Friday, June 30, 2006
We will be leaving on a great adventure tomorrow morning...early...we are leaving Amman. We are even stretching our wings and leaving Jordan. We are going to Egypt.
We are leaving tomorrow to go to Aqaba, actually. Aqaba is a resort in southern Jordan and it looks absolutely gorgeous! We're taking the Jett Bus down (4.30 JD), which is a 4-5 hour bus ride from Amman. We will be staying at The Aquamarina Beach Hotel (30 JD/night which includes breakfast and beach fees. Ph. number: 03-201-6250).
All I know is that I am looking forward to swimming and laying on the beach! I haven't been to the beach for so long! It should be really fun.
We are meeting the group at the Ferry Station at...sometime. We don't know exactly when yet since the airline cancelled our flight (so the whole ferry thing is a little spur of the moment, as is our Aqaba trip). We will be ferrying from Aqaba to Nuweiba and will then get straight on a bus to Saint Katherine's, at the base of Mt. Sinai. On July 3rd, we will be doing a sunrise hike to visit the monastery on Mt. Sinai.
For those of you worried about of ferry ride, you shouldn't be too worried. The Hajj doesn't happen until December--so the ferries shouldn't be overcrowded and thus won't sink.
On the 4th we'll be busing to Sharm Al-Sheikh for 8:15 am flight to Luxor where we will then tour the Karnak Temple (and the Luxor), and then take a faluka ride on the Nile! That should be fun, and we will be sure to tell you if we see any crocodiles!
On the 5th, we'll go tour the Valley of Kings and Queens then depart Cairo by train. Although I have ridden in trains before, and have done overnight sleepers, I must say that I am rather excited for this trip. We will be taking a 1st class sleeper. In Russia, I always rode 3rd class...so this should be a lot better! We'll have to show you photos of our 1st class train!
On the morning of the 6th, we'll visit Saqqara and the Giza Pyramids. We'll head to the Egyptian Museum for the afternoon (they have a King Tut exhibit, but we don't think we'll be going since it is about 20 JD per person to get in).
The 7th is a Friday so we will go to church. We're not sure where the meetinghouse is yet since the church is pretty low-key in Egypt. It is illegal for Egyptians to convert to Christianity, or even go to church if they were converted elsewhere. Andrew met a Catholic priest in Rome who was from Egypt. He later joined the church but his life was really difficult. He is back in Egypt now but he can't attend church.
We'll spend the afternoon in Coptic Cairo, the Christian area of Cairo. Egypt used to be a Christian province of the Roman-Byzantine empire before 640 AD, when the Muslims took over. Because the Coptic Egyptians have been around so long and are so numerous, they can go to church but are prosecuted for being Christian.
On the 8th and 9th, we'll be doing an Islamic Cairo tour and hanging out in Cairo. This will be our first day unleashed in the city, free to explore! It should be fun. Then on the 10th we'll fly back into Amman from Cairo. That all sounds fairly exhausting. I'm glad that on the 11th I can recuperate while Andrew, on the other hand, has to go back to school.
I suppose that's all for now. We'll try to post in Egypt if we can (to fill your blog cravings...we all know you have them. At least, we hope you do) and if not we'll do some massive posting when we get home (like Petra, only...more).
Nancy (Andrew helped, too...a little)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Jordanian Air Force fighter planes flew over Amman at least 3 different times today. I couldn't figure out why until a few minutes ago when Syria announced their self-defence. So, I guess Jordan was aware of a possible flyover or something like that.
It's pretty cool to be out here during all this!
I love it out here!
Monday, June 26, 2006
Our Lonely Planet guidebook said that, unlike other mosaics, such as the ones you find in Italy, the mosaics in Madaba were built as floor coverings and could withstand anything, etc., etc., etc. (We just won't tell them about Ostia Antica, a lovely had-been port of Rome where there are many floors that are mosaics). However, I won't argue that the mosaics in Madaba are very extravagant. I can't imagine how long it would take to tile my kitchen floor let alone to tile a chapel floor like this one found in the Virgin Mary Chapel (25 piasters with a student card for the whole archeological park).
After visiting the Virgin Mary Chapel, we headed out to Elias' tomb--not that they are very far apart. They are in the same archeological park...
