It's been about a month since I used this program to write anything. I tend to write in journals only when I need to de-stress. This is not the case in this instant. I'm going to use this program to write an entry to my blog. Ok let's go! or Challo! as they say in Hindi.
It's been ages since I've posted anything on my blog. In part, this is because my internet is very slow and it takes ages to upload pictures. The other (maybe slightly larger) part is purely intentional negligence. After 7 weeks in one of the most hectic, overwhelming, and lovely countries I've ever been to, I started feeling overwhelmed to even begin with what seemed a herculean task, telling you about all of my experiences here so far. Even a brief summary seemed like it would take GB of text, which is a lot if you don't know about file sizes of .txt files. This blog post will contain some stories, general impressions of India, and random information about my research.
Background: So far I spent 3 weeks in Delhi, 2 weeks in Ranchi, 1 week in Jabalpur, 2 weeks in Delhi, and I leave for Udaipur on Thursday.
Where to begin...
I always take the window seat when I'm flying because I can avoid that awkward moment when I wake up and realize that my mouth is desert dry, not because of the dry air in the airplane, but because its been hanging open for the duration of your nap.
As I was flying into Delhi I excitedly looked out the above-mentioned-window to see my first views of the city. But my view was blocked by a strange yellow-brown cloud that extended in a half-circle like the glass windows of Jim Carrey's home in The Truman Show. It was my first introduction to the air pollution that leaves dust on your skin, prevents the sun from shining, causes sore throats, and shortens life spans. My heart clenched fear as the plane flew directly into the smog with less than a mile of visibility. I'm still not sure how the plane landed.
A friend described India: "It's crowded, dirty, and disgusting, but I love it." So far that has exactly encompassed my feelings about India. Everyday I see something I could have never imagined. Like the day I saw a newly born litter of puppies lying on the ground by a metro stop I frequent. I was sure they were dead until I saw a scattering of well-fed and slightly older puppies hiding under vehicles and houses a could weeks later. The first day I saw open defecation. The first day I realized that a rickshaw driver's rickshaw is his office and home (the seat also serves as an uncomfortable bed). In the hours I've spent observing Delhi, I've learned about humanity.
I've contacted organisations to interview them, as I did in Jordan, but I've also spent some weeks working with and interviewing an organization called Udyogini. They work to empower women through entrepreneurship and agriculture. For example, they provide business development services so that women can understand how to effectively sell products and manage businesses. Amazingly, they've allowed my to visit their sites in the field in Ranchi, Jharkand and understand how they effectively implement programs and how they go about assessing their impact as an organization.
In Ranchi, I saw lac, the resin that Udyogini provides women with the resources to produce, on branches of Kusum, Ber, and Semalina trees. I felt the saliva of the lac insect drip onto my face like a hungry beast desiring its next feast. The women in the villages were beautiful. Their multicolored dresses masked their ages, making the oldest seem spry with youth. However, my arrival had been announced when they greeted me and an Udyogini employee with a ritual that ended with them placing garlands around our necks. With this introduction it was impossible to tell with a glance what the reality of their lives were like, whether it was a cyclone or a breeze.
My favorite moment was when a group of women from a Village Literacy Center, a small center where women are taught how to write, read, and do basic math, told me how they were empowered by their knowledge. They felt capable and confident enough that, as a group, they went to the local government and requested they install electricity in their village. In the last couple of months electricity poles were set up around their town. The inspiring women, with me sitting awkwardly in the corner, are shown in the pictures at the bottom of this post.
Durga Puja is a 6-day religious celebration in celebration of the goddess Durga. Cities build temporary places of worship for Durga and then submerse them in water at the end of the celebration. This beautiful purple temple, as seen from a precarious Ferris wheel in Ranchi, is made entirely of colorful cardboard and wood.
In India, I'm an outsider that fits in. I have been told on multiple occasions that my curly hair and complexion make me look like I'm from the south. I am black and that's how I've always identified. It has been strange to take on the persona of a brown-skinned person. In India, I pass. My skin is the brown of their skin; my eyes are the brown of their eyes. I'm free to wander the streets as part of the massive crowd of brown people. The only glances I get are the result of my gargantuan height (at 5'6" I tower over the majority of men and women). But I am black. When people realize I do not speak Hindi, many begin to see the signs of my African descent.
