Deb in Amman 7
After playing for your sympathy about how busy my day would be in the office today, all I needed to do this morning was to complete the Day 3 lesson plan, make arrangements to go to the Dead Sea tomorrow, and meet with Cassie for coaching on how to complete the invoice and expense reports for this trip. At 9:30 or so, almost everyone left the office on a bus to go to a World Water Day conference. So the office has been very very quiet- what a change! It certainly made creating a lesson plan a lot easier!
I am planning to go to the Dead Sea tomorrow. Omar, Abu Rashad’s nephew, will pick me up at the hotel at 10 a.m. He is charging me 50 JD for the round trip.
We’ll get to the Dead Sea by 11 and I’ll stay until 3 or so. Mona had suggested that I consider spending the night or at least getting a day room at one of the hotels, to save money and to ensure I had somewhere to shower and rest.
However, Mamoud told me all I need to do is get a voucher at the Marriott Hotel (for 40 JD) that will give me access to the beach, shower, lunch, changing room, beach chair and towel, etc.
I had been thinking I might not go, because, to tell you the truth, I’m very tired. But Mona assured me that the Dead Sea was a perfect place to go, because it is very restful to float in the water and then sit on the beach. She advised me not to stay in the Sea more than 10 minutes and several people have cautioned me NOT to put my face in the water. So I won’t.
She also suggested that I use the Marriott spa and take advantage of their services. For example, to get a massage (just not from the Korean masseur that Richard goes to, because he really pounds your body!) I’ve only been to a spa once in my life and, to tell you the truth, I could take it or leave it.
A massage sounds very appealing, but since I have some degeneration in my neck, the wrong move could easily end up hurting a nerve. So clearly I’ve already decided against a massage! Now, if they do a foot massage, I think that might be terrific (having never had one before). I’ll go and I’ll see what’s what. Or I’ll simply stay by the water and go for a walk.
She discussed the fact that, due to the decrease in tourism, the hotels at the Dead Sea have really hiked their rates. When her husband, Richard, went there to go bicycling and wanted to simply leave his car in their parking lot, he had to pay 50 JD.
She was surprised when I told her that Abu Rashad was charging me 50 JD for the trip, because she remembered it as being 25 JD. However, since the government took away whatever kept the gas prices low, gas has almost doubled in price. So the increase in the taxi fare makes perfect sense.
Mona also told me the best way to manage going to Petra- leave Amman on Thursday night and come back on Friday night or Saturday morning. That would leave enough time on Saturday afternoon to set up for the training. She also told me that the hotel might let me leave my things in my room and not charge me while I am in Petra. I’ll be very interested to see if that will actually occur!
Cassie told me that since Jordan PAP has consultants coming and going continually, and they all stay at the Intercontinental (or the Intercon as folks here refer to it)- so the office has a great relationship with the hotel. Hmmm…
Okay. The latest information I have about how many people will be in the training: we need to accommodate any grantees, so we will have 30 in each class. This may or may not include some of the office staff.
If all or some cannot attend, then I am to give an accelerated version to them on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before I leave at 2:45 AM!!! on Wednesday morning, April 11th.
To show you how gracious folks are, when I tried to call Abu Rashad back to schedule the trip to the Dead Sea, I inadvertently called Mohammad, our office driver. He was perfectly willing to come in his own car and drive me there- until I realized, when he said: ”It makes me happy to do it, Madame Deborah” that I had reached him rather than Abu. What a sweetheart! And no, obviously I’m not going to take advantage of his generosity. He has two little girls at home, plus a pregnant wife, and he needs all of the weekend time he can get!
Cassie goes back tomorrow morning and I’m really going to miss her friendship and energy. It’s not the same as it was with Tricia, because we both left Lagos on the same day. I would have sorely missed Tricia (even more than Cassie) if she had gone and I had been left on my own in Lagos. Tricia was my mainstay both in and out of the hotel.
But Mona is very friendly, so is Jasmine and Maha D- and actually everyone else in the office, so I’ll be just fine. And since two other (female) consultants will be coming- one this weekend and the other the following weekend, I’m sure that I’ll have plenty of company for adventuring in and around Amman.
Oh, there was a huge story in the Jordan Times today about the trip the staff took to interview the inhabitants of two places where the springs are drying up. The story was accompanied by several pictures taken by the staff and a very long write up of the problems and some of the folks’ comments. They used to have lush orchards and now they can only grow olive trees, which are also failing. Since these are farming communities, many are starting to plan to move to the cities for work.
I was reading over Cassie’s shoulder. In the future, I’m going to have to pick up an English version of the Jordan Times to know what is happening in the area. Another headline I saw was that “there are no more mines in Jordan.” However, she read further and found out that won’t be true until the end of May.
In Madison, I only skim the headlines of the Wisconsin State Journal online, and read the articles that interest me. It seems like it would be prudent to know on a daily basis what is going on in this region- since I certainly can’t understand the Arab news stations.
Remember that I mentioned getting a very small jar of (creamy) peanut butter at a mini mart the other day? I had no idea how to gesture that I would prefer chunky peanut butter! Well, according to Mohammad, our driver, there are three centers where Jordanians in Amman can pay to learn English. It is not taught in the schools.
So it’s pretty obvious that the folks in the office are very unique in having English language skills (some more proficient than others, of course). In general, it is very unlikely I am going to meet Jordanians who speak English, other than in the hotels and larger restaurants.
Well, I’m waiting for the office folks to get back (probably not for another hour, which will make it at least 1:30 p.m.) to order lunch. My stomach is still programmed to be hungry at 11:30 a.m. so I’m starving! The apple I brought from the breakfast buffet is only a distant memory at this point.
Have a great day!