Hey so I haven’t updated in forever and find myself so busy I haven’t been able to sit down and write about my winter travels. The problem being that the lack of pictures have led some to believe it’s all a big conspiracy, and I never really left Jordan.

So as a sort of peace offering, I’m posting to everyone my attempt to stand on a camel and the various stages I went through before having a typical Lauren panic ((it’s higher than it looks!)) and falling off….followed by Jesus doing it in one attempt.

I’ll post the rest of my photos soon.


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Spring Semester, Spring Goals

Oh hai thur. I know, I know, it’s been a month. But in my defense, not once during my travels did I have enough time/ personal space/ functioning internet to blog. I spent about ten days in Turkey and then almost three weeks in Egypt. I came back two days ago, so we we were traveling for exactly a month. Seems like a crazy long time, but I definitely could’ve kept going. Though not living out of a backpack has its perks…Also I don’t think my neck and back will ever make a full recovery from all the cramped overnight buses, trains, ferries, vans, etc. I promise to do actual posts about all my travels with pictures and anecdotes later; but as I’m back in Amman trying to prepare for the upcoming semester and don’t have the right internet to upload pictures right now, I thought I’d lay out my personal goals for spring semester. So in no particular order of importance, I give the following goals:

Belly Dancing

Yes. I want to learn how to belly dance. I have now been schooled in three separate countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan) by women belly dancing. Though I like to think I have some kind of natural rhythm, I want to learn the technique! So I’ve decided I’m taking belly dancing night classes this semester. With any luck, I’ll start being able to hold my own. Also dancing will in’shallah count as some form of physical activity since the only exercise I do now is run through oncoming traffic.

Frugal Living

This past month of travels, we backpacked. Everything with the intention of cheap—cheap hostels, cheap (SLOW) transportation, cheap food, etc. And it still costed lots of money. Now thinking of my upcoming ten days in Europe makes me want to cringe, and I still have to get back to the States. In conclusion, this semester will be Lauren making an honest attempt of frugality. Yes, yes, some will undoubtably snicker. I’ve never been one to save money per say, but I also don’t really enjoy spending it. Luckily, I learned enough about Amman last semester to know what is unnecessary spending. The best example of this being transportation-taxis vs public buses. There is a public bus about a 20 minute walk away from my house that goes straight to the university for about 65 cents. Then there is the taxi that I can hail outside my house that goes straight to the university for about three dollars. HUGE discrepancy. This semester I’m committed to taking the bus even if it is a much bigger hassle and only takes me where I’m trying to go 60% of the time. Another way of saving is to avoid expensive places. Coffee at Gloria Jean’s/ Starbucks/ a typical cafe = four to seven dollars. Coffee at the University of Jordan = less than a dollar. HUGE discrepancy. Food off campus = anywhere between two to six dollars. Food on campus = anywhere between one to three dollars. HUGE discrepancy. And the list goes on and on. Needless to say, there are tons of clubs, bars, restaurants, cafes that I am going to try to limit my time at now. Or at least going with no intention of eating or drinking anything.

Explore Amman

Limiting my time at these more expensive places will leave more time for exploring more of Amman! This will be much easier now that I’m on the Jordanian buses that do not have time schedules or routes. After being in huge metropolises like Cairo and Istanbul, I realized 1. how small Amman is in comparison 2. how sad it is that I still haven’t seen all of Amman. You get in a routine and start going to the same areas you know, not really concerned with the ones you don’t. But even if there are just more cafes, hookah bars, restaurants in all the rest of Amman, I still want to go explore more and find new things to do. Besides, if I spent the next four months only in the exact same spots I spent the last four months, I don’t think I would make it.

New Experiences

And exploring Amman ties in nicely with new experiences. This is a hard goal to write about since I’m not sure what I’m looking for yet. But even though I’ve only been back a short time, I’ve realized how easy it would be for me to stay in my comfort zone here. Amman, as I know it now, is my comfort zone. I know what’s going on, understand where I am, what’s expected of me, etc. My comfort zone is not where I have new experiences though because those happen, to name a few, while 1. taking the wrong bus and end up outside a Palestinian refugee camp 2. receiving an impromptu Nubian dance lesson at six in the morning 3. having to spend the night in a bus station after missing the last bus but then passing the time by learning how to play backgammon with the chai server. To be fair, these experiences are often stressful and, at the time, I rarely ever appreciate them. However, when something unexpected happens or I go somewhere new, I have the best time and learn/ discover something previously unknown. And when I think of all my new experiences, I realize how much they’ve helped me as a person. The past six months I’ve had to get over my need for complete understanding on both sides and learned how to make do. Laughing off uncomfortable language/ communication barriers. Being aggressive with hand gestures. Accepting not knowing what the fuck is going on and just hoping it turns out all right. Idk I feel like I’m describing a much more laid-back person than I am, but I’ve come to understand not being understood or screwing something up or getting screwed over is never the end of the world. To tie it all back, I want to continue pushing myself and being uncomfortable and wrong at times because that leads to new experiences.

Sexual Harassment

I should start by saying while in Egypt, people thought I was Egyptian all the time. More specifically, Egyptians thought I was half-Nubian ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nubian_people)) half-Egyptian, and, so long as I didn’t attempt to speak Arabic, it was really easy to keep up the charade. Because I was an Egyptian/ Nubian in very Western clothing though, it took the sexual harassment to a whole other level for me. What kind of local woman, except one with very low morals or a future life of prostitution ahead of her, would dress in such a manner? After getting back from Egypt, I haven’t really noticed anything here in Amman because it’s so much less aggressive and obvious than Egypt. It did make me realize that while Jordan could be much worse, it’s still not good and it’s not okay. So I direct this goal to all the creepy taxi ((I should say bus now, no?)) drivers, randy University of Jordan men, guards I must walk by to get to my house every day, and any other man or woman in Jordan who enjoys making me feel uncomfortable. I do not intend to confront anyone or start anything or use rude hand gestures, but I’m done getting all flustered or embarrassed by your long assailant stares, snickers, whispers, and cat calls. 5alas with all that mess.

Survive Winter

While I was sunbathing on a beach in Egypt ((I’m incredibly tan right now and love it)), Amman was having a snow storm. A snow storm would be one of those experiences I feel won’t help with personal growth or new knowledge. My main goal would be for Amman to not have another snow storm, but everyone I talk to says that’s unlikely as winter has just begun here. So in that case, I’m hoping I can find it in me to endure the cold and not become a complete hermit because of the snow and ice. My goal is to learn how to be a functioning, social human being in a not mild winter.

