Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I got married! ...Sorta

Yes, yes the rumors are true... I got married. And by that I mean, kinda, sorta, not really. Let me explain.

Last weekend a bunch of students and myself took a day trip up to the city of Salt. If you're thinking 'I wonder if there's a city of Pepper' then you're too late...and you're not funny, because that's one of the lamest jokes I've ever heard. I know, because I said it and everyone laughed at me. But that's not important.

So, we traveled as a group up to Salt, which is a smaller version of Amman just 30 minutes outside the city. Interestingly, Salt was once the perceived soon-to-be capitol of Jordan, and up until the 1920s it was the only town of real importance in Jordan. It was a huge center for trade during the Ottoman empire days because its location is in the dead center to Damascus, Jerusalem and Cairo. So it has some awesome history, plus it was nice to get out of Amman for a day to explore.

We started the day doing the typical touristey stuff - we got Turkish coffees at the oldest cafe in Jordan, we went to a couple archeology museums, we went to the oldest school in Jordan, etc etc.


First, we went to see this really, really cool old church. Being the born and raised, Catholic school girl that I am, I was psyched to be in a religious place where I actually knew what things were and was able to use my Catholic knowledge to impress people as opposed to what I usually am: strange, white, blonde, American girl wandering around the streets of Amman. Even better though, this church had some really awesome history. Plus, it was really cool to be in a church in the land where, well, Jesus and Catholocism essentially came from.

The little old man there explained that it is believed Saint George visited the church (which was build over a thousand years ago) and appeared to a blind woman while she was praying... and gave her sight! They also believe St. George left his footprint on the ground of the church (as seen below)

It was very cool to be there, and I loved being in a place that felt somewhat like home. Cheesy or not, it was nice to sit in the pews and see the altar.

After the church we headed to lunch, where I got married..... sorta.

Brief back story: Earlier that morning at one of the two archeological museums, we learned about the traditional weddings that take place in Salt. I forgot to mention earlier that Salt is a very traditional town. Amman is about a hundred times more modern than Salt is and the people of Salt love their traditions. So, they taught us a thing or two about the weddings there by showing us a video about all the ridiculous clothing they wear to get married. The men wear a typical black robe (or thobe as they call it here) and a scarf on their head but women... they're outfit isn't as easy. They wear this big cloak thing that looks like something the dementors from Harry Potter wear. I mean, its huge. But somehow, they wrap it around just right so its not as big and instead, it weighs about 20 pounds and is heavier than a winter jacket. I would know, because I wore one.

Alright, so we're at lunch, I was munching away on some falafal and Pepsi when they start asking for volunteers. I wasn't really paying any attention because I was enjoying my lunch too much, but I thought, hmmm, sure, I'll volunteer myself, that seems like a good idea. Wrong.

They lead me up to this room with 4 other students and they tell us we're about to put on the wedding robes we saw in the video earlier and we're having a pretend wedding. That's when I knew that I would never, ever volunteer for anything again.

All of a sudden this woman is dressing me in this ridiculous black robe, covering me with jewelry, and wrapping this thing around my head. The next thing I know....I'm an Arab woman. Every inch of my body was concealed but my face and I was sweating profusely under the weight of the carpet like material I was wearing.

THAT is what I wore

The wedding party - yes, that's me at the bottom with the red thing around my head

So they led me downstairs followed by my entourage of 'bridesmaids' and my husband Alec and I circled around the room, I was forced to dance around a bit (embarrassing), and then we went back up, they took the robe thing off and... BAM! There was my wedding day. Romantic, I know.

But in all seriousness, while it was very hot and constricting in that robe, it was a pretty cool experience to wear the traditional outfit of a Salt bride. Plus, it made for some pretty funny photos.

After my wedding day, we saw a couple other places and then headed back. But, even better than my wedding... we stopped on our way back to Amman to watch the sunset over the Jordan Valley. Unbelievable. By far the coolest thing I've seen thus far in my trip. We literally sat on this Lion King-esque rock and watched the sun set over the Jordan Valley and near the West Bank. The first of many sunsets to come, I hope!

I head out into the desert near the Syrian border to live in a village full of Bedouins for 5 days tomorrow morning. Things I will not have access to: technology, plumbing, clean water, showering, English. Things I will have access to: scorpions, hyenas, Syria.

Things could get dicey. Say a prayer I come back alive. And if I do...get ready for some entertaining stories.

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