Sunday, July 26, 2009


Getting water in the Middle East is no easy task. A typical Jordanian family gets water once a week. The city fills up a tank on the top of their house/apartment through a serious of pipes. The water runs through the pipes for 24 complete hours and that is it. Once the tank is filled that’s all the water you get for the week. Since we have 40+ wasteful Americans living in one building we pay to have a private water truck come once a week in addition to our weekly city fill up. The water truck looks kind of like a gasoline truck and there is always water leaking from the tank and hoses (seems a little inefficient for a country that has water issues).  

This week we thought we would document the truck arriving and filling up the tanks.  Here is a little slideshow.... (as you are looking through these pictures imagine water leaking from the hose and out the back of the truck.)

The arrival

Little boy throwing rope up to Muhsan (the guard) on the roof

Little boy tying rope to water hose

Mushan pulling water hose to roof from little boy

The final product: water hose filling up tank on the roof
(This is where the water really starts to leak. There are holes all over the hose.)

Friday, July 17, 2009


This past weekend was our much-anticipated trip South to Petra, Wadi Rum, and Karak.  We left Saturday morning and returned Monday night.  That means everyone got two days off from classes – which none of us complained about. 

Saturday was an early start.  We left Amman at 5:00 a.m. and headed for Petra.  Petra is by far the highlight of any tourist trip to Jordan.  It is one of the new 7 wonders of the world and is an absolutely incredible site.  It’s basically an ancient city carved into rocks and mountains tucked away in a remote valley basin in the middle of southern Jordan’s Shara mountains.  It’s shielded from the outside world behind a huge barrier of rock.

The area of Petra has a long history and is even mentioned in the Old Testament.  It’s believed to be where the Israelites came after forty years in the desert.  In the hills just above Petra is where God commanded Moses to produce water for the Israelites by speaking to a rock.  Petra’s golden age, however, came during the first centuries BC and AD under the Nabateans with a population of about 30,000.   During that time it was a wealthy cosmopolitan city.  A hundred years later the city was passed into Roman hands and declined from there.  It was unknown for hundreds of years until a British explorer stumbled upon it in the early 19th century.

Petra is difficult to describe in words and pictures don’t do justice.  It’s just something you have to see.  We were in the city for about seven hours and still didn’t see everything.  It was blistering hot and we walked for miles – and drank a ton of water.  We did two major hikes – one to the summit of a big mountain to “The High Place of Sacrifice” where they sacrificed animals and perhaps even humans.  The view was amazing. The other hike was up to a huge monastery carved into the mountainside.

The next day we went further south to a place called Wadi Rum.  You don’t usually think of the dessert as being very pretty but it was gorgeous (and hot).  We stayed at a Bedouin camp and slept in Bedouin tents.  We hiked sand dunes, went on a truck ride through the dessert with the Bedouins, ate their food, and watched a stunning sunset.  If anyone reading this is familiar with Lawrence of Arabia and the movie made about him, he is believed to have gone through this desert during his journey a lot of the movie was filmed here.

On the way home we stopped in Karak and went through an old crusader castle. It was really cool too but this post is turning into a novel so I’m going to end it with that.  It was difficult to decide what pictures to put up.... here is a small sample of our trip!  

The canyon that you walk through to get to Petra

The first thing you see as you walk out of the canyon (aka The Treasury)

Part of Petra

Chana wanted to marry this donkey, we saw him on our way up to the Monastery 
(no I didn't but he does look so cute)

The Monastery

The Beduin camp that we were staying at in Wadi Rum

Chana next to our tent
(it was camel hair fabric which made it incredibly and uncomfortably hot)

The trucks we rode through the dessert in

The view of the dessert from the sand dunes

Our truck group

The beautiful sunset

Karak castle

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Being summer here, Jordan is very hot and very very dry. We live in an area of town where they are just beginning to develop.  Because of this we are living next to an empty field. In this field there are multiple weeds, grasses and other brush that is very very dry.  The other thing about Jordan is the service people. They are very kind but they do their job their way and there is no telling them to do it differently. One day our program director (Dil) saw our garbage man burning some of the paper products he had gathered from the dumpster (apparently he does this so that he doesn’t have to take it to the dump). The only problem with this was that the fire we was starting was right next to our building. Dil proceeded to tell him that if he ever saw him starting anything on fire next to our building he was going to report him. The next day Andrew woke up early and looked out he window to see a fire in the field next to us. Seconds later the Amman Fire Department was there. We assume that it was our same beloved garbage man.

