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Deb in Petra and Aqaba, April 6, back in Amman

Deb in Petra and Aqaba, April 6, back in Amman

On April 7, 2012, Posted by , In Travelogue, By ,, , With Comments Off on Deb in Petra and Aqaba, April 6, back in Amman

This was the last day of the second 5-day train the trainer. Last night, after getting back so late from the trip to the Dead Sea restaurant, I stayed up until 2 a.m. reviewing 27 of the participants’ lesson plans. As opposed to last week’s participants, who were often confused, I had about 7 lesson plans that were excellent. (I attribute this to: (1) reminding them to compare their lesson plans to the examples in their binders and (2) walking them through the different elements of the lesson plan at two different points to make sure they understood what each category meant).

This group also enjoyed the Jeopardy game. Then, after catching up on 4 Showcase presentations left over from yesterday, the participants took their Feedback Oath and then worked on creating their AV (flip charts) for 30 minutes.

We split up into the three groups- and Maha and I made sure that the other two rooms had kites, Koosh, candy, and sweet rolls, etc. to make them feel as comfortable as possible.

My group, as like last time, did amazingly creative activities. Many of them designed their own games. Noor played music (!!!) during her activity.

Maysoon went one step further: she played both music and then background effects of traffic. Her activity related to taking public transportation. She began by asking common ground questions: How many of you were late to class at some point during the week? A number (sheepishly) raised their hands. Most of the reasons pertained to getting caught in traffic, or having to drop children at school, husbands at work, and then getting to the training hotel. She also asked how many had experienced a traffic jam, to which a few raised their hands.

She got everyone up to look at photos of cars, bicycles and buses, all the while playing the background traffic noises. Then she asked the participants (9 in all) to identify one advantage and one disadvantage of public transportation on sticky notes.

Next, she created four teams for a simulated relay/traffic jam. Two teams had to “fight” past the other two teams (who stood in front of them or pelted them with Koosh balls) to place their advantages and disadvantages on flip charts.

She didn’t have enough time to finish in the 10 minutes, but her quick summary related to the fact that taking public transportation was much less stressful. Very clever.

Finally, she gave a tee shirt cut out of something thick and sturdy (I think the saying on it was “I survived a traffic jam”) as a prize to someone who had experienced a traffic jam on the way to the training.

Sawson’s activity was absolutely brilliant. She gave us (including me) 10 small sticky notes with our names on each note. Then she had us participate in a type of gallery walk. She had created 6 flip charts for 6 types of energy-saving categories. She divided each flip chart in half, with two possible energy-saving activities and an energy saving fact on top, and two different possible energy-saving activities and a different energy saving fact on the bottom.

We had to place our names next to every energy-saving activity we did.

Then she looked at the results and asked us why many people did certain activities, but not others- which led to a great conversation.

Finally, she had us each add up the number of name post-its we still had in hand and we were able to give ourselves a score that she entered on a huge energy-saving thermometer she had constructed.

She rewarded the person who achieved 90% energy saving with an energy-saving booklet that her organization produced. Later, we all discussed the fact that she should have actually given the book to the person who achieved the least energy saving!!

At lunch, I found out that some of the participants in the other two rooms had ended up lecturing- although their peers lovingly pointed that out. I won’t know until I see the videos from those rooms whether or not the facilitator had the individual and others discuss what the “lecturer” could have done instead to make the lecture into an interactive activity. I sure hope they did.

If not, I’ll definitely have that opportunity, since I promised to review all of the videos from the two other rooms and send my feedback to each participant. At least, that’s my plan. We’ll see how successful Maha and I will be in getting these sufficiently translated while I watch them so I know what is happening. Maha is also going to have to translate 10 lesson plans (in total from both rounds of training) that were submitted in Arabic.

At the close of the session, I didn’t have enough bottles of bubbles, so I had them blow up balloons and bop them around to music instead.

At the beginning of the day, Rozi gave me a beautiful banana leaf closed basket. At the end of the day, Maysoon gave me a beautiful scarf (just like the one she was wearing) and showed me how to wear it. Sawsoon gave me a lovely card.

When we gave out certificates, some of the women hugged me and gave me kisses: one on the left side of the face and two on the right side. One man (the one who had been upset by the triune brain activity) held his hand to his chest and smilingly explained that he didn’t touch other women, so he couldn’t shake my hand).

After the training, four of the young women came up to tell me that their participation in the training had changed their approach to training and their approach to something else- they were all now wearing colorful clothing (which I had modeled daily)!

Three people gave me their cards and told me that, if I had the time, they would like to take me around Amman to see the sites. What loving, generous people!

Then, we packed up everything and I went back to the hotel to completely collapse, then sort through three large suitcases to start packing them properly, and finally pack for the trip to Petra and Aqaba.

