ran into my friend who works with me at the center. I’ve noticed that we are two of many foreigners who have discovered Aspire. Arab women don’t really run on treadmills. I feel kindof weird sometimes when I’m the only one running. And the treadmills are really slow here. A 10 here is the equivalent to like a 6.5 in the US. I’ve also started running at Sports City. I’ve already gotten bored of running of a treadmill, so this place is my saving grace. It’s a closed in wooded area with trails throughout it. It reminds me of my XC meets in Coeur d’Alene back in the good ole days. This place only has tennis courts, volleyball courts, track, and many other things I have yet to discover. I also know all this working out is paying off because my neighbor told me my face looked skinnier today! Fist pump. Success. J

an added perspective

The other day while at the center, some of the beneficiaries invited me to eat lunch with them. I spend most of my time at the center with these girls and I love them. I didn’t realize eating with them meant I had to go up into their living quarters, which is mamnu3, (forbidden) but I did it anyways. When I got up there their supervisor told me I couldn’t be there, called for permission for me to be there, which was then granted, so I feel ok about it. The girls were so excited to have me as a guest. They don’t get to make meals for other people since there not allowed to leave the center and they straight up don’t have guests. They immediately began preparations as they taught me how to make their favorite foods. It was a joy seeing them in their element and I felt so comfortable with them. We enjoyed a delicious meal and they showed me pictures of their families. This gave me an added perspective on these women’s situations. At first glance I only see them as women who have difficult problems and need help. But after that day, I was able to see into their lives and understand who they are better and where they are coming from. These women had lives and were living them before they arrived at the center; they have family and friends on the other side that they aren’t able to have much contact with. I gained a greater respect for them and an added motivation to do my best work in assisting them.  


So I’ve heard such wonderful things about the Badia from my good friend Jer Bear, so of course I was so excited to visit. (insert sarcasm) However, to its credit, it wasn’t that bad. Our first destination was the beit alsh3r. Here I felt like mosquitos were all over me. I tried to limit the amount of time my mouth was open so I didn’t end up eating all of them. We learned where the guest sits, how we are served coffee, and how to tell someone we are done with our coffee.  From there we visited the camels! These camels were huge compared to the ones I saw at Petra. These camels didn’t have saddles, but I tried to ride one anyway. It was actually really fun. They get them on the ground and you just chill on the edge of their back and hold on tight to their hair. After that, we visited the female camels. These girls were less scary. They didn’t make loud, obnoxious noises to warn of attack.  I didn’t ride these ones, but I was able to get a lot closer to their faces and pet them. A guy that was our guide told my professor; ‘I like Kaiti, she’s very durable.’ After a few laughs from Ralph who said durable is used for washing machines and such...He helped him find the words; daring and adventurous. So apparently I’m durable. Good to know. We also went to a volcano site. That night we enjoy chicken, potatoes, and carrots that were cooked underground. I like how open and 
widespread the Badia is and the people were very friendly. It was a very successful trip.


Janae’s friend invited us to visit her and her family in Salt. We took a bus ride about 40 min from Amman that was only 40 piasters. Her family was extremely nice and welcoming. They made a huge, delicious meal for us. This was my first real experience with an Arab family and true Arab hospitality. After lunch they dressed us up in hijabs and we had a dance party. They took us around the city and to an old Christian church. Salt is beautiful. I would liken Salt to Jordan as Tuscany to Italy. Everything is green and it’s not as busy as Amman. Our hosts wouldn’t let us pay for anything, they were so nice. We exchanged contact information, so I’m looking forward to my next visit. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Petra, Wadi Rum, Aquaba

