Breaking the Fast

Trip Start Aug 24, 2009
Trip End May 24, 2010

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Thursday, September 10, 2009

I last left off on Sunday…a very important day because it marked my first if-tar in a Jordanian home. I was lucky after work on Sunday in that Casey offered to pick me up and help me run a few errands. I was able to pay the internet bill, cash a traveler's check, and buy som tortuously delicious looking sweets to take to Adib’s house. Seriously it was so hard to stand in a sweet shop after a day of no food…me with a starving stomach and borderline hyperglycemia while hundreds of honey and pistachios covered treats taunted me with their glistening presence and sweet smell.

Around 6 pm Adib picked up Devan and I and we headed to his house to again be tortured. The whole house smelled like…I can’t really describe it other than to say it was like smelling your favorite food after eating bugs in the desert for something like 40 days and 40 nights. I don’t want to exaggerate or anything, but this is probably the closet approximation, haha. Ok, so everyone started arriving. Mostly this might was for Adib’s family and friends: Firas, Jihad, Leen, Omar, Bashar, Hiba, and many others. I think we broke the fast at like 7ish (there is a schedule and it thankfully is a bit earlier each day since it is related to nightfall and the moon). Let me add that about 15 minutes before the fast is broken everyone looks glazed over and
dehydrated, dying for the cigarette they couldn’t have all day. Stomachs are crying out to hear the call to prayer, and meanwhile a feast for a king is being laid out on the table and you can’t even stick your hand in the salad bowl just to tide yourself over. Then…BAM…everyone attacks the table like ravenous hyenas, kicking old women and small children out of the way to ensure their gratuitous share of the bounty before them. ::Inhale inhale inhale, swallow swallow swallow, smoke smoke smoke:: All culminating in a happy food coma over nargileh,
cards, and sweets that lasts until the cows come home. Sigh.

Fine, no one kicks old women out of the way. Actually considering that everyone really drained from not eating or drinking, the process of getting the food from the platters to the plates and from the plates to the mouths is very calm and civilized. In fact, it is like the happiest meal
ever as approximately 25 bodies come back to the land of the living. Adib's mom seriously prepared the most amazing meal. There were like 20 different dishes I would say. Salads, dips, rice dishes, chicken, lamb, bread, etc. I wish I could name all of the dishes but I can’t. The only dish I knew was fatoush. There were also special Ramadan juices, I tried sous which is like black liquorish (Is that really how you spell that? According to spell check it is.). Long story
short, dinner was amazing, Adib’s mom is the bomb, the sweets I bought were to die for, Arabs play a lot of cards, and sous is gross.

Additional things of note: (1) Although dates are around, I haven’t seen anyone use them to break the fast. (2) Jordanians smoke almost everywhere but it still felt weird to have half a dozen people or more sucking on Marlboros in the dining and living room after dinner. (3) Arabic or Turkish Coffee is consistently an after dinner treat here which is odd to me but helps me hang with the best of them since everyone stays up so late munching on goodies.



Instead of going to the office I went to the Jordan Valley Authority building for a presentation by my boss. I don’t know if this the Jordanian way or just his way, but he told me the day before right before I got off work, it wasn’t even at the JVA, it was next door at the Water Ministry building, and the room was totally too small and too crowded to enter. I sat in a different office nearby with Baha and discussed FoEME and Amman and other stuffs until the presentation was over. Geez. Came back to the FoEME office, discussed what my role will be
here, and then left with Masashi and Yoichi to hang out (sort of like a reward for dealing with managerial hoopla). We went to Yoichi’s for awhile. Just chilling out and talking. They made me coffee which was a godsend and I chilled on the couch with Yoichi’s sweet little cat while we laughed over the Japanese-English translator. My favorite was an English translation to "sexy bastard." I am still not exactly sure what the word meant but it had something to do with street harassment. Lmao. I also discovered it is actually sort of difficult to explain the phrase “dirty old man,” especially when you are asked “why only an old man?”

Then we headed to Shmesani. Their apartments are basement level so they were pretty surprised by our palatial crib. They met Devan and discussed her obsession with this book on Cocaine and then they treated me to dinner as a welcome to FoEME! So nice. It was frickin yummy too. Kibbeh niyyeh, tabbouli, fried cheese, fried cheese in bread, fried cheese in bread with vegetables, lubneh with garlic and dill, and some awesome onion dish. Yum yum
yum. They also taught me dugare (straight), shemal (left), and yimeen (right)…in Arabic not Japanese.


