Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Things That Will Make Your Day

Please if you get a chance, click on these two links. They are by far the two funniest things I've read in a very long time.

#!- A Pakistani telecommunications company sent a list of words to the government that they'd like to be blocked from text messages. Please, take a moment to skim through the list. I was literally on the floor laughing the list is so ridiculous. Just imagine a group of Pakistani officials sitting in a room coming up with these words. So. Damn. Funny.

#2- In a recent poll presented to the Senate by Senator Michael Bennet, Congress' approval rating is currently lower than: the IRS, lawyers, Communism, & Paris Hilton, to name a few. This is both sad and hilarious. God Bless America?


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Merry Belated Eid

It's that time of year! Time for family, friends, cold weather, cookies, & food. Yes, it's true, it's the "holiday" season over here in Jordan. But, if you're imagining twinkling lights, evergreen trees, sugar cookies, and warm holiday tunes ...well you'd be wrong. Remember people, I live in an Islamic country. You'll find no mythical flying reindeer or fat men in bright red suits over here. No no, I'm talking about a different holiday season.... I'm talking about a little ole holiday called Eid.

You may be thinking, hmmm what is she talking about, that's not even a word. Well, stay with me for a minute and let me explain.

Eid al-Adha (or just Eid, pronounced like Eed) or the "Festival of Sacrifice" is a religious holiday commemorating the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a sheep to sacrifice instead. Muslims around the world take 3 days (or more) to celebrate this event by praying, gathering with friends and family, eating lots of cookies filled with pistachios and dates, and.......sacrificing a sheep.

Yes, a sheep. A real living and breathing sheep.

You may think, that's not a big deal, lamb meat is delicious what's so wrong with that? Well, have you ever seen a sheep get slaughtered? Me either...until last week.

I knew what Eid celebrated, but in my young naive American born mind I just figured they'd bring home some sheep meat from the market like normal people. Oh no no, where's the fun in that? Let me paint you a little picture of what actually happened.

I woke up the morning of Eid, brushed my teeth, washed my face, made some tea, and ventured outside to see investigate a very strange noise I kept hearing. To my surprise, I found my host brothers, sisters, and a live sheep tied up chomping on some leaves in our backyard, accompanied by a butcher with 4 very large knives and well, I knew things weren't going to end well.

Yes, they slaughtered a sheep in my backyard. And sorry to be graphic but, I'm talking slit throat, head cut off, skinned, the whole bit. And worst of all .....I watched.

It was horrible. PETA would not have approved, but I viewed it as a cultural experience, so I watched the whole gruesome thing. I've already judged myself for it, so spare the harsh judgments.

Spotted: Sheep head

Mary no longer has a little lamb

I didn't eat any of it, if that makes any of you feel better. But, it is kind a cool Muslim tradition because once all the meat is cut up, it is divided into 3 groups: one part for us, second part is given to family, and the last part is given to the poor. So at least the poor little sheep is helping out others. At least, that's how I viewed it.

I'm pretty sure I'll never be eating lamb meat ever again, but I am actually glad I watched it all. Just another learning experience added to the list.

It's no Christmas season, but it was a relaxing couple of days filled with lots of yummy food!

Sorry to gross you all out, but it was too weird not to post about.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Trip Down South

Just returned from yet another fun 5 days of travel, wooo! I could get used to this prolonged vacation I seem to find myself on. This time I traveled to southern Jordan for a long weekend of adventures in Dana, Petra, Wadi Rum, and Aqaba. A very fun, relaxing weekend before the long awaited research month begins (dun, dun, dunnnn).

We left about a week ago and traveled about 3 hours south to Jordan's largest nature reserve, Dana. Dana was the least thrilling of the 5 days, but it was a fun day nonetheless. We had a picnic lunch and hiked around the area for a couple hours observing the beautiful mountainous landscape.

We stayed in a sketchy orphanage turned hostel that night, the perfect setting for a future horror movie - fitting given it was Halloween weekend. The next morning we packed up, got the H out of there and headed a bit further south to see one of the seven wonders of the world.... PETRA!

The ancient city of Petra is famous for being 1 of the 7 wonders of the world, as it is a city built entirely out of rock! Petra was built sometime in 6th century BC as the capitol city of the Nabataeans. What is most interesting about Petra however, is that although it was built before Christ the city wasn't discovered and exposed to the Western world until 1812 when a Swiss explorer stumbled upon it. Bedouins in the area kept the city a secret for centuries, never allowing passerby's access to the area. The ancient city existed for centuries in the middle of the desert and yet only a handful of people knew about it - crazy, huh? Since then, millions around the world have traveled to see the ancient "rose-red city", a name used to describe the color of the rock it was built out of. The Treasury Monument in Petra is the most famous, and definitely the most magnificent part of Petra.

Fun Fact: Archeologists found Roman and Egyptian treasures hidden within the rock structure, which they believe was placed there purposefully by pharoahs and rulers from far away who were trying to hide their wealth from invaders - That's why it was named the Treasury.

That or, if you recall, the Treasury is where Harrison Ford and Sean Connery found the holy grail. So I guess it's up to your own interpretation to decide which is more accurate. My money is on Indiana Jones.

Petra is SO much more than just the treasury though - the area where the stone city of Petra once thrived stretches for several miles. We literally spent all day exploring the area, climbing the surrounding rock mountains and enjoying the incredible views. It was an absolute blast that brought out the inner explorer in me.

The Monastery

Some 5 very long hours of exploring and hiking later, we called it a day and checked into the 5 star Marriot Hotel - or what I know like to refer to as heaven on earth. Believe me when I say that I haven't been homesick since I've been in Jordan, not at all (sorry Mom). I've thoroughly enjoyed my time and dealt with the challenges of living in a foreign country as they arose. However, those 12 hours we spent in the Marriot with it's hot, water-pressure filled shower, bell hops, room service, flat screen TV, American style buffet dinner and breakfast, hotel bar, and best of all, it's queen sized plush bed was enough to make me cry for my mommy. I could have set up camp and lived in that bed forever and died happy - it was that good.

But, come 11 am the next day, it was off to the next leg of the adventure: Wadi Rum. Wadi Rum was absolutely beautiful - unlike any place I've ever been. Essentially, Wadi Rum is a desert valley filled with sandstone and granite rock mountains. It was incredible. We boarded Jeeps and toured through the desert for much of the afternoon. We climbed the rocks with our bare feet and ran down the sand dunes, it was an absolute blast.

After several hours running around the desert like a bunch of little kids at Disney World, we headed back to our campsite where we ate dinner, roasted marshmallows, told ghost stories (it was Halloween after all), and slept under the stars in the middle of the desert. It was seriously unreal.

Although it was a cold, cold night in the tent, I woke bright 'n early, watched the sunrise and hopped onto a camel for a little morning stroll before heading off to our next and last adventure of the weekend: Aqaba.

Aqaba is a beautiful little town that sits on the Red Sea. In true beach town fashion, we spent the entire day posted up on a yacht cruising around the water and snorkeling. The water is crystal clear blue and filled with a variety of tropical fish and other sea life....however, I wouldn't know any of that because, well, I chose to post up at the front of the boat to catch some sun and enjoy a lovely drink...or two. It was pure perfection. Coolest part of all: I could see Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia all from the water! Pretty crazy if you ask me.

It was a great weekend that really made me appreciate Jordan and all the beautiful places it has to offer. For now, I'm busy doing research planning my next big adventure to a little town called Jerusalem :)

Miss you all! Go Cats