Current Events

I started slacking with reading the news—both US and international and even Jordanian. I just didn’t read it anymore. Consequently, I’ve lost track of pretty much all current events. So bad that I didn’t even know today is an election/ voting holiday in Amman for parliamentary elections. I’m living here! That’s just pathetic. I also need to do a better job of keeping up with the news in my own country. I slacked off with US news last semester big time. In my politics classes at CMC, we were always required to read the news. It became habit, and I let it go here. In Jordan when I checked the news, it was Jordan news or news about the region, rarely anything else. Therefore, I’m recommitting myself to keeping track of what’s going on abroad and here.

Make Friends

I have a few of my friends from last semester and a few Jordanian friends who are still around. But I’d say I definitely lost about 85% of them. I was kind of hoping the new spring students would start sending me applications to be my friend but I think I’m going to have to go—dare I say it?—meet people. All the spring students have been on their orientation that I wasn’t required to attend so I didn’t. Now that classes are about to start though, I need to put forward an effort and meet all the new people. On a different note, I definitely want to reach out to all the Jordanian friends I made who may or may not have forgotten about me since I’ve been gone a month. I like having friends who grew up/ live here. It is another side of Amman besides the study abroad student perspective.

Learn Arabic

And with my Jordanian friends, I can make a fool of myself with my Arabic. To be honest, they usually only want to work on their English ((which is damn near perfect)) where as my Arabic is seen as a hopeless cause. I really want to focus on expanding my Arabic vocabulary this semester. I’ve realized sometimes I say things in English thinking I can’t say it in Arabic but then think about it and realize I could’ve said it in Arabic if I’d only taken a second to think about it. Though I did really well in my Arabic classes last semester, I didn’t treat Amman like the all-day non-stop Arabic lesson it really was. I want to speak more Arabic and try watching more news, televisions shows, music videos in Arabic. I’m going to put more effort into the language outside of my classes and studies.

Host Family

Hannah. Oh Hannah. Why did you leave me here? Your bed is serving as my new nightstand, but you should still be here to help me deal with our insane family. When I came home yesterday, Zain was attempting to strangle Batiya with our host mom’s bra. So same old same old so far as family life goes. Although we did take an impromptu family outing to KFC today sans host father. It was actually really fun. Here in Jordan, going to any kind of American fast food chain is a real social outing as in people people-watch at KFC. I was leaving the house in my typical hoodie/ jeans combo, and my host mom suggested I change by saying a bit exasperated, “We are going to KFC” as if it was self-explanatory that I needed to look better than usual to go to KFC. She wore heels, the kids looked like they were dressed for an Easter mass, and I put on a nice blouse all for KFC. It’s a random, hard adjustment to make…thinking of an American fast food joint as an actual nice restaurant for dining here. I digress though, since I don’t have another student with me this semester, I can’t fall back on anyone, which makes things more challenging but also gives me more of an opportunity to speak Arabic with the family. I want to speak more Arabic with my host mom and oldest host sibiling. Continue being silly with the toddler. And learn a better way to disguise the fact that I don’t know what my host father is saying 70% of the time.

Spring Internship 

I’m doing an internship this semester! I’m excited. My main goal for my internship would be to not suck. No really, I want to do a good job and show I can be a diligent worker as well as studious student. I’ve only gotten the familial/ student/ social aspects of Jordan, but what are work environments like here? It will be interesting to gain professional experience abroad and see if it’s something I like doing. I’m not sure where I’m doing an internship yet; I’m holding out for one but have another on back up, so we’ll see. Regardless of which one I end up doing, I’ll be taking three classes and doing my internship for my last credit this semester.

That’s all that comes to mind right now. Lofty, abstract goals with too much introspection? Perhaps. I am excited after writing this though. I realized I have another four months and can do something completely different with my study abroad experience than I did the previous semester. So bring on the winter, classes, and money problems to name a few. Jordan Spring 2013


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Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.
Paul Theroux

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Wait wait I’m back in a monochromatic limestone city after a month of traveling? And classes are starting up again? Well good thing I’m back with all my friends I made last fall…oh what’s that?  All my friends are gone? And I’m expected to meet all these new people? Oh and I shouldn’t forget the internship I report to at 8 am?

Perfect summation.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.
James Michener

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Finals Finals Finals

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. This past few weekends have been hectic…final exams and final papers and final times to go out with friends and final times to see things. Ugh it seems like everything is ending. I know, I know I’m staying a year but even so I’m getting caught up in the “oh my god we’re going back to America!” fervor …even though I’m not going back to America. Slightly weird.

A week or so ago, we had a meeting for all of us AYP ((Academic Year Program—for those of you not in the know)) students. It was mostly logistics, but they also talked a lot about how we would have to adjust next semester as well. Realizing that we would be in different classes, with a majority of new people, moving into our fifth month in Amman. I hadn’t really thought about it, but then I thought how much I’ve bonded with my tight-knit Arabic class or my homestay roommate or my CIEE friends. I know a fair amount of Jordanians and expatriates in Jordan, but at the end of the day, I am on the CIEE program, and I spent a good part of my time with these people. It’s an exhausting thought to imagine meeting people again.

Our program directors also pointed out there is also a huge discrepancy between how new students in Jordan vs someone whose already been here five months feel/ deal with the country. Which got me thinking, I don’t really feel like hearing about how taxis try to rip you off and the lack of sidewalks is as inconvenient as it is petrifying and everyone stares at you and alcohol is expensive and the host families don’t understand individual portions and curfews and lack of privacy suck and on and on and on. We all went through it, and yes, at the beginning, it was sometimes necessary to have a tiny bitch fest about how much you are fed up with “X”. That’s all a big part of culture shock and adjustment….I just don’t know how to make new friends who are dealing with all of this without seeming unsympathetic because I’ve adjusted.

And who knows? Throughout these last months, there have been times I have gotten frustrated with how things work here, different parts of the culture. I’m in a good place right now, but whose to say I won’t be worn out by May?

All of this is a round about way of saying, things feel over. Most people have less than two weeks left. I’m leaving for my winter travels in exactly two weeks today. When I get back, I know that things are going to be different and that makes me nervous. I’ve been working on a blog post about my goals for next semester and perceptions about life here.