A couple days went by and everything calmed down. Until one Saturday, Andrew and I walked out of our building with another couple to find another fire. Robert (the other husband and our assistant director) called Muhsan (he’s the "harris", guard in English, of our apartment building) but he was going to be a couple of minutes so Andrew and Robert decided to take matters into their own hands.  They ran inside the building and grabbed the fire hose out of the hallway. Then they dragged the hose out to the fire and started to turn it on when Muhsan got there. He decided that he and his friend could take it from there. Andrew did however go supervise and made sure the fire was completely out. After the flames were gone the boys helped Muhsan put the hoses back.  We had an eventful afternoon to say the least and knowing that Andrew has such skills puts me at ease. I know our building will never burn down with him around.

The actual Amman Fire Department

Andrew pulling out the hose
(Look at that boy's smile... he is so excited to put out the fire.)


Andrew supervising Muhsan, making sure the flames are completely out

Putting the hose away

Monday, July 6, 2009


You may recall a previous post about visiting a traditional Arab family in a small village just outside of Amman (where we ate goat brain, tongue, etc.).  Well since our visit I (Andrew) have stayed good friends with Ahmed and last weekend we were invited out to his house again to attend his sister’s wedding party.  It was a Thursday night (which is the beginning of our weekend here) so at about 4:00 we bought some flowers for the bride, found a bus heading to the village, and saddled up for a long night.

 When we arrived to Salt Ahmed picked us up and took us the rest of the way to his house.  We were the first guests to arrive so we got to see the decorated house before everyone got there (which was especially cool for us guys to see where the women would be partying before we had to split up).  There were two huge red throne chairs up on a platform for the bride and groom and we got to sit on them and take pictures.  Once the guests started to arrive the guys went outside to sit around and shoot the breeze for the rest of the night while drinking tea and coffee and smoking.  We also set off fireworks from the roof of the house during the middle of the party.  As for the women – they danced.... and danced.... and danced.  And apparently they were all dressed up in fancy outfits, (for example- one of the sisters was wearing black fish net leggings, a really short skirt blue and white skirt with a matching spaghetti top shirt and lots of black necklaces) and dresses.  Chana describes the bride as wearing a big blue puffy prom dress.

 At about 10:00 we were invited to a room upstairs and somebody went and got our wives to meet us up there.  It was totally unexpected but because we couldn’t go to the mansaf party the next day (we had church) they prepared a little mansaf dinner just for the 5 of us!  It was an incredibly thoughtful gesture (mansaf is not a quick fix) and once again another demonstration of their generous hospitality.  This time it was with chicken as opposed to the goat meat we had last time.  After we ate and sat around for a while we were invited back downstairs.  All the guests had left and it was just the family.  Because it was just family the guys and girls got back together and they had a little family dance party and wanted us to join.  So we danced.... and danced... and danced some more.  Finally we told them we needed to go (it was past midnight by this point) despite their begging us to spend the night.  They refused to let us take a taxi home so ended up driving us all the way back to Amman (and absolutely refused to let us give them ANY gas money).     

 We’ve been lucky to have some authentic cultural experiences with the people here, which most foreigners visiting the Middle East would never have.  It’s helped us understand and gain a greater appreciation for the people here and what they have to offer.

Us sitting on the heart shaped thrones
(This is where the bride sat during the party and where the bride and groom sit during the ceremony the next day.)

Ahmed's parents sitting on the thrones
(Notice the flowers: we gave those to the bride.)

Where the guys hung out and where the ceremony takes place the next day
(The ceremony consists of the groom coming and giving the bride a ring and a necklace. Then they drive to their new home followed by all of the guests who attended the wedding honking their horns the whole way.)

The five of us plus Ahmed's brother-in-law eating Mansaf

Ahmed's brother-in-law, his brother Sayel, Andrew, and Chana

Part of Ahmed's family

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Although we had some complications with our apartment when we first got here to Amman (no stove, no air conditioning, only mini-bar refrigerators, and spotty electricity) we have learned to love our little home for the summer (especially since yesterday when our air conditioning finally got fixed)! One thing we especially love is our location. We live in a nicer part of town (NOTE: we are living in a third world country, so when we say nicer it is all relative) and are about a 15-minute walk to campus and about a 20-minute taxi ride to almost anywhere in the city. Since we live near the University our apartments were designed for four single students, which makes living here as two married couples a little interesting, but we make it work. Since we have been here almost two months we thought you would all enjoy a little picture tour of our apartment. 

The dining table

The living room

More of the living room
(When we moved in we found six little side tables, who really knows what they are all for.)

The kitchen and stove
(The stove has enough room for one 9x13 pan.)

More of the kitchen

The communal refrigerator. 
(It's a little bigger than the mini fridges we have in our bedrooms.)

Our little bathroom
(Notice the square on the floor- That's our shower. Everything in the entire bathroom gets wet when you take a shower!)

The other side of the bathroom and our washing machine
(The washing machine fits about 4 pairs of pants... that's it!)

Our bedroom
 (The mini fridge fits in the cabinet under the T.V.)

More of the bedroom
(All the furniture for the bedroom looks like old hotel furniture with brown little spots of paint all over them where they were damaged when moving them.)