Monday, July 26, 2010

Yeh hosers...

I haven't showered since Friday night. Cyrus hasn't showered since Friday afternoon. Robert showered on Saturday, but he rode a camel today and is therefore probably dirtier than Cyrus and I combined. So, we were all rather overjoyed to come home tonight and to (separately) take a shower. Well, I didn't really care, but Cyrus and Robert were. That was, they were overjoyed until we came home to discover this:

What is this, you might ask? An empty water tank. Water is really scarce in Jordan, so there is no underground water pipe system like the one that we have in the States. Instead, water trucks tour around the countryside and fill up the water tanks on people's roofs using some complicated system of pipes that go from the ground to the... actually, I don't know how it gets filled. I just know that every Thursday morning/afternoon, somehow our water tank on the top of the roof gets filled, and that water is supposed to last us a week. In the past, we have had problems with the water overflowing, so we've always had to go up and switch the valves off. I guess last time we forgot to turn them off, because we didn't have any water when we got home tonight. Luckily, there are four water tanks on top of the roof, and the other three--connected to other parts of the building--were somewhat full. After lugging buckets of water across the roof for about 15 minutes, we found a hose to siphon the water from one of the water tanks to the next. Robert was brave enough to climb in the tank and get the siphon going.

Our Japanese friend Sey, who works for the Japanese Peace Corps and lives in our building, came and helped us get it going. Eventually, we got it figured out and now have it siphoning... But it really does make you appreciate American plumbing. And Robert got to take his shower.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Garbage Man

Update on the situation locked in my room: We fully dismantled the lock, and then Robert kicked in the door. I got out.

When I was little, I wanted to be a garbage man when I grew up. I don't know why exactly, but I was fascinated with the whole garbage pick-up process. I have an extremely vivid memory from when I was six or seven of setting up little garbage cans next to all the rooms in my house in Ohio and going from door to door collecting the trash. Wow, I must sound like a freak. Anyways, I've recently had the chance to put my latent childhood desires into action out here in the Badia. The trash situation out here is pretty terrible- littering is commonplace and "trash collection" consists of putting everything in a trashed dumpster and setting fire to it. So, scenes like this are not uncommon:

Unfortunately, I had succumbed to the prevailing cultural norms of the Badia; Robert, on the other hand, was made of sterner stuff and decided to organize a day to clean up the area in front of our building (i.e., see picture above). Last Saturday (the 10th), we got about 40 sacks and tempted the children from the apartment complex with a soccer game and lots of American suckers and set about cleaning the area. The kids were rowdy but enthusiastic and we got the bags filled in about 40 minutes or so.

The whole process up through then had gone smoothly, but our Western-styled organization quickly broke off in the face of two of man's most primordial desires: fire and candy. As I mentioned above, real trash collection doesn't exist, so we had no choice but to haul our little pile of trash to the dumpster (not the one above) and burn it. The next morning, we found the dumpster tipped over and the trash in a half-burned, smoldering heap. The candy situation was worse- the best way to describe it is to say that I felt like a UN aid worker trying to hand out flour to a mob of starving, unruly Somalians. People came out of the woodwork to pick up the suckers and the kids claimed exorbitant amounts for their little brothers at home. Worst of all, they disposed of the wrappers in the only way they were familiar with- throwing them on the ground.

So, maybe it wasn't the most successful trash pick up, but we were able to get 25 Jordanian kids together for an hour to work on something and make them feel useful. That's a pretty big accomplishment in and of itself.

Oh I was sitting, waiting, wishing...