I woke up way too early and travelled with two women from my work and my boss via car about three hours to the Dana Nature Reserve. The way there was long and I was trying not to nod off. Mostly we were driving through the desert (SaHara in Arabic). I saw horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, and dun dun dun CAMELS! A group of camels was like grazing by the highway and beginning to cross the road. Awesome! Anyone who knows me well knows that I love meeting animals on my travels. My goals for my time in Jordan include but are not limited to petting a donkey, seeing a baby camel, and spotting the ibex that they are trying to repopulate on the reserves.

Dana was beautiful. We weren’t wandering the Reserve or anything. We were actually checking on the hotels and meeting areas because in October we will host a large group of Palestinian and Israeli youth at the Reserve for a conference on environmental and cross cultural awareness. The hotels are more like guest houses and they are in these old school buildings.
So tiny and cute, and they overlook the valley there which is just an amazing view. As soon as I have time I will download some pictures, but the internet is kind of slow for such tasks here. The only bad part is that I was forced to drink a lumpy Turkish coffee on an empty stomach because they wouldn't believe that I was fine fasting all day. Yuck. I love coffee but not when I am hungry, blech.

We didn’t return to Amman until just before if-tar and I had to rush and get ready for a party that Rawan invited me to at the Orthodox Club. Those crazy Christians sure know how to party, haha. Actually it was cool beans. We got a ton of free food which was good because I was hungry like the wolf and there was really good live music. I think the music was like classic Arabic party music because everyone knew all the words and was claps and waving their hands and dancing. Laith and Tareq came as well and they brought along a woman from Germany, Julianna, who they were showing around for a couple days. Despues de, we met up with Devan and Adib at Books @ Café and I cried my eyes out while Laith and Tareq told the most
ridiculous stories about their university days.

It was time for fourth meal (or second meal if you consider Ramadan) by the time we left so Adib and Devan and I went to Reem’s where we made countless uncouth jokes in English related to the name and waited for delicious shwarma while people stared at us. Us meaning Devan and I. There seems to be a lot of staring here by men but whatever. As far as I can tell they get over it after a few moments so I don’t waste my energy being concerned/annoyed. Devan and I finally hit the hay around 3 am but like I mentioned before, Adib went
wherever he goes and stayed up because that is only like an hour and a half before the sunrise begins, aka breakfast time.  



I slept way in, waking up just in time to get to the bank before it closed at 1:30 pm. Yea, no work. Long story involving an invitation to the Dead Sea, my acceptance, my regret, and
some blunt words concerning my romantic availability. The Dead Sea will have to wait for me. I got my rent money at the bank (yikes, stripes, fruit stripe gum), which by the way I am being ripped for the month of September but whatever. To late now. Yadda yadda. I’m mostly over it.

Devan and I went to Friends Bakery or Friends Cake or something with Adib and picked out some yummy cakes for Omar’s and Bashar’s birthdays (they were similar to the cake's that can be found at Shatila in Dearborn). Then we headed to Firas's for if-tar. We were early because I was going to help cook but that didn't really work out. Instead we played with his little puppy Rosa who was cute and stinky and obsessed with biting my feet. We (aka Devan) also taught Adib and Firas Go Fish which made me want to stab my eye out but they liked it and we played in Arabic which was helpful for me. "Devan, andik bint?" I learned that they call the Queen "bint" in Arabic which means girl and totally explains why they kept saying "girl" when were playing in English. I also tried to teach them Euchre and although Adib was all about it, Devan and Firas were way more into Go Fish and as a good midwesterner knows, it takes four to tango on the Euchre floor. Bummer, maybe next time. They actually have a game I am still learning that is sort of like Euchre. Arabs play a lot of cards, me gusta. 

Eventually everyone started arriving, mostly the same crowd as Adib's. The food was laid out, all hot and delicious, and again everyone gathered as close as possible to the table, wide eyed and drooling until it was time to eat. They we stuffed our faces. It was so good. I especially loved the salad Firas's mom made which tasted like yummy freshness, and her grape leaves which were very lemony and actually a bit spicy (unless you are Adib and then you might describe them as deathly spicy). After dinner we had cake, sweets, coffee, nargileh, tea, and more sweets. I also learned the slang words for hottie (mostly they are food words) and learned to play a card game they call "trix." I actually wasn't bad which I probably owe to my card playing family back home. Overall it was another delicious and successful if-tar. I really love the if-tars, they are like really elaborate spaghetti nights on eleven mile. I think we left around midnight, did a brief tour of the eight circles in Amman, and hit the hay.

Now: TGIT  
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