It’s finals week though, so for now I’m going to post a bunch of pictures of my last couple of weeks.

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There is my friend Lydia and I with our Arabic professor Ahmed. Our class had an amazing opportunity to go the wedding of Ahmed’s brother. It was a full-on traditional, Muslim Bedouin wedding. I felt so privileged because it’s the kind of occasion few people outside the family, friends, and community get to go to. And it was wild. I don’t have any pictures because the wedding was gender segregated—men in one tent and women in another. Some of women take off their hijabs and veils and throw on their freakum dresses to boogie down. Obviously though that means no men and no pictures in the women’s tent.

I wish I could describe it; by far the best cultural experience I’ve had here. We got to the wedding in Magdba ((about two hours from Amman)) around 7:30. From the moment we got there, the women were offering us coffee and tea and wanted us to dance. So we dance. And danced. And danced. Mostly the dabke ((very energetic, traditional line dance in circle)). We danced with his sisters and cousins and nieces and neighbors. Sooo many people. Also had a huge firework show. And could hear the guns being shot up in the air from the men’s tent.

Then we were getting ready to go back to Amman at about 11:30 PM, and they announced dinner would soon be served. Welcome to Jordan. So we wait and stuff our faces with delicious mansaf. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m left-handed. In Jordan ((not so much with people in the city and/or Christians but very much so with traditional Muslims)) it is considered taboo to eat anything with your left hand. Mansaf you only eat with your hands, no utensils. So seeing as I was with bedouins in Magdba, I knew I couldn’t use my left hand like I do with my host family ((they don’t care at all)), so I attempted to use my right hand. Consequently, I looked like a cripple trying to scoop the rice with the chicken and yogurt, roll the ball, etc. So one of his sister’s had her seven-year old daughter give me my food. Slightly embarrassing, but it was so delicious I didn’t care.

Then Ahmed told his sisters it was time to for us to go. At which point, his sisters told Ahmed that we were spending the night at the house. The night before a wedding, it’s very common to put lots of cushions and blankets out knowing that people will stay over because the party goes so late. So his sisters were under the assumption we would be staying the night and not going all the way back to Amman. Ahmed said we had classes the next day ((why we couldn’t go to the actual wedding)) and had to leave. It was so funny because they were yelling at him for his inhospitality while we tried to explain we really did have go.

By the end my voice was hoarse from all the screams of jubilation, my body was sore from dancing, and my stomach hurt from all the food. It was amazing though. The hospitality among Bedouins is astonishing to me. They were so open with us and let us dance right along with them though we didn’t look nearly as good while dancing and how much they wanted us to come to the wedding the next day. Many weddings in Amman are no longer gender-separated and are in hotels not tents outside the family’s house, etc. Seeing such a traditional, open, warm space is an experience I won’t forget.

Ahmed has meant a lot to me and our Arabic class. We’re five people, going to class with him two to three hours a day, five days a week. We bonded. Also Ahmed is such an open and energetic person, inviting his students to his brother’s wedding is just a normal thing for him. Also he’s slightly crazy. Just to share a few of our class antics ((I promise we really do open a book sometimes)):

The five of us doing our normal before class coffee-hookah-homework session. All the guys have ridiculous facial hair because of the no-shave november/ movember thing, they usually don’t look so old and creepy.

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Ahmed’s futile efforts to teach the men of our class traditional Jordanian dance.

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This is Ahmed shaming me in front of the class. The white board reads, “The homework is late. Why!?? **sad face**”

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Ahmed and I attempting to imitate the average Jordanian college male over lunch of hummous, felafel, and french fries.

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Ahmed with a pink balloon we brought him from McDonald’s, his least favorite restaurant in the whole world.

So that’s our Modern Standard Arabic class, we also take Colloquial Arabic three times a week with Aya. She’s brought us so much food to class and is so patient with us….I think she’s the nicest person I’ve ever met. Her most common phrase is, mush mushkila meaning no problem. Anyway, Aya is only twenty-two and really wanted to go to Books@Cafe. Just bit of background, Books@Cafe is a cafe in Amman run by an openly gay man. The affluent, Westernized gay scene in Amman is at Books and tons of foreigners hang out there as well. Aya wanted to go to Books so bad, but she told us none of her friends would go with her because of the cafe’s reputation. So our Arabic class took her one night to demonstrate Books really wasn’t the crazy burlesque nightclub she was expecting, but really just a restaurant with a bar and lounge. She LOVED it and insisted on making us dinner at her house because we went to Books with her. So our class went to her house for dinner and ate musakhan:

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So delicious…layers of crispy, fresh bread and olive oil and pepper and onions and za’atar and chicken. You also eat Musakhan with your hands only—very messy—the spoons are for the soup:

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Again our Arabic class in their kitchen, plus one George who came for the food. Aya is not in the picture, the girl in the hijab is Aya’s best friend and the man in the center is Aya’s father.

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The woman is this picture is Aya and her father setting up the table for dinner. Note the delicious lentil soup that I’m determined to learn how to make.

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No huge feast in Jordan would be complete without the hookah. Aya loves hookah, and this is the one she got for her birthday. You really can’t tell from the picture but the reason George and I are high-fiving is because that is the nicest hookah in the world. It’s decorated with all these gold embellishments and tassles. We nicknamed it “The Throne”.

Christmas time in the CIEE office. They put up the tree…note me in the background:

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Friendssss.

Then two weekends ago we went to Gerasa in Jerash. It’s a site of beautiful ancient Roman ruins. Pictures ((btws, the weather was perfect)):

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Sometimes my friends and I convince ourselves we’re in a band and at a photo shoot for the cover of our CD….

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And that’s about it. We went to my Jordanian friend’s birthday party last night at a restaurant, and our group obnoxiously sung happy birthday in every language we collectively knew ((we did Arabic, French, English, Chinese, Spanish, and German—such a multicultural group of people lol)) And that was really fun. Made me realize I will still have friends in the city, and they aren’t all leaving me ((though it feels like that sometimes)). But back to studying for finals and not productive procrastinating with blog entries. 


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Protests

Someone recently told me they really only find my blog interesting when I post pictures ((harsh.)). So to appease that person, I’ll add a few pictures to this post…yes, some I stole from the Jordanian Times, but remember no copyright enforcement here; thus, when in Rome….

