This weekend has been nothing short of crazy. I feel like we need another weekend to rest and recover! But the experiences we had were well worth the exhaustion. For now, I'll just blog about our Thursday night outing and cover the rest in subsequent posts.

We kicked off the weekend with a visit to Zarqa on Thursday night. Zarqa is the third-largest city in Jordan (after Amman and Irbid) and is an industrial town about thirty minutes outside of Amman. Our friend Hussein lives there and invited us over for mansaf--Jordan's national dish that everybody here is obsessed with! It's a traditional Bedouin meal of cooked lamb on top of rice that's doused with a dried yogurt sauce (jameed) and garnished with almonds.

We took a minibus from Amman to Zarqa--they're the cheapest way to get around. There's no set routes or stops, but each bus has an end destination. Usually there's a guy hanging out the bus door yelling the name of that destination--Zarqa! Zarqa! Zarqa!--and you just hop on whenever you can. The half-hour ride to Zarqa only cost us 45 qirsh each (about 60 cents), whereas a taxi could've easily ran us upwards of five dinaar (about $8).

Zarqa (at least the side of it we saw) is definitely less developed than Amman. It's got a small-town feel with a big-city bustle. To get to Hussein's apartment, we wound through a huge outdoor market where you could buy clothes, household goods, meats, fruits, sweets, you name it. Hussein was excited to show us everything--he wanted us to see the real Jordan, or at least the real Jordan to him. People here are very proud of their roots.

We met Hussein's father--a retired blacksmith with a big, toothless smile--and wound through a couple more alleys before arriving at the apartment. We made ourselves at home on the floor cushions and began chatting away. I think Hussein was a little worried about how we'd take to sitting on the floor--we'd invited him over for dinner the week prior, so he'd seen our place and knew that it was nice. He kept asking if we were relaxed, if we were comfortable, if there was anything we needed, etc. It was so sweet :) Jordanian hospitality is truly unparalleled.

It wasn't long before the mansaf arrived. It came on a big huge plate that we set on the floor, and then we all gathered around and dug in. I don't know if Hussein's mother just makes a mean mansaf or if that's just how it normally tastes, but it was freaking good. We washed it down with icy cold Coke, and then kicked back and talked (the quintessential Arab pastime!). Brock sparred with Hussein's nine-year old nephew over soccer--which teams were best, which players, etc. It was cute to see these two have a full-on conversation about Lionel Messi, Real Madrid, and Barcelona without nary a shared word of Arabic between them!

Later, Hussein's mother and older brother stopped by to meet us. Hussein's mother wears a niqab (head covering that shows only the eyes), and was even about to take it off for fear that it made us uncomfortable. Again, how sweet is that? We told her we didn't mind at all, and the conversation kept rolling. Each and every member of his family was so nice and so patient with me as I tried to speak Arabic. Luckily, Hussein speaks fairly good English and was able to fill in some of the holes.His older brother told me I spoke well, and that with a couple months' practice I'll be rockin' it. Insha'allah!  We had to leave at around 9:30 to catch the last bus home to Amman, and are looking forward to visiting again and again throughout these next few months :)

I can't believe we're already in our fourth week here--I had a minor freak-out when I realized that this whole experience is 25% done with. I still have so far to go with regards to speaking ability! I am happy to report, however, that I had my first dream in Arabic this week, which was kind of a milestone. It wasn't all in Arabic--just chunks of it--but it still gave me a little high.

I think the key to success will be unrelenting effort. This is definitely a mental marathon of sorts, and sometimes it's hard to keep myself amped when all I can think about is the future--how great it will be when I can speak well, how great it will be to go to Petra, to Israel, home, to start our lives in a new place, etc. For the sake of staying focused, I need to live in the moment. This is the one chance I'm going to have in my life to nail Arabic--I need to wake up every day and think It's go time! I need to visualize myself succeeding. I need to think positively. I need to be the Richard Simmons of Arabic. You can do it!!! You're strong!!!!!! Feel the burrrrn!! Now inhale, conjugate, exhale.....yeah!!!!!!!!!!!

 . . . Or, you know, something like that.


  1. Sounds so great, and sounds like you're making good progress. I'm glad you have good friends to help you!

  2. You've worked so hard to speak Arabic, it sounds like you're doing a great job!
    What are you going to do with your Arabic when you move to Costa Rica?

  3. Wow! That is the real experience you shoot for! That will be a moment you will remember.


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