Well today is my one month anniversary living in Jordan, and I kind of can’t believe it. Time is either going way too fast or way too slow, but it feels like I’ve been here anything other than a month- maybe a week, maybe 6 months, 2 years, my whole life- I don’t know. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and just feel like I’ve been dropped from the sky. And then I open the window and look out over the olive orchards and the desert hills and the blue blue sky and I can’t believe I’m here.
Life in Al Manshiyah is beautiful and confusing and crazy and difficult and really fun. My host family continues to be awesome. My host mom and brother have taken to wisking me away on mystery field trips on the weekends…last week they took me on a crazy, rambling adventure searching out the ruins of ancient Bedouin villages in the countryside. We ended up getting lost several times and then ending up in a family’s back yard exploring the mosaics embedded into the stone walkways around their house. And then their kids led us down the road a ways where there was an archeological preserve, I think from the ruins of a Byzantine church. It was locked, but my host brother gave them some candy from his car and they ran away to their dad and came running back laughing with the keys five minutes later. Jordan. So we got to go tramping around these ancient ruins and took lots of dramatic pictures of me next to crosses and mosaics and whatever else we could find to document. Overall it was a pretty great day.
So much has happened since I last posted that it’s hard to even know what to write…I guess I’ll just start with the last few days. This past week was olive picking week- the whole village brought out these old rickety wooden ladders and climbed up into the trees with their families and just picked the trees clean. I was up there in the trees with my host family and my brothers’ and sisters’ kids, who all thought it was hilarious that I know how to climb a tree. And since I’m taller than any of my family members, I helped out a lot with the higher branches. By the end of every day the tarps on the ground were covered with green and brown olives that everyone ended up stepping on a little and later got smashed up into olive oil for the whole year. It’s the best olive oil I’ve ever had too- partly because I know it came from my backyard, but also because it has this really rich woody flavor that goes well with leban, a thick creamy yogurt we eat all the time on bread. Olive oil and bread are the two staple foods here- that and tea, which is served about 10 times a day. They boil the water with at least a full cup of sugar already in it, and sometimes they put cinnamon in the pot with more sugar when they serve it, which is delightful. And last week when I was vomiting my life away they gave me tea with sage leaves in it, which actually helped a lot.
Oh yeah, so I was crazy sick last week. It was disgusting and awful, but the whole experience is kind of funny in retrospect.. I got home from a late session on…maybe Saturday night? I never know what day it is ever. Anyway, I wasn’t feeling so good, like maybe I had a fever. And of course everyone in my family was over and we all proceeded to eat mansef on the floor together (minsus the kids, who had their own section) and the power went out. I got out my flashlight and donated it to the main room like the good little Girl Scout that I am, but pretty soon I started to feel really sick. So I tried to help clear the bones off of the floor mats and take in plates, but I was feeling really dizzy and horrible, so I kind of felt my way into the bathroom and next thing I knew I was vomiting into the Turkish toilet in the dark. So there I was, sprawled out on the wet floor in my giant Jordanian bathroom sandals, vomiting in the darkness on my knees. It was a moment of existential reckoning.
So I crawled back to my room in the dark and spent most of last week in bed- I had to skip training at the university because I couldn’t move, and that’s actually why I haven’t posted in so long. I was busy vomiting. But now I’m all better (Al Hamdilulah!) and life is good. This week I’m visiting another volunteer and then finding out my site placement, so exciting things are happening in my world. Hopefully by the time I post again I’ll know where I’m spending the next 2 years! Love you all and happy Thanksgiving to all of you wonderful people back home. Eat some pumpkin pie for me, okay?