Thursday, May 18, 2006

Unaccompanied Around Amman

Speaking of taxis, I took my first cab by myself today (March 16th, 2006). I flagged down the cab driver and told him “The University of Jordan.” He drove me there and asked me which door and I told him “The main gate.” Then he told me the price and I gave him the right amount. All in Arabic. All by myself. I was so happy.

Then I had to get through the gate to the University. The University is pretty safe. It is entirely enclosed and they ID you at the gate. There are also security guards in every building and they stop you if you look suspicious (or if you just look like you have no clue what you’re doing or where you’re going). Getting through the gate is pretty tricky since we don’t have ID cards yet. But I made friends with one of the guards yesterday so today he just let me through without any problem. You can get through the gate if you tell them you’re a student at the language center. I can say center but the word “language” has a pharyngeal in it and I can’t say it. So, I just try to walk through with a big group of people.

Yesterday, however, I went out with two of the wives: Ashley and Ariel. (Ariel got married like 2 weeks ago…crazy!) They were sick and tired of being cooped up all day. I was still coming to grips with the fact that I now live in a huge city and hadn’t yet had the chance to explore my own neighbourhood, let alone the rest of Amman. But it was still fun to get out with them. Since none of us really speaks Arabic that well, we decided to check out Mecca Mall, simply because you can say, “Mecca Mall” and the cab driver will take you there. It’s easy! It’s a huge mall and has some really cool clothes in it…I didn’t have as much of a terrific time as Ashley or Ariel did. I think that’s because I don’t shop for fun in the States…so I don’t really find it all that fun here. But it was fun to have some company during the day and since this was the first time we had all really gone anywhere without our husbands we felt pretty accomplished.

After we were done at Mecca Mall we went back to the University. I didn’t know how to say “Main Gate” at the time so we kind of just got dropped off on the side of the road. That is generally fine except that the main road in front of the University is on the side of a hill that is almost vertical and about 10 feet (I’ll have to show in a picture how it works). There’s a pedestrian underpass that you’re supposed to use, but we walked along this little sidewalk until we found some random stairs. It was kind of embarrassing. Everyone kept honking at us because you’re really not supposed to be there.

From the University we walked to another mall…I am so not into the mall-thing but I went anyway. This one was cooler because there was a little suqh (market) kind of in the mall but kind of not. It’s kind of strange. You’ll be walking in a really nice mall and then you’ll turn a corner and be in a dingy indoor-market. We stayed mostly on the market-side where we could barter with people. Ashley bought a skirt there. The artisan shops were my favorite. (I actually dragged Andrew back to the mall today to meet Mahommun who is a really gifted painter. We plan to go buy some of his paintings before we go home). They had painters, wood carvers, and sand artists. It was really cool.

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