Perhaps the most famous Mosaic in Madaba is the Map of the Holy Land found in St. George's church (1 JD per person). The original map was built Byzantines but later a Greek Orthodox church was built on top of it (after it was unearthed). The detail is amazing, and sometimes quite amusing. Note the fish swimming away from the dead sea or the lion, which has been defaced. There are palm trees surrounding Jericho and a wall around Jerusalem. It was definitely the coolest map I've ever seen!
The fridge was one of those Coke fridges used to store...pop. This fridge had everything in it! It had beans and salads and meat and some stuff that was spilled all over the bottom shelf. We ordered some pop and they poked around in the fridge for a while before we told them we didn't really want any pop. We didn't really want anything from the fridge.
Our food took a while to come, even though we just ordered falafel sandwiches. So, we're all eating our sandwiches (we: Me, Andrew and Rachel--a girl who is staying with us for a while) and I start to notice these little bugs on the table. After examining the bugs for a while I came to the conclusion that they were in fact cockroaches. Since I have never seen an actual cockroach, I asked Andrew what he thought. He agreed with me--and he actually knew since he has had experience with cockroaches in Italy... There were also cockroaches on the wall over by where they were making the food, but big ones! Gross! We didn't get sick though, so I suppose it was sanitary enough...
We decided to just go home after that. We didn't want to go around looking for the museum only to end up at the visitor's center again. It was getting embarrassing since the same people were working there the whole day (those tourists are here again?!?). We were really lucky to catch the bus since apparently they don't run between Madaba and the Abdali station that often (at least, that's what we were told). They run between Madaba and the Wahadat or Righadan stations more often.
You can catch a bus from the Abdali station that goes straight into the heart of Madaba for 40 piasters. Once you get into Madaba you're on your own. But don't worry...if you get lost, just ask people for the museum and you'll end up at the visitor's center where you can get a map (your choice of Italian, German, or Arabic) and faulty directions. But there are a lot of cool things to see there so I definitely suggest going.
This is a picture of the Bedouin tents that Andrew took as we were zooming by them in the bus. You may have to zoom in to get a good look at them.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
He then went to school and I worked and then came home. I was reading on the bed so Andrew thought that I was sleeping so he "snuck" into the house. This is rather difficult to do since the door sticks so it's kind of hard to sneak anywhere. So I was wondering why he didn't come in to say hello to me after coming in. Instead he sneaks off to the kitchen and starts fiddling around. I was kind of sad that he didn't come in to say hi to me so I went into the kitchen and said hi to him. He jumped and kind of screamed, "I thought you were napping! Get out of here!" So I was like, "Fine..." So I went back and read for a bit.
When Andrew finally came in to say hi to me I remembered that I saw ice cream in the kitchen. "What were you doing in there?" I asked. "Nothing," he said. "Well, what did you do with the ice cream?" "I ate it," he said, "I didn't have lunch today." I was like, "You ate ice cream without me?"
Well, then he made up for that by taking me out to dinner. We went to Mecca Mall to eat because there is a food court with a ton of restaurants. Andrew wanted me to choose where to eat because he likes me to freak out when I can't decide. So we walked around the foodcourt like 3 or 4 times before I finally decided on Italian food. We had lasagne and garlic bread. It was very good. Then we went to Cinnabon (apparently it's the second best Cinnabon place in the world) and got a cinnamon bun to share. It was actually rather good. There was so much cinnamon on it that Andrew thought it was chocolate. He asked the cashier if we could get a bun without chocolate and the cashier said in a thick English Accent, "Sir, that's not chocolate. It's cinnamon." And it was. It was really good.
After that we went grocery shopping because we hadn't done that in a while so had pretty much no food in our house. We went to Cozmo, a big leap from Safeway. It's a pretty good store but a little more ghetto than Safeway.
After getting home Andrew gave me a Nancy Ajram CD (1 JD!). I was really excited for that because Nancy is my claim to fame. There are only 2 songs on the CD that we know but the other songs are good, too.
After that we all went into the kitchen for my ice cream cake. The candles were really skinny so they were melting faster than I could blow them out. The cake was actually really good...this is surprising if you read about Andrew's scrambled pancakes experience (or if you know Andrew in the kitchen at all...). It was a pineapple cakemix pancacke with vanilla ice cream between all the layers and icing on the top. I shared my cake with Ezra because it was his birthday not too long ago (while we were in Petra).
All in all it was a really fun day. Thank you everyone for your thoughts and wishes!
