Adventures throughout Jordan and Turkey
Trip Start Jan 30, 2011
7Trip End Jun 01, 2011
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Where I stayed
a little bit of everywhere
First things first: PETRA!
About 2 weeks ago CIEE took some of the students on an overnight trip to Shobak Castle, Little Petra, and Petra. This was a pretty amazing trip I must say. There was only 14 of us because most of the students choose to go to Wadi Rum and spend the night in a Bedouin camp (I was not interested in camping which was my main reason for picking Petra instead). The small number of us made the trip really chill. I got to meet other students I hadn’t really talked to while also spending time with my roommates and the other Claire on this program. The trip started early Friday morning as we all managed to get to the school by 8am (a hard task for any college student). We then drove to Shobak Castle. This castle was built by crusaders in the early 12th Century and at first just seemed like the other older castles we had explored. With about 25 minutes left to explore, my roommate, Amartya, found a pitchblack stairwell that she wanted to explore with us. When we started going down, a local teenager stops us and says its dangerous but if we want to go down he will get his friend and take us down. At this point we have no idea what we were about to get ourselves into; we just keep looking down this stairwell that is completely dark. It kind of looked like the stair well in Aladdin when he had to go get the lamp. Anyways when they get back we continue our decent down this stairwell. It was difficult because there was about a half inch of sand on every surface and some of the stairs were no longer there. At one point I was sitting and scooting down the tunnel because I couldn’t grip the stairs in my shoes (I made the unfortunate decision of only bringing Sperry’s). If those teenagers hadn’t helped us we probably wouldn’t have gotten all the way down or fallen a lot more. An hour after entering we finally see light at the end of this cave and climb up a ladder and realize we are about 100 feet away from the castle that we started in. We later figured out that we had found the escape route intended for the crusaders if they were ever attacked. When I got out of the cave my black coat and dark jeans were covered in sand; our tour guide laughed at us and kept asking why we were a different color. Anyway, we finally got back to the bus, late of course, and headed over to Little Petra. This area is in the same city of Petra and has similar structures it’s just obviously smaller. After exploring the escape route I was pretty sore, but this didn’t seem to faze my roommate Olivia because she was climbing all the rocks. I got a couple of scarves here; one of which I was planning on giving as a gift but decided against it because I like it.
The next day was spent in Petra. Here we walked around the old Nabataean and eventually Roman city, which is actually a lot bigger than one would think. It was absolutely beautiful just walking around and looking at these ruins and then realizing people made this thousands of years ago without any sort of modern technology. If you’ve seen from my facebook pictures, all the buildings were huge and it was very surreal to actually see it. When we finally got to the end there was about a 1000 step climb to the monastery. We all started climbing; however Olivia and I were the last to get to the top because I forgot to take my inhaler. On our way up we stopped and had tea with this Bedouin woman. Her daughter was absolutely adorable; she was about 2 and kept taking my camera to take pictures. She could even say "picture" perfectly in English. If you’ve seen the picture of my legs that was covered by a finger on my facebook, then you saw one of the ones she took. Once we finally got to the top, the monastery was amazing. It had amazing acoustics which we got to fully experience when a couple of guys, who I assume were in some sort of choir, came in and started singing different chords. When I heard them sing, I was thinking to myself that it is almost unbelievable that a society almost 3000 years ago could have design a building with such great sound. If I thought getting to the top of the stairs was difficult it was nothing compared to climbing down. My Sperry’s were the culprit again, as they were design for boat use, and could not grip onto the sandy stone. Luckily, a friend waited with me and helped me down.
When we got back to Amman it was the start of a very hectic week aka midterms. That week I had pretty much no free time. I had my Colloquial Arabic midterm on Monday, Modern Standard Arabic midterm on Tuesday, my Archaeology midterm and a Colloquial presentation on Wednesday, and my MSA presentation and Literature paper on Thursday. Needless to say when spring break started I was more than ready.
