First day

I write to you from an apartment in Jordan where Sarah has invited me to stay until we go to Lebanon together. She’s been here for 3 weeks doing AVP training and our time in Jordan overlaps perfectly–she’s here for another week, and this is my week before the MCC program begins. We just had 9 people over for dinner, most of them AVP trainers as well. Sarah and I went to market today and got small cucumbers, ripe tomatoes, mint, parsley, mangoes, olives and juice, all for about $10. The cab ride home (when he heard how close we were going he was disappointed we weren’t going to a much farther tourist attraction as he had hoped) was fifty cents! We walked a lot and I’m glad I got band-aids because my good sandals broke a week ago in NYC (although I optimistically brought them with me in hopes of having the strap sewn back together).

The 7 hour time difference hasn’t been too bad because I was so underslept when I arrived at 7PM last night that I slept soundly till 930AM. I had a 45 minute nap this afternoon, though, so I hope to sleep soon (it’s almost midnight). Tomorrow we’ll have silent worship with Ann, the AVP coordinator, and the Quaker-sympathizers (haha) from the AVP group.

Driving in last night reminds me of Mexico: the dusty shops closed up in garage-door storefronts, the thin line of trees near the road, the walls enclosing major and minor shantytown-like villages. The city itself looks almost like a dustier Greece: SO hilly, piles upon piles of concrete (?) buildings, with edges and angles in an impossible array of layers. It’s not hectic, though. Well, when Sarah walks almost in the middle of the road (the sidewalks are full of tiles pulled away, sometimes to trip-inducing recesses, other times to a massive hole) I do get a bit anxious, but otherwise it doesn’t have that pushiness even of the markets in India as I remember them.

The airport felt a bit like Mexico too: marble or tile everywhere and ambiguous protocol for security (us “Americans”–I guess they didn’t look at the passport–just got waved past the immigration officer, while Jordanians, Lebanese, and pretty much all non-whites, lined up to give details of their stay). Line up here to pay for your visa, then line up here to be issued your visa (?). My Lebanese seat-mate Hussein gave me a few phrases since I’d forgotten my phrase book at home (that’s what I get for, after painstakingly making lists and thinking for days about what to pack, only *actually * throwing everything in the bag in the 7 minutes for which the cab driver could be convinced to wait).

I have heard the call to prayer several times–I came in just as the longer Friday service began, and Sarah bought a simple prayer rug. We visited a jewellery store where I got a cross to wear–I’d been warned about certain limitations on travel were I to be presumed Jewish (Lebanon, Syria, uh, Palestine). There’s no Quaker Meeting in Amman, but the 3 or 4 of us (2 from the AVP work, their program finished Thursday) will have silent worship tomorrow morning on Ann’s patio. Over her garden wall the city just goes and goes–all those buildings leaning in on each other.

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