November 19, 2004: Headlines: COS - Jordan: Internet: Blogs - Jordan: Ramadan: Thanksgiving: Personal Web Site: Kelly's Peace Corps Adventures in Jordan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Jordan: Peace Corps Jordan : The Peace Corps in Jordan: November 19, 2004: Headlines: COS - Jordan: Internet: Blogs - Jordan: Ramadan: Thanksgiving: Personal Web Site: Kelly's Peace Corps Adventures in Jordan

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Kelly's Peace Corps Adventures in Jordan

Kelly's Peace Corps Adventures in Jordan

Kelly's Peace Corps Adventures in Jordan

November 19, 2004

My first Ramadan is over. Saturday was our last day of fasting, Sunday was the first day of Eide. Eide is a celebration to end Ramadan. Candy is sold on every street corner (and every store in between LOL) and people buy new things; everything from new clothes to new cars. People also go on vacation (if they can afford it). 17 of us decided to head to Aquaba which is the southern most point in Jordan. It lies between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Melissa and Ami slept over my house on Saturday so that we could leave Sunday morning at 7am. For a week I had called buses in Amman to buy tickets but they were either all sold out or required a visit to Amman in order to buy them in person. My asked my landlord for help and she said she would get someone. Knowing that all transportation here is relatively cheap I agreed. Unfortunately, I didn't get the price of our private bus until Saturday at 8PM...obviously too late to do anything about it, so relunctantly I agreed to the 40 JD bus for the 4 hour trip.

We got dropped off at our hotel where they checked my reservation and brought out my email reserving a double for NEXT weekend! It wasn't a problem though, the hotel wasn't booked and another double was available and I even negotiated the rate down to what was in the email (a good deal since everything in Eide is more expensive).

The room was small and dirty (since they hasn't cleaned it since the last guest) so we decided to take a walk around Aquaba and get something to eat while we waited. We found a resturant on the main strip where we enjoyed a little Hommos, Babyganoush, and the best French Onion Soup I have ever had! We then went to the Movinpic for ice cream. Again, the best ice cream ever. I was concerned about getting a bus ticket back to Amman tuesday morning since all the buses were booked getting down to Aquaba. We couldn't find the bus station but we did find s Radisson Hotel! So we sat out at the "resturant" that was on the beach. I didn't know at that time but we were looking at Israel on our right. The water was gorgeous, a clear blue just like at the islands in the Caribbean which was surrounded by mountain ranges. At night after sunset, Israel's lights aglow and as just as close as if you are standing at the Palisades in NJ and looking at the NYC sky line.

We left to go back to the hotel to take showers before meeting the other 14 volunteers for dinner. The room was still dirty so we sat at the pool while they went up to clean it. We took showers, got dresses in nice clothes, even put makeup on! We felt like women! The first time since we dressed up for Swearing in 2 months ago. After so long it felt a little uncomfortable to be honest, but nice. We were meeting everyone at a really nice resturant but we wanted to go a little early to get a "soda" before the big crows arrived. At 8pm everyone came, all dressed up...looking great. Most of the men in our group haa lost a noticeable amount of weight, a lot of the girls have self-reportedly gained - but everyone looked beautiful! The resturant lost our reservation so we sat up on the terrace and ate. After dinner we all went back to the hotel the other volunteers were staying there because they have more respect for a budget than we do but it reminded me of a crack house in NYC ... but safe :) It was dorm style with showers and bathrooms in the hall for all the share. We went up to the roof talking and laughing until 3AM. The night was gorgeous, the stars were out, and this is when I found out that Israel was right there. The lights were so close you could almost touch them. I stared for a long time and thought about the political climate - hoping for peace and wondering how it would happen.

At 3AM we caught a cab back to our hotel and stayed up talking until 4:30 AM. We woke up the next morning, out by 9am in order to get breakfast before getting to the other hotel by 10AM. We stopped at the same resturant we had lunch at the day before and had eggs, hommos, and babyganoush - but only because McDonald's was closed (which is weird since it was open at 3AM the night before - what kind of schedule does Aquaba hold?) We get to the hotel and all 17 of us head to the pier. One of the J7 girls arranged a glass boat ride on the Red Sea for us. 10 JDs for an all-day ride, snorkeling and lunch! The day was beautiful and hot! The water clear. The volunteers were all happy and awake after a late night. We drove around looking and eventually dropped anchor so we could go snorkeling. There were a lot of colorful fish, coral, and a little bit of trash but it was just like when i went snorkeling in the Bahamas, and definately not something I expected to go in JORDAN!

