May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Our Last Hello to Jordan

Guests and staff at Farah Hostel
December 29-30—are our last days in the Middle East.  I will dearly miss the calls to prayer, the open and happy faces of men in long robes asking me where I’m from, the secret eye contact with women telling me when to get off the bus or train, the beautiful script of Arabic, the ornate and colorful inside sacred places against the sand colored outside places, and the wonderful people we’ve met.  The staff at the Farah hotel have been great, and it’s been a nice haven to get organized.

On Friday, we were shopping around and came across a crowd gathering at the old mosque.  There were policemen everywhere; we found out later that after prayers some people demonstrate to express their views on one of many different issues they would like to have politicians change.  
As it turns out, His Majesty told the police to “kill the demonstrators with kindness,” by giving them juice and water and treating them politely.  Without resistance, the demonstrations deescalated rather than blew up like in Egypt.  All the women disappeared except one vendor and another tourist with her camera.  I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there, but except for a few sideways glances, the worshipers tolerated me.  The men all lined up facing Mecca, side by side, on pieces of cardboard that were brought out on great carts and prayed and listened.  It is a beautiful sight to see.  I can’t find anything to compare it to in the US—maybe a gathering of war veterans paying respect to the flag?

Dinner at June's Family's Home

A highlight for the end of our trip here has been staying with a brother of a dancer friend.  I’ll call them “June’s family,” because evidently working for the US Embassy can be a risky ordeal in terms of identifying where people live and what they do on the Internet, and so I’ll leave their names out of this public blog.  They welcomed us into their home, brought us to stores to buy some flash drives (my computer is SO slow with the movies stored on it), fed us dinner, walked us around the neighborhood, and entertained us with “Christmas Bingo” and a bedtime story, and fabulous informed conversation.  I even received some physical therapy advise on my shoulder/neck pain.  I learned so much about the various sects of Muslims and the history of conflicts in the Middle East.  It was a fabulous evening that went a little too late for a couple entertaining for the new year the next day.  One thing that drove home the idea that embassy work was a risky business in Jordan, is that at night, they lock themselves in to a safe area, in case something happens in the night: an earthquake, a rebellion, war.  They have a place where they can hunker down for a while until help arrives.  Serious.   I had no idea.
December 31-1—were travel days.  We made it to Madrid, and when I got on line, I had an email from someone who found my itouch at the Tanzania airport!  Wow!  I wrote them back with options to send it to me with my heart renewed in humanity’s good spirit.  They were Greek people who found it; they even deduced that I was going back to NY and looked for me at the airport!  The itouch saga continues.
At midnight, the Spanish eat a large red grape with seeds with every toll of the bell.  A much easier reproduction of this custom we did with M & Ms. I got all 12 in! ;-)  Firecrackers and car alarms went on for hours.  Morning time, we were off to the airport, watching the drunks weave down sidewalks, avoiding messes on the subway floors, witnessing antics of boys not yet done with their whimsy from the parties last night.  Happy 2012.  And now, to South America, starting with Buenos Aires.

"No more Nescafe"

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