I've never in my life been asked so frequently: what are you? In the US, my instinctual, deservedly sassy, answer to that question is, human. But I've found it difficult to respond to others' kindness and curiosity with a curse response. So, I try to explain. Usually, I start "I'm american." Often that is sufficient and we move on. If they persist (and I'm in the mood) I go into the long story every mixed person has about their heritage and why the brown color of their skin isn't like any other brown color the person has seen before (they should get out more). It culminates in me saying, "I'm mixed American-Caribbean." Which often prompts the response, "Oh! The Indies!" In which case people assume I'm American-Indian-Caribbean.
If you're reading this blog post because of the cliff-hanger in my previous post, I will not leave you hanging any longer. My first real night in my hostel (technically, it was my second but I think it sounds more dramatic if I say it was my first night. Also, it was my first night after a full day in India, so it counts), a group from the hostel invited me to go with them to a bar across the street. In an effort to be social (not always my first instinct), I went a long. I was so tired I was almost falling asleep as we walked to a German, no, not Indian, bar. When we arrived, I immediately wanted to leave (the music was too loud and all I wanted to do was read my book and drink a cup of tea), but I decided to stay against my better judgement... and something amazing happened!
After about 30 minutes I looked over my shoulder and then tilted my head to the side inquisitively. I'd recognized someone. How could I have recognized someone? I only knew one person living in Delhi and I hadn't told him that I was spontaneously going to this random German bar. I went closer to confirm that the individual was indeed Mitul, an engineer/mathematician a year ahead of me at Harvey Mudd, and not some strange and disturbing look-alike. When I confirmed his identity I excitedly approached and chatted with Mitul. I can't believe I've run into so many people from my life in the US. The world is small, but I've found it's particularly tiny.
I've also seen many beautiful sites, some of which are pictured in the numerable photos below.
Aqaba and Wadi Rum
Hi all! Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Unfortunately, my internet in my current location is too slow for me to upload pictures. The one picture in this blog post took me an half-hour to upload. I'll be updating this post in a week or so when I'm back to fast Wi-Fi.
I have been in India for two weeks now, but first there are a couple of things I want to tell you about my last days in Amman.
Before leaving on my trip to Wadi Rum and Aqaba I went to my friend William's house warming party. I arrived early to help make some quiches (don't worry this isn't the interesting part of the story). A couple of hours later, other guests stated arriving. I was introduced to one guy named Christian. When I saw him I though he looked vaguely familiar, and I told him so. He said that I looked familiar too but neither of us though much of it. Amman is a small city and I just assumed I had seen him around the area.
Later as I was chatting with a group, I heard Christian talking behind me. All of a sudden I turned and asked him excitedly, "Did you go to Claremont McKenna College!?" He looked at me slightly schocked (eyes slightly wide and mouth open. The normal signs of surprise.) before saying, "Yes", confusedly. Then the memory flooded into my mind, "We were in Religion and Film together!" I had recognized the sound of his voice, some people might consider that strange but I consider it AWESOME! I slowly remembered a conversation Christian and I had our Junior year when we were in this class together where he told me he was learning Arabic. He was a Middle Eastern Studies major and he is staying in Amman for a couple of years working for an NGO.
I can't believe that I've had such good luck running into people from my life back home. And this wasn't the last surprise encounter (This is a shameless teaser for my next post about my first couple of weeks in India... coming soon).
Shortly after, I left on my 4 day trip to Wadi Rum and Aqaba. I connected with this group through my friend Simone. I met Simone when searching for apartments. Although we didn't end up living together, I ran into her one day and we got coffee. She was also doing research (for her masters), so we were able to vent and share tips about our experiences. I was traveled with her, her sister, her friend, and her neighbor. After driving 6 hours on a single highway we turned to find this sign (this is where I attempted frustrated to upload a photo but the internet wass so bad it might not have actually worked. Whoops!):
Apparently camels pose a significant threat to drivers.
Next the beautiful views came into view. We hired a guide (because you have to) to drive us around in a 4x4 (SOOO FUN! I want one!). We were able to hike and climb (a little bit). Then we stayed overnight in a camp in the middle of the desert. It was spectacular!
(Imagine beautiful pictures of the dessert. One friend described the one picture I posted on Instagram as a scene from the Marian.)
The next day we went to Aqaba, where I got my first chance to use the underwater capabilities of my camera. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to scuba dive, but I did snorkel my a** off. Here are some of the resulting photos (that will be posted shortley). Some turned out better than others. I also saw two lionfishes!!! but my camera battery had died so I wasn't able to capture them on film.
