Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ich Liebe Deutschland, David Guetta, und Dich!

Where were you at 12:00 GMT on 12/12/12?

I was waiting for my loved one in Frankfurt Airport because, once again, delays were working against us. However, in the hall leading from Frankfurt Airport to the train station, I found him holding a large red rose and could finally give him that long-awaited hug. After a familiar trip on the ICE we got to Kalrsruhe, where we dropped my baggage at his apartment and proceeded to Café Extrablatt for some much needed food. Café Extrablatt is a chain of high-quality restaurants in select cities around Germany that serve a continental menu of American diner food and pizza.

After that we made a thorough exploration of the Karlsruhe Christmas market, where we could find everything from kissing salt and pepper shakers to revolutionary cookery to iPods made out of chocolate. We stopped of course for hot cups of gluhwein to chase the cold from our frozen fingers, and for potato pancakes fried in mountains of butter and topped with apple sauce. Deliciously unhealthy!

Eventually we got too cold and returned home, with a quick stop in an electronics store where we got photobombed while fist-bumping batman. I love Germans!

After freshening up and getting warm, we ventured back out into the cold to have Indian food at the restaurant down the street called Punjab. Our plan was to eat there and then move on to see Skyfall at the cinema. However, the Indian restaurant held us hostage, causing us to have to give up on Skyfall. No, really, we were hostage victims. They refused to bring us our food until absolutely necessary, first handing us just a bowl of plain rice, and even forgetting the biryani we ordered. In between asking to get our food wrapped up and getting the bill, the waiter tried to convince us that he had given up a bollywood career to study to be a doctor in Spain, but the economy had forced him to move to Germany. We were unconvinced, since he spoke perfect German and showed horrible service skills. He decided for us that we will be getting married and start a Pakistani restaurant in Stockholm, and of course when we did we could come back to Karlsruhe and beg for him to work with us. People can dream I guess.

We finally emerged from the restaurant half past midnight, 3 hours after we entered and an hour after the movie had started, so the rest of the evening was spent talking and listening to music. But what more do you need when you’re in such good company?

The next day we slept in, had fish sandwiches for a brunch-on-the-go at Nordsee, and decided to be a classic 21st century couple and get coffees at Starbucks. I had the Lebkuchen (gingerbread) latte.

After that we decided to explore the Karlsruhe zoo, which was surprisingly impressive in its array of animals. We started off by encountering the first hippo that either of us had ever seen. It was enormous! We also saw elephants, camels, kangaroos, cheetas, and peacocks pacing around on the frosty German ground. It was such a strange setting in which to see these exotic animals! We also witnessed a polar bear bobbing for apples, a monkey meditating, and sea lions doing what looked like synchronized swimming. We decided that one day we have to have a pet meerkat, because they are absolutely adorable. We heard what a cheetah sounds like when it’s hungry – a mix between a crying baby and a distraught monkey, with a slight roar to it. We finished up by passing by the owls. It is a fantastic zoo, and I highly recommend going to the zoo on a date!

We got thoroughly frozen at the zoo but decided we could tough it out for a bit longer in order for mu boyfriend to give me a tour of his university, the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT). KIT is one of the top three elite universities in Germany, and one of the best in the world for Business Engineering, my boyfriend’s major. It’s basically a degree that prepares you to be a CEO, and there are few others like it in the world. All instruction is in German so international students have the added challenge of needing to learn a new language, but the degree is supposedly worth it in the end and the faculty makes sure the students have a memorable university experience. The day after I left a movie made about the orientation was being shown at a local cinema!

That evening we relaxed at home for a bit and I baked Swedish cardamom cake. It is one of my favorite cake recipes, and I will post it here so you can make it too:


• 1 (115ml) stick butter, softened
• 2cups (250 gr) flour
• 1 1/2 t. baking powder
• 1 cup (245 gr) milk
• 1 cup (200 gr) sugar
• 1/2 t. vanilla extract (1 t. vanilla sugar)
• 2 t. cardamom seeds, taken from pods, coarsely ground

1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. cream together butter and sugar. stir in milk and then the remaining ingredients.
3. mix well and pour into a greased cake pan
4. if desired, sprinkle top of cake with a mixture of pearl sugar and coarsely ground cardamom. bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Later on we met up with some of my boyfriend’s friends from KIT to explore the other Christmas market in Karlsruhe. Our plan was to go ice-skating but just as we arrived the ice-skating rink closed so we chose to drink Gluhwein instead and tried not to fall too many times on the way home. Since the night cold had turned the sidewalks into sheets of ice, we did ice-skate after all!

The next day we slept in and then made cheese fondue for breakfast. It was my first time having cheese fondue and I loved it! It was then time to prepare for our trip to Mannheim, where we would visit our third Christmas market, drink more gluhwein and attend a David Guetta concert. We arrived in Mannheim around 2pm, where we started off with a few drinks in the Christmas market by the "Wasserturm", Mannheim's most famous landmark. The Karlsruhe Christmas markets were cozier, but over all I just love any Christmas market and Germany is full of them! After that we trekked out to the location of the David Guetta concert, which was at a large venue a little bit outside of the city. We didn’t have to wait in line for too long and once we got in we quickly disposed of our coats in the expansive coat room. The opening DJ, Nicky Romero, spun a few tracks to warm us up but the real sound and light show started when world-class French DJ David Guetta came on stage. Most of the tracks were from his most recent chart-topping album Nothing But the Beat 2.0, but he even spun a few new tracks he has mixed. I didn’t stop dancing and neither did my boyfriend or friends!

We finished off the evening by unsuccessfully trying to get into a number of bars and clubs (it was already 2am by then) and then settling for shisha at a Turkish café where there was a live band complete with an oud player and live singer. I felt like I could have been in Amman! We then got the last train to Karlsruhe, a night train going to Basel. I couldn’t help but think back to all my favorite old movies that have scenes in night trains.