The only problem with making a cake in our apartment our lack of oven. We have an oven/stove (see background in picture below), but we have absolutely no idea how to turn it on. It's not really gas, or electric - we've tried lighting it and plugging it in, but nothing works.
So, how to you make a cake without an oven? Pancakes!
We bought some cake mix from Safeway a few weeks ago (.99 JD - on sale!), so I made it normally, and cooked it like pancakes, which actually worked! I made a stack of cake-pancakes and put them in the freezer. After school, I stacked them all and put ice cream in between the layers - a homemade ice cream cake. Cool stuff!
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
1. Fill up a pot of water
2. Add about a capfull of bleach (a little less)
3. Put in your fruits and vegetables
4. Allow to sit for 10-20 minutes
5. Remove and air dry
Here are the carrots that Andrew bleached...where did he go wrong?
Well, he filled up a pot of water (with 2 inches of water)...added a capful of bleach (and spilled some on himself and in the water, etc.)...put in some vegetables...allowed to sit for 2 days and finally asked me to get some carrots. I thought that we had used them all because they weren't with the other vegetables. I asked Andrew where they were. He told me they were in the pot. I took them out and we decided not to eat them. I think you all know why.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
This recording is one that I made at 3:00 AM last night when I couldn't sleep: Call to prayer
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Iraq al-Amir, that is... Same spelling, different meaning (Iraq country = عراق - Iraq al-Amir = عراق). Just outside of Amman there are a whole line of ancient caves, named Iraq al-Amir. They were anciently used as calvary stables and are currenly just cool huge caves.
They are on the edge of a huge, fertile, green valley full of fig and olive orchards - stark contrast from dry Amman and the surrounding deserts.
Nancy in the front of the deep cave
We went up to another cave and as we started going in, we heard tons of screaching. There was a whole flock of bats - we just woke them up. We quickly left the cave before we were taken away by angry rabid bats, or turned into vampires or something.
After a while at the caves, we went down to an ancient fortress down in the valley. This was actually pretty cool. In all my travels in Europe and the Middle East, the only ancient buildings I've seen have been churches and castles - never a small outpost fortress. Those usually get demolished or become castles or churches. This little fortress was only about 50 feet by 25 feet. The neat thing is that it is a really good example of pre-Roman architecture in the Middle East. It's made with giant slabs of solid rock - none of them cut uniformly - all laid and stacked on top of each other. It was surprisingly well preserved, just like most things here in Jordan. I guess the desert preserves things pretty well out here.
On the outside of the fortress we found this old marble lion fountain built into the way, amazingly well preserved as well.
Sometimes, however, they mess up completely - understandable for a different language.
Today in Safeway, we found some intersting cucumbers...maybe a new Jordanian kind?
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Since being here, though, I've been able to watch al-Jazeera as new Osama Bin Laden tapes were played for the first time, as Bush landed in Iraq during his secret trip, and as Nuri al-Maliki and General Casey announced the death of al-Zarqawi.
Even if I may be classified as a nerd for thinking all this is cool, it's still cool.
It's fun to talk to people about it all too. It's kind of fun to talk with Palestinian taxi drivers, even when they start yelling at me about America's support for Israel, which leads to American occupation in Iraq, which leads to the future war with Iran. It's cool!
The only time I've acutally been afraid to talk about the news was right after al-Zarqawi was killed. After I watched the news conference, I got on a minibus to go to school - a minibus heading up to al-Zarqa (hometown of al-Zarqawi). Instead of blaring Arabic music from the radio, an Islamic cleric was on, screaming his head off about "Death to America! Death to the infidels! End the American Occupation of Iraq! Death to America!." Every person stared angrily at me the whole bus ride, so, I decided to shut my mouth. Good idea.
Most people here are happy with al-Zarqawi's death and everything, though. They're actually pretty good at separating American politics from the American people, so I'm still safe here. It's still fun every time I bring up the hot issues with people, especially the Palestinians.
Life's great here!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Everyone seems to think that Andrew and Jason are brothers. People here have difficulty distinguishing between blondes anyway and Andrew and Jason are both about the same height, etc. etc. etc. It's not just the locals that are confused though. It's the BYU class, too. On the first day the Slades were here, Andrew took Jason to class with him and everyone thought that Andrew's brother was visiting. It took them a while to realize that Jason is a student too. They still think that they are brothers though. Ezra is so comfortable with Andrew and I that people assume that Andrew is his uncle. Crystal and I obviously aren't sisters...so Andrew and Jason must be brothers.
