I truly mean it when I say I think I just had the best weekend of my life. The feeling of the Dead Sea breeze while laying in a hammock is the type of feeling that when I saw a shooting star, I couldn’t think of one thing to wish for. I was completely and utterly content where I was. It was easily one of the most serene moments of my life. To back up a bit, we left Amman around 5 pm on Thursday in a small bus packed with backpacks, excited Americans, and “energy bars” (Snickers – told you this junk food thing is out of hand). Our departure put us just in time to see the sun setting over the Dead Sea. It was nothing short of beautiful as you can see by the photos I posted below. I am an avid sunset chaser so this was a big high point for me. When we got to our lodging, my breath was taken away yet again. We each had an “ice cube” (basically a four by four box with two twin beds and lots of air conditioning to share) with our own patios that looked out onto the Dead Sea. I would not mind living there for the rest of my life. After we ate dinner, we played my favorite camp/childhood game, Mafia. Everyone got very into it and it made me feel like I was 10 years old again outside the dining hall at Colvig Silver Camp, one of the best places in the world. After the mafia killed the detective and the angel and all the townspeople off, we headed back to our chalets to stargaze. Ignoring the early 6 am wake up call, I looked at the stars for hours as the wind whipped around my face.
I woke up to realize that I had not been dreaming and I was still in this little piece of heaven. We set out to hike Wadi Mujib, a river canyon with a 25 meter waterfall in the middle. Throughout the hike we floated, repelled, and climbed down water obstacles (maybe that is not the right word…) For those of you reading this from Durango, it was like Cascade Creek but warmer and a lot longer/wider. Our guide, Muhammad, took a liking to all the girls on our trip. He deemed me a “beautiful Bedouin bird” and tried to hold my hand…which was absolutely appalling after all of the PDA guidelines we have been told to follow here (haha, i found it entertaining…not actually that offended). Not long after this episode, I started seeing a lot of dead birds and bird feathers along the canyon walls. MY FAMILY! SO SAD. Haha, it became the running joke of the trip. As we walked out of the canyon into the light and could again see the Dead Sea, I seriously felt like I was reborn or something. It seemed so incredibly beautiful to emerge from the canyon walls into the world again, especially sloshing through water with the canyon walls widening into the abyss. At that point, I realized how perfectly at home I felt in nature. Although I am thousands of miles away from Colorado, I constantly saw similarities in the landscape and geography. Amman is a city like none I have ever lived in - dirty, smoky, and full of undeveloped land and over flowing trash - but characteristics of nature can be found anywhere. This thought gave me such comfort and confidence, in that - where ever I go - I am at home.
After our hike, we went back to our chalets for a swim in the Dead Sea. Its true everyone, you FLOAT. On the other hand, the salt is KILLER. It burned anything it could on your body, and don’t even think about getting it in your mouth, nose, or eyes. I found it hard to enjoy the experience because of all the stinging and especially because there was no mud to cleanse ourselves with! Ah well, I can say I have floated in the Dead Sea, which in itself, is an experience. Lunch was absolutely delicious and after my three platefuls of pita bread, hummus, chicken, beef, veggies, and salad I was stuffed (oh and some mango juice). Although no one wanted to say goodbye, we boarded the bus and headed back to Amman.
The festivities were not over though, as today it was my friend Will’s birthday! His roommate Todd organized a surprise party at their host family’s house and as I am not living with a family, I was ecstatic to go meet one. While we were waiting for Will to come home, we chatted with Will’s Mama. She tried to make us all speak in Arabic to her as she told us that was the only way we will learn (its hard when you only know half the alphabet!). She also looked like a part of her died when I told her I did not have a host mother. All of the children, and grandchildren were also present along with their golden retriever puppy - Bella. This was probably the highlight of my life. After the big “surprise” moment, we dug in. There was mountains of rice, salad, chicken, and more. It also reiterated to me that Jordanians main stapes are rice and chicken – which is fine by me. We continued our eating spree with Jello, flan, and birthday cake and ended a couple hours later with hot tea. This was the point where everyone went into a food coma. It was so great to be in the presence of a Jordanian family and see the dynamic. The kids were running around the house wanting to play, crying, or eating cake. The parents were sitting and chatting, coming in and out of the house. The grandparents were offering more food and sitting soaking all of us in. It was a perfect assortment of generations, and a display of the hospitality and love that Jordanians have for their guests.
I also forgot to mention – this morning I found the famous – Sugar Daddy’s Bakery! It was better than expected, and my expectations were high. I went with Becky and Colleen, two of my friends who live my apartment for breakfast! We had cupcakes and coffee and tea and I easily fell in love with the place in about five seconds. The Coconut Key Lime Pie Cupcake was moist and light with key lime filling and shredded coconut frosting. I easily could have eaten ten of them. The guys working were so nice and happy to serve us and asked us to return soon! Oh I will…no need to ask. :]
Week 2 of Classes starts now! have a beautiful week habibis xo