I started this blog three years ago to document a time in my life that I wanted to share with my family and friends as I embarked on an adventure. I wasn’t as disciplined as I thought I might be but that’s okay, when it comes to hobbies I don’t really have discipline I guess, I’m more loosy goosy – I write when I feel like it just like I paint when I feel like it.
Anyhoo… enough about my shortcomings of not keeping up with my blog as often as I’d set out to and get this final chapter written about my beautiful life in Jordan.
March 2021: Picking up chronologically from my last post where Will visited us and I mentioned that I was hospitalized. I have a condition called diverticulosis, I know this because I’d had a diverticulitis attack about 8 years ago and found out that it isn’t a condition that goes away, you just do your best to keep inflammation at bay so it doesn’t happen again. Fast forward to March 2021 in Jordan and it happened again and it was bad. In retrospect, I know what I was and wasn’t doing, specifically not listening to my body at all, which isn’t like me. My left side had been aching and burning for a few weeks at that point but on this particular Saturday, while in the first few raw days of grieving Finn, I just wanted to get out of the apartment for our ‘one day a week of freedom’. Our plans were to show Will the splendor of Wadi Rum – one of our favorite places in the world. Not feeling well in the general sense when I woke up, I took my temperature and told Mike that I was running a low grade fever and was going to walk two blocks to the pharmacy to get Tylenol. While I was walking, I could feel with each step of my left foot that there was a sensation on my side that I’d never felt before, I was also feeling dizzy as I walked back to the apartment but for some dumb reason kept telling myself that I was okay – until I made it up our one flight of stairs with no energy and realized I had to come clean and tell Mike exactly how I was feeling, there was no way I could walk for miles in literally the middle of nowhere. He had me call the Embassy doctor right away who sent us straight to the emergency room. At this point, we’d had our first COVID vaccine shot and were on schedule to get our eagerly awaited second one the following week. At the hospital we were whisked to the CT scan and back to the waiting room where shortly thereafter we were told that I was going to be admitted due to Complicated Diverticulitis with perforations, which is the even more serious form of diverticulosis. I burst into tears and told the doctor “but I’m supposed to get my second vaccine dose on Monday” and he said “I’m sorry but you’ll most likely be here on Monday, longer if you need surgery”. I’m so thankful Mike was there and reassured me that he would find out if the Embassy could save my vaccine for me (spoiler, they did have some extra and I was able to get my second dose once I was discharged) and we quietly reeled at the mention of surgery (spoiler, I didn’t need it). My stress level only went up, admitted to the hospital in a foreign country with a severe infection, during a surge in COVID in Jordan, with a guest visiting and just 5 days after Finn passed away. After a rocky start due to language issues, a little panic attack that felt good to get out, and lots of quiet time, I was the best patient who followed all doctors orders, looked out the window at the busy street below, listened to songs that Jillian would send to me and colored. I left Abdali Hospital after 4 days with a bouquet of gorgeous flowers from my work team and strict diet to follow with the support of my doctor and his intern who was studying to be a nutritionist and excited that I was her first patient.
After six weeks of a low fiber/low residue diet – which was very hard for me – I saw my doc, had my follow up “test”, given the ALL CLEAR and moved on to a high fiber diet and back in business. I will never ignore what my body is telling me again! I’m listening ol girl, I got you!
April 2021: What does a fully vaccinated couple living in one of the strictest COVID lockdowns, post hospital stay, who haven’t seen their daughters in a year and four months, and with a guest visiting from the US, decide to do this month? If you guessed “travel to the Maldives!” you’d be right! Taking advantage of the fact that Will was working during the day and could house and cat sit for us, Mike booked us an amazing stay at the Hard Rock Resort. Wearing our summer wardrobe and most importantly, NO MASKS, we enjoyed a part of the world I’d only dreamed I’d ever get to visit. Lots of sea life, snorkeling, kayaking, walking, listening to the live band and chatting with the amazing resort staff made the trip so memorable for me. Having to watch my diet was a bit of a bummer but I was able to eat all the delicious low fiber foods and drink bubbly to my hearts delight.