Deb in Petra, April 6

Ahmed (sp?) arrived right at 8:30 am. to take me to Petra. A very sweet young man, the only drawback was that he spoke very very little English! However, as we drove the 3 hours to Petra, we certainly attempted to communicate. He would point out camels (he slowed down so I could take some photos- but I missed a photo of a baby camel drinking from its mother, sorry)- mosques and schools (apparently, the words for both are very similar, with just a different vowel the very end of the words), etc.

I have to admit that I dozed on and off on the way (4 hours of sleep the night before will do that..)

At Petra, I bought a hat with a brim (deciding it would be wiser than a scarf). We paid for my entrance to Petra (50 JD). Then I paid for a guide (another 50 JD). Radwan spoke excellent English and had a wonderful sense of humor, as well as a wealth of historical, cultural and religious information about everything along the way.

Petra consists of magnificent natural sandstone formations, carved out by water over the centuries. It is awe-inspiring both in its beauty and in the history of cultures that it presents.

Four different cultures carved out tombs, homes, gods, and temples out of the sandstone at Petra (which is the word for rock- you probably knew this). Radwan pointed out their differences in design and construction. The earliest were created by the Nabataeans, who left many tombs as well as homes and an actually city center. There are Greek and Roman and Egyptian influences.

I have attached three different photos. The first is Al-Khasneh, which means The Treasury, which was reputed to hold the hidden treasure of the Pharaoh in the urn at the top. Radwan pointed out the bullet holes near it, where people tried to shoot it open.

The second is Ed Deir, of the Monastery, where Christian monks lived at one time!

The third picture is of the camels and donkeys walking all around me as people took rides to and from the major sites.

Fascinating facts: There is a very long water “pipe” through the caverns bringing water to the living locations within Petra, which proves that the Nabataeans were very sophisticated and technologically advanced.

There are holes above each of the Nabataean gods for hanging sacrifices.

The Swiss were involved for many years with excavations and putting down some surface to walk on where the sandstone blocks of road washed or eroded away.

Two years ago, a lot more of the city center buildings were excavated. Work goes on here all the time, now primarily by Americans.

There is only one standing edifice that was not carved from the rock, because it has timber (Juniper, apparently a very hard wood) beams. That is a large temple in the middle of the city center.

Radwan pointed out the artisanship and mastery of the sandstone carvers, because one slip and the entire carving would be ruined.

It was very hot and very dusty, although nice and cool in the shade of the caverns before you get to the open areas with the huge carved tombs, etc. Radwan said that there were many homes not yet excavated, but archaeologists do not consider them as significant as the tombs and temples- nor is there plentiful money to support this work.

Radwan mentioned that today (Good Friday) was exceptionally busy. For the past year or so, tourist traffic has been very light, due to fears about the region. He hoped things would be better soon.

As we walked, here and there we would find litter. Radwan, disgusted, would pick it up saying that it was left by Jordanians, because tourists are much more respectful of the site.

As a side note, litter is everywhere. It is piled disgustingly in the downtown of Amman, you see it on the side of the road even in very remote locations, and it sits in front of service stations and cafes. A terrible habit of Jordanians. I don’t know why.

I asked Radwan about the mosques, because every single one I’ve seen is different, with very different designs to the spires. He said it was personal preference and opined that he thought it would be better if the money that went into creating the more ornate mosques went to people in need instead.

The camels are quiet and calm. The donkeys have colorful saddles and are secured in part by a large cord that goes under their tails. Besides these and horses, which are continually offered as means of transportation, there are also covered buggies pulled by horses. They come thundering down through the paths, shouting at people to get out of the way!

I think that, in total, I walked for 4 hours- because you have to walk all the way in and then all the way out. In is mostly downhill. Out is, obviously, uphill. I’m glad that I carried a lot of water bottles and an apple. I started walking around 11 a.m. and got back to the starting place by 3 p.m. I was very dusty (my black walking shoes are a total mess), hungry and very very tired.

After I took 140 photos, my camera battery died. Luckily, I was almost at the end of the walk. Oh, I could have climbed into the mountains to go inside different tombs and temples. I’m glad I didn’t, although a camel ride back might have been a lot of fun.

After missing each other for about 30 minutes, during which time I tried calling both of his phones and finally called Lina, who came to the rescue, Ahmed met me and took me to a great buffet at a restaurant overlooking Petra’s hills.

Deb in Aqaba (briefly), April 6

Then, on to Aqaba. Again I dozed, really too tired to try to communicate with him. We went through desert, saw tents and long flat homes of the Bedouins, lots of mountains, and then, as we began to enter Aqaba, lush foliage. We drove for miles along the Red Sea, which had huge ships (Aqaba is a port city), beaches, all through the city itself.

The streets were jam packed with cars and people were everywhere, there were lots of shops and restaurants- just like a major seaport resort city.

Coral Bay Hotel was just 5 kilometers from the Saudi Arabia border and far out of town. We had to pass through two armed checkpoints.