It was a bit over a week ago when the government ((specifically the prime minister)) announced the end to fuel subsidies. The government argued it had no choice to end the 800 million dollar subsidies because of various reasons 1. the revolution in Egypt halted its gas exports to Jordan forcing Jordan to import foreign oil 2. the influx of refugees to Jordan from Syria…on top of an already very large population of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees 3. tourism in Jordan is down 4. the loans Jordan receives from governments/ organizations like the International Monetary Fund require structural adjustments that end universal subsidies 5. the government is more or less on the verge of of a financial crisis spending a lot more money and being refused a lot more loans

So when the subsidies were cut the Tuesday before last, fuel prices doubled and tripled across the country. The government is also planning to raise the cost of electricity after the lower-house parliamentary elections in January ((the prime minister and upper-house of parliament are appointed)). How do these politics affect people in Jordan? Many people here have gas stoves, fuel space heaters, gasoline for cars, fares for taxis and buses. The breakdown of price increases is here: http://jordantimes.com/govt-to-review-fuel-prices-every-month-as-of-2013. The government plans to give an annual payment of a hundred dollars to households making less than fourteen thousand dollars a year…important to note that annual payment won’t even be enough to pay the daily increase in bus fares.

After the government announced the drastic price increases, the country erupted in protests, and, in some places outside of Amman, riots. Here is the spontaneous demonstration that took place in Dakhiliyah Circle ((about three minute drive from our apartment)) the night of the government announcement:

Here is the following Friday when the protests hit their peak and thousands congregated in downtown Amman:

Obviously, none of these are my photos. As a CIEE student, we are forbidden from going near any protests. I kept up with the protests through live streaming and tons of photos/ tweets from Twitter.

To contextualize these events a bit, a lot of the same problems that plague other countries are huge issues in Jordan in as well—unemployment, the cost of living increase, cut to public programs and subsidies, corruption. The protests are significant because 1. they were the largest protests that took place in Jordan since the uprisings and revolutions in the Middle East two years ago 2. protestors made direct critiques of and challenges to the regime without the usual amount of censorship.

So what did the protests mean for me and other students on the program? They announced the subsidy cut on a Tuesday. Protests broke out that night across Jordan…they cancelled school on Wednesday…Thursday was already a holiday for the Islamic New Year, but CIEE required students to cancel any travel plans ((except plane travel)) outside Amman because protestors were closing roads down….after Friday prayer, HUGE demonstrations took place, and our host parents put us on house arrests for the entire day. Opposition groups ((including the well-respected teacher’s union)) called for a general strike until the subsidies were put back in place. Universities were called on to protest and participate in the strike as well, so CIEE moved classes from the University of Jordan to an office building all last week. There were a lot of protests this weekend as well but nothing on the level of protests all over the country last weekend. 

It was intense….getting dozens of emails about protests and where to go and where not to go and emergency emails, etc. Our professors all made a point of mentioning how the CIEE staff worked 24/7 the entire weekend, so we could be updated on what was going on. We sometimes poke fun at the staff’s over-attentiveness, but I felt so much gratitude for the CIEE staff in Jordan last weekend.

That said, it is really important to keep in mind that, so far as safety in Jordan goes, we are in a very privileged position. If, God forbid, the situation escalated into violence or the government collapsed, we would be immediately evacuated from the country. Most people we know in Jordan, however, would still be in Jordan and wouldn’t have an option of leaving.

My rambling point being that the situation is very hard on people. I have to remind myself that the economic strains on the government and people are not to be taken lightly or as an inconvenience to travel plans or as an exciting event that I was there to see unfold. Some people won’t be able to afford the new price increases. Some people will face the often violent repercussions of leading protests and not respecting the censorship laws about the regime. Any minor effect subsidies and subsequent protests have on me is only temporary until I leave in May. Everyone who resides in Jordan will have to continue to deal with these changes whether that be by finding a way to cope with the economic strain or continuing to protest at their own risk or a combination of the two. Regardless, the problems aren’t going away anytime soon.

Two really articles for anyone wanting more analysis or details of the situation here:

http://www.merip.org/why-not-jordan

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/8451/when-is-something-something-jordan%E2%80%99s-arab-uprising


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Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
Mark Twain

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I’ve been singing this song all day. It kills me that Frank Ocean has no intention of coming to Jordan in the near future.

Also to tie it in to something, I booked my tickets for a bunch of travel a while back. For the four weeks during the winter, I made a tough decision and chose not to go home. Instead of going all the way back home, I decided to spend my stipend on travel elsewhere because it’s just too great of an opportunity. So I will be travelling with another CIEE student; we’re spending ten days in Turkey, then flying from Istanbul to Cairo, staying two weeks in Egypt, then heading back to Amman to start spring semester.

We also booked tickets for spring break. My birthday is during the CIEE spring break, which I took as a sign that I should go see my friends studying abroad in Europe for the nine days. We are flying to Paris, then taking a train from Paris to Madrid, and flying out of Barcelona on the last day.

Rest in peace savings account, you are empty now but rest assured you went to a good cause….All my independent travel plans make me really elated and giddy like this song.


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Family

So this post is about my family here in Jordan. Yes, there are heavy demonstrations taking place all around Jordan, and riots in some places outside of Amman. Not to mention the escalating situation between Gaza and Israel. I have a lot of thoughts on the last few days and since it’s been in the news, people are probably more interested in these developments. However, I was looking back on my blog surprised at how absent my family is, and since host mom put us on house arrest today due to protests, I decided to make a post about my family instead. Don’t hate me.

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Walid

Oh host papa. Walid is a pretty huge guy—part time football ((soccer is henceforth known as football on this blog)) coach, part time Jordanian Ministry of Interior security man. Out of our whole family, I find Walid’s Arabic the hardest to understand; there is definitely a language barrier between us. I been speaking more Arabic with everyone except Walid; I can barely keep up when we speak in English let alone Arabic. He mumble-yells if that’s possible….He is very direct and spends a lot of his time yelling…about what I am not sure. The only time he yells at us is when he is telling us to eat more. So he is kind of a ridiculously intimidating patriarch. His most common phrase is “Marianna! Marianna! Marianna!” calling her to always bring him something. It annoys me. That said, he is hilarious, and I love his stories.

