Art, Food/Drink, General, Jordan, Travel

Back to Jordan: A year and a half under my belt and my countdown to home begins.

The situation that the entire world is in has certainly made my experience living overseas for the first time, quite different than what I’d envisioned. Being a plane ride away from my daughters is no longer true because the airport in Jordan has been closed since March. Being able to explore this country was no longer a reality, at least for 3 months, because inter-governorate travel was stopped. But what I didn’t expect from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lock down that Jordan instituted so swiftly, is that I would get to see and contribute first hand to how USAID keeps working (AMAZING) and how a government can be agile in the face of the unknown. I was keenly interested in how it uses data, paired scientists and politicians to make and communicate decisions and did it’s best to try to protect the people living here. If you are interested to learn more about Jordan’s response, I’ve included some links to news stories from March and April.

At the start of May, we could go to the supermarkets within walking distance of our house, wearing masks and with limited numbers allowed in at once. Eventually that gave way to driving on odd/even license plate days within our ‘states’ between 8am – 6pm, gradually businesses started to slowly open back up, restaurants were delivery only for a bit and could then add outdoor dining after being inspected by the health department, curfew hours were changed to 6am – 12 midnight, schools and universities are still closed.

As of July 4, 2020 – there is still no commercial travel in and out of the country as the airport is still not open. The local transmission of the virus is low, daily numbers hover between 0-5 and the cases are typically traced back to a known infected person. In Jordan, a country the size of the US state of Indiana with the population of the state of Michigan (coronavirus cases 71,678 and deaths 6,212) the count of cases since the onset of the pandemic is 1, 147 with 10 deaths. This Washington Post podcast laid it out well, as host Linah Mohammad – who has family and friends in Jordan – said “you’re pitting individual liberty against public health. When you’re pitting individual good versus communal good. In a country like Jordan, it appears to be that the communal good was winning out.” We followed the rules; we wore our masks, washed our hands and stayed home. Please, wherever you are – do the same, I want my daughters to be healthy and able to visit.

What we’ve been up to; in January back in Jordan at our favorite breakfast restaurant we were surprised that the staff noticed our absence! Welcomed back with smiles and questions about our trip, we were treated to a special manakeesh and tea before our breakfast came out.

Chinese New Year, the year of the Rat, was celebrated at my coworker Mia’s house. I had so much fun at my first ‘outside of work’ event with my team. Mia prepared an amazing spread, including vegetarian dumplings just for me, I feel so lucky to be a part of the Education and Youth office!

The same night as my birthday this year, the Black History Committee at the Embassy hosted a Lip Sync Battle event; dinner, drinks, friends, music, lip synching and then karaoke. We went with just about every friend we have and had an absolute blast. The icing on the cake for me, was a stage full of friends singing “Happy Birthday”, so lucky to have met such an amazing group of smart, dedicated and FUN people!

February was busy, I took a trip mid month with my friend Margaret to visit Haifa and Akka/Acre and I had work trip to Bangkok at the end of the month. I will do separate posts about those trips. One of my work events was a Youth Roundtable that involved a walk down Rainbow Street, it was a gorgeous day. We started at this building…

Cool building on Rainbow Street across the street from the famous Al Quds Falafel Sandwich shop.

…and ended at the building below where we held the discussion. I also found a painting by a Jordanian artist here that I liked and since I got a cash award at work, I bought it a few months later!

Beautiful old Amman home that is now the Nofa Creative Space.

March. Everyday, my Luma and I meet for our Language Exchange – one day we practice Arabic and one day we practice English, we almost always sit outside during our 30 minute chats so we can get some sunshine. On this day, March 12th, a coworker snapped a photo of us – I like to say we are solving all of the worlds problems, or doing our best to.

I miss solving the worlds problems in person, but we still meet virtually!
Once we were on lockdown, only allowed in our own building – I’d go up to the roof to get some ‘nature’.
Flip side, beautiful view from our roof.

My April and May were spent inside my apartment, learning how to cook new dishes, working from home, watching new shows and movies with Mike, listening to music, reading, painting and going for walks when we weren’t under curfew. Below are some photos from my Curfew Cars collection LOL.