Just the other day one of the BYU students explained to a group of Arab students that Andrew was not Ezra's dad, but his uncle. The locals here seem to always be confused why Crystal is so dark and Ezra is so light so they always ask for an explanation. For them, it is easier to assume that Andrew and I are the parents because we are both light, but it's not true.
I guess if they want to think we're all related, that's okay. Crystal and I are just hoping to perhaps teach some fashion sense somewhere in the family tree.
Here we are on our very first camel ride. It was fun. Camels are so huge! And my camel kept swatting flies on its back with its head and that was making me nervous. I was afraid the camel would bite me or drool on me or something, but I survived so all is well!
Here are Nate and Eric getting up on camels. We wanted to film it because it feels like you go completely horizontal when they sit down...since this was the camels standing up they didn't do it. We'll have to try to find a camel sitting down sometime. The camels really don't like going from sitting to standing and vise versa, at least we think they don't, because they alway groan about it. It's pretty funny
Here are some goats that we saw wandering around the cliffs absolutely unherded. They were annoying other Bedouins by eating hay meant for other animals, etc. We finally did see their herder later that day in the late afternoon. He was about 7 years old.
There was a Bedouin guy sitting on a horse down on the stage. He wanted to give us a ride...so after yelling at us, trying to help us find our way down from the amphitheatre (as if it isn't obvious...just walk down) he played on his flute. It sounds pretty cool. Deeper in the canyon it sounds even cooler because it echos all around.
More videos shortly!
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
It made us think of the birth of the Savior...I really couldn't imagine being very happy about birthing a child in a hole in the wall that smells like the ones in Petra. It was neat to be in, as Andrew kept saying, The Cradle of Civilization. "The Cradle" is technically in Iraq, but we are really pretty close to Iraq. Andrew kept being really excited and telling me about cavemen and everything. Maybe he had a little too much fun.
The first thing we did was hike up to the High Place of Sacrifice. We figured if we were going to do a long hike uphill then we had better do it first thing in the morning. It was a pretty easy hike-there were stairs most of the way, although it was still rather steep so we definately were slightly out of breath at the top. It was a rather pagan place...they had two big obelisks and a platform for sacrificial rites. We aren't sure what they sacrificed, but it was a pretty big table!
Nancy and Ezra on the Sacrifice Table
Andrew looked at his watch while we were eating lunch and was like, "Wow, it's only 9:45 and we're starving!" We figured that couldn't be right since we were at the High Place of Sacrifice at 9:00...so either we were really fast hikers or Andrew's watch stopped. After looking at Andrew's watch for a few seconds we realized it was the later. Since we had to be back at the hotel at 4:00 to catch our ride home, we found some people and asked them the time. It was...1:05 PM. Woops! Time really flew! There were so many interesting things to look at!
After walking around the tombs for hours we went over to the Amphitheatre. It was built by the Nabateans and expanded by the Romans around 100 AD. Those Romans can't live without theatres! It's a pretty cool theatre though. They didn't use any bricks in the steps, they just carved it out of the rock.
We climbed up to the top of the amphitheatre and went exploring in the caves at the top. The cave on the otherside of the theatre had a big dog in it, so we explored the side closest to the Siq. We found some really big houses with multiple rooms that were really cool. We also found some places that were still full of sand...completely unexcavated. The following two pictures are of the same house.
We were hiking down a canyon after exploring the less visited areas of Petra and there was this guy on a horse waiting for us at the bottom. He tried another Bedouin trick on us. After another man asked us to buy a lamp, they guy on the horse said, "You must be careful! I saw 2 fox from the top of the hill. You need my horse to take you to safety!" Andrew was like, "It's a 10 minute walk to the Treasury." The guy was like, "But the fox will get you." No offense, but foxes are like...really small...if he said wolf I might have been nervous. So, we ignored him and walked to the Treasury again.
We walked back out through the Siq and when we got to the otherside, there was another Bedouin horseride seller waiting for us. "Hello Lawrence of Arabia. You need a horse!" Andrew was like, "Uh...no, I don't." So the Bedouin said, "For your wife...she will love you more!" Andrew said (in Arabic), "She wants to walk." The Bedouin said, "Yeah...good for her. She needs it!" It was pretty funny.