After taking a 6 hour bus ride back to Amman, I got on my flight at 4am to New Delhi, India. That's where my story continues... in the next blog post...
(Since I'm behind on posting, I'm doing two simultaneous posts. So, check out the other one above/below this one.)
I have been able to make some progress on my project and have gotten some organizations to talk to me about the work they are doing in microfinance. This was all done by leveraging connections I didn't even know I had and asking favors from people I didn't know would grant them.
I've been on quite a few adventures lately from repelling down waterfalls to visiting one of the wonders of the world (pictures below). From my blog posts one might think that all I am doing on this trip is having wild adventures in far off lands. And although that's mildly true, I just want to give you a realistic idea on what my daily life is like. Every (almost) week day (Sunday-Thursday), I wake up and I try to make progress on my Watson project. I spend the days contacting (or trying to contact, because people in Jordan don't always answer their phone or respond to emails) organizations involved in microfinance. It's only on the weekends when I go out to see all the beautiful places in Jordan; it's only on the weekends when do fun things with the friends I've made in this country. I don't post much about my project because I'm still processing a lot of what I'm learning here in Jordan. It's a lot easier for me to tell you the funny stories and cool things that I see, instead of digging into topics that I haven't quite formed an opinion on.
I won't pretend that I've accomplished as much as I hoped here in Jordan, but I do think I learned a lot about how to approach a challenging and open-ended project. Very soon I will post a short post summarizing some of the things I've learned about microfinance in Jordan for those that are interested. This will include information about the economic and cultural climate, details on the current microfinance sector, and my unsolicited opinion about microfinance in Jordan. I hope to use that post as a summary of my time in Jordan because this coming Thursday, I am leaving for a new adventure in New Delhi, India! Before I leave though, I'll be going to Wadi Rum (the desert) and Aqaba (a beach town in the south of Jordan). Look out for a post with pictures of those wicked excursions.
The 3 illegal dams were less beautiful. One of them is pictured above. People create these dams so they don't have to pay for water for their crops. However, it creates tons of algae in the streams. Plus, there are these giant black tubes that transport the water to the farms which destroy the natural landscape. It would be really easy to regulate these illegal dams, but it doesn't seem like the government really cares...
The Dust Storm
There was a huge dust storm throughout the Middle East the week after I went to the wadi. I'd never seen weather this bad, and, remember, I lived in LA for four years.
I went to Petra, one of the wonders of the world, for two days. Petra is an old city established by the Nabataeans in 312BC. It's known for it's amazing architecture, which is carved into cliff sides. To say its fabulous is a huge understatement.
Desert Castles and More Hiking
Last week I went on a desert castle adventure organized by my friend Sara. Sara was a Greek and Roman Studies major in university, so she knows all about these amazing forts/castles built in the desert thousands of years ago. These forts were built along the Roman road that crossed the Middle East and allowed the Roman army to maintain control of the land. The amazing thing about these forts is that they are not monitored; there are are no entry fees; and you're free to climb all over everything. If I'd been a little kid I would have had so much fun pretending I was a knight fighting for the prince's hand in marriage (I might have actually done this as an adult...).
The first fort we visited is the best preserved fort in the middle east. We had to drive off-road in the desert in a 4x4 for several kilometers to reach it. Sara warned us in advance to look out for the wells (or giant deep death traps in the ground) that were still distributed around the fort.
This fort was more crumbled rocks than recognizable ruins. However most of the walls were intact and this fort was made from a beautiful dark black rock.
We also had to drive off-road to access these ruins. On the way back to the highway, we noticed camel bones on the side of the road and I had to stop for a bite.
The last fort was the least well maintained, but the biggest. Only to an observant-eye (or someone who knew it was there), would it look like much more than a large pile of rocks. However, once you wandered around a bit, you could see rooms and sections of wall.
While the other forts were ancient ruins, Karak Castle is a only-a-couple-centuries old castle. It is very well maintained and has tunnels and rooms you're free to explore. I recommend you bring a flashlight.
Hiking Wadi ?????
The next week I went hiking in a wadi with four friends. It was a wadi that one of friends came upon by accident, so none of us knew it's name. The water in the wadi was extremely hot because there was a hot spring near the top. Usually, I would think hot water was nice, but not when it was 90 degrees outside.
We climbed up many waterfalls (not so bad) and then climbed down many waterfalls (terrifying!). I slid down one of the waterfalls (on purpose) too!