Favorite Walid moments: I once asked Walid when he started smoking ((host papa is a huge chain smoker)) and he said, “I have been smoking for only four years.” Then I said, “Isn’t Zain ((the oldest girl)) four years old?” Walid then said, “Oh yes, I remember I first started smoking because babies are very stressful.” Another great moment, one time I asked Walid when everyone’s birthdays were. He tells me both of the little girls’ birthdays, then his own birthday, then he gets to Marianna and goes, “ohhh hmmm maybe month four? Wait no…hmmm….Marianna! Marianna! When is your birthday?” Then Marianna comes in all annoyed with Walid and refuses to tell him her birthday. And Walid says, “I never know it because day before her birthday she come to me and say, “tomorrow is my birthday” and I go buy card, so there is no need to know the day. She could tell me tomorrow her birthday, and I would go buy a card now.” 

Marianna

So Marianna is a thin, really pretty woman. She does EVERYTHING around the house. She cooks, cleans, washes, mops, helps with homework, minds the girls. Hannah and I try to help out around the house, but she is so stubborn when it comes to housework and refuses to let us do dishes or wash our own clothes. So it creates an uncomfortable dynamic where Walid and I are both sitting on the couch on our computers while Marianna is running around doing this or that. It’s can be a hard adjustment. When she stops working, we watch the Turkish soap operas together ((think Young and the Restless but Turkish then dubbed in Arabic)) or the The Voice ((still my favorite show here)). She also really likes beauty/ hair/ fashion. I think I mentioned before, she use to do hair, so every now and then, there is someone at the apartment getting highlights or a haircut or something. She’s been wanting to straighten my hair for a while, so in’shallah maybe one day soon….

Favorite Marianna moments: One typical morning, Hannah and I were eating breakfast in the kitchen. Marianna was washing dishes in the kitchen, and we hear the oh-so familiar call, “Marianna!” from the den. She goes to Walid then comes back with a cigarette. His lighter must have been out of fluid, so she was lighting it on the stove for him. She lights it, takes this huge drag ((Marianna doesn’t smoke)), then says to me and Hannah, “I hate all men” Then goes back out to hand him the cigarette. So surprising but awesome. Also the only time she ever yells or gets upset is when watching The Voice or a football match. Walid once said he married Marianna because she’s the only Jordanian girl who cares about football as much as a man, so she and Walid bond when they yell at the television together during a game. It’s really cute.

Zain

The oldest daughter is Zain. She’s four. Also she hates me hahaha. I’ve been meaning to write about that for a while, but yeah she can’t stand me, which is weird because I’m usually pretty good with kids. To be fair, Zain doesn’t really like anything or anyone. Anything anyone does Zain goes, “Mish haylu” meaning “ugly or not awesome” She just has a particular disdain for me. Marianna is very confused by it as well. For whatever reason though she really likes Hannah. When we come home, Hannah gets a hug, Lauren gets a slap. Though somehow she spends most of her time going through my stuff not Hannah’s, and every book I have has some drawing in it courtesy of Zain. We’re talking more in Arabic though, so I’m really happy about that….when she wants to talk to me and not just scream at me.

Favorite Zain moments: One morning I walked out, Zain as per usual starts yelling at me for something. Then I exasperatedly ask Hisham, “what is she saying!?” Then Hisham goes, “oh she is yelling at you because your shirt is not orange.” It was just so random, I started laughing so hard, which made Zain even more angry. Also Zain is learning the English and Arabic letters/ words right now. She sings this song about the days of the week in English, but she’s convinced it goes, “Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Sunday” skipping Wednesday and adding a second Sunday. If you try to tell her it’s wrong, she of course yells at you, so now I always sing the song this way with her. She also does this adorable thing when I’m on the computer, she jumps up next to me and starts naming the keys, “Capital A! Capital D! Capital C! Capital H!” Then starts yelling at me because I don’t have the lower-case letters on my keyboard as well….

Batiyya

Batiyya is two years old…to be honest, she’s in her terrible twos. I witness at least four temper tantrums at day ((it is currently 2:26, as I write this, I can hear Batiyya crying/ screaming for probably the sixth time today)); she’s possessive and follows Marianna around whining. She’s a handful to say the least, and Walid always calls her the troublemaker. Marianna always says, “Zain loves Hannah and Batiyya loves Lauren” That said, she’s two, so she often forgets who she likes and just goes to the person with food. I love little toddlers because you can train them to do funny things…I know, I know, children aren’t pets. Batiyya really likes me though because, out of the adults, I play with her most. If you are really silly with babies, they always like you. So yes, I get the most kisses and hugs from Batiyya, which is good because if Batiyya hated me too, I’m sure Marianna would think I was torturing her kids when she wasn’t looking.

Favorite Batiyya moments: Hannah wouldn’t let me not add this, so here goes, one day Batiyya peed on me. Strangely enough, it’s not the first time or even second time I’ve been peed on by a child. It is always gross though. Batiyya is potty-trained, but she’s occasionally just pees around the house. One day I happened to be holding her when it happened. I kind of yelped, and Marianna came in and freaked out and Batiyya is just laughing. Other favorite moment, if you are holding anything Batiyya believes belongs to Marianna, she will snatch it out of your hands and bring it to Marianna. So Marianna brought a portable space heater in our room because it’s getting colder. Batiyya keeps trying to pick it up and bring it to her, and it’s just hilarious watching her try to lift it.

Hisham

Hisham is our extended relative. He is Walid’s brother’s son and lives a couple blocks away. He often comes over with two other CIEE students who are his host brothers. He’s ten or eleven years old and speaks English remarkably well. His favorite show is Glee, and he often makes me suffer through episodes with him. He also loves Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna, so it is my personal project to introduce him to old school JLo and convince him Rihanna is overrated. He is currently growing his hair out so he can put it in a ponytail, so every time we see him, he asks if his hair looks any longer. I often worry about what will happen to Hisham when he gets older and maybe can’t be as much of his fabulous, flamboyant self. 

Favorite Hisham moment: After a summer in Lebanon, I knew every Arabic and English pop hit because we use to watch the same music video channel “FM TV” that is Hisham’s favorite channel. So one day Hisham and I turned on that channel, and we’re singing all these songs really loud while dancing around with Batiyya and Zain. He taught me some Jordanian dance moves, and I assured him that I could not and would not booty-pop like Beyonce. We became pretty loud then Marianna came in a scolded us because Walid was taking a nap. Instead, he made me download all this music for him, so my iTunes has an crazy amount of American pop music right now.