I was really impressed by how ecologically friendly the resort was, it has to be self sustainable because as we learned, the archipelago’s waste practice is to burn trash so of the occupied islands – they burn what they don’t reuse. On the boat ride over I noticed an island with smoke coming off of it and thought maybe it was a smoldering volcano or something, but a day later from our resort I realized I could still see the smoke and looked up what it was. Turns out, it is an island called Thilafushi entirely devoted to the main island/capital city Male’s trash! And by trash I mean everything, plastic, appliances, discarded food. I was pretty shocked to learn that it has been burning NON STOP for like 30 years! That toxic smoke going up into the atmosphere! Blowing back to the city from whence it came! UUUGGGHHHH!
May 2021: Back to Jordan, back to work for my final month! With the evening and Friday lockdowns eased we were able to get out and do a little more. For Mike and I that meant more time at the pool, walking and going to our favorite restaurants. Two of my walking ladies and I spent a long weekend at the Ma’in Hot Springs Resort and Spa, a place that had been on my list to see in Jordan! It wasn’t crowded or super-ready for visitors but we just enjoyed being together as everyone’s time in Jordan was soon coming to an end.
June 2021: After almost two years (shy by one month) my last day at USAID Jordan on the Education and Youth Team came to pass. It is so strange to think that I only worked physically in the Embassy with my team from late July 2019 – early March 2020 and from then on, it was all remote work. But despite that, we remained a super tight-knit group who worked and played well together.
With the girls and JB (Jillie’s boyfriend) all booked for their visit, I had a week between my last day of work and their arrival. My ever adventurous friend Margaret, who is now living in Zimbabwe, had her summer vacation planned and wanted to know if Mikela and I could meet her somewhere out in the world. At that point COVID numbers were stable in some places and travel between countries was opening up. Turkey was one of the locations that would take us all in and turns out, one of Mikela’s good friends was also going to be traveling there so we booked Istanbul! What an absolutely fabulous trip this turned out to be…
A year late and with an additional traveller, Dianne and Mike finally get to see their daughters Amelia and Jillian! HURRAY! In a time when many families around the world were kept apart, we felt super thankful to be able to get the girls over so that we could take them on a literal whirlwind tour of everything they hadn’t had a chance to see yet. Getting them up and out into the sun is the best thing for jet lag so we started close and visited the Citadel and Roman Theater in Amman and then stopped off at the Dagger Man where Zayid taught Amelia how to engrave a blade!
Finally, the trip that the girls had been waiting for – to Petra!
From Petra we spent the night at the Red Sea, even though they were tired and not feeling 100% Amelia, Jillian and JB enjoyed every moment of the private pool that we somehow had the good fortune of being taken to. Mike and I asked someone where we could get some towels and next thing we knew we were at our own pool! Love that Jordanian hospitality!
Next stop, the creme de la creme – Wadi Rum!
Took some chill days in Amman, spent time at the pool, the Royal Automobile Museum and a puppy puddle at Carakale Brewery.
Next stops – the city founded by Alexander the Great, Jerash and then since we’re up there, a side jaunt to Ajloun Castle!
Next day next stop…Dead Sea for the day! I didn’t track how far we’d walked over the last week but spending a day at the Dead Sea at the Marriott Resort was just what we needed. We spent our time hanging out at the pool, having lunch, floating in the sea and Jillian and JB went to the spa.
We kept at it, for their final day in Jordan we had breakfast with my friend Luma and then off to Madaba to see the great mosaics! These three were the best travelers, so appreciative and fun to be with. LOVE THEM!
July 2021: my days are running short, the kids are back in the US, my ticket is purchased and our pack out is scheduled!
After the movers left, I visited the Embassy one last time to say goodbye to my team and to Luma. I never thought that I was going to make a best friend in Jordan, I imagined that I’d meet great people and that we’d keep in touch when we went our separate ways, but I really fell in love with my friend. We laugh at my first impression – I was nervous around her because she seemed so serious and no nonsense, and she thought I was an “I’m too busy” type because she had emailed me asking if I would be her language partner and I didn’t respond for weeks. Turns out, she was acting so serious because she had just joined the team and wanted to make a good impression and I wasn’t too busy for anyone – I’d gone on a three week vacation right after I’d joined USAID and had a bunch of email waiting for me when I returned. First impressions aren’t always right and certainly not in our case.
That night we had a farewell at Biera, another one of our favorite places in Jordan with good food, delicious beer, amazing friends aaaaaaand a cake!