Afterwards we went to find a beach with as few locals as possible to anchor and have lunch. The problem was the entire length of the beach was covered in tents. Families in Jordan come to Aquaba for Eide but some, maybe for economic reasons don't stay in hotels and after seeing it I wondered why we did! The women on the beaches were covered head to toe in the traditional gilbob (dress) and a headscarf so we didn't want to go around there even though our tour guide said it was "aide" (no big deal) -unless we wanted to cover from neck to toe and put our sea soaked hair up, not one of us wanted more attention than was already inevitable for 17 non-arabs getting off a boat and walking around. We kept traveling until the tour guide said we couldn't go any further because Saudi Arabi was only 5 km away so we anchored and lunch was prepared. Earlier that day, we caught a large was cook along with another one and chicken. A few people made salata (tomatos, cucumbers, and lemon, finely chopped and tossed). Lunch was delicious! After lunch the boat started heading back. We were given the option of another snorkeling but everyone seemed tired so we leisurally headed for the pier. We docked around 5 pm and headed back to our hotels. At around 7pm everyone came to our hotel for pizza and "soda" where we stayed until 9pm - then headed over to another hotel to dance until maybe 1am - ish. Melissa and I bought a cake to celebration Ami's 22nd birthday, Brandon's 27th birthday, and Ibraham's 26th birthday - all celebrated during the month of November. The night was sooo much fun. Although we had to be responsible and somewhat culturally appropriate in the event of seeing people from home, we had a great great time. It was a very necessary release from the lives that we lead; always thinking about whether our wrists are showing, if our hair is falling out of the clip, if our neckline is too low, of if we've accidentially made eye contact, where we're going to sit on the bus that filled with only men, or when we should ignore English speaking taxi drivers because he might be over stepping the line between practicing his english and being culturally inappropriate. For me, I didn't realise how stressful it all was until i was away. And although some of it is becoming ingrained, some of it was nice to leave behind for a short time. it was also nice to get togehter with the volunteers and even though I didn't know any of them 4 months ago its so great to hand out with people I have somethin in common with. Even if you have "friends" in your village there is still a divide that may always be there. Maybe some volunteers can overcome that but most won't - especially the women. In order to be accepted, you must lie about your life before coming to Jordan. Its not even a matter of them agreeing with your choices or not, but if you do certain things like have a boyfriend or use certain feminine hygeine products, you will always have a label...and its not the type of label that can be changed. We all try so hard to be accepted into the muslim culture but its just so hard. Escaping it and going on vacation was really needed. I can't wait for the next one! :)

When I was going through training I said that I was not 100% certain that I was in this for the long run. I told me friends that if I felt like I was wasting my time or not doing things that would warrant 2 years from my life that I would leave. There are people here that are on the other side of this. That regardless on what transpires, they are staying. Its two different views - they probably see my argument as not finishing what I started, and I see theirs as failing to objectively assess the situation and failing to do what is right rather than east.
Regardless though, ETing (leaving) doesn't enter my head anymore. I think that I thought about it so much because it was the only thing I had control over. Now, because I'm falling into a routine and feeling more at home I have the ability to make more choices and thus don't need the cruch anymore. Now my time here is in other people's hands. I don't know what our fate is here, the volunteers in the Ivory Coast (Africa) just got evacuated. Since Yasser Arafat feel ill its been the topic of discussion but we can't make assumptions either way. Physically it is as safe and secure as ever - not one volunteer, that I've spoken with, has felt like they were in any danger. Its very very safe on a day-to-day basis but who's to say what can happen in the future.

But please do know that we are all safe, very secure, and loving Jordan and this experience.

I uploaded about 65 pictures onto the Yahoo photo link. There are about that many more from the trip to follow but the computers I was using kept failing to upload them. Inshala they will be up shortly.

Happy Thanksgiving! I have to work Thursday but I'm going up north to spend a friday thanksigiving with a bunch of volunteers. It won't be the same but at least I won't be alone :)

When this story was posted in November 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.
Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes
Take our new poll. NPCA members begin voting this week on bylaw changes to streamline NPCA's Board of Directors. NPCA Chair Ken Hill, the President's Forum and other RPCVs endorse the changes. Mail in your ballot or vote online (after Dec 1), then see on how RPCVs are voting.
Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying
Congressman Norm Dicks has asked the U.S. attorney in Seattle to consider pursuing charges against Dennis Priven, the man accused of killing Peace Corps Volunteer Deborah Gardner on the South Pacific island of Tonga 28 years ago. Background on this story here and here.
Your vote makes a difference Your vote makes a difference
Make a difference on November 2 - Vote. Then take our RPCV exit poll. See how RPCV's are voting and take a look at the RPCV voter demographic. Finally leave a message on why you voted for John Kerry or for George Bush. Previous poll results here.
Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers
The Kerry campaign wants the RPCV vote. Read our interview with Dave Magnani, Massachusetts State Senator and Founder of "RPCVs for Kerry," and his answers to our questions about Kerry's plan to triple the size of the Peace Corps, should the next PC Director be an RPCV, and Safety and Security issues. Then read the "RPCVs for Kerry" statement of support and statements by Dr. Robert Pastor, Ambassador Parker Borg, and Paul Oostburg Sanz made at the "RPCVs for Kerry" Press Conference.

RPCV Carl Pope says the key to winning this election is not swaying undecided voters, but persuading those already willing to vote for your candidate to actually go to the polls.

Take our poll and tell us what you are doing to support your candidate.

Finally read our wrap-up of the eight RPCVs in Senate and House races around the country and where the candidates are in their races.
Director Gaddi Vasquez:  The PCOL Interview Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview
PCOL sits down for an extended interview with Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Read the entire interview from start to finish and we promise you will learn something about the Peace Corps you didn't know before.

Plus the debate continues over Safety and Security.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Jordan; Internet; Blogs - Jordan; Ramadan; Thanksgiving



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