The next day it was unfortunately time to leave. It was sad to say good bye, since I may not come back to Germany until summertime, but the trip was worth every penny. When I returned to Amman I only had five days left in beautiful Jordan! My next post will cover my last few days in Amman, as well as my short stays in Istanbul and Stockholm on the way home to the States. Auf wiedersehen!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Souqs and Castles

Sorry for the long delay. Here is a post I drafted weeks ago that I finally had time to publish:

I am going to quickly post about my previous weekend exploring the famous Souq Aljum3a (or Friday Market), the modern holiday art market Souq Fann, and five fascinating castles in the desert of Eastern Jordan, while I continue drafting my post about my unforgettable four days in Deutschland. While I’m working on getting these weekend posts up, I am spending my last week in Jordan finishing up academic and professional commitments, saying good bye to all my amazing Jordanian friends, and preparing for my next weekend adventure which will cover the supposed end of the world in Istanbul, (if we all survive) a 48-hr stop in snowy Sweden, and finally (after a short layover in London) holiday celebrations with my family back in southern Maryland. After that I may continue this blog to track my reverse culture shock, though who knows how long that may last. However, inshallah, I will return to the region next summer and my Middle East meanderings can continue on this web space. ☺

Ok now it’s time to get down to business. Abdali is an old part of Amman that is best known for being the main bus terminal for the city and is now being rejuvenated as the city's new downtown. However, every Thursday night it is turned into haggling heaven as the whole strip of pavement that is usually a parking lot for the bus terminal is turned into an enormous market, where people bargain over hideous Christmas sweaters for 1JD or tatty leather boots for 5 JD as the adan, call to prayer, echoes from the mosque next door. As someone who loves to argue about the price I pay, it was like one huge party to me. I will now give you my step-by-step guide for bargaining.

Step 1: Set your goals
You need to know what you are looking for when you enter a market, or else you will get overwhelmed. This is also important since digging for the right item will likely be necessary.

Step 2: Browse the selection
Check out a few stalls and don’t be afraid to listen in on the prices locals are bargaining for. Once you have scoped out the territory you should be ready to start the hunt.

Step 3: Show interest
When you find an item you feel attached to, or fulfills your initial goal, observe it for a while until your careful consideration of the item captures the salesman’s eye. Say something in the way of “This is exactly what I was looking for,” loud enough so the salesman hears.

Step 4: Ask for an initial price
The salesman will usually give you an inflated price at these markets because he expects you to haggle (unless you are a tourist waiting to be ripped off – which YOU are NOT).

Step 5: Attack!
Respond with at least 30-50% the amount of the asking price. For example, when the salesman told me 12JD, I said 5JD. Now he is going to be adamant, and you stay on 5JD for a while and eventually go up to 6JD. Start mentioning that you have a budget and you don’t want to cross it.

Step 6: Retreat
This is part of the act, but timing is vital. First you need to make sure the salesman takes you seriously and you need to seem serious about the purchase. When he has gone down a bit on the asking price (like from 12JD to 10JD) but refuses to bulge, start walking away. If he doesn’t come after you either find something new or go back to raise your price. If he does come after you then congratulations, YOU WON!

I first went to the Friday Souq on Thursday night, and after successfully purchasing two sweaters and a pair of black boots for 10 JD in total, I finished off with warm DIY sandwich at Salah al-Din’s Bakery. This sandwich should also have a step-by-step guide! I mostly just imitated the man standing next to me.

Basically you walk in and order a piece of freshly baked sesame-coated bread, a packet of soft cheese, and a rather brown-looking egg. Then you move to one of the wooden counters on your left to assemble your sandwich, where you will also find plastic bowls full of zaatar, hot sauce, and various dirty metal knives. You wash the knife and then use it to cut the bread open, but don’t open it completely. Remove some of the soft insides of the bread as the steam emerges from the roll, still hot from the oven. Then smear on the soft cheese, sprinkle it with a nice fistful of zaatar, then bang the egg against the counter and peel off the shell. Once the shell is gone, cut up the egg with your knife and mash it into the cheese and zaatar smeared bread. Once this is done, pour some drops of hot sauce over it all to add some zing, close the sandwich and take a glorious bite. Dinner is served.

The next day I ended up returning to the souq! After spending the morning using the speedy internet at Zodiac, the Jordanian lawyer I met at Vivid the other night drove me to explore the parts of Amman I hadn’t checked out yet, which is mainly Jabal al-Weibdeh. However, everything in al-Weibdeh was closed except for the Chocoholic Café. So my new friend and I grabbed some delicious hot chocolate (but I warn you – the chili chocolate is spicy!) and headed down to Abdali. The lawyer had lived in Amman almost his entire life, and yet had never been to the Friday Market! It proved to be a valuable experience for him. He walked around, speechless, and emerged saying how much more grateful he is for his socioeconomic background. He had never understood how close he was to poverty, where the only way people can afford new clothes is if the clothes cost 1 JD. In West Amman, with it’s American fast food restaurants and fancy cars, it is easy to forget that some people live on minimum wage in other areas of the city.

After that it was time for the next market – Souq Fann! This was a drastic switch from the old and conservative to the modern and creative. This special market showcasing the works of local artists is sponsored by Art Medium and is only held once or twice a year. This time it was holiday themed and I was very successful in finding some unique Christmas gifts for my family. I even had a chance to meet the famous Jordanian cartoonist, Abu Mahjoub, and see his most recent cartoons depicting the Jordanian people’s response to the recent rise in gas prices. In Mlabbas I found a shirt I had long been looking for: a man dressed in a suit and a kuffiyeh, dancing gangnam style, with “Abu Ghannam Style” written in English and Arabic in the corner. This will be the one souvenir I purchase for myself from Jordan.

After the arts market I had a delicious meal of Mansaf with some Jordanian friends at Jabri by 5th circle, followed by shisha, tea, and watching Jordan’s favorite show, The Voice, at the cozy lounge Cushions. The Voice is shown all over the Arab world and contestants can come from any country. One of the contestants sang a very old Arabic song and the whole café started singing along, including my friend’s 10-year old daughter. I love how every generation here is connected to the songs of their heritage.

The next day I woke up early to join four girls and one guy from my CIEE program to explore different desert castles as part of Farah Hotel’s Eastern Desert Tour. For a mere 16 JD we were driven around in a private mini bus to various castles in Eastern Jordan, starting with Qasr al-Harrana. This castle, solitarily situated in the middle of sweeping desert next to a foreboding prison, was probably one of the first inns of the Islamic period. The 8th century building looks small at first in comparison with the wide expanse of flat desert, but when you get inside you enter a large square courtyard and its tremendous fun to explore the two levels surrounding the courtyard and find various hidden chambers, charred fireplaces, and Mesopotamian stucco discs.

