Hello my friends! مرحبا أصدقائي!
I know I say this all the time, but it is still hard to believe that I’m really here, and that I’ve been here over 5 weeks already. At the same time, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else right now. The whole idea of having to lose yourself in order to find yourself really makes sense to me now. When I first got to Jordan I had no idea what I was doing here — I could have chosen to go to a typical study abroad destination, somewhere in Europe maybe, somewhere where adjusting to another culture and language would have been easier. But I chose Jordan, and now I’m so glad I did. When I told people I was studying abroad in Jordan before I left, I heard a variety of responses. A lot of people seemed surprised at my choice (I remember one woman at the pharmacy saying “But why Jordan? I went to Australia for my study abroad…” in a slightly condescending voice). When I get back to the U.S. I’ll be able to explain exactly why I made the right choice. Jordan has challenged my beliefs and opinions in ways I never even thought to expect. I’ve learned so much including things about myself, and I’ve met some truly amazing people. I even had the chance to have lunch with a family because of connections back home, which definitely confirmed what I said about Jordan being a welcoming country in my last post. They made delicious mansaf (a traditional Jordanian dish) for me, introduced me to their extended family, and drove me around Zarqa, which is a city just Northeast of Amman. I guess you could say I have “wasta” (واسطة), or social connections (Special thank you to the Janajreh family!)
This past weekend I went to Madaba, Mount Nebo, and the Dead Sea — or “al-bahr al-mayyit” (البحر الميت). It might have been my favorite day since coming to Jordan. The weather was perfect, the people were amazing, and the place was beautiful. Coincidentally, it is also the day my camera battery died before even making it off the bus, so all the photos I’m posting are courtesy of my friend Daniel, who is an amazing photographer, Masha’Allah.*
What they say about floating in the Dead Sea is true — you couldn’t touch the bottom if you tried. Laying on your back is really the way to go, because if you try to lay on your stomach you’ll end up splashing around and getting the incredibly salty water in your eyes (it’s seriously painful, I don’t recommend it). Despite the saltiness, it was a pretty awesome experience, and now I can say I floated in the Dead Sea! We also had the experience of plastering mud on ourselves. When in Rome, I guess. Or Jordan. We stayed to watch the sunset from the beach and it was truly jameela jidan (جميلة جدا) — very beautiful.
We stopped in Madaba on our way to the Dead Sea, where we visited the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George and saw what was left of a floor mosaic.
We then stopped at Mount Nebo, which is mentioned in the Bible as the place where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land. From there you could see endless ridges until the dust obscured the view.
So all and all, it was pretty salty, muddy, and beautiful day. Also, here is a picture of what I can only assume is a camel parking sign. Enjoy.
*Masha’Allah (ماشالله) literally translates to “God has willed it” — it is often used to express appreciation or praise for a person or event.