Monday, June 21, 2010

Hot weather is no excuse

During the past year, I've had my fair share of taxi drivers who have tried to rip me off by outright lying or giving lame excuses. Today I heard one of the lamest excuses of all: it's hot. At first I thought the drivers said 1.50, so I gave him 1.50. He looked bewildered and started to protest. He then said the fare was 2.50 JD's, which I knew couldn't be right. I looked at the meter which read 1. 67. I asked why and he said something about it being hot. He said this with an attitude which didn't score any brownie points with me. Gretchen and I got out of the taxi and went on our merry way towards our front door. At this point, the taxi driver was shouting profanities at us, which I gladly returned, apologizing to the man next to me on the sidewalk.
It felt pretty good walking away, knowing that I hadn't been successfully ripped off. Ahh, the life of a seasoned expat is good.

The Change Girl

"Andak Frata?" Do you have change? This is a phrase I frequently use here in Jordan. Many places don't seem to have proper change. I'm guessing it's not protocol to have a ton of change in the cash register as most businesses do in the US. This wouldn't be a big issue if I didn't get paid in nearly all 50 dinar notes. This means that I'm frequently running around from store to store just asking if they have change, or trying to buy something for 1 JD or less so I don't feel so bad.

There have been several occasions where I'm stuck with a 50 JD note and I need to catch a taxi. There is no way that a taxi driver will have change for a 50 so I MUST find change beforehand. The other day, I was running around looking for change and after going to several stores and finding the line at the bank to be too long, I ran back to a grocery store that I frequent. Now, I would never try this in the US because most people would probably think I was crazy.....but I asked the owner if I could borrow five JD's and I would give him six JD's back later that day. I figured this just might work because many a shopkeeper has told me that I could pay them back later for things such as pudding, phone cards, produce, etc. Either the owner thought I was crazy, didn't understand me, or figured I was so desperate and helpless he needed to give me change. He opened the register and gave me change for my 50 Dinars. I owe him one. At least a nice cup of tea.

The next time I went to his market, I proudly announced that I had change. And not just change, exact change! I was beginning to fear that he would try to hide upon seeing me, telling his employees, "Hide, it's the change girl!"

It seems I definitely am known for not having change as yesterday I walked into another market nearby for a small purchase. All I had was a 20 Dinar note so I asked the owner if he had change. His response was something like, "I thought you would need change." At least he said it with a smile on his face and looked rather amused when I sheepishly handed him my 20 note.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I really should be sleeping...

It's true. It's a Friday night and I should be sleeping. Why? Because I have to work in the morning. I have an odd work schedule, it's true. Tomorrow is the last day I'll have to wake up early on a Saturday morning morning to go to work. Allelulia.

Back to the topic of sleep. I should be sleeping but have found it hard to fall asleep for several days now, thanks to a nightclub right by my apartment. This nighclub is on the second floor, has crap insulation and opens every single window, allowing every music note to go blasting through the neighborhood. I often hear Amr Diab as if I have a radio playing in my room. The ironic thing is that I really like Amr Diab's music and really thought it would be cool if clubs in the US played similar music. Well, now I'm here and I get to hear it all the time which isn't all bad. Just not at midnight when I'm trying to sleep. If I get addicted to sleeping pills I'll definitely sue the club. Those kinds of lawsuits probably don't happen here which is why I'll introduce the concept of bat crazy lawsuits.

In light of the recent frequent and annoying events, I've decided to take action. I'll become a contributing member of the community by filing a complaint. Yep, the 'ejnabeeay' is going to march her little short blond haired self over to my neighborhoods residential association to politely request that something be done about the incessent music.

I was thinking of having an information sheet and petition written in Arabic and going around to get signatures from people in the community. I haven't formally introduced myself to a lot of people here and I think it would be a great way to make new friends. Or make people laugh and have them think I'm really lame and odd. It's a start!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


This is me riding a mule. Not a donkey as I was politely informed.
Camels just waiting for camera happy tourists looking for a cheesy photo op.

Gretchen and her mom walking in the Siq towards the Treasury.
It looks more amazing in real life.