Hannah

I wouldn’t know where to start with Hannah. I am becoming annoying nostalgic lately because the semester is almost over. I’m losing Hannah and the majority of my other CIEE friends who are only here a semester. Oh Hannah. It’s great having someone who knows all the quirks, ups and downs, and hilarious moments of our family. Hannah and I live in Zain and Batiyya’s room, and they stay on a mattress in Marianna and Walid’s room. So our room has these obnoxious lavender walls that match the Hello Kitty sheets that we sleep on in a room about the size of a Claremont single. If she wasn’t so chill and awesome, it would probably be a nightmarish living situation. An African Literature major from a veal farm in Wisconsin…I can’t explain Hannah. Other than she’s a great person, and I can’t imagine myself navigating our family or the city of Amman without her.

Favorite Hannah moment: Could never pick just one…or think of an appropriate one for that matter.

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So that’s my too detailed family description, my only defense is I’m making up for lost blog space. Only other thing to note is that Hannah and I stay with a host family that is a lot different than most. Everyone else staying in homestays has their parents calling them all the time asking for their whereabouts. After the second week here, Walid yelled at us, “GO LIVE YOUR LIFE! GO! GO! NO CURFEW! DON’T CALL US ANYMORE!” And that was that. No one checks in on us…we come back whenever we want, leave whenever we want, don’t really update Walid or Marianna on anything. It’s pretty great…I thought the curfew and check-ins would be a big adjustment, but it never happened. Listening to every else complain about their families being overbearing, it’s hard not to get a bit smug thinking of our incredibly laid-back family.

There is a downside to that though, the other night we ate at another CIEE friend’s house who lives with an old widowed grandmother. She reminded me so much of my taeta in Lebanon. In Lebanon, I didn’t know the colloquial word for grandmother was taeta, so I started calling this woman taeta thinking it was her name…everyone would always laugh at me and then I realized I was calling her grandmother like the rest of her grandchildren. On Fridays, her house was a place of gathering and the huge meals and kids running around, it reminded me of family gatherings with my extended family in the States.

In Lebanon, I had that experience of going to the grandmother’s house for a huge Friday meal and sitting around talking all day, and I hear a lot of CIEE students talk about that experience. I thought that is how Jordan would be as well, but Walid and Marianna both live pretty far from their parents. So they are a bit unconventional and non-traditional Jordanians in that on Friday, we eat a normal meal like usual and go on about our day. Unlike most students, we’re not expect to spend that day with the family; everyone goes off and does their own thing. I miss all the bussle and fun of a huge extended family like I have at home in the States and had in Lebanon.

That said, if one day Walid and Marianna decided to give us a curfew and wanted us to spend every Friday with them, I’m sure I’d be bitter about that. I miss that more traditional, big extended family life a bit, but I love my independence and their unconventionality. CMC study abroad policy requires me to stay with a homestay family next semester as well. I don’t want to start over with a whole new family, so I’m going to stay here with Marianna and Walid. So it’ll be a whole other semester without Hannah, but same intimidating host father, doting host mother, and crazy host siblings.


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I’ve been wanted to post this for a while and now have time since we were just given an unplanned four day weekend ((more on that later)). Anyway, a feminist theory class at the University of Jordan with the guidance of my current professor Rula Quawas made this video last semester. After the video was made, the UJ administration was outraged and dismissed Rula from her position as Dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages. The administration and some faculty and students were angry at Rula and her students for tarnishing UJ’s reputation by releasing a video about sexual harassment on campus.

I haven’t taken any other classes at UJ, but from what I hear, Rula is one of best scholars and professors on campus. She is insightful and thought-provoking, and her class “Contemporary Arab Feminist Writers” has been one of the best classes I’ve taken in college ((CMC included)). I can also say, as a woman who walks the huge UJ campus multiple times a day, this video isn’t dramatized. That’s not to say every single moment you’re on campus you are being harassed, but, to quote the article I linked below, there is a “systematic and unpunished sexual harassment of female students on the university campus”. It angers many students at UJ that the administration was outraged not with what the video revealed but the video itself.

The Middle East Studies Association wrote a letter to president of UJ defending the video and Rula’s actions that’s definitely worth reading: http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/8072/letter-concerning-removal-of-professor-rula-quawas


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The Election, Treat Yoself Weekend, and Fall

I heard there was some sort of election going on in the States? In all seriousness, the election was actually in the news a fair amount here. Mind you, it wasn’t the bonanza super-sized elections that engulfed everyone’s lives like I heard about in the states, so I’m relieved I escaped all the election hullabaloo. Even so, people were somewhat interested because United States foreign policy does have affect Jordan…that said, a good portion of people in Jordan think regardless of the president, United States foreign policy ((particularly regarding Israel)) won’t change ((http://jordantimes.com/many-jordanians-indifferent-to-us-election-outcome)). However, I had a fun time of talking American politics with my host family, which was tad bit awkward. After being repeatedly asked, both my homestay roommate and I told our host parents we supported President Obama. Then my host father goes, “That’s good. I like Obama. He is a nice man. Romney looks like Bush, and Bush start war and kill too many people!” Then my host mother started going on about how much she loved Bill Clinton and how good-looking and charismatic he was. Then they started arguing whether they like former-President Clinton or President Obama more. So in addition to being a tad bit awkward, it was kind of hilarious.

Political culture is significantly different in Jordan. People love talking about politics here…and not just about Jordan…about the United States, Egypt, Israel, various places.  I mean mind you there are much different rules for foreigners, and you have to be a lot more careful about what you say as an American. Between Jordanians, however, they talk about politics all the time…way more than in the States as day-to-day discussions goes. Also your politics aren’t really considered private here. For example, in the States you most likely wouldn’t ask a stranger for their political views. Here everyone asks you what you think and who you support, it’s not considered intrusive or weird. I see see how America is a bit peculiar with politics often being a private matter much like religion. Anywhoos, the election happened, I’m more than happy with presidential and congressional results. 

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been more of a home-body in Jordan. The fire I felt under me to do everything and see anything receded a bit. In Dubai, I bought a ton of books ((I know idiotic because where in my suitcase do I have room for more books?)) but I was so excited because books are so expensive here! Like everything else, they tax them so much, I refrained from buying, but in Dubai I found cheap paperbacks and took advantage of it. So it’s been me curling up with my books lately. I’m still going out just not quite as much; I realized I still have six months in Jordan…I don’t need to do everything in a weekend.