Our next stop was Qasr Umra, a world heritage site that used to be a hunting lodge for the Ummayad rulers. This building, also 8th century, looks even less impressive from the outside and is certainly smaller in size than Qasr Harrana, which adds even more to your surprise when you enter to see the entire interior surface covered in the most magnificent murals, the brilliant colors beautifully intact. The images of voluptuous half-naked women, animals playing, and colorful swirls brought alive a world when the surrounding landscape wasn’t desert but rather a popular hunting ground for the powerful Umayyad Caliphate.

After that we continued on a road that dramatically splits off in the directions of either Iraq or Saudi Arabia, where we find Azraq Castle. This castle has been geostrategically valuable for a number of armed forces, most recently the Arab revolt led by Lawrence of Arabia during WWI. The castle is huge yet in ruins, and the museum space in one of the lower chambers is very poorly lit.

Finally we were on our way to our last castle, Qaser Al Halabat, which we happened to have all to ourselves. As dramatic grey storm clouds rolled in over the sand-swept desert, we climbed staircases leading to nowhere, pretended to be Umayyad statues, and treaded on thousand-year old mosaic floors.

After that we finally returned to Amman, where we stopped to have another egg and cheese sandwich at Salah Al-Din – a welcome alternative to the over-consumed falafel sandwich.

Friday, December 7, 2012

شكرا الأردن!

As my time in Jordan comes to a close, I cannot help but begin to thank the people and places of this country that made this semester my best semester yet. I’ve had countless incredible experiences during my time here and learnt so much about both the multifarious Jordanian culture and the real politics of the Middle East thanks to its unbelievably hospitable people and its incredible diversity of environments. I am already making plans to return to the region next summer on an archaeological dig (انشالله I get a spot on the expedition!).

I have been busy since I returned from my week in Europe. Not long after I got back thanksgiving was upon us, which CIEE celebrated by hosting a luncheon for the program participants and their peer tutors. I came half an hour late so I missed the turkey, even though I heard they cooked three! However, I had a pleasant conversation about football and engineering with some University of Jordan students over hummus and apple cider. I had a chance to have turkey that evening finally! Some family friends from Rhode Island happened to live in Amman and had invited me to spend thanksgiving with them. The couple was incredibly kind and had an adorable 14-month old baby who had just learned how to say, “What’s that?” and was now constantly posing all sorts of existential questions. The family are members of the evangelical church in Jordan It was a surprise to find myself among Christians after so much time only being surrounded by Muslims, mainly because drinking alcohol was completely acceptable and even encouraged.

The couple were related to the owner of the Regency Palace Hotel, so after watching a bit of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at the couple’s spacious apartment while they dressed the baby, we headed to the hotel for a full gourmet buffet of typical thanksgiving food like turkey, stuffing, and sweet potatoes and typical Jordanian dishes, like hummus, moutabbal, and kibbeh. All of it was served in a private area of the hotel dining room for all the relatives. It was such a friendly and beautiful family! I was thankful to have such good family friends on this auspicious day for Americans.

A few days later I was invited to quite a different dinner experience. My peer tutor, who I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, was kind enough to invite me over for dinner at her family’s house. I knew from my friend from the CIEE program who lives with the family that they are very conservatively Muslim. Men and women live in separate parts of the house and while my peer tutor can socialize with her brother or father, she cannot socialize with my friend, who is her own host brother, because he is an unmarried male from outside her immediate family. He has lived in the same house as her for months without even having a conversation with her.

However, I had a wonderful time at the house. The many women of the household welcomed me with open arms. They showed me wedding pictures of themselves or their siblings (two of whom live in Germany) and prepared a huge feast of kuza (stuffed zucchini and grape leaves), rice with nuts and dried fruit, and roasted chicken. Afterwards we played with the one-year old baby, Laith, who was obsessed with my hair, and one of the women did my nails. She explained that they need to repaint their nails every time they pray, since you are not allowed to pray woth nail polish on because it prevents complete ablution. After watching a Turkish soap opera and drinking Turkish coffee (Am I in Jordan or Turkey?) with them I headed off but promised to visit soon again.

That Friday I jumped onto a trip with some other CIEE students to the much-needed natural spa that is Hammamat Ma’in. These naturally hot waterfalls fall not far from the Dead Sea, about 3 hours drive on the stunningly curved King’s Highway from Amman. We had a taxi driver with Mumayaz Taxi take us for a flat rate of 35 JOD for the whole day, including a side trip to Madaba to have a late lunch and check out some mosaics. While we were at the waterfalls, the driver also took the opportunity to swim and was actually the last person out of the hot springs!

The hot springs were male-dominated, so as a woman you should either stick to the 10 JOD fee for the public hot springs (but swim in shorts and a t-shirt) or wear your bikini at the more expensive hotel complex further down the valley. The waterfall created a natural steam room in a cave behind it, and if you stood right under the waterfall you had nature giving you a shoulder and back massage! It’s the most ecological spa treatment I’ve ever had. The entrance also included access to the slightly dingy Roman Baths up the hill and to the right from the hot springs. On the way back to Amman we stopped off in Madaba, where we satisfied our growing hunger at the 7 JOD buffet at Dana Restaurant. This was followed by an exclusive (and free!) tour of the 6th century mosaics in the Church of the Apostles down the street from the restaurant.

That night I got a good night’s rest before my next day full of activity. I woke up early to meet the CIEE staff, students, and peer tutors that had gotten a spot on the final volunteering trip of the semester at Iraq al Amir School for Boys. Iraq al Amir is a breathtaking area of Jordan an hour outside of Amman that is home to a poor community of farmers. CIEE had been coming to the school the past couple of weeks to paint it, in order to encourage the students’ learning and brighten up their environment. I came fortunately during the final phase of painting murals on the walls! Together with a student from the University of Jordan writing a master’s thesis on the evidence of toxic chemicals in lamb meat sold in Jordan (important work!) I painted a tree. After all the painting was done, another university of Jordan student and I tried to lead the children into a game of charades, which just ended in all the children trying to touch my blonde hair.