This last weekend I went to Petra, Wadi Rum, and Aquaba. It was a blast. We left Friday morning for Petra. We were planning to go hiking when we arrived, and I realized on the bus that I hadn’t dressed appropriate for such an activity. So I strategically changed my clothes on the bus while sitting in my seat while everyone was unawares.  When we arrived we headed off on our hike to the Monestary. We walked down the trail to the treasury which is in a scene that everyone kept referring to from Indiana Jones. I wasn’t too excited to see the treasury due to the fact that I haven’t seen the film that is was a part of. However, I was very impressed with the beauty and workmanship of the exterior of the rocks. While at the treasury, my friends and I decided to ride camels to the stairs at the beginning of our hike. This decision was made partly because of laziness, but mostly for the experience.  It took me a while to figure out to get on this enormous creature even when it was lying down. After some assistance and after I was in position, the camel rose to his feet. I’ve seen camels in pictures and movies and I’ve never questioned the realness of their height, but from experience, they are really tall! I felt like I was driving my dad’s big-A truck again. I was glad that my camel was attached to someone else’s so I didn’t have to steer. But I soon realized that the view would have been much better had I been in front and I wouldn’t have had to interrupt the perfect timing of the camel in front of me going to the bathroom. The ride got uncomfortable real quick. I could feel where my bruises were going to appear within 5 minutes. I tried to raise my legs higher on the camel as long as I could, which was most comfortable, but my legs still got sore. It was especially fun when my camel started to run. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool. I just wouldn’t use a camel as a frequent mode of transportation.  Once we came upon the steps of the hike, we were approached by children with donkeys who could take us up the stairs. We couldn’t resist and proceeded to make our way up the trail on a donkey. I liked the donkey ride better than the camel ride. However, I felt bad because it literally carried me about two miles up a 45 degree inclined mountain. Almost twenty minutes later, my donkey and its child, were struggling for air as we made it to the top. From there we hiked about five minutes to other sculpted rock. I’d say it was a good hike.
From Petra, we went to Wadi Rum.  Wadi Rum is a desert with mountains of rock and sand. It is beautiful. There is something that deserts offer that nothing else can. I don’t even know how to adequate describe it or give it any justice. When I first arrived, I spotted a perfect sand dune far enough away from camp for me to climb. As I was running up it, my legs were sinking into the sand. This sand dune wasn’t even close to being the highest mountain, but I could everything from it. I saw our camp not too far away. I saw another camp a little further. Mostly I just saw mountains of rock perfectly shaped in their own imperfections. It was so quiet and peaceful. I played in the soft, warm sand. I tried to take it all in as my fellow travelers followed me up the hill. I loved how limitless it was. I felt as though I could go anywhere I wanted. Later that night we went on a night hike through the open wilderness. We stopped and rested under the stars. I haven’t seen the stars like that since I’ve been in Jordan. I haven’t taken advantage of them in a long time either. I saw a few shooting stars. There was a soft breeze and the conversation was hilarious per usual. It was a great night.

Aquaba was just what I needed. We stayed at a nice hotel with unlimited showers. My first adventure was going to the beach. It was the opposite of Wadi Rum, such that it didn’t have soft sand. It was more like rocks with sand in between them. But I did find that if I went further out into the water my feet touched sand.  I jumped off the dock a couple of times, almost lost my sunglasses four times, and drank my body weight in salt water which made my lips really chapped. It felt so good to be overwhelmed by the sun while immersed in cold water. That night we rented out a boat from a local guy to show us around. This was one of my favorite moments of the trip. Picture Annie, Janae, Aussie, Jensen, Skye, Jeremy, Ben, and myself chillin in a weathered boat barely holding itself together drinking Barios. (Bario is flavored non-alcoholic beer..aka..malt beverage ) We’re looking through a glass covered whole in the boat of the water below. Jensen’s wearing his short shorts, Ben has a cane (a story that is not mine to tell), Skye is as far off the edge of the front of the boat as possible, Aussie is considering climbing on the overhead cover of the boat, Annie is translating and keeping us from doing something stupid, Janae is working on her tan, Jeremy is getting his reflection picture in his sunglasses, and I am chillin with an air of a self-serving dynast. (more or less a comfortable way of chilling) It was a picturesque moment and I highly enjoyed it. We saw a tank underwater and some cool fish. Later we walked along the beach and explored the surrounding area. The next day I tried my hand at paddleboats. Only just before I offended some guy on the beach who kept bothering us by asking if we wanted to ride his camel. After a couple no thankyous from Jeremy, I finally told him that we didn’t want it and to go away (with a little attitude I’d admit) then he went on this rampage and yelled about who knows what. He couldn’t handle that he had been given attitude by a women and apologized to every guy around and still tried to talk to us throughout the day. Paddle boating was fun and I’m not as out of shape as I think I am. We explored a castle nearby and headed towards the bus towards home. It was an awesome trip and I can’t wait to hit up Wadi Rum and Aquaba again.