We got to the hotel about 3:45 so we had to wait for a few minutes for the taxi, and the Slades to come. The ride to & from Petra takes about 3 hours (with a pit stop included). It cost us 20 JD each way, but we split it with the Slades so it was only 10 JD each way. However, our taxi driver was a Bedouin, so do you think he would go down without a scam? No way. In English, Bedouin often carries the connotation of "phoney" or "foolish." Here they also rip you off.
So, after he dropped us off at the hotel on Friday, he hung around in the lobby until he had negotiated a return fare with us. He didn't want to take us home in the evening (bad business for him or something) - just in the morning. He told us that we could leave at 6 for 35 JD or at 4 for 20 JD. So, when he came at 4 on Sunday, we got in the car and drove up to Amman. Andrew didn't mention the price, since it was preneogiated.
On the way down he was happy and jovial and talkative. Going back to Amman was different though. Andrew tried talking with him and he brushed him off the whole time - something like "Wow! Petra was beautiful!" was responded with "Yeah, whatever...." It was a silent ride for Andrew.
When we got to Amman and got our stuff out of the taxi, Andrew whipped out a 20 and gave it to him. He yelled at Andrew, very offended, saying "I said 35 JD! You can't pay me that!" We argued with him for 5 minutes about the price. He got flustered and said "Fine! Don't pay me anything! Stupid Americans!" Andrew started walking away, content with the free ride, when a large group of Bedouin taxi and bus drivers surrounded us, trying to "rescue" their friend in "need." They told us sob stories about how the taxi driver takes care of a large family and that he would have never said 20 JD for such a ride. One guy offered to pay 5 out of the extra 15 JD. Our taxi driver was out of the group, trying to fake tears. We got tired of arguing, so Andrew stuffed the 20 in the "friend"'s hands and we broke from the group, got a taxi and drove home. As we walked away, they all started laughing, including our taxi driver. It was all a scam. They tried to rip us off, but failed.
So, that was our amazing Petra experience! We'll definitely try to get back there again while we're here, only next time, we won't get so ripped off. We know the tricks!
We'll be posting movies ASAP - Google Video has changed their policies on uploading videos recently. All videos have to be verified or something, which may take up to a few days, so, we're waiting on that.
If you want another point of view of our trip, visit the Slade's blog.
That's all for now from us!
The Lion Triclinium
Shortly after the Lion Triclinium, you come to the Monastery. It is quite majestic but definately not as ornate as the Treasury. We climbed inside the Monastery and also hiked up some hills to get some better pictures.
After hiking down from the Monastery, Andrew and I were pretty tired, so we hiked over to the Byzantine Chapel and took a nap. We didn't even see the mosaics in the chapel...we just ate lunch and then napped. We both got quite burned because the shade, that we had been sleeping in, moved while we were sleeping.
After we woke from our nap, we walked over to the Great Temple to look at it. We were both so tired still that we didn't really feel like walking up all those stairs...When we took this picture we had already walked up a set of stairs...we never did make it to the top level. There were a whole bunch of toppled columns up there but you can see those anywhere around here so we just snapped a picture and left.
Everything in Wadi-Musa was way expensive. For example, a Shweirma plate in Amman costs around 1.20 JD while a sandwich is .30 JD. In Wadi-Musa a Shweirma plate is 4.00 JD and a sandwich is 1 JD! The taxis were all really expensive as well. The drivers didn't use their meters and tried to rip us off constantly.
The first day I forgot my student ID card so we taxied up to the hotel and back down (about 10 minutes) when we got back down to the main gate, the driver said, "10 JD." Andrew said, "You're kidding!" the driver said, "No, I'm not." Andrew said, "Yes, you must be. We live in Amman...and taxis are not that expensive." The driver retorted, "This isn't Amman." Andrew said, "I'm not paying 10 JD." The driver said, "Fine...just 4." That was still a rip off, but there wasn't any way he was going any lower than that. Everything was pretty expensive, but it wasn't too bad for being a tourist trap. Our hotel cost 44 JD for both nights. The pool was worth it!
They had the inside of the Treasury blocked off, but it was okay because we could still look inside of it. Like most buildings in Petra, the inside has been robbed and/or excavated so it is just an empty square room. Not too exciting, but still amazing that someone carved it thousands of years ago!
We were a little upset that it wasn't as exciting as
Bedouins stand around and try to sell you camel rides. There are a ton of camels in