However, the children showed capacity for organization when it was time for the national anthem and they all stood in perfect lines according to their grade, backs held straight and hands to their foreheads in nationalistic pride. After the ceremony we had a football game where the university students suffered a horrible defeat to these elementary students, losing 2-5. It was then time for gift-giving. CIEE had us give out winter jackets they had purchased for the children, as well as space heaters for the school. After every kid got their jacket we made a victory tunnel and cheered the kids on. The smiles on their faces were priceless. Some of them were even skipping through the tunnel of cheering university students, and all the kids hurried to try on their new jackets despite the heat.

We were also given a gift! I got a mug with smiling hearts on it, which perfectly describes how I felt about the day. If my heart was a cup, it would have been full that day, and if it was a face, it would have been smiling. We were also given cake and cookies! Any day where dessert comes before the main course is a good day. However, CIEE still wanted to treat us to a local meal, so we were driven to an orchard where we had delicious kebab and shish tawok. The whole way back to Amman the students from the University of Jordan and I sang Jordanian wedding songs and danced in the bus. I love Jordanians’ ability to party anywhere at any time!

This week was the last week of Arabic classes and my internship, which is bittersweet. It’s sad to see it all end, but it’s nice to have more time to do all the things in Amman I haven’t been able to do yet. This weekend I’m planning to check out Souq Abdali (the big Friday market), alWeibdeh (a historic neighborhood buzzing with art galleries), Souq Fann (the Christmas art market in Amman), and do a tour of ruined castles in Eastern Jordan. I will try to update you on that before I fly off to Germany to see my habibi on Wednesday.

Finally, shukran to all you readers of this blog who have followed me on my eventful study abroad journey. I hope, if I haven’t inspired you to visit Jordan, I have at least entertained you. However, I have gotten some feedback from various people that they like what I write, so shukran ktheer.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Recycle Love

The problems with excessive waste are far from unique to Jordan or the region that FoEME works in so sharing FoEME’s experience and learning from best practices elsewhere in the world is an important part of our work. From November 12 to 18 FoEME was invited by The East and West Center for Human Resource Development to learn more about waste problems abroad and how to solve them on a practical level at a training course in Murcia, Spain. The training course focused on the “three R’s”: how to reduce consumption, reuse domestic materials, and teach youth about recycling in southern Spain. The training course, part of the EU-funded Youth in Action Program, brought together 21 participants from 10 different countries: Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Egypt, Palestine, and of course Jordan. During the course of the week we learned how to deal with waste problems in our countries and shared with the participants our work and experience in these areas.

Since the training course would cover 70% of transportation costs (and all room and board costs in Spain), I decided to manipulate flight times in order to make a 24-hour stopover in Germany to visit an old friend from Malta. My friend and I had dated in high school and had remained good friends ever since we last saw each other, almost three years ago! I ended up having 24 hours going to Spain, and more than 24 hours going back! I flew with Air Berlin, operated by Royal Jordanian, to Frankfurt. My friend was waiting at the airport for me with a sign saying my name in Arabic! We proceeded to head into Frankfurt and catch up a bit over a butter pretzel and beer, typical German food-on-the-go. After that we explored a little bit of Frankfurt and tried to crash MTV EMA, but that failed! Apparently you don’t just buy tickets, you win or you’re invited, as the very amused security officer outside told us. We decided to throw some leaves in the air instead and have an impromptu autumn party!

After realizing that Frankfurt is boring we moved on to Mannheim, grabbing ice cream on the way (it’s never too cold for ice cream, right?). We eventually got comfortable at my friend’s favorite bar, Stars, where we enjoyed cocktails named after famous personas like Charlie Sheen and Megan Fox while admiring the fantastic view of Mannheim at sunset. I recommend the place!

After that it was finally time for my final German town of the day, Karlsruhe, where we quickly passed by the major landmark of the city, Karlsruher Schloss, and stopped off at cozy Café Bleu for a nightcap before heading home to my friend's apartment. After a short nap I was awoken by my friend strumming the guitar to an amazing candle-lit dinner of Rindergeschnetzeltes (beef) with Spätzle (thick German spaghetti).

After dinner we danced salsa and talked until the bakery opened at 6am so we could go get fresh bread. The woman at the bakery was so sweet and gave me a free bread bun so that I would have a good impression of Germany. After that it was time to head over to Frankfurt-Hahn airport for my Ryan Air flight to Alicante. Give lots of time to get to Frankfurt-Hahn because it is not close to Frankfurt at all! It was sad to say good bye to my good friend after such an amazing time but I would see him again in a week. In Alicante I grabbed the bus to the train station and sipped a café con leche until my train to Murcia, the location of the training course, arrived.

The training course took place at the CEMACAM Torre Guil , an environmental education center near a nature reserve in southeastern Spain, for the practical workshops but finished off with two nights in Murcia, an Andalusian town 15 minutes away, to expose the participants to the local culture. The environmental education center was beautiful and cleverly designed, possessing a natural heating and cooling system through its unique architecture. Our accommodations were built into a mountain and we were treated to traditional Spanish breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the cafeteria, which was also disguised as part of the natural surroundings.

The first day we took turns to present the waste problems in our country. I presented on Friends of the Earth Middle East ’s work in trying to rehabilitate the Jordan River and save the Dead Sea. I explained that the most valuable resource in Jordan is water, and therefore FoEME is working to reduce the consumption of water through water saving strategies, reuse water e.g. through grey water systems, and recycle water e.g. through rainwater harvesting. Each country had their specific problems with wasteful consumption, such as lack public sector support in Palestine and Egypt and lack of financial incentives in Latvia and Spain. In the afternoon we shared environmental education activities that our organization employs to educate youth about environmental stewardship, and I shared some of the educational toolkits I had developed for the youth programs at the Sharhabil bin Hassneh Park .

There were six practical workshops, besides a teambuilding workshop in the beginning and a future projects workshop at the end. We first learned how to make soap from used cooking oil, although my soap slightly failed and coagulated too quickly.

