How to make friends in Jordan

Today I was coming back from a trip into town (and a 3 hour wait to pay the bill for my internet. Found out there are no public restrooms in Ramtha. Anyway). I was walking past a patch of houses across the olive orchards from mine when I saw the most adorable kitten in Jordan, just hanging out in front of a trash can. Black and white, tiny, super fluffy. So I dropped all of the stuff I was carrying and picked it up (it seemed like the logical response) and I immediately fell in love. There was purring, nestling, etc, so I think the feeling was mutual. I decided to adopt this animal and take it home with me to become best friends forever, and I picked up my stuff and started walking away with several bags and a cat in my arms. I was that person. Anyway I made it like 300 feet before a little boy came running out into the yard and shouted “WEIN! WEIN!!” (where! where!!), at which point I realized I had stolen his cat.

Just so we’re clear, no one owns cats in Jordan. No one even likes cats in Jordan. When told my landlady I wanted to get a cat, she was horrified and confused. So it was reasonable for me to assume that this cat didn’t have an owner….apparently I just happened to try to adopt the one cat in Jordan that already had a home? This could only happen to me.

Anyway, I apologized to the poor kid and gave him his cat back, and probably it would have ended there, with that being his first (and possibly only) impression of Americans- people who try to steal your cats. But his mom was watching the whole thing from the roof and just about dying with laughter, so she invited me in. I gave them some of the cookies I’d just bought and apologized a lot, and then the five other children who live there popped out of the back rooms to start building farsha forts, wrestling on the floor, and having jousting contests with the broken curtain rods lying on the floor. Basically it was a scene of perfect chaos, and their mom and I sat on the floor drinking Turkish coffee and eating cookies while she told me about how much she loves yoga (??!!), and how great my Arabic is.

And that’s how I made friends with my neighbors.

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