That said, this past weekend kind of turned into a treatyoself 2012 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsABTmT1_M0) weekend for me. Thursday night, we went to Happy Hour ((please note, Happy Hour in Jordan means drinks go down from grotesquely expensive to slightly expensive)) and somehow we ran into the baristas from our favorite coffee house. Beanoz is right next to the university, and we end up going there a lot for coffee after class because nowhere else in a Jordan are you going to hear Mashrou Leila, Nancy Ajram, the xx, Tupac, and the Beatles…in that order. It’s a really cool space. So anyway, we ran into them at Happy Hour…then ran into a few of my Jordanian friends all at the same restaurant/ bar! It was one of those bizarre-Amman-is-never-quite-as-big-as-you-think-it-is moments, and we all ended up all going out together that night. Then following afternoon, we went out to a spa for Turkish baths. I’ve never been to a spa or massage in the States, so this was my first experience. It was awesome. They exfoliate, bath, oil, massage your whole body ((and I mean whole body…not for anyone who has an issue with being in the nude…)). We spent four hours steaming, sauna-ing, jacuzz-ing, being pampered, and, in a rare moment where something in Jordan is actual cheap, it only came out to forty dollars. Then we went to a Chinese restaurant someone recommended to us. So there were six girls there…and we ordered about twenty dishes of food. The waitress actually told us we ordered too much food to fit on the table. Then today my homestay roommate and I escaped the house ((we mostly stay home on Sunday, but the apartment was a circus as they are repainting a few of the rooms)) and went to The Bake House this afternoon. It’s an American-style breakfast restaurant….there are pancakes, waffles, hash browns, bacon ((of course, faux bacon, pork is haram)), omelettes, etc. It was one of the funnest weekends I’ve had here, all enhanced by the advent of

FALL! It’s mid-November, and until this weekend fall still hadn’t found it’s way to Jordan. The weather had been slightly less hot than in September, but no one would describe it as cool or fall weather. So imagine my surprise when I go outside and wish I had a jacket. It’s officially crisp and chilly weather, and it was so nice to see how much it brightened everyone’s mood. The largest souq in Amman, the Abdali Souq, is about a five minute walk from our house…it’s crazy…there is so. much. stuff. and it’s. so. cheap. Anything you’ve ever wanted to buy is there. A friend made a comment once that the Abdali Souq is stuck in the early-90s clothing wise….which is a bit true…still if you have patience, it’s buy far the best place to shop. So my host family, excited by the abrupt change in weather, went out to the souq and bought an entire new winter wardrobe for my host sisters. In host papa’s wise words, “I buy all this, fifty dinar, I go to mall, this one shoe fifty dinar!” He inspired me though, and I’m sure, in addition to my newly purchased books, my suitcases can handle a few more sweaters…


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Long Recap and Plenty Photos: Oman and Dubai

So our journey started after classes on Tuesday. Our flight left at 8:00 then we arrived in Bahrain at 10:00. Lay-over and time changes and another two hour flight put us in Muscat at 4:30 AM. We were pretty exhausted. 

View from hotel the morning we arrived.

After getting to our hostel around 6:00 AM, we passed out. You know how you originally set plans to be up by so and so time so you can do X, Y, Z and have a full day of tourism? Well when travelling without your guardians pushing you to actually be up early, we turned into a bunch of college students. So our original plan to be up by 10:00 turned into us sleeping up 2:00 PM…oops. Thus Wednesday afternoon we found food and went to the Matrah Souq:

Outside of the Souq, can’t tell from this photo but it’s on the water front.

People like me don’t belong in places where we want to buy everything. As a collector of trinkets and useless crap, I really had to restrain myself.

Then Thursday was when we went full out tourist with it. We were in our rented cabs by 7:00 AM and were out until 11:00 that night. We travelled to a fort with a waterfall and river behind it. Then we drove to a beach and took a boat ride around the coast. Finally that evening we went to Old Muscat and saw Sultan Qaboos palace and grounds.


We found the only bit of shade in the fort, and this is a pretty accurate summary of how everyone felt being in a fort at 8:30 AM. 
 

View from the fort. What you can’t see from the picture is all the animals being slaughtered in the streets for the holiday…saw a little boy down there covered in blood while cutting off a cow’s head, luckily I’m not very squeamish about animal carnage and blood, so Eid Mubarak!

Our cab driver spur of the moment decided to take us to to a traditional Omani restaurant, so we’re waiting for our food:

Picture of our food after we’d already started devouring it. Like lots of traditional dishes, you eat it with you hands. Our cab driver ate with us and took the picture, but he was laughing because we all started eating before they brought all the sauces, garnishes, bread, etc. not knowing that the big plate wasn’t it. They brought out at least eight more plates to go with it. It’s lamb and fish and there’s this spicy sauce that the spread all over the top of it. So delicious. In both Dubai and Oman, we had such great Indian and Chinese food, and food in the Gulf is definitely is influenced by Indian cuisine. 

After lunch, we went for our afternoon beach boat ride.

Our boat ((sailed by a child who was maybe ten)) went through that hole.

After we came out the other side, note our ten year old capitan!


 

Group photo ((plus my cab driver))

Then we drove to Old Muscat that evening and saw the most gorgeous, modern, colorful building in all of Oman:

Otherwise known as the Sultan’s palace…

and the Grand Mosque aka the Sultan’s Mosque:

Crazy beautiful all of it. The pictures can’t do it justice.

The next day half of group went hiking and the other half decide to have a lazy beach day…guess which group I was a part of…

After spending the day at the beach, we went to this really awesome cafe restaurant.
 

It was really beautiful, outdoors with the lights and shisha and underground barbeque. But funny story about trying to get there….A friend on the trip had a friend who studied abroad in Oman, and he or she suggested this particular restaurant. It was really hard to find though, so ((because Omani people tend to be very nice and accommodating)) our cab driver took us to a gas station to speak English with someone so he could understand where exactly we were trying to go. We ended up talking to this group of guys who helped us find the place, but at the end they said, “We are from Jordan but in Oman for the Eid” Then my friends and I exclaimed, “OMG! We’re from Jordan too!” And the looks on their faces were so confused…just a bunch of foreigners with basic Arabic shouting that they too are from Jordan. Then we had to specify we weren’t really Jordanian….

Us at the restaurant. We went to a lot of restaurants in Oman without chairs/ tables but instead floor/ pillows ((a lot more comfortable than it sounds…also why we don’t have shoes on in some photos)) You can’t really tell but the underground bbq pit is behind us, and we had to walk up stairs to get where we’re sitting…so we’re actually elevated on this trampoline/ sit place…ah I can’t describe it.

