Amman Shenanigans!

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Me at the murals again!

I have previously mentioned this, but my current program in Amman is supposed to be 100% in Arabic….and I just realized that it is going to be quite a bit of studying for me! While I am struggling to keep the language commitment everyday, I am banking on rapid improvement as long as I keep working hard! Also, it definitely helps that all of my classes are in Arabic so that basically every new thing I learn helps me in my overall language acquisition and improvement. Anyway, the amazing ladies in my program have really kept me going happy(: Here are some of the things we have been up to in the past few weeks!

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A. putting her hand over the painted handprint. The Arabic says “from fear to freedom” which is a common theme in these pro-feminist works.

Bonding with the girls in our second weekend in Amman

King Abdullah Gardens - حدائق ملك عبد الله
I live near the King Abdullah Gardens which is home to an abandoned amusement park (not to be confused with gardens named after the current king, King Abdullah II). This park shut down operations about 2 years ago due to prostitution!! I am not sure if there is still ongoing prostitution, but I always feel a bit uneasy when I have to go home alone in a cab at night and I tell the driver to drop me off there!

Anyway, so I would not go there alone, even during the day, because there are often shabaab (young Jordanian men) hanging around the car rental shops that line the main road. But, I really wanted to get some photos, so my friend A. and I went together! I got a bit spooked when we were in areas that had only one way up/down, and also when I swear I heard footsteps in an abandoned ride! I definitely heard a radio or TV on in the office next to one of the abandoned rides, so I am convinced it is being used for undercover ops (or maybe it’s just homeless gypsies?). Additionally, there was a man cleaning the bumper cars [which I really wanted to photograph, but he did not leave for the whole hour we were there!]. Why would someone be hired to clean them up if there wasn’t something going on??

Either way, there are people hanging around there. This article discusses the history of the gardens a bit, but honestly doesn’t explain much of its current state: http://redesignarabia.com/neglected-spaces-king-abdullah-i-park/. See my pics below!

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The telefrique from the front.

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Telefrique from the side…

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View from the top!

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This mechanical aspects of the telefrique fascinate and scare me! It seems really fragile!

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Me at the top of the telefrique.

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A. working the pose! Love it girl!

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And when we went a little higher, the view was even better!

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A cute scruffy cat hanging around the gardens all alone!

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The abandoned swing set. There was an office next to this ride that definitely had a working TV or radio on bc we heard it!

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This swing set was my favorite to photograph because it is super colorful and festive.

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A.‘s face when the door to a scary abandoned ride was closed!

Karaoke at Waffle House

In more lovely bonding activities, a bunch of us CIEE girls went to Waffle House to enjoy an American breakfast for dinner and engage in some all-American karaoke! This was my first time doing karaoke, and I definitely did not impress anyone!(;

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Waffle House karaoke crew!

Additionally, you may remember how excited I am for my spring break in Sri Lanka!! The travel crew and I are still hammering out the details (honestly, I am letting them do it all while I study all the Arabic I forgot!).
Here is a tourist map of Sri Lanka. If you are totally skeptical about it, seriously just look up the places and prepare to be impressed!!(:

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Trip to Al-Salt with my host parents!
If I haven’t mentioned to you how awesome my host parents are, then we definitely haven’t spoken in the last few weeks! They take care of me with good food and free reign and treat me like their own family, and they also took me to Al-Salt when I mentioned that I wanted to go there! The city of Salt is popular for tourists because of its Ottoman architecture, but I just wanted to get out of Amman for a little while so we went to see the amazing views from the high mountains in Salt. Salt is north of Amman, and gets significantly more water - so green mountains and valleys and farms made me feel so giddy as we drove up!

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Beautiful green views in al-Salt.

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Me and my host mom.

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My fantastic host parents!

Vigil for Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh
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Candlelight vigil at Paris Circle - 6/2/2015

Jordan is currently in a state of serious mourning for pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh who was brutally killed at the hands of ISIL (in a horrifying video, no less!). Although he is from al-Kerak, all of Jordan is honoring his death and large protests are being held in Amman (but I am totally safe and trying not to be too touristy!).

My host family and I went to a candlelight vigil held for al-Kasaesbeh. I feel like it was really special for me to be able to attend with my host family. I definitely would not have felt comfortable at the vigil as a foreigner, especially because some people think ISIL is America’s doing. Anyway, the event was very personal and relatively small. Everyone sang the Jordanian national song, in addition to chanting something that means “long live the king” (except that I had confused “يعيش” which means “he lives” with “ليش” which means “why?”).