Here is where my adventure took a sad dive. First, it took forever to get checked in. Then they apologized and said they had not kept my reservation (for a sea view room) and brought me to the farthest point from the reception area. The room was filthy and had no lights (they had to bring in two light bulbs). These were two wall lights that cast very little light, certainly not enough to read by. The view was of a concrete wall. There were two twin beds, no desk, no phone, no internet. Okay, I could live with that, because I was absolutely exhausted.

Before he left, the person who led me to the room turned on the TV. When I went to turn it off, I couldn’t. Finally, I went back to reception (since there was no way to call the front desk) to ask for someone to turn the TV off. When I got back to the room, I COULD NOT UNLOCK THE DOOR!!!

I had visions of continually being locked in or out of the room in this isolated place. By the time someone came, I had made the decision that I would NOT stay there. I packed up, called Lina about alternative transportation back to Amman (because Ahmed was exhausted from the 4.5 hour drive). Then I went to check out, where they promised to do whatever I wanted to make it better. I told them that there was no way they were going to replace the door and the lock- and insisted on checking out.

Then I waited outside for perhaps 2 hours, reading, while Lina first tried to find another room in another hotel (not possible), and then a driver to take me the 4.5 hours back to Amman. Finally, at 8:30 pm., Ahmed drove up with his friend, Ari. Ari had taken the Jet bus from Amman to Aqaba, where he found that they had given away his reservation. Neither young man had a place to sleep, although Ahmed had planned to sleep on the beach!

Ari spoke perfect English and was also quite a hunk and very sweet. He asked if it would be all right if he got a lift back to Amman with us, and I was delighted to have him along

First, I told them that we needed to get some dinner. It was 9 p.m. by the time we sat down on the sidewalk at a restaurant (under a full moon). Right next to us was a camel!!! At first I thought it might be fake, but nope, it was just sitting there calmly, with different people taking pictures on and next to it.

We had a lovely meal, sharing food. Then Ahmed went to get me (and them) some water for the trip back. I found out that Ahmed is 30, left school after 8th grade, and lives with his mother and sister.

Ari is 25, works out at the gym and looks like my son, Seth, in terms of lean muscle and height, and is studying German because he plans to go to Germany in the summer to study architecture and interior design. He taught himself English and speaks with people every day to keep it up. Languages apparently come relatively easy to him.

I told them both that I can’t remember having a dinner date with two young handsome men and they got a kick out of that. I really had a lovely time with them.

On the ride back, Ari and I discussed culture, education, philosophy, politics, religion, dating, Facebook, movies, family…and I dozed a lot. I sat in back, so Ari had enough room for his long legs in the front and I could stretch out on the seat in back (still in my seat belt).

We stopped several times for Ahmed to get coffee, go to the bathroom, and smoke (he never smoked with me in the car). At one place, I got out to go to the bathroom. I walked in, saw one filthy toilet, and then saw another place in the bathroom with four stalls that each had a hole in the floor. I walked right out again and decided I could hold it until we got to my hotel.

Oh, probably not a coincidence in a city where everyone knows everyone, but Ari is friends with a hairdresser in the hotel- who turned out to be the man who cut my hair!

Deb back in Amman, April 7

I walked into the hotel after 2 a.m. My first priority, once I was in my room, was a long hot shower. I didn’t get to bed until 4:30 a.m. (one thing I had to do was email Mohammad in Aqaba that my accommodations didn’t work out (how diplomatic of me) and that I regretted not being able to snorkel the Red Sea with him.

Then I went to bed, woke up once at 11 a.m. and again at 4 p.m.

Now it is just past 7 p.m. and I have had one-quarter of a club sandwich, taken my vitamins, packed up laundry and sent it to be cleaned, and hand washed a large number of items. I don’t plan to leave the room…

While tomorrow would typically be the start of the workweek, since it is Easter, I was told it was an office holiday and the office would be closed.

Maha had written earlier to Karim about our working together anyway, since I have so little time left here and so much left to do with regard to reviewing the lesson plans and videos from the two weeks, as well as designing more curriculum for the social marketing program. She told me she would let me know if I got the holiday off. So far, I haven’t heard back from her.

I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow (Easter Sunday) if I don’t go to work (which I think is highly likely). Probably go for a walk, perhaps call one of the participants who invited me to tour the city. Continue to catch up on my sleep.

I do want to get the email addresses for all of the participants. I’d like to send thank you cards to everyone who was so kind to me. I’m trying to think about what I can possibly give Lina, who has been my anchor any day or night.

So, that’s the scoop.

I’ve heard from Mona and Cassie that everyone is delighted with the training. I’m very glad.

I’ve met wonderfully warm, gracious, loving, intelligent people. I’ve traveled from one end of Jordan (the Dead Sea in the far north) to Aqaba in the far south. I’ve seen across into Israel, Saudi Arabia and Palestine. I have been made exceptionally welcome here in Jordan and would love to return to see people again and hopefully finally swim in the Red Sea on a non-holiday weekend!



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