One of my Instagram followers comments on my Mercedes posts with the year, this one is 1967.
This old gal was spotted one evening when we were out (with permission) after curfew. (1961)
This old Cadillac limo is really cool inside, too!
The Beetle! The sign in the window (for sale!) says 1973. It looks like my old dark blue Superbeetle!

June – We celebrated Iris’ one year birthday/anniversary with us. You can read her origin story here, I call her “Finn’s kitten” because he just loves to play with her, and she loves to pounce on him. I’m so thankful for those two, my ‘coworkers’ during work from home who are fun to watch. Once we were allowed to travel outside of Amman we took the Dead Sea Highway (the times before we took the Desert Highway) south to Aqaba for a change of scenery. Since I’ve posted about Aqaba with a photo of the Gulf of Aqaba to the Red Sea before in my Welcome to Jordan post I thought I’d show you the other view!

Mike takes in the view from the front of our hotel.
We walked a little farther into town and got to see the beautiful white Sharif Al Hussein Bin Ali Mosque in Aqaba.

Finally, a new place in Jordan to share with you all! We visited Madaba, a little south of Amman early one Friday morning. It’s been on my list of places to see because it is known for amazing mosaic art and ancient artifacts.

“The Church of the Map” Greek Orthodox Basilica of St. George.
I was in awe looking at all of the mosaics inside.
“The Madaba Mosaic Map is a map of the region dating from the 6th century and preserved in the floor of the Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, sometimes called the “Church of the Map”. With two million pieces of colored stone, the map depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns in Palestine and the Nile Delta. The mosaic contains the earliest extant representation of Byzantine Jerusalem, labeled the “Holy City.” The map provides important details about its 6th-century landmarks, with the cardo, or central colonnaded street, and the church of the Holy Sepulchre clearly visible. This map is one key in developing scholarly knowledge about the physical layout of Jerusalem after its destruction and rebuilding in 70 AD.” From Wikipedia
Inside the small church.
Beautiful.

We had the town to ourselves, shop owners were opening up as we walked from the Map Church up to the Shrine of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist which is underground in the Acropolis Museum of the Catholic Church.

The shrine. 🤭
The museum also had lovely mosaics!
After going under the church, we climbed up the steep stairs to the belfry up top – between rings – we only had 15 minutes!

On our way back to the car we stopped at the final place on my list, Madaba Archaeological Park.

“Madaba Archaeological Park draws visitors to its exquisite Byzantine mosaics. Since excavations started in the 1990s, many mosaics from the walls and floors of historic ruins were found, some dating back to the 1st century AD. Admire the different art styles and themes depicted on the mosaics, and see the remains of a sixth-century church, discovered in 1887.” read more here
“The Church of the Virgin Mary is also included in the site; built in the 6th century and unearthed beneath the floor of a private house in 1887, the church boasts a central mosaic, thought to date from 767, that is a masterpiece of geometric design.” read more here
“…contains some of the most impressive mosaics on the site, including those of Hippolytus Hall, an early-6th-century Byzantine villa. Spot the four seasons in each corner and notice the beautiful depictions of flowers and birds. The middle section shows figures from the classic Greek tragedy of Phaedra and Hippolytus. The upper image shows Adonis and a topless Aphrodite spanking naughty, winged Eros, while the Three Graces (daughters of Zeus representing joy, charm and beauty) float nearby.” From the Lonely Planet link above.

That wraps up my first year and a half in Jordan, the time is going by so fast and now I am officially in my countdown to move back to Virginia in July 2021. I’ve mentioned my minimalism in previous posts and one of the promises I made to myself was to only buy clothing that I needed, to do my best to ensure it was made humanely and if I needed a new t-shirt, that it shared a message that I cared about. A friend at work designed this t-shirt, made by a local company and shared it with our Embassy community. Thank you for reading, bye for now.

3 thoughts on “Back to Jordan: A year and a half under my belt and my countdown to home begins.”

  1. Awesome jounal entry, thank you Dooey. Your countdown is too fast for this friend who so needs to make serendipity reality. Hugs and smooches (extra for Mike)!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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