Some of you may have noticed that it has been a comparably long time since I last posted. To emphasize how excessive length this length of time is, I actually went to the Dead Sea three weeks ago and had enough time to go back again yesterday. I've been waiting to post until I got the Dead Sea photos from one of my friends. I've also been waiting until I made more progress investigating microloans. One of those things has happened. This post is filled with pictures of me at the Dead Sea. Besides that I've had a frustrating lack of progress on my project. I've contact several organizations and individuals but haven't gotten many responses. The responses I have gotten have been extremely slow to develop. I hope that by the end of the week I'll have a more extensive and interesting project update for you.
As for what I've been up to. I have been taking Arabic classes, meeting Ex-Pats working at NGO's (these are my more fruitful contacts), and interacting with what Jordanians I can. It's been hard to gain access to many Jordanians; but, luckily, two of my flatmates are from Jordan and provide some insight into the inter workings of the country.
I've been reading more material on microloans and economic development in Jordan. It's frustrating to be reading about the country that I'm staying in. I want to learn all of this through personal and interactive experiences, not through my computer. Almost, every day I feel like I'm not doing enough for my project. I'm trying my darnedest to fix that, but I'm in a rut. I'm already leaving for India in 5 weeks. Hopefully more will develop soon.
Okay now for some happy pictures and stories. I went to the Dead Sea three weeks ago with a bunch of people from my Arabic school and again yesterday with some of my roommates. The Dead Sea, for those who don't know, is 429 m below sea level, the lowest elevation on land. On one side is Jordan, on the other side is Israel and the West Bank. The Dead Sea has 34% salinity, which means it is really f***ing salty. If you want a Dead Sea lobster for dinner on your visit, you'd be sorely out of luck. The sea is so salty that nothing lives in it, hence the name.
The first time I went, I spent the day at a lovely resort that you can pay a 20 JD fee to visit for the day. Below are the amazing views of the Dead Sea and pool.
It was luxurious to move between the cool water of the pool and the less pleasant water of the sea. The second time I went we went to the public beach. Although free, it was littered by trash and the shower was right next to a toilet (ie. a conspicuous hole in the ground). You can probably tell which one I would recommend if you visit yourself.
Some tips and insight if you ever find yourself in the Dead Sea. Number One: Don't dunk your head unless you want to feel like someone poured acid in your eyes. Two: the minerals in the Dead Sea make it feel oily and, some might say, disgusting. Make sure there is a fresh water shower accessible. Three: The only thing around the Dead Sea are expensive (aka one night is equivalent to a month's worth of my rent) resorts. So don't spend the night. Four: the Dead Sea is so salty you float at the top with no effort what so ever. It takes actual effort to sink, which goes to show, you shouldn't do it. Five: the Dead Sea mud is supposed to be good for your skin. Make sure you find some of the mud, the right kind is the consistency of a thick cream, and rub it all over your body. Go Mudd! (that is a subtle, not so subtle, shout-out to Harvey Mudd).
Yesterday, I also visited the Baptism site of Jesus. I put my legs into the Jordan River, or holy water that was a holy color. At the Jordan River, which is the main source of water in Jordan, Israel was only about 5m away.
The supposed place of baptism of Jesus is where the water rests in a cross-shape. (Apparently a spring flows through the intersection from March-May. That is a relief because the water looked like a cesspool.) I learned from a friend, that attended this same place on the Israel-side, that they have a similar church constructed there. So I'm not sure historians know the exact place Jesus was baptized, but only that it was in the general area.
This post is about my experiences as a foreign woman in Jordan. As I mentioned in a previous post, I don't have to wear a hijab or a burqa. I am free to wear pants or a long skirt and a shirt that goes at least to my elbows. I generally feel very safe in the city as I go about my day. I am comfortable exploring new areas and having adventures with friends.
However, I am often heckled by men on the street. When I say often, I mean everyday. Usually they speak in Arabic, so I have no idea what they are saying. When they do speak in English, I pretend I don't hear them. I try not to let it bother me but, let's be honest, it really pisses me off. If I was in the US and this happened, I would either give the guy the bird or a lecture. However, that is not the cultural norm here. In fact making any eye contact with someone of the opposite sex can be incredibly suggestive. I walk through the city trying to look at everything yet avoid everyone's eyes. Suppressing my indignation and "assimilating" made me sick for my first couple of weeks in Amman. Now I've started to make what I call the "stank" or "bitch" face when I get comments on the street. I've found it a more effective way to convey my disapproval.