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Most attendees wore the traditional Jordanian keffiyeh.

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Lighting the candles.

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With the death of Muath al-Kasaesbeh, King Abdullah II has begun a serious round of airstrikes against ISIL. I hope that they don’t go on for long, because Jordanians will only continue to feel the pain of a war they never wanted to be a part of if any of their soldiers die.

On another note, the sunset that day was freaking beautiful!!
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The gorgeous colors of sunset.

Museum and gallery hopping on Saturday February 7

Tiraz and the Golden Threads of Bethlehem Exhibit
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Me and A. had a ridiculous day trying to find some museums and art galleries on this day! We originally planned to hit up Zara Gallery in the Grand Hyatt (3rd circle), then Tiraz in between 4th and 5th circle then Orient in Abdoun if we had time… so Zara was closed when we arrived (after making a fool of ourselves in front of the hotel guards because we had no idea where we were going!). I definitely want to go back though and get shots of all the gorgeous paintings bc they have a great exhibit right now - full of bright colors!

So then I had a brilliant idea of walking to Tiraz because it’s wasn’t too far - but I didn’t realize that I would be so tired from my hard workout right before and lack of proper meal after!! The 30 minute walk on this oddly warm day literally took it out of me! By the time we arrived, I was going to just collapse if it were closed!! Thankfully it wasn’t, and A. and I had such a pleasant time looking at the exhibit and getting to know the two curators!!(: Here are some photos of the exhibit! I definitely recommend going!

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You can actually see al-Aqsa mosque (in Jerusalem) embroidered in between the flags!

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I found some pillows and rested!(: This is probably a prayer space though.

Jordan Museum trip during school! Sunday February 8.
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CIEE took us to see the Jordan Museum during our 2 hour break in between classes on Sunday! (if I haven’t mentioned this before, Jordan’s work week is Sunday through Thursday as opposed to Monday through Friday because Friday is an important day for Muslims to pray and have family time.) The Jordan Museum, in Ras al-Ain, currently has an exhibit on Petra - which is appropriate because I will be going there again very soon!!(: Here are my museum photos.

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A. in front of the V-cool language map! I tried to get a good shot of it, but unfortunately could not!

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K. and I - she unfortunately got a hairline fracture on her kneecap by falling on the stairs in front of PSUT’s cafeteria! She will be off crutches soon!! Congrats!

Celebrating birthdays while abroad!!(:
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Me serving my special lentil soup! No one knows how much they love lentils (and vegan goodness!) until they have tried my soup!

My lovely friend C. had her birthday while in Amman - and what better way to celebrate than a surprise dinner party?! I made a version my famous lentil soup (I swear everyone loves lentils!) and everyone had such a pleasant time(: Special thanks to I. who hosted the hafla!

Ras al-Ain murals with the girls on Friday February 13
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So I returned to the murals in Ras al-Ain because a bunch of us wanted to check them out and go souk shopping after (رأس العين means head of the eye. I’m still trying to figure that one out). Since I never posted all of the the photos of them, I will do that here. They are all pro-feminism, which I totally love and appreciate, especially here in Jordan. Enjoy!!
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These kids hanging around the Cultural Center across from the murals insisted I take their photo.

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I found this oddly painted window extremely intriguing. It seems really violent because of the red.

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Me and my bae, T. in front of my favorite mural in the set! <3

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I swear that one is Lana Del Rey!

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This is actually how I feel everytime I get catcalled!

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Letting her hair free. I love this one!

On some final notes, Valentine’s day just past and I celebrated by spending a lot of time with my first love, AKA Arabic. I got a new ear piercing (a second piercings in my lobe) for just 3 JD! You can literally get your ears pierced at any pharmacy in Amman because they all have piercing guns. I am planning to get a cartilage piercing as well (hopefully today!). I got a horrible hair cut at Aspire yesterday (2/15) and then the hairdresser proceed to burn my scalp blowdrying my hair out even though I had told her previously that I didn’t want a blowout because it was raining (and it was the first time I ever cried about a haircut). I just found out about Mostafah Salameh, Jordan’s mountain climbing prodigy who literally drilled nails into his toes while climbing Everest to stimulate blood flow and prevent frostbite….. uhhhh I would never climb Everest or hurt myself that way but I am happy that he is proudly repping his country! And finally, I am super excited for my week-long retreat with CIEE where we will be staying in a nature camp and going to Petra and Wadi Rum and some other places (and hopefully speaking only Arabic!!). I absolutely cannot wait (except that it might be postponed due to snow!!)

Until next time!

Shimmy

 
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