Friday, May 14, 2010

Allen Wisallen (shout out to Stacy)

Allen wisallen from Jordan! Or actually, allen biik. Because allen wisallen means "welcome," and allen biik is the appropriate response. So I wouldn't actually wouldn't say allen wisallen to you. But anyways, I am currently in Jordan, and my mind has been blown. It is insane. The only way to really describe to you what it is like is to walk around with a video camera and film a day out here. The trip over was fairly eventful. New York was awesome and I took a ton of pictures, but the internet out here is really slow and it is hard to upload pictures on the internet. And, in any case, the day in New York has been overshadowed by my time in Jordan.

I'm not really sure where to even begin. I am in a little village called Salhiyya, which is total Bedouin and a couple of hours north of Amman, really close to the Syrian desert. It is really an underdeveloped place, although not like African underdeveloped. But jobs are scarce and most people live off the generous welfare benefits from the government. The only way I can really describe things is that they are insane. Coming here you have to just really change everything that you know and they way that you act. Remember how I told you all that I didn't really know what I'd be doing here? Yeah, I still don't really know what I'll be doing.

Arab culture is completely different. All Americans coming here to do business have to throw out all planners, schedules, and really any kind of structure to your life. You don't plan to hang out with people EVER and you don't really plan to do anything EVER. If a friend says that he is coming over, he might come over in 10 minutes or 3 hours. People see you on the street and they invite you over to their house before they meet you. My gosh, I think I am experiencing culture shock. Some thoughts:

1) My toilet is a hole in the ground. There is no seat. All the showers that I have taken have been a trickle of cold water. I have showered every other day, and the ratio of days to shower to will probably increase as my time goes on.
2) I speak no Arabic. I knew there was a problem when I was sitting at the JFK airport and tried listening to a couple of Arabs talk and understood nothing. In school, I learned Modern Standard Arabic and the Egyptian dialect; here they speak the Jordanian Arabic with a heavy Bedouin influence. It's like the mission all over again.
3) On Thursday, we went over to Irbid to stay with an LDS family (see point 4) for Church. This is how we got there: Hitched a ride with Riath to Mafraq, took about 3 hours to get phones and to watch Riath run errands and then took a bus to Irbid. Going home is more exciting. We got dropped off in Irbid, and realized that there were no buses running that day (Friday is the Muslim holy day). So, a couple of guys asked us if we needed a ride, so we paid 2 dinars each to get to Mafraq. So, this guy takes us to our his car and we head over (see point 5 for driving in Jordan) to Mafraq. Then, we try and figure out how to get from Mafraq to Salhiyya, and the process is repeated. A couple of guys, start talking to us, we haggle for the price, and pay 1.5 dinars to get over to Salhiyya.
4) The Church exists in Mafraq. There is a branch of about 20-25 members out here and some really solid youth. Who knew the Church was out here?
5) Driving is crazy. Two lane roads become three lane roads. No one uses signals. People cut each other off like it's no body's business. And no one get's mad.

I think that's good... I'll let you know more once I figure things out and get used to life out here. Massalaama.


  1. I looooooove the title! Allen Wisallen!!!!!

    Love the toilet situation.
    So excited for this blog.

    Also, where did the picture go?? I loved it.

  2. WOW!!! What an experience!! No wonder we haven't heard from you. I am so excited for you!! This will be an interesting experience! Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride :)(try keeping your eyes closed when you are a car). Can't wait to hear more! Good Luck! Don't fall in! Hugs and lots of love!! Mom

  3. actually, ahlan fiik is the appropriate response in jordan, habibi.