After that we made jewelry from old CDs, by putting them in the microwave so they get a cool design, cutting them and then melting pieces together in an oven. The jewelry turned out beautiful and you would never guess it was from a CD! The woman who led the workshop and had refined the technique had gotten the idea from a youtube video of a crazy person microwaving CDs.

We also learned how to make bags and skirts out of old t-shirts, although sewing is certainly not my forte, and make decorations out of books and magazines, which was simple but arduous. The last day we met a Spanish artist named Angel Haro who had bee inspired by the resourcefulness and creativity with which third-world children make toys. We got to try our own creativity in making toys out recycled materials, after getting inspiration from a video of a toy-making workshop Haro led at a school in rural India. Finally we made puppets. Cultural activities included an intercultural night, where everyone gave a presentation about the traditions of the country they represented and brought a food, beverage, or gift from that country.

The last morning at the environmental education Center the Egyptian representative and I scrambled up one of the hills in the nature reserve to watch the mist rise over the surrounding landscape. It was an adventure! We were given a tour of the environmental education center CEMACAM Torre Guil and a city tour of Murcia, showing us the medieval Arab King’s palace and his cleverly irrigated garden that had stood the test of time. On the last two evenings they treated us to local food at favorite restaurants in Murcia. The food was amazing! It was usually a selection of typical Murcian small dishes, complemented by plenty of local wine and beer.

After dinner we went out to explore Murcian nightlife, where the Slovenian couple showed us their incredible Latin dance skills. The last day we brainstormed projects for the future, and I thought of one to promote ecotourism through youth exchanges. When we said good bye it felt like saying good bye to a family! The whole training course was amazing, but the most amazing part of it was the people, and I am blessed to have so many friends across Europe and the Middle East because of it.

After Spain it was time for Sonntag in Deutschland Part 2. This time I arrived into Karlsruhe-Baden Baden airport, two hours delayed but worth the wait. My friend and I grabbed the bus, train, and tram into Karlsruhe, where we stopped at Lehners Wirtshaus to have some schnitzel and more delicious German beer. After the food we quickly freshened up at my friend’s apartment and went to have a few cocktails with his friends at Hotel Santo Cocktailbar, a classy establishment that even offered a cigar menu. We then returned to my friend’s place for some Gluhwein and salsa dancing. In the process my close friend, who is also my high school sweetheart as I mentioned before, and I felt the old sparks fly and had the conversation neither of us had dared to have the last weekend I was in Germany. By the morning, we had decided to enter a relationship, figuring we were fortunate enough to be single best friends with a connection that transcends friendship. Why would anyone throw that away?

We spent the day walking up to the beautiful but damaged Heidelberg Castle and admired the magnificent birds-eye view of Heidelberg from its gardens. On the way back to the train station to get to the airport, we met up with another couple and had gluhwein. Finally we got on the train to the airport, thinking we were right on time for the flight. Unfortunately, somewhere between Mannheim and Frankfurt Flughafen someone “interfered with the train”, or in other words jumped in front of the train to commit suicide, causing an hour delay and me missing my flight to Amman. There was no way to get another ticket until the next day so I had to put out some cash at the last minute desk and spend another night with my new boyfriend. As new romance goes, we sang our way through this mishap and decided to make the best of it by buying döner kebab and getting a good night’s rest in Karlsruhe.

The next day I flew via Bucharest and Beirut to Amman with TAROM, which has horrible airplane food but was bearable. During my 10 hour lay-over in Bucharest I decided to go into the bleak gray city and found refuge from the cold in Kafeteriya, a Turkish Cafe in the university district, where they started playing a huge harp next to me. When it came time to find my way back to the airport, I found no one who spoke English, but I did end up sharing the mutual language of Arabic with a Romanian popstar at the bus stop, who proceeded to guide me on the fastest route to the right bus station through Bucharest streets, that are riddled with wildly barking dogs who I swear had rabies and prostitutes who were being cautiously followed by the police. On the final leg of the trip I sat next to a fascinating Lebanese-Romanian businessman who had lived all over the world and recommended that I visit Samarkand in Uzbekistan sometime. Once I got to Amman I didn't stop making friends! While waiting for my friend to pick me up at the airport, I chatted with this elderly Iraqi man who invited me to visit him in Baghdad. That is not on my list of places to go right now, but we had a nice conversation. Once I got home I had enough time to unpack, change clothes, and head to Arabic class, but after a sleepness night of flying through three countries I could barely keep my eyes open and was sent home by my kind professor to get some rest.

In my next post, which will hopefully be up soon (I’m falling so behind!) I will tell you about visiting the home of a conservative Muslim family, day-tripping to some naturally hot waterfalls near the Dead Sea, and spending a day painting murals at a boys’ school in a poor rural community. Auf wiedersehen! Hasta luego!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Eid Break Part 3: Jerusalem, Eilat, Petra, The Dead Sea, and Amman

So much has happened that I am falling behind in my blogging, and I apologize for that. I haven’t even written about eid yet! I will try and make pictures tell most of the story so I can get to the wonderful present as soon as possible.

Our second day in Jerusalem we woke up early to go to the market Makhne Yehuda. However, we were so early that nothing had opened yet so we got a coffee first and then explored the stalls of spices, dried fruits, fresh vegetables, and sweets. We then bought some presents for the family at a local jeweler (they will see what it is when the holidays roll around). After the market we didn’t have a plan so we used my little trick of walking into a bookstore and looking through a guidebook to find the next destination. However, a writer and her poet daughter cannot enter a bookstore without having to buy something – so we emerged with the English translation of one of my favorite Swedish books, The 100 Year-Old Man That Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. It is a hilarious sort-of Swedish Forrest Gump with a dark side that I highly recommend.

Thanks to the guidebooks at the bookstore we choose to go to Ticho House. After a long search we found the exhibition to be closed for renovation but we did visit the spectacular Museum of Psalms where an old rabbi had translated verses from the Torah into incredibly colorful and powerful paintings displaying the message of the texts. My mom and I whiled away the time having deep discussions about life and love in front of those paintings, and then had a cup of tea in the beautiful garden of Ticho House.