I Have an Address!!

I've almost been in Jordan exactly one year and am thrilled to report that I finally have a mailing address. When Gretchen and I checked before, we were told that it would be months before a P.O. Box would open up. I'm pretty sure we were put on some kind of waiting list, but we never heard anything about a spot opening up.

While I was at the post office the other day to pay our electricity bills, I asked if there were any P.O. Boxes available. Expecting to hear something along the lines of 'come back in a couple months to check' or 'let me put you on a waiting list,' you can imagine how shocked I was when he immediately started to fill out the paper work to get everything set up. For just $18, I am the proud owner of a P.O. Box. Now I can actually get mail!!!! Not that I'm expecting to get much, but it's nice to know that I have the ability to get mail. Cheesy postcards from random places including Toledo will be received with pleasure :-)

Before, I hesitated to even have something sent to either of the apartments. I did receive some mail at the first apartment, to the amazement of one of my roommates. Another package was 'lost, missplaced, or melted in the heat' and and when I moved to my current apartment, I didn't bother. Apparently street signs were just put up a few years ago. When I had to write down my address the other day, there was actually a box listed 'Next to' along with the street name and building number, etc.

I'll have to compile and share the random ways addresses are written here. I certainly appreciate the way it's done here. When you have a sense of direction as bad as mine, you really begin to appreciate the use of landmarks.

Next mission, get a bank account so that I don't have to keep all my money in an envelope. Did I just admit to using an envelope to keep all my money in? Did I just end a sentence with a preposition?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tribute to Ka'ik Sim Sim

Ahh....ka'ik sim sim. This is a photo of the 'do-it-yourself' ka'ik sim sim table where you can add eggs, cheese, salt and za'atar. The tomato is actually mine, I brought it to the place myslef. It's only a 20 second walk from my apartment so I'm sure I didn't look like that much of a freak walking down the street with a tomato in hand.

Some of you may be wondering what is so special about this. There are four things.
1. It's super fresh.
2. It's zaki and delicious.
3. It's extremely cheap.
4. It's very filling.

The great thing about getting ka'ik from this place is that you get it fresh out of the oven. So fresh in fact, that you have to wait before cutting it. Sadly, my morning ka'ik came to an abrubt halt when we had to be at school earlier, but since there is only one more week of school left, the good old days will be back soon.

End of the Year

Sadly, yesterday was the last day we all had with our students at school. As you can see by the photo, I'm pretty sure that the adults had just as much fun as the kids. We had a dancing corner which featured dancing and the limbo, headed by all the awesome teachers.

After giving my last exam, (yes, our primary students have exams) I walked outside to see how the first and second grade party was going. I didn't actually have to be there until it was time for the third and fourth graders to have their party, but who can resist all of this good natured fun? So I got some ice cream and joined in on the dancing and limbo. Having always liked dancing, it was great to finally get to to be an instructor. Ok, ok, maybe it was only telling the students to jump up and down six times, or stomp their right foot once, but this could be the start of something huge!

During all the festivities, I wanted to see if Hala, who was way too busy to enjoy the fun, wanted some ice cream. In an attempt to put a smile on her face, I decided to write 'do you want ice cream' in Arabic. I was pretty sure I had written it correctly so I was surprised when she looked at me with an amused expression and a 'what?' Turns out, instead of asking her if she wanted ice cream, I asked her if she wanted a breast. Yep, buza and bza are quite close in spelling. Not so close in meaning. I just thought my handwriting would be enough to make her laugh but I exceeded my goal. Now I have to look up how to spell 'ice cream.'

As I told my kids that I wouldn't be teaching at the school next year, a lot of them were genuinely disappointed and proceeded to give me big hugs and say that I couldn't leave and I must come visit them next year, etc. This of course, put a big smile on my face. What made the kids smile was when I told them that since I'm not their teacher anymore, I can become their 'Facebook friend.' I've already received some messages saying that I'll be missed accompanied by hearts. I hope they all know that even though they could frustrate me sometimes, I will miss them too!