Many consider Jordan a very progressive and modern city and in many ways it is; there are abundant iPhones and Priuses. However, that doesn't stop it from being a male dominated society. All of the shop owners, taxi drivers, chefs, and waiters I have encountered have been male. I know from locals, however, that many women have jobs in the city and that many universities have more women than men because women are excelling in school. However, I only feel the presence of women when they are walking on the street, often completely covered and with their husband or children.
One of the place I've seen local Jordanian women with their hair uncovered is at the mall. I know that you are probably judging me for going to the mall when traveling, but it is actually one of the main places locals hang out. Malls are clean, modern, and, most importantly, they have air conditioning. In malls, women wear shorter skirts, shorter sleeves, have they're hair free, and have more elaborate makeup. I think many of these more modern women in Amman prefer to travel by taxi or car to avoid unnecessary attention.
The interaction between men and women is very different from Western societies (obviously). For example, some guys will brag about having their virginity and their lack of sexual experience. Still, a double standard exists where men who kiss or have sex before marriage are forgiven, whereas women who do the same are labeled "sluts". I hope to learn more about local women's experiences in the city.
In Irbid, a city in the north of Jordan that I visited two weeks ago with Kifah, the heckling was intolerable. All of the guidebooks and internet sources had said Irbid was more progressive and liberal than Amman because of the two universities housed in its borders. So despite the fact that I rarely wear make-up, Kifah and I both decided to wear lipstick. As we started to walk around, we had the startling realization that there were barely any women. The heckling, including many comments about red lipstick, was so intense we quickly became uncomfortable. After getting food and going to a cafe for a little while we decided to go to retire early.
On a more positive note, the reason we'd decided to go to Irbid was because it is very close to the ruins of Umm Qais. The ruins weren't nearly as impressive as Jerash's but the view blew us away. Umm Qais is a special place because you can see Jordan, Israel, and Syria simultaneously. Now don't get freaked out about Syria. We actually didn't encounter any Syrian refugees and Jordan is a very safe country that is determined to stay away from any conflicts with IS.
We spend hours wandering around the ruins and looking at the pits that remained from the archaeological digs. Here are the pics.
I went to the Dead Sea this past weekend and will post pictures soon!
First for the big reveal...
...I am living in a flat near Rainbow St (the hip area on Jabal Amman). "Flat" might be too strong a term because I'm not actually renting a whole apartment. That would be way too expensive and I'm on a budget. Instead, I have a room in a ten person house with three bathrooms and a kitchen; it's called the Rainbow House. My room is large with a Queen sized bed (YES!) and enough space to do some exercise if I was in the mood.. Plus there is an amazing view on the roof. See pictures below.
The best part of living in a house is the laundry machine. Having clean clothes is the BEST.
I had my first day of class yesterday at Ahlan World. Learning Arabic is a lot harder than I expected it would be. For one, I hadn't realized Arabic is read from right to left. Another thing is that there are 28 letters. So, it is a whole new alphabet, new sounds, and a new vocabulary. However, I've found it comforting to be in classroom setting for part of my day, Studying and learning are things I'm used to and it gives me some confidence in a new environment. I'm learning I am beginning to feel comfortable and knowledgeable about a small aspect of the culture in Jordan. Yesterday I was able to read some of the street signs. I said read them, not understand them.
Now time for a funny story. A couple of days a go, when I was still living in the hostel, I was eating breakfast and started talking to a woman that I'd seen around for a couple days. I knew she was traveling by herself and she seemed friendly. After quick introductions, Paula asked me where I was from. I said I was from California. She said, "Me too. I'm from Alameda." I seriously thought she was joking. But it turns out that she lives about two blocks away from my house. She is in Jordan trying to find a way to use her training as an occupational therapist to assist NGOs and other organizations. We chatted some more and ended up going to dinner with Kifah and another lone woman traveler staying at the hostel.
My next post will be about my trip to Irbid this past weekend and my experience so far as a woman in Jordan.
Having Fun and Getting Stuff Done
After wandering around the ruins of Jerash and realizing that many of the amazing people I have met are leaving in the next couple of days, I decided that I no longer wanted to live in a hostel. So I've been exploring rooms in flats (don't I sound so English?) in convenient and safe areas. There were two main neighborhoods I am looking at: Jabal Waibdeh and First circle. Jabal Waibdeh is close to where I will be taking Arabic classes and is where all the expats live. First circle is by Rainbow St and is hip neighborhood with lots of stuff to do. I am actually happy that I waited to look for a flat until I was in Amman. Now that I've gotten familiar with the area, I have a better feeling of where I feel safe and where there is a lot to do. I actually found a place, but I'm going to keep it a secret until I move in on Saturday. Look out for a post then.