After walking to the bus stop, we found out that the bus we planned to take is full, so we booked seats on the bus leaving three hours later and decided to grab lunch somewhere. Holy Bagel provided us with delicious bagels, salad, and free WiFi! After getting our fill of bagels we walked to the Sacher Garden near the Knesset and sat in green grass eating the dates and nuts that we had bought that morning in Makhne Yehuda, returning to the bus station in plenty of time.

We arrived in Eilat late at night and found our way to our tiny room in the kooky Corinne Hostel. We freshened up and decided to explore the nightlife of Eilat. Besides the biggest Ghost House in Israel and a crazy Russian party at one of the hotels, nothing much seemed to be happening, so we returned to the hostel to do our nails and watch a mediocre romcom. Such a cozy mother-daughter evening!

The next morning we went to a local bakery to grab breakfast, packed our bags, checked out, and headed to the beach. It was so nice to spend a few hours in a bikini, dozing off in the sand or swimming out in the temperate blue waters of the Red Sea.

After the beach we grabbed a taxi to the border, where we ran out of shekels and the taxi driver refused to believe that the Jordanian dinar is stronger than the Israeli shekel so we overpaid him. Oh well. The border crossing was very relaxed, with only a couple of families calmly processing their papers so they could walk the few meters over the border to the Jordanian checkpoint. The border crossing cost 89 shekel, and the visa for Aqaba is free to encourage tourism to Aqaba. We passed relatively quickly and on either side they said I had an Israeli/Arabic name. In Jordan I also got my first pickup line from a passport control officer: “Where are you from?” “Sweden.” “Oh I thought you were from heaven.” Welcome back to Jordan!

We got a taxi for 65 dinar to the Seven Wonders Bedouin camp in Little Petra, where we would be staying for the next two nights. We got lost in Wadi Musa for a while, but finally found the camp, which was lit up with tiny candles across the entire side of a small mountain. It was beautiful! We were immediately welcomed into the dinner tent for some delicious local food. After dinner we got settled into our cozy little tent and went to sit around the fire, where we were offered free tea and had an interesting conversation with a slightly crazy woman who had been to Petra many times but never to any other place in Jordan. I told her she has to visit the rest of the country!

The next morning we woke up bright and early to grab a quick breakfast and go to Petra. We got to the Treasury before the fingers of sunlight had reached down the mountain to touch its rosy exterior. First challenge was the High Place of Sacrifice, which is high indeed. We got a bit lost on the way and found some elephant sculptures near a spot where two Bedouin boys were grazing their sheep. We finally made it to our destination, which had a magnificent view. After sharing a buffet platter for lunch at the cafeteria (10 JOD), we moved on to our next challenge: climbing the 999 steps to the Monastery. Once again it was worth it, and we went even higher from there to a viewpoint overlooking the arid Wadi Araba. A Bedouin young man offered us a cup of tea at the Monastery while trying to convince me to climb to the roof of the gargantuan Monastery. Fortunately my mother was there to talk some sense into me, since this Bedouin probably didn’t have the purest of intentions. We did some souvenir shopping on the way down from the incredibly adamant vendors. Both things I bought have already broken, so I don’t recommend buying souvenirs there. We explored the Grand Temple, the mosaics in the Byzantine Church, and the Royal Tombs, before returning back through the narrow passageway leading out to Wadi Musa. For the last part we rode horses to give our weary legs a rest. Nine hours of exploring a natural wonder takes its toll on you!

Back in the Bedouin camp mamma learned how to tie a kuffiyeh and we ate another hearty local meal, this time the famous makhlouba. We befriended a friendly Canadian man who worked in a gold mine in Mauritania.

The next day we woke up a bit later than the morning before to get a taxi, which the Bedouin camp owners kindly arranged for us to ensure we weren’t ripped off again. The ride along the King’s Highway to the Dead Sea was very scenic and we stopped multiple times for pictures, including a pit stop at the Dana Guesthouse where I ended up having tea with some men from Amman on the balcony overlooking stunning Wadi Dana.

The O Beach by the Dead Sea was exactly the oasis I hoped for it to be. What a luxury! We paid the 25JOD to enter and then went to change in the spacious changing rooms. I fashioned a beach dress out of my scarf and we decided to check out the Omara Lebanese Restaurant to see if they took cards, since we were very low on cash. The manager greeted us saying that the machine was broken, so he took us in as his guests and offered us to sit down. We took part in a wonderful buffet meal with delicious Lebanese food, followed by delicious chocolate mousse and Turkish coffee. However, by the time we finished our meal the credit card machine was working again so we were charged for everything except the drinks and the coffee. The food was so good, though, that we didn’t feel to bad about it.

We proceeded to soak and float in the Dead Sea, covering ourselves with the famous Dead Sea mud, and then soaking and floating some more. After that we showered to get off all that salt, lounged in the sun beds, and swam in the infinity pool upstairs. Feeling relaxed and refreshed, we returned to Amman.

After a quickly freshening up at ACOR, my friends picked us up and took us to Books@Cafe, where we had cocktails and lots of fun. By 1am we were all getting a bit hungry, so we decided to find a restaurant that was still open. After much searching we settled for the Yemeni place I had visited with my Colloquial Arabic class. We sat on the floor in a private room at 2am and ate chicken and rice from a large shared platter with our hands. I am so proud of my mom for going along with all this!

The next day was our explore Amman day. We tried to follow an itinerary I found on BeAmman, but of course it didn’t go exactly as planned. However, the whole day made me love Amman even more. We started off by walking down Rainbow Street and getting falafel at Al-Quds. We then walked down from there to King Husseini Mosque, speaking to Libyan children and shopping spices on the way. Downtown was bustling with Saturday shoppers and we whiled away time buying souvenirs and trying local delicacies such as kunefeh. At the Roman Theater, after touring the Museum of Popular Traditions, we were offered cups of tea by the policemen at the entrance. The policemen then proceeded to introduce us to another man who took us to the daggers workshop mentioned in BeAmman. We made new friends and bought some daggers and gold.