Our bus for Dubai was leaving at 7:00 AM the next morning. So we had to be ready to go by 6:15 to catch taxis and get to the bus stop in Muscat. We stayed at the restaurant until 12:00 AM. Then someone had the great idea, we shouldn’t go to bed! Let’s just pack and stay up and be silly and play obnoxiously loud games around the hostel leading to….

Tiger challenge. Backstory: When we booked our hostel, we saw it was called “Tiger Home Apartments” but we didn’t know they’d take the theme to heart…Our entire hostel was decorated with tigers.. And when I mean decorated….I mean wallpaper, pictures, statues, windowpanes, chairs, desks, shower curtains, stairwells, EVERYTHING. So around 3:00 AM, we got the bright idea to take pictures with all the tiger paraphernalia in the hostel. It took so long at 5:15 AM we gave up lol and decided to go pack. Everyone took about a 30 minute power nap then we were up and at the bus station.

Leading to the worse bus ride I’ve ever taken. I guess we were being kind of idealistic when we thought the seven hour bus ride to Dubai would be a straight seven hour bus ride with maybe a stop or two then border control. Nope. About an hour into the ride, the air conditioning went out, so we drove through the Arabian Desert without air, then about two hours into the drive ((after we’d already stopped six times)) the driver decides to start blasting Arabic music ((to put it in perspective, I had my iPod turned all the way up and still all I heard was the bus’ music)). So our poor sleep deprived group…no food stops, no quiet, no air, just us all hating our lives for seven hours as we stopped at least every thirty minutes and had to show someone our passports. I don’t consider myself a high-maintenance traveler and to be fair we paid about $20 for the bus…but oh was it awful.

So when we arrived to our hotel in Dubai around 4:30 PM, we passed out. Then woke up and it was already 7:00 PM. So we really only had an evening in Dubai but we saw a lot of beautiful stuff:

 

Tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. You can’t tell how far away we really are from it, so it could all fit in one frame. We got there too late though so we didn’t get to go up. Apparently you can go as far as the 100-something floor.

 

Pictures of downtown Dubai. They have lights in all the palm trees that make them sparkle!

We did get to see the world’s largest fountain show at the world’s largest mall ((only word to sum up the Dubai mall is overwhelming)) but the pictures didn’t come out nice. It was a huge ass fountain show though, here’s part of the water before it happen:

 

And a final parting thought of Dubai:

 

Palm trees in the airport? That’s unnecessary.


All in all, I had a great vacation! Overall impressions, the scenery in Oman is breath-taking, and the country is really nice and clean and quiet. It felt like the rich suburbs of the Middle East….Everything is so put together and colorful and easy-going, but at the same time after ten o’clock the city sleeps and there isn’t much to do. It’s refreshing though because it’s less fast paced than Jordan and more chill.

We had so little time there and were so exhausted, but Dubai was…Dubai? It pretty much had a Disneyland type vibe. Everyone you see is either a tourist or an expat worker…and the whole city is set up for tourists…so it’s all very organized and put together. To give a few examples: 1. there are people directing you to crosswalks in downtown 2. our taxi driver asked us to put on our seat belts 3. you can’t smoke inside or around buildings 4. the bouncer ID’d us when we went to a club…maybe because we are in a Jordan-mindset but this seemed absurd. What are these rules you speak of and why are you trying to enforce them?! That said, the city is gorgeous in its own right. I wish I would have had another day there, but I’m happy I saw it at night—the city lights up like a Christmas tree…for those of us who love skylines, the Dubai one is extraordinary. And watching a huge choreographed fountain show to “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston made the Oman to Dubai bus ride almost worth it. Almost.


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TGI-Eid Adha: Muscat Then Dubai

So tomorrow night I’m leaving for Oman. All kinds of excited to go. I turn in my midterm papers, took the midterm tests, and suffered the midterm sleep deprivation. All worth it because it’s vacation time, and I’m more than ready. It’s so crazy to think I’m already half way done with this semester. That said, I do feel like I’m in a routine—homework, Turkish soaps, cafe, The Voice Arabs ((it’s the EXACT same show: https://www.facebook.com/MBCthevoicearabs?fref=ts)), art house, more cafes, more homework, maybe one more cafe for good measure. Time to shake things up. I arrive in Muscat  four am Wednesday morning—the flight with layovers is about seven hours, ridiculous I know—then taking a six hour bus ride on Saturday from Muscat to Dubai, then flying out of Dubai Sunday afternoon. School starts back up the following Tuesday.

I’m going to Oman because 1. my CIEE friend group wanted to go to Oman 2. it’s not very touristy so one of the more affordable places to visit 3. I wrote a paper last year about Ibadi Muslims ((contrary to popular belief, there are other sects of Islam besides Shiites and Sunnis)), which is the dominant Islam there 4. soaking in some much needed sun on a beach.

That aside, I’m actually more excited to see Dubai than Muscat because so far our Oman itinerary consists of hiking in valleys and desert. Not that Oman is the same, but we’ve done a lot of that in Jordan. Outdoor activities are all well and good, but I’m a city person at heart, so the ostentatious man-made wonders in Dubai sound a bit more fun to me. Call me artificial, but where else will you get to take a waterway boat while shopping in a souk or see a huge indoor ski slope with real snow or manmade islands or the tallest building the world or the world’s largest shopping mall that houses an ice rink, indoor theme park, IMAX, underwater zoo, and the Dubai fountain ((google it)). That said, there are so many problems with the spectacles of Dubai… demolition and huge real-estate development of a city that only serves a handful of Emirates with the labor of expat workers ((the UAE population is over 80% expats)) creating a horrifying long list of human rights abuses….all funded by Abu Dhabi’s oil revenues and foreign tourism. I know, I know, and I hate myself a little for wanting to see it so much…Sorry for the tirade, but I wrote a paper of expats in the Gulf as well, so I’m sure I’ll be thinking of it when I’m there but I digress…

When I think Oman, I think fun times with friends seeing picturesque scenery and souks, but when I think Dubai the child in me starts squealing a bit with the chance to go in the world’s largest candy shop ((I’m starting to think Dubai doesn’t build anything  without aiming to meet some world record)). Both sound like a great time, and I’m pumped to go and get my tourist on for five days.


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To speak a language is to take on a world, a culture.
Frantz Fanon

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