Sunday, January 25, 2009

First Days in Jordan

WE are HERE!

Its amazing to describe the first feelings when you land in a new country. The sights, the heat, the smells all swirl together to create unique memories that are unforgettable. I had no idea what Jordan looked like when we landed because it was dark, and the temperature at night was similar to paris. Therefore, my first experiences in Jordan were the airplane, the airport, the taxi, and the hotel.

Waking up: I think someone should contact the guinness book of world records. I believe, and don't quote me on this one, but I may have possibly discovered the worlds largest alarm clock. Being jetlagged and completely buried in deep sleep, I was suddenly jolted awake by some loudspeaker outside of the hotel. Evidently the mosques do some early, EARLY prayers before sunrise (upon researching online, its called the Fajr, one of 5 daily prayers performed). It was a real wake up call that I had moved to a new country....LITERALLY.

First thing I said to myself was WHO WAKES UP AT THIS UNGODLY HOUR... and then upon figuring out what it was I realised that as a matter of fact, it was indeed a godly hour after all.

The sun here is bright. The skyline dusty. The streets packed with 1990's asian import cars. I almost feel like I'm in Korea given the fact that I am surrounded by KIAs everywhere. The buildings are all cracked, crumbly, and the color of honeycomb yellow. The odd palm tree is planted here and there, but there is a general sparsity of vegetation. There is a clear move from the old to the new, as new construction cranes stand over the city like mechanical giants. We are in the downtown area, which is the oldest part of town. Not known as the most scenic area of the city, but definitely known to have the most local flavor. This is where the real Jordanians are.

A walk downtown gave us our first experiences of Jordan. My advice for travelling to a country for the first time is to reset what you know and how you percieve things. For example, not even 5 minutes into my first trek through the city, that ever so familiar jingle from the ice cream man sounded from a distance. I was curious to see what a Jordanian ice cream truck looked like so I got my camera ready. Here is what it looks like:

SO I was very dissapointed to find that my ice cream truck was actually not selling ice cream, but rather propane gas. Reset my friend, reset.

As we got deeper into downtown, it was actually quite different to what we thought we would encounter. We expected a barrage of people spotting Elodies blonde hair and my asian face and braced to be mobbed by merchants trying to sell us junk at 3 times the price. In fact, people completely ignored us and only when we engaged them to buy something or to take a picture, did they ask us where we were from and what we thought of Jordan. Here is a picture of our first friends in Jordan:

I tell you, I love going to the market in foreign countries and taking a picture of the meat. Korea, China, Vietnam, and Greece know how to use all the parts of an animal. Japanese and Americans are a bunch of wimps and wrap everything in plastic. This example took ofal to new heights. Here is a picture of all the best parts of a lamb being strung on a meat hook by the spine(?) with the liver and intestines and who knows what else hanging off it in one WHOLE connected piece. Thats pretty incredible! Its like peeling an apple in one take!

This looked so delicious that I asked them to cook a bit of it into a sandwich for us which they delightfully obliged to. Here is a picture of Elodie eating a sandwich of roasted lamb kidneys and arabic salad wrapped into a pita bread. Look at that smile on her face! The french I tell you, they'll eat anything from WWII cuisine.

Actually, this is just a hoax. Elodie is actually eating a falafel sandwich that we picked up next to the mosque. Elodie does not eat kidney sandwiches. She doesn't even eat French Cheese! Eating middle eastern cuisine is completely rock and roll out here! Its ten times more flavourful than what we get in the US and Europe and costs 1/10th of the price. Elodie and I were treated to a delicious falafel, tomato and cucumber sandwich for 75 cents each from the snack stand behind her.

Well, we ended our day and treated ourselves to one of the top restaurants in Amman. Evidently, everytime you ask for the best restaurant, they always recommend a lebanese restaurant (?). So we basically ate an incredibly huge meal of chargoal grilled meats with heaping quanitities of eggplants, hummous, stuffed grape leaves, and lebanese bread. The main course at the top restuarants here are around 10 USD a plate. Insane!

Well, we are still living out of a hotel and looking for a place to live. We are going to be stopping by the red sea for some scuba diving and relaxation on the sand before Elodie begins her work. For those family and friends who care, we are all safe and happy and things so far are looking good for us here.

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