On Tuesday I went to Jerash, which is AMAZING. It is an archaeological site filled with Roman ruins. If you don't already know, all of Palestine was ruled by the Romans for hundreds of years. Most of the ruins in Jerash are dated between 0CE and 500CE. Some say that Jerash has better Roman ruins than Rome! What was crazy to me was that there were no ropes or "Do Not Enter" signs around the ruins. Visitors can touch and climb all over the artifacts and ruins. It blew my mind that I didn't get yelled at by the security guards policing the area for exploring some of the more hidden relics.
The next day I returned to Jerash with my friends from the hostel to see a concert. We'd seen an ad for the band, called Act of Congress, posted all over Amman. The performance was part of the Jerash Culture and Arts Festival and it was sponsored by the American Embassy. The experience was surreal. Act of Congress is an American bluegrass band. So we saw a country band perform in the Northern Theater (an ancient roman ruin) in the Middle East. Luckily we did get a more authentic cultural experience when the band was finished; a Palestinian dance group then performed to classical Arabic music.
Lastly, I had an amazing and exhausting experience going to a Turkish Bath on Monday. I went with Kifah and Cori, a Peace Corp volunteer who just finished 3 years in Ghana. We knew that the bath closed at 4pm, but of course waited until 3:40pm thinking we would get a taxi. There were no taxis. It was rush hour so we ran (really we walked really fast but running sounds more dramatic. Also, there were stairs, so what do you expect?) Dripping sweat, we made it at 4:01pm. Fortunately, they still took us. It was the most relaxing and exhausting thing I've done so far in Amman. Even more exhausting than walking 2km in 90 degree weather to get there in the first place. I think that my tour book describes it better than I could write (see below).
We think that the writer exaggerated it a little bit; it really was quite fun. The layers of black and dead skin that came off of my body were disgusting, but I'm really glad they aren't there any more.
Like the Cool Kids
I mostly have pictures, plus a surprise video, for this post. I did want to give a quick update though. I am doing well. I've met two really nice travelers in my hostel, Kifah and Ben. Kifah is from Holland and is studying Arabic in Amman. She introduced me to the school where she is taking classes. It has really reasonable prices, so I have decided to take some basic classes there. I will start August 2nd. (Fun Fact: you might notice that August 2nd is a Sunday. That is because the weekend in Jordan is Friday and Saturday.)
It is a really small world. The other traveler, Ben, actually just graduated from Claremont McKenna College. I recognized him immediately - though his CMC t-shirt helped - because we'd taken a Spanish class together freshman year. Here is a picture of us together:
I've been spending most of my days learning my way around Amman and adjusting to the environment.
Jordan is not like any place I've ever been. Many of the women wear hijabs or burqas. However, there is a strong Christian population in Jordan so it is not necessary for me to cover my hair except when I go into mosques. Also, five times a day there is a call to prayer; there is even one at 4am. That one is my favorite (<-sarcasm).
I took a video of the horrible traffic that I talked about in the previous post. The video was taken from the roof on my hostel at the intersection below. Notice cars are merging into traffic and pedestrians. In the background you can here the call to prayer. It think it reflects the hectic life of downtown.
My First Day
I arrived in Amman, Jordan yesterday evening!
Today, I spent the day trying to get oriented, which I can’t really say I did very well. I was lost for almost the entire day, but was too stubborn to get a taxi. Luckily, people speak English and were able to help me navigate back to my hostel. By the end of today, I feel I’ve finally kind of figured out where things are located downtown. Here are some of the pictures I took when I was lost and another when I finally figured out where I was.
I learned some important tricks today about navigating Jordan, if you ever decide to visit. First, there are “8 circles” that Jordanian’s use to navigate the city. Despite what one might think, they are not concentric circles. They are 8 round-a-bouts that are located throughout the city. Second, the traffic here is way worse than LA. There aren’t really lanes delegating where cars should be and pedestrians cross the street wherever and whenever they want. Third, take the yellow taxis.
Today was terrifying and fun. I met knew people, tried some new food (including Arabic Ice Cream; it has pieces of pistachio in it and is delicious), and already have some stories to tell.
In case you were wondering, it feels pretty real.
I hope to post soon with a brief background on microfinance and some of the history of Jordan. Stay tuned.