Saturday, January 30, 2010

Going Back to School

I really can't complain about going back to work. I had an excellent break back home for two weeks in December and another two week break in January, some of which was spend in Egypt, the other part spent just taking it easy in Amman.
Yet, despite all of my awesome breaks giving me plenty of down time, I'm still not looking forward to waking up at 6:30 every morning and dealing with fragmented weekend. Working on Saturday while having Friday and Sunday just isn't a complete weekend. There are two good things that will come of starting work again. A, I'll get plenty of hugs from the kids and B, I'll look forward to my ka'ik sim sim sandwich every morning that I get from Ahmad, formerly known as ka'ik sim sim boy. Ah...the little things in life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Egypt Photos!

I just uploaded some of my photos from Egypt onto my flickr webpage. I'll add some more when I get more photos from Lena and Gretchen and I'll try to be better at taking more photos in Jordan and posting them on a regular basis :-)


When you just can't wait....

I was talking to a friend the other day about being sensitive to low blood sugar and being incapable to think of anything but acquiring food when I'm hungry. My friend said his brother is the same way and so his mother decided it would be a wise idea to carry a snickers or mars bar with her at all times so when his brother got cranky, she could give him something to boost his blood sugar. Apparently, this worked like a charm on Philip's brother and I thought....that's a really good idea! I can go from cranky and food obssessed to cheery and bright in ten seconds!

Keeping this in mind when I was at Carrefour the other day, I picked up a snickers bar, some cereal bars and a chocolate milk. I was already getting hungry when I walked into the store so had my mind set on some protein and something sweet.

By the time I hopped into the taxi on the way home, I was too hungry to wait so I drank the chocolate milk, thinking that alone would do the trick. It didn't, so I opened my box of cereal bars and dug into the chocolate banana flavored goodness. I still had a craving for something after this so I opened the snicker bar and decided to have a bite. Wow, it was good. And I hadn't had one in years so I decided to eat some more. After demolishing two thirds of it, I decided to save some for later and put it back in my bag. But then I kept thinking about how good it was and it was just sitting there calling my name. So I finished the rest.

I can only imagine what the taxi driver was thinking as the slender, blond ejnabeeay (foreigner) merrily ate junk food all the way home. Somehow I don't think it's every day that a taxi driver sees a woman desperately rummaging through shopping bags for a chocolate and protein fix. That food worked like a charm though so I'm considering implementing the 'carry a snickers bar or nuts, etc. with me at all times' policy.

My Kitchen

This post has been a long time coming. Here is the blog post about my kitchen appliances. More specifically, my countertop stove and glorified toaster oven. When I first laid eyes on the kitchen back in November I was thinking, 'can I actually cook with these things?' The answer, at least concerning the stove, is yes! As for the 'oven', I have only tried to reheat a hamburger which didn't quite turn. The middle was lukewarm and I burned the bun so bad that I could have throw it against the wall and it would have cracked into a million pieces. By some miracle, Gretchen did manage to bake two pies and a green bean casserole in it. I've been too intimidated to try.
The countertop stove works like a charm. All you have to do is turn on the gas tank that is below the stove in a cupboard, turn the knob and light it with the bright green lighter that you see in the photo.
The silver contraption on the middle burner is a dzejva (jezva) which is actually the Serbian word, I forget the name for it in Arabic. Since there is no word for it in English, at least not that I know of, I continue to use the Serbian word as it's the only one I know, which I'm sure is rather confusing. It's what is used to make Turkish coffee, the strong stuff with coffee dregs at the bottom of the cup. Don't forget for that stuff to settle or else you will have a mouthfull of fine coffee grinds. Since we don't have a teapot, I use this to heat water in when I'm making tea or coffee. And since I don't have a coffeemaker, I use the french press that came with the apartment and voila, perfect American coffee.
The blue water container is our source of drinking water that we have delivered every week or so. It's less than $2 so it's quite a deal. We could get one of those fancy water coolers but they cost a lot of money, at least a hundred dollars if not more. So, we stick with the pump and just stick the container on the kitchen counter. At least it's making my right arm stronger.
So the next time you do some cooking, baking or have the luxury of reheating something in the microwave, think of how awesome it is that you have nifty kitchen appliances. It's funny the things you take for granted until they are gone....or downgraded.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Random Notes on Being Back in Amman

After possibly the mose relaxing and restful vacation ever, I'm back in Amman. Being back home and having life be really easy for two weeks was just what I needed. Not having to worry about running out of water, being able to sleep in all the time, having a normal oven and a microwave, not having to struggle to get across ideas in Arabic, etc. was a real treat. Speaking of Arabic, was it really necessary for me to sit in on a three and a half hour meeting, all in Arabic, without someone to translate everything for me. I tried to not look like a bump on a log, but it's hard to look engaged when you don't understand what's being discussed. I succeeded at not falling asleep which I considered a success. Catching up with family and friends was also great. I found out that I didn't forget how to drive and was amazed by the order on the streets. There are actually proper lanes in the US. A real treat, at least to me, who would be scared to drive here in Amman. I got my Taco Bell, Korean food and Thai food fix, as well as the traditional Christmas dinner and tasty kettle corn. Life was good.

Now that I'm back, I'm appreciating some of the highlights about being here; always learning new things, buying my 'ka'ik sim sim' sandwich every morning from the adorable Ahmad, the variety of cafe's, walking everywhere and right now, the beautiful weather. It's kind of ironic that I was so excited to get really nice long johns to bring back to Amman to suvive what I thought would be the bitter cold weather when I got back. It's about 70 degrees now; I'm wearing a skirt, a sweater and I don't even have to wear a hat or a scarf today, which is something considering that I usually don a scarf once October hits.

One highlight of being here is that when you don't have a lot of money, it's rather easy to eat healthily. In the US, the fast food is cheap and the produce is expensive. Here, it's the fast food that is expensive and the produce is cheaper. A whole bag stuffed with fruits and vegetables for under $7? 10 pieces of freshly made mouth watering falafel for 22 cents? Awesome. Of course, everything is relative and I'm sure that for people who earn $300 a month, everything is expensive. Everything is relative I guess.

On another note, I saw some odd foods in US supermarkets. Broccolini. It looked like asparagus but with a tiny head of broccoli on top. I don't get it. Don't scientists and engineers have something better to do with their time. An avacado with 30% less fat. Last time I checked, the kind of fat in avacados are actually good for you. Let's stick with normal avacados and less.....burgers and ice cream.

Another bonus, at least about being a teacher here, is that I'm on vacation again! 2 weeks of vacation in December and 2 weeks of vacation in January. And thanks to my wonderful mother, I get to go to Egypt with some friends in two days! Cairo and Luxor, here I come!