After that we crossed to the next “jabal” or mountain to the Umayyad ruins at the Amman Citadel. The Museum was closed unfortunately, but the old Umayyad castle had reopened since I had last been there, and it was amazing fun getting lost in the ruins. After that we took a taxi to the mysterious House of Poetry that I had wanted to visit for so long. The House turned out to not be so impressive, but only for its vantage point that is actually exactly above the Roman theater! We walked back down, past the Roman theater and into the Downtown area where we got lost looking for a restaurant serving Mansaf. We eventually went to Jabri where we enjoyed Jordan’s national dish in a more Western fashion than I have experienced in the past. After that it was time to say good-bye and go home to study. I am so happy my mom visited me and could see the beauty of Jordan and the kindness of its people for herself!

My next post will include, first of all, a short summary of my experience at an all-Jordanian Model United Nations Conference, where I submitted a resolution to solve youth unemployment as the delegation of Iran and met Princess Sumaya.

Secondly I will tell you what I learned at the training course on “The World of Reducing and Reusing” that I attended in southern Spain along with 20 other participants from 10 different countries in Europe and the Middle East, and finally, I will write about rekindling romance in southern Germany.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

8 Reasons Why Today May Be The Best Day of My Life


I was invited through a friend of a friend (of a friend of a friend – Amman is small!) to represent Jordan at a training course on recycling in Murcia, Spain, on behalf of the East and West Center for Human Resource Development. It covers all accommodation, food, program cost, and 70% of travel costs. The training course goes by the philosophy of learning by doing, so we will be making soaps, creating bags out of jeans, and making toys out of trash, among other useful skills. We will be staying at the gorgeous environmental education center CEMACAM Torre Guil and during our free time explore the Old Arab city of Murcia. There are no words for how excited I am!


I have a good friend I haven’t seen for almost three years living and studying in Karlsruhe, Germany, who I have been promising to visit. With some clever manipulation of Air Berlin and Ryan Air flight times, I will finally see him again!


The organization I will be representing in Spain does exactly what I dream of doing with my degree in international affairs, anthropology, and Arabic after I graduate. After I come back from the training course they want my help in developing a project related to environmental issues and their vision of intercultural communication – my help!


My mother and grandmother worked on the campaign, I volunteered in the White House, and my sister and dad went to the democratic rally in Virginia last week. It feels almost like a personal victory and I am so relieved that disaster was averted and that the USA is giving Obama another chance. Even Jordanians were deeply moved by his victory speech!


This weekend I will be engaging in diplomatic discussions with intelligent young Jordanians on these three topics:
• The role of youth in political parties regarding political life.
• Preparations for the Next Global Economic Meltdown; The Aftermath.
• The Jobless Generation: Regional crisis in youth employment.
I will be meeting Jordanians from universities all over Amman and argue with them about current political issues from the standpoint of Iran, in my first time ever as delegate (rather than staffer) at a MUN conference. On top of that I will get to see Princess Sumaya of Jordan, and maybe Queen Rania.


I had a 3-month membership at Aspire Ladies Gym but realized that I wouldn’t use up the membership, so I reduced it to one month and got the refund as credit for the spa. I promptly used this credit to get a much-needed haircut and now my hair looks better than it has in months!


My professor cut us some slack today because he figured we were all sleep-deprived thanks to the election and it had been difficult for many of us (including me!) to find the movie we had to watch for today’s class, Cairo 678, which is a very powerful main-stream Egyptian movie on sexual harassment. About 93% of foreign women report cases of sexual harassment in Egypt, but this movie focused on how local women are taking a stand against this completely unacceptable social norm that exists in the land that its citizens call "the mother of the world". We also discussed Nawal El Saddawi’s controversial literature on female circumcision and honor killings. I recommend all of you to read her seminal work “The Hidden Face of Eve”, especially the very moving introduction.


My friend (who I went to the wedding with) called me up in the afternoon and told me I was invited to his 8-year old cousin’s birthday party that very evening. The food that my friend’s aunt had made was delicious, and for dessert we had crème caramel, strawberry jello, strawberry cake, and chocolate cake, which was all delicious. Afterwards we drank tea and smoked shisha, and the women bonded over the complexities of studying Arabic grammar while the men played cards and smoked on the patio upstairs. There was an adorable baby bumbling around that just about made my night! Thanks to the wedding, I feel like I have two Jordanian families now – my host family and this family.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Yoav's Falafel

Our only night in Jerusalem during eid we decided to have the famous Jerusalem falafel. To our pleasant surprise our couchsurfing host and her friends were making a batch of falafel that evening so we were invited for a home-cooked meal. The home-made falafel, served with tahini and warm pita bread, was the best I had ever tasted. To drink we had home-brewed cinnamon and hibiscus tea. I couldn't leave without getting the recipe, and I will now share it with you. Here is Yoav's Amazing Falafel Balls:

Yoav’s Falafel Balls

1 kg soaked (overnight) dried chickpeas
4 tbsp chopped parsley
3 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tsp hot paprika
6 garlic cloves
1 tbsp baking soda
2 tbsp cumin
½ tbsp cinnamon
½ tbsp nutmeg
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt

1. Mix all ingredients, except for the spices, in a food processor.
2. Add the spices and continue mixing.
3. Let the mixture sit for at least two hours in the fridge (can sit also overnight).
4. Use a teaspoon to form the balls with wet hands.
5. After you form the balls, fry them in oil.

Here is a recipe for pita bread that I found on

Pita Bread

ita bread is served at just about every meal in the Middle East. It can be used for dipping, or to make delicious sandwiches in the pocket. In the Middle East, pita is made in brick ovens, where very high heat can be achieved. It is very hard to duplicate in a home kitchen, but this recipe, combined with high heat, comes very close.


1 package of yeast, or quick rising yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup lukewarm water

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.

Combine flour and salt in large bowl.

Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour yeast water in depression.

Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic.

Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. When the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded.

Coat large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated.

Allow to sit in a warm place for about 3 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500 deg F. and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to also preheat your baking sheet.

Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick.

Bake each circle for 4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2 minutes.

Remove each pita with a spatula from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking.

Take spatula and gently push down puff. Immediately place in storage bags.

And for Tahini, from the same website:


Tahini sauce is made from tahini - a sesame seed paste. Tahini sauce is thinner and used in pita sandwiches, marinades, and dips. Tahini sauce is very easy to make. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and it will keep for about two weeks.

1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 gloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped (optional)

In a food processor or mortar and pestle, combine garlic and tahini. Add kosher salt.

