19 October 2006

It's Nearly Eid!

Ramadan is almost over. I can’t believe it’s been nearly a month! It’s funny to realize that most of the time I’ve been in Jordan I’ve been hungry. My Arabic class is largely out of control, and I think the teachers are too tired from fasting to deal with them. I will say, coincidence or not, it is all of the American students from a program called CIEE (I want to shame them) who cause problems. One girl, I do mean girl, wore a knee-length skirt and a tank top to school the other day, and asked the teacher how to say “do or die, bitch,” in Arabic. Really. This is during Ramadan. I can’t wait to hear how some Jordanian skull-fucked her in Aqaba over the break when we return to class in 10 days. “Teacher, how do you say ‘skull-fuck’ in Arabic?” Seriously, what the hell is wrong with these people? Did their program undertake no cultural-sensitivity training before they were shipped over here?
Last night I went to Jebel Hussein with my neighbors. It was really packed. I think people are out shopping for the Eid holiday which marks the end of fasting, and the beginning of massive gift exchanging. We had to wait 30 minutes for a taxi home, and when we finally got one, a lady jumped in front of L and tried to take the taxi from us. L almost took her down. I got home at 1 this morning, and was in school at 9, only to be sent home pretty early. I could have just slept in. Lesson learned.
I received word this week that my background check went through, and the government gave me an elaborate letter inviting me to apply for a residency permit. I thought that’s what I already applied for, but it turns out I just applied and gave money for them to make sure I pay my taxes or something. So, I’m still here on a 3 month visa. I’m actually beginning to worry that another 6 weeks won’t be sufficient to process my permit. The next week is Eid, and no sane person will be at work. (It’s time to fricken’ eat!) To say that Jordanian bureaucracy is glacial in speed is not merely repeating a cliché. My roommates background check is still pending (gee, wonder why that is?) and they will not process my residency permit until her permit is also ready to be processed. Flippin’ heck, as she says.
I think tomorrow I will go to Aqaba with L and I. His brother lives there, and we’re invited, though I’ll be in a hotel since the apartment is one room. I don’t mean one bedroom, I mean one room. Rumor is we’ll stay there through the weekend, perhaps head up back via the Dead Sea, and arrive in Amman in time for Eid. I’ve never been to Aqaba, so that would be really nifty. We are planning a trip to Syria, but getting visas for our passports is tricky, and with Eid approaching nothing is occurring on the visa front. So, we may go the week after next (instead of during my school break), and I would miss a week of school. This would be completely worth it for me to go to Syria with I and L. Apparently, Americans can go to Syria via Jordan if they do so as a "tour group" and go with a tour guide. All that means is that we’d pay some dude to drive us from Amman to the border, he would take our passports and process them while we wait in the car, and he will drive us to Damascus. We have the option of keeping him on to drive us around, or we can part ways. We are thinking about 5 or 6 days (post-Eid) spent in Damascus, where I is thinking about basing his dissertation research, Homs, that other town that starts with an H, and Aleppo. Humm, lets see, school, or Aleppo. School. Aleppo. Yeah, I’m going. It is surprisingly inexpensive for the “tour”. Apparently there is an amazing mosque in Damascus. I’ve seen it on TV when we watch for the C to P in the evening. It’s one gynormous and intricate mosaic. L was telling me that in the tile and grout they put finely ground glass, so the entire building shimmers. It is indescribably beautiful, and I should know the name since I is really thinking about focusing on this for his work. So, Inshallah, I will go sit on the beach and smoke nagilla with L for the next few days while I flails in the water. We may stay at the Movenpick at the Dead Sea because L gets a massive discount because of her fellowship here, and then on to Syria! How cool is that?


Blogger Weeping Sore said...

Happy almost Eid! Monday's the last day of Ramadan, right?
Cultural sensitivity - or the lack thereof by westerners - sounds like a dissertation in itself.
Sorry about Cairo, but Damascus sounds interesting. FYI, I'm pretty sure Damascus is in the opposite direction from the Gulf of Aquaba. Staying at the Movenpik sounds lovely. Have an ice cream cone toast to our last trip to a Movenpik. Can't wait for the report of your Eid holidays.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Herman said...

Hey: If you make it to Damascus -- about fifty miles away is the monastery of Deir Mar Musa on the edge of the Syrian desert. I read a piece on it in the Christian Science Monitor a while back -- sounds amasing. It was rebuilt recently by a priest who had been studying Arabic in Damascus and heard about. I would love pictures.

6:36 AM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Hi Frances,
Welcome to Jordan Planet! I'm looking forward to more of your posts.

I was in the Arabic program at U of J last year, and I agree with you-- those CIEE kids are awful! I can't beleive that they select kids who are so unwilling to conform to Jordanian society. They seem to think a year abroad in Jordan is no different than a year in Germany-- it's all about partying. As an American, I find it truely shameful and embarassing. I knew a handful of decent kids when I was in college. Don't any kids with morals apply for these programs? If they do, they probably don't get selected because they wouldn't "fit in" with the other students. Augh!

Anyway, enough with my rant. I'm looking forward to hearing more from you.

10:13 PM  

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