Everyone, I sincerely apolgize that I haven't updated my blog in a really long time. A lot of things have happened in the week and a half or so since I updated- visited Roman ruins, had a run-in with the Jordanian secret police, taught English classes, saw the baptism of a couple of Jordanians, watched a couple really good movies. I just haven't had time- until now, when I woke up in my friends apartment in Amman to discover that somehow the lock on the door had broken overnight. It got worse when I, using my John Cena-like muscles, broke the key off in the door. I took off the door handle using an extra set of keys I found in the room as a screwdriver and broke a leg off the chair to act as a hammer to knock the lock out, but unfortunately the lock is encased in steel. So, two hours and a bloodied ring finger later, I finally have the time to update my blog. Aside from the fact that I really have to go to the bathroom, that my finger hurts, and that I have nothing to do, being trapped in my room isn't too bad. My friend's wife give me some Fruity Pebbles through the bars of the window and I have my computer and a copy of V for Vendetta that I can watch if I get really bored. The only problem is that I left my camera cord in Salhiyya, so I can't put any pictures up. I'll do that when I get out.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ceasar, Those Who Are About to Die, Salute Thee!

This past weekend, we saw a lot of Roman ruins, an old Crusader castle, had a meeting with a really interesting lady involved in development out here, bought 4 DVDs for the equivalent of $8, and had a race in the Hippodrome (see below). The Fourth of July was spent in a celebration of American cuisine at Fuddruckers followed by a showing of Arrested Development, which Cyrus bought- all three seasons- for about $25. As far as actual work goes, things have once again been slow. We are looking at different societies for future BYU interns and looking to get involved in different projects (such as a trash clean-up), but a lot of it is still in the planning stages. On Sunday, we met with Rana, a lady who studied in the US and who gave us a lot of contact information for projects we could get involved with. We've also been talking with a lady about helping with an exchange program for youth from the Badia to visit Amman and vice versa. It's too bad we'll be leaving in a few weeks.

This is picture of somewhere in Northern Jordan, which is absolutely beautiful and relatively unpopulated countryside. On Friday after Church, we had a barbecue out here and I climbed one of the hills.

At Umm Quais, or Gedara (look it up in your Bible). Robert and I found an old mausoleum that we tried to break in to, but the only entry- a skylight- had about a 15 foot drop. Next time we'll bring a rope.

Also Umm Quais, along the main rode. On the left is the remnants of a 19th-c. Ottoman village.

Part of Ajlun castle, which was built in the 12th-c. by Saladin to counter the Crusaders.

Jerash, which is supposedly the largest Roman ruin site in the world. It was pretty awesome. This is the main road (sorry Annie, but the overall picture was sweet).

Another Jerash picture, me looking goofy. Notice (or try to notice) the week-long attempt at a goatee. It didn't work. My mustache still looks like a mexistache that a junior high school punk would grow.

So, maybe you wondering where the title comes from. Well, this is Robert and I, looking innocent and happy and unaware of the terrible decision we are about to make. We missed the chariot races (they stage them) at Jerash, so Robert and I decided to run our own- barefoot on the hot sand. We ended up with second-degree burns on our feet and open blisters. Ceasar, those who are about to die, Salute Thee!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Garden of Prince Hamza

So, I recognize that I haven't written in my blog recently. That is mainly because there hasn't been anything really exiciting that has happened lately. We've been visiting different societies in the area to understand what sort of development efforts are going on and to establish contacts for future BYU interns, but nothing has really been blog-worthy. A few days, I was pretty desperate. I almost wrote a blogpost about how I won 34 straight games of Freecell (the run was broken last night). But luckily, something awesome happened.

We made contact with a society out in a tiny village called Rowda Emir Hamza (literally, the Garden of Prince Hamza), and went out to visit. The society is relatively new and is run by a really sharp 24-year old Master's student. We spent most of the day with her, her parents, and her nine siblings. The fact that we met her mother and her sisters that our are age is amazing- foreign men NEVER meet the women in the family. They are probably the most progressive family I've met in the Badia. Well, here are some pictures from the visit.

This is "Mister Mahmoud," the father of the society's director and proud owner of a German made, 1969 cargo truck, bought in Iraq thirty years ago.

Me looking west (towards Irbid/Mafraq) on top of a dormant volcano in the area.

Facing south towards the huge Eastern Desert that makes up most of Jordan.

The emergency brake of Mahmoud's truck, which pulls straight out like a cane. There is no key- he presses the black button on the right to start/kill the engine.

Me milking a goat. It's hard. I wasn't able to get too much out of it.

Me and three of Mahmoud's ten kids at his house in Rowda Emir Hamza.