Saturday, August 31, 2013

Our Home

I wanted to post a few pictures of our apartment here in Amman.  We live in west Amman, which is considered more western, modern, and wealthier than east Amman.  It also tends to be more liberal in dress for women, and hosts many of the bars, liquor stores, and places to buy pork.

 Our apartment is surprisingly modern and large.  I was thinking it would be more like European size apartments, but it is definitely more like an American-sized place. We have 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a family room, formal living/dining area and kitchen.  We look across the street at an olive grove.   It is on a quiet road, only a couple minutes drive to school, and more importantly for Shanna, close to a Starbucks.

 The first week of school went very smoothly.  Kids are kids regardless of where you are at, but I feel like I have a great group who are very bright, have personalities, and seem to enjoy school.  Behavior issues should be minimal.  I feel like I am actually going to get to focus on teaching!  Last night, we went over to a friends house and enjoyed playing cornhole on their rooftop overlooking the city.  It was pretty sweet.

For those who are teachers, here is my schedule.  I have so much planning time. At 1:30, I am done for the day!

8-9:30 LA
9:30-9:45 Morning break
9:45-11:55 Math/Science/SS
12-12:40 Lunch
12:40-1:20 Read Aloud/Pack Up
1:30-2:15 Arabic
2:15-3:00 Specials
                                      This is our formal living area when you walk in the house.

The front of our apartment building.  We are on the second floor, just above the copper colored roof on the right.

Our "formal dining area."  It can actually fit eight people.  Our balcony is behind the white curtain.

                  This is our kitchen.  We are desperately missing a dishwasher along with a dryer.

                                          Our "American" style couch in our family room.

                                         You've gotta have the wall mounted flat screen right?

            Ryker's bedroom.  He no longer sleeps in the pack and play.  He has graduated to the queen  size bed.  He also likes to turn on the light late at night and read in his bed.  Then he turns it off and goes back to sleep.  Not sure who this kid is!

Our guest bedroom.  A nice, comfortable queen size bed awaits you.  Please come to Jordan, we would love to have you!

Our master bedroom.  Finally, a king size bed.

Our jacuzzi tub in the master bath.  A pleasant surprise for both Shanna and Ryker.

A view from our balcony.  The olive grove across the street.

Our ride.  A Mitsubishi Lancer with what I like to term a 1 cylinder engine.  It has no power, which is difficult with all the hills here in Amman.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lowest Point on Earth

Yesterday we headed for a day trip to the Dead Sea.  Friday mornings in Amman are the quietest of the entire week with zero traffic.  People tend to stay out very late on Thursday nights and sleep in.  Many stores and shops don't even open until Friday afternoon because of that. Call to prayer is at 12:30, and after that, the city starts to awaken. Needless to say, getting to the Dead Sea was a breeze, pun intended.

It took 40 minutes for us to drive to the sea.  Amman being at 3,000 ft. above sea level, and the Dead Sea at -1,400 ft. made our drive a nice downhill excursion wrapping through many large sandstone hills and "mountains."  You can't just pull off the road and hop in at the Dead Sea, the only way to experience it is through one of the hotels lining the shore.

This is the view from the hotel we stayed at for the day.  You purchase a day pass which is pretty expensive, but food and drinks are also part of the package.  Almost everybody spends their time by the pools rather than on the "beach" of the Dead Sea.  If you can see through the haze, the outline of mountains on the other side is Israel.

The Dead Sea is amazing in the sense that you literally float without trying.   I tried touching the bottom, but couldn't get any farther down than my neck. You lie back and immediately float.  I figure it must be similar to feeling weightlessness in space.

You do have to be careful when entering the Dead Sea.  Any cuts or scrapes, one you know about or don't, get amplified to the millionth degree.  The percent salt water of the ocean is around 3%.  The percent salt water of the Dead Sea is 31%.  Don't get it in your eyes.

Below are a few more pics of the Dead Sea.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

First Impressions

We have arrived!  All 15 pieces of luggage and ourselves are intact.  The magnitude of what we are doing is still too enormous to comprehend.  We began with our 12 hour flight out of Detroit to Amman.  We were definitely the only non-Arab passengers on the entire plane.  Seeing women in full burqas with gloved hands and slits for eyes was a reality check of where we were headed.  The flight went extremely smooth for having a 19 month old with no place to run or play.  He did great.  Can't say the same for both Shanna and I, as we struggled to sleep when needed to make the 7 hour time adjustment. It's weird to fly at 10:30 am, then halfway through the flight, it is all of a sudden turns dark and "night" has begun.

We were greeted at the airport by our superintendent, elementary school principal, and human resources manager, along with a cadre of drivers and helpers.  They whisked us away in our own bus and took us immediately to our new apartment.

Initial Impressions:

- Driving in from the airport, I noticed groups of camels out in the desert.
- Every building looks the same.  Four or five stories, and every building is beige!
- Driving is absolutely crazy.  I thought Rwanda was extreme, this seems ten times worse.
- There were sheep on the overpass into town.
- Amman is extremely hilly.
- Arab people are very friendly and love little kids, especially non-Arab kids
- Our apartment is beautiful.  (Pictures to come later)

- Here is a sample pic of Amman.