40 little girls + swimming pool + the zoo

Trip Start Jun 27, 2011
Trip End Sep 04, 2011

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Saturday, July 23, 2011

Today the Gaza Camp field trip was to the swimming pool and the Human Society Animal Shelter.  The girls started at the swimming pool. What an experience!  I was really nervous that they wouldn't know how to swim.  Well, they didn't know how to swim!  So how did this work out?  I am proud to report there were no drownings...just a lot of swallowed water.  The little girls sat around the edge of the pool screaming and splashing and the 10 women from the camp, the girls that could touch the bottom, Clare and I would take a girl or 2 or 3 from the edge and swirl them around and give them a chance to play in the water while holding on to us.  Thank goodness we had some other volunteers and a lifeguards standing on the pool deck making sure no one meandered to the deep end.  The girls had SO MUCH FUN.  I had so much fun!  It was a great feeling to see them so happy and enjoying themselves.  

What did we wear in the pool?  Prior to going to the swimming pool some of my friends said that when conservative women are amongst only women it is pretty relaxed and you can wear what you want.  Not the case.  I emerged in my one piece suit with a t-shirt over it and you would have thought I walked out completely naked.  Clare and I were quickly ushered upstairs to rent a pair of shiny leggings to go over our swimsuits.  We would have taken a picture to document the fashion statement we were making, but 1. we were too busy laughing at ourselves and 2. there are strict rules about cameras in places where women are not fully covered.  The most intriguing part of the day was to see the women that are always dressed very conservatively and in hijab in their swimwear without their heads covered. It is the strangest thing to only know someone with their hijab and then to see them without it, with their beautifully highlighted hair, they look like a completely different person!  

After our swimming session we packed up and headed to the Humane Society.  Unfortunately, they didn't have room to show us around so we ended up at the "Zoo" next door.  Let's just say in the States PETA would have been all over this place.  The Humane Society was pretty displeased with our choice to take the kids there...but we had to take them somewhere!  There were lions, jaguars, tigers, one zebra, several llama, monkeys and some birds.  The zoo keeper took us on a tour.  This basically meant he got in the cage with the lions, pet them, slapped them around, threw some steaks at them and held their jaws open so we could see their teeth.  The bus driver and I were like I cannot believe this is happening right now this guy is completely nuts!  I took lots of pictures of the lions for my mom because even though they are like 500 times the size of our cats at home I knew she would be saying ohhhh it's Inky and Lilly! 

After the animal portion of the "zoo" the girls hopped on some of the rides that were there.  I saw the pirate ship ride from afar and assumed it was like what we have at any amusement park in the States. Then I looked closer.  The seats were actual car seats with seat belts and the brake on the bottom was one rubber tire.  No thanks.  The girls stuck to the flying swings and I stuck to taking pictures.  After 4 or 5 rounds of swings everyone was dizzy, exhausted and ready to head home.   As the bus drove through Amman I looked back from my seat next to the driver and almost all of the girls were sound asleep.  Success! 
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