Second: SPRING BREAK
Thursday night I hung out with some friends and then we left my apartment around 4am to catch our flight to Turkey at 6:40 that morning. I didn’t get any sleep that night because by the time we all settled down it was already 3 and there was no point in sleeping then. The flight for me was nice, mostly because I slept the entire time. Unfortunately one person in our group was right beside a crying baby, so their flight was less than enjoyable. Once we got into Turkey, we hit another dilemma. Apparently you can’t enter Turkey if you are a Mexican citizen unless you have gotten a visa ahead of time, and my roommate Amartya who is a duel citizen and traveling with her Mexican passport got held in the air port. After about 3 hours and 230 Turkish Lira later she was able to enter the country. Also none of the money changers in the air port changed Jordanian Dinars over to Turkish Lira, so I ended up taking a bunch of money out of the ATM so we could get to our hostel. After this rough start though spring break went by pretty smoothly. Istanbul was beautiful even though it was cold and rained the entire time we were there. We visited all the tourist sites and even got a tour from some of the CIEE students in Turkey who went to school with some of the girls in our group. Istanbul was also cool because I could see the Western and Islamic influence of the city. It was a bit of a culture shock to go there and see skin, PDA, and water fountains again. I was walking around the first day and I was like I’m the only one with oily hair right now (in Jordan they have very limited water and we can only shower like every other day, which isn’t bad here because that is the case for everybody but not so in Istanbul). Another difference that I thought was unusual was that Istanbul had all of its signs and menus in Turkish only; in Jordan pretty much everything is in both Arabic and English.
After four days of wondering around Istanbul we took an overnight bus to Oludeniz, a Mediterranean beach in south Turkey. We ran into a bit of a problem here because the hotel we had booked online did not exist yet. Luckily there was plenty of room in another hotel nearby because it was off season for this town. We managed to fit five girls in a room made for three by pushing a double and single bed together and snuggling. This hotel was so cute. The family that owned it helped us out with pretty much everything. The mother even called us her daughters. They made us breakfast everyday and told us how to get around the city. The beach here was absolutely gorgeous and so clear. When my friends swam in it (I didn’t because it was really cold) they could see their feet while they were swimming. The five days I was here I pretty much just lounged around on the beach getting my tan (aka freckle) on and just relaxing. I liked that we went during off season because it wasn’t to terribly crowded I can only imagine how it would be in the middle of July.
Unfortunately during this trip my camera fell to its death. It’s lasted through several falls but this was apparently the last one. But my very amazing parents have agreed to pay for a new one (a big deal because technology is really expensive here), so I am going to look for a good price this next week.
Last week was pretty relaxed as I got back into the habit of going to school and whatnot. My birthday was Tuesday, and to celebrate I had a bunch of friends come over to hang out. They got me cake, probably because any time I have seen a nice cake and I have said “Oh look at that cake. My birthday is April 12th by the way.” Subtlety is obviously still not my strong point.
This last weekend me and a few friends took a day trip to Jerash, a city of Roman ruins. Here we saw the temple of Artemis and Zeus, other ruins of the city, and a demonstration in the hippodrome. This demonstration was probably the cheesiest, best thing ever. They had Jordanians dressed as Romans reenacting battle strategies, gladiator fights, and chariot races. The columns in this city were also cool because the swayed if you pushed them at all. At first I was like this huge rock thing is going to fall on me, but then the local giving us a tour explained that it was built like that in case of earthquakes to ensure the structure wouldn’t fall over. Afterwards we went shopping in this little area outside of the ruins. I got a bunch of little things, including a string of camels that I later hung up in my room. When I went to hang them up I called my roommate Olivia and I said something similar to a redneck’s last words. I was like, “Hey, can you come over here and watch me. I’m about to do something stupid,” and then rolled my desk chair over to stand on it. Being the sensible person that she is, she actually held the chair instead of just watching it while I hung my camels up.
Anyways, that is what I have been up to. I think it is finally getting hot here as I am currently sitting on my porch in 87 degree weather. It is absolutely beautiful. A lot of people are complaining about the heat, but for those of us from the south it isn’t a big deal, especially because it is a dry heat here with no humidity. I went with a friend today to get my hair cut, so I now have bangs again. Other than that life has been pretty relaxed lately.
I hope you all are doing well, and I again apologize for not writing sooner.
I love and miss you all.