Tuesday, June 22, 2010
30. Visit Jordan -- Part I: in Praise of Jamila, Siham and Leah
So, I think I'm going to have to do a whole bunch of posts to do the tiniest bit of justice to this Jordan trip, but before I even begin, I have to do one about three former students and now close friends who were intimately involved, even though only one of them is actually here.
My first thank you is to Leah, who originated the idea of the 52 New Things out of a more amorphous idea and who was in on most of the plans getting us to this point, and who is very definite that she WILL be part of the next trip to this part of the world (which I hope will be soon).
Although she couldn't come this time, Connor, Siham and I owe an everlasting debt to Jamila,who has the broadest and deepest friendship network of anyone I know, and the greatest logistical know-how. She spent a semester abroad in Jordan, and she spent the weeks before this trip connecting us with friends and helping us figure out flights and a million other things. Her good friend, Chris, is allowing us to stay in his family's guesthouse our first week here. Another good friend, Khaled took us out on our first night on the town in Amman (about which more, later) and greeted us with a question, "So, are you guys okay with following the itinerary Jamila suggested for this evening?".
Finally, I must thank Siham, who is sitting next me as I blog this. In addition to being the best all-around travel buddy anyone could ever ask for (this is now the third region of the world we've travelled through together), she has been translating for Connor and I. She's making everything infinitely easier, from letting cabs know where we're going, to reading menus at local places to us, to showing me how to log in to do this blog posting (all the labels are showing up on my computer in arabic script -- and written right to left). And being Siham, she's charming her way through the country as well. Taxis drivers go from grumpy to insisting on us not paying our fares after she chats with them, newspaper sellers call her the most charming creature they've ever seen and forget to bug us about buying the paper, and perfect strangers offer to drive us home when she asks them for directions.
Wishing they were here, I'm putting in one picture of Leah and Jamila, from a few weeks ago when they were both visiting in Burlington and helping with trip planning. There is a picture of Khaled, Connor, Siham and I eating a feast on our first night out, courtesy of Jamila. And finally, here are Siham and Connor, looking appropriately touristy as we were standing in front of the world's largest flag pole (which happens to be right here in Amman). It's a great trip so far, but it never would have happened were it not for Leah, Jamila and Siham, and before I posted anything else, I wanted to say a huge thanks.