Remove from food processor and add olive oil and lemon juice. If too thick, add a teaspoon of warm water until desired consistency. (Add parsley)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Bad and the Good of Culture Clash

This weekend has shown me new sides to Jordanian culture, both the good and the bad. I got my first job with Modelicious Modeling Agency as an usher at an engagement ceremony. I was cancelled for the job last minute and instead went to a Halloween party that my friends told me about. Apparently, in Jordan, you are a Satanist if you celebrate Halloween. Read this excellent blog post about the issue and what happened to the party I went to: Halloween and Satan in Amman. My friends and I got out of the party safely, but I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was exactly as described in the blog post, a really fun and very safe party on the inside (the DJ from Ministry of Sound was spinning amazing tracks all night), but a battleground on the outside, and it all started with an online media rumor. The experience demonstrated to me even more the clash between Eastern tradition and Western culture that is happening in Jordan right now.

However, the melding of East and West doesn’t have to be bad. I had an amazing time last night at a Jordanian wedding at the Grand Hyatt. I will take you step by step through the parts of the wedding so that you too can appreciate the mix of Jordanian tradition and Western influence that was present.

First a little about the bride and groom and how I got invited to the wedding. The groom is my friend’s first cousin (on the maternal side) so I was fortunate enough to get a spot as a +1 at the expensive wedding. The marriage was arranged, but not in the way that you would expect. The families had met and the bride and groom had started talking. They continued getting to know each other on facebook and hung out more and more. They didn’t live with each other but they continued getting to know each other for a year before having the wedding, and of course the families had to give their consent. The signing of the marriage contracts and religious ceremonies took place at the engagement. The wedding, however, is when the marriage is consummated and thus made legitimate. I guess that is how modern arranged marriages happen.

In the beginning of the wedding the groom’s family (and this includes extended family!) picks up the groom from his house and goes with him to take the bride from her house. At the bride’s house they meet the bride’s family and the two families celebrate coming together by dancing a lot. I missed this part though.

On the way from the bride’s house to the hotel where the main wedding party would take place, my "date" for the wedding and his cousin picked me up. We arrived at the Grand Hyatt, one of the best hotels in Amman. This hotel was one of the victims in the horrible hotel bombings of 2005, where a member of Al Qaeda bombed three luxury hotels in Amman, including a wedding, in the name of jihad. Therefore to get into the hotel we first had to go through security, which required me to put my bag through an x-ray, go through a metal detector, and be body-searched for weapons. The banquet hall was beautifully decorated, and ushers who were probably hired by a modeling agency like mine greeted us and took us to our table. I was sitting at the young cousins' table, so most of us were university students. Only the close relatives were present. The friends and distant relatives would arrive later.

After being introduced to all the uncles and aunts and cousins and drinking mango juice (the biggest difference between a Jordanian wedding and an American wedding is the complete lack of alcohol in the former), it was time for the bride and groom to arrive. The groom’s family greets the bride since the groom pays for the whole wedding so it is therefore the groom’s family’s wedding. The groom’s family and close relatives gathered around the stairs leading down from the lobby, where the bride and groom were slowly descending. A traditional band was dancing dabke, playing drums and singing well-known songs that everyone belted out as we clapped our hands and moved to the beat. The noise grew louder and louder as the couple came down the staircase and gradually walked across the floor into the banquet hall, surrounded by wildly dancing relatives.

Once inside the wedding hall we returned to our seats to watch the bride and groom have their first dance together, and for the bride to have her last dance with her father. The Western nature of this aspect of the wedding was emphasized by the use of American songs for both dances. However, when the music switched to Arabic songs it was time for everyone to get on the dance floor and dance with the newly-weds. I tried to move as best as I could in an Arab way, but alas maybe it is something you’re born with. Aunts, uncles, and cousins would come up and dance with me to show me some basic steps, but I fear that I moved my hips too much and my arms too little, probably thanks to my salsa skills. Anyway, what I lacked in skills I made up for in spirit.

After dancing for a while the time was suddenly 10:30pm. Time flies at a Jordanian wedding! The enormous cake was rolled in on a wheeled cart, and the bride and groom cut it with a huge silver sword. The buffet opened up and I filled three plates with traditional treats such as tabbouleh, baba ganoush, hummus, lamb with lebneh and rice, musakhan, and lots of warm kunefeh for dessert. There were also continental salads, fresh vegetables and fruits, smoked salmon and shrimp, Italian pastas, Chinese stews with rice, kebabs, and on the dessert table ice cream, chocolate fondue, cheesecakes, and more. All of it was absolutely delicious!

While everyone was eating, the bride and groom would go from table to table, personally greeting each person with kisses on the cheek and taking photos. After dinner it was time for – you guessed it – more dancing! A tabla player bounced into the crowd on the dance floor and the bride and groom took turns to hit the huge drum. I also got to try, and although my first tries were a bit weak I think I got it in the end. After a while a whole group of traditional dancers came in to give a show, dancing dabke in a circle around the exultant bride and her family.

After impressing some of the relatives with my limited Arabic skills (I spoke for over 20 seconds in Arabic! They thought this was remarkable, coming from a Swede.) it was time to return to the dance floor. After some popular Arabic songs the music switched to American/International music, starting with the already classic Gangnam style. I thought the dance floor would break in the chorus! Even the bride and groom danced gangnam style. After some more international hits where most of the young people broke it down on the dance floor, the music returned to Arabic hits and some of the older relatives returned to the dance floor. I actually recognized some of the Arabic songs! By now it was around midnight and most of the friends and distant relatives had gone home so it was only the close relatives on the dance floor. Every song was just as good as the next one which made it impossible to leave the dance floor, and even though my stilettos were killing my knees, I couldn’t stop dancing or laughing. Jordanians know how to party! There was even a 10-month old baby on the dance floor.

Eventually I took a rest and the music started winding down, cueing the time for the relatives to give the bride and groom envelopes with money and to take family pictures. I was included in the family picture of my date. By now the time was 1:30am and my host family was anxious for me to go home so they could lock the door and go to sleep. I was lucky they even let me stay out so late! I got back at 2am, with aching feet but a happy heart. I think I would rather have a Jordanian wedding than an American one when the time comes…