A big look back

Since work and adventures got the better of me, I ended up with no time or energy to post on my blog. Let me take a big step back and start my adventure from the beginning.

My first dig was at Balu’a, an Iron Age city in the ancient kingdom of Moab (think Biblical times, the land where Ruth was from). We lived in a house in a nearby village, As-Smakieh. This small village looked like just about any other village in the region, except that it is exclusively Christian. There is not a mosque in sight nor a call-to-prayer to be heard. There were two rivaling churches, however, that faced each other and would have competitions over who could play church bells louder over their PDA systems. The first thing a newcomer is asked when they come to the village is “do you go to the latin church or the greek church?” This does not actually mean catholic versus orthodox. It is actually roman catholic versus greek catholic.

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In my natural state: filthy and exhausted

Because it is a christian village, no one walks around wearing hijabs and everyone wears t-shirts. They are still very conservative and traditional, but it is a contrast to the conservative bedouin villages in the south. There is distinctive gender segregation, not by any law but simply by social customs. Guys and girls simply do not hang out together. Even in the church service, women sit on one side of the church and the men on the other. During hymns, the women held hands and so did the men, but they did NOT hold each others’ hands. This made it awkward when I accidentally sat on the men’s side. Even communion had separate lines for the men and the women! Even during the “peace” the men would hug and kiss each other, and so would the women, but for me I had to sit still and not touch anyone, including my male friend sitting next to me. Oops! 🙂

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The two rivaling churches and the local sheep herd

I had an interesting time getting used to the culture. Because this is a small village, we were very exciting. Because there was a handful of single women with us, we were VERY exciting! It didn’t take long at all for every middle-school boy in the village to know my name. They would play ball in the street right outside our house.

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Local bedouin tents

I learned pretty quickly that in conservative societies, it is not good for a girl to walk around alone, even in daylight. The boys would surround me and ask me tons of questions. The most important questions included “Are you married? Why not? I have a cousin your age who is unmarried too!” It actually got pretty scary when that particular cousin drove by and they drug me over to his car and tried to shove me in it. The 25-year old man emphatically pointed at his ring finger, silently asking if I was married or not. One night, the boys all went crazy trying to drag me into his car. A neighbor girl saw me and ran over to rescue me, dragging me into her house. Her father and grandfather ran out to yell at the boys. They sat me down and yelled at me “Sit! Eat!” I sat quietly and ate.

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Ancient Ottoman ruins at the edge of the village

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A whole new world

Jordan is a strange and beautiful place. It is safer than I could have expected, children run free on the streets, goats and donkeys and camels are parked on the sidewalks, tribalism is the main form of government and people live like they did in biblical times! The difference now is the shepherd boy has an mp3 player and Bedouin tents have satellite dishes and solar panels!

Lettuce is unheard of, but Betty Crocker is readily available. Milk is largely imported from Saudi Arabia (which I don’t understand) and cars stay on the road until they are barely held together by duct tape. Speed bumps are usually unmarked, meaning I have bumped my head countless times in the back seat. Drivers use both sides of the road, and hitch hiking is considered public transit! Women in burkas and school children hitch rides (and always offer a small payment).

Western women are stereotyped by MTV (very popular here) and the radio is America’s top 40 with American speaking DJs! You get 3G almost everywhere. Dating does not occur here. If there is no ring on your finger, you are up for grabs! Or, haggling, that is. A good wife can go for a couple camels from a wealthy family!

Courting is an important part of the culture. A boy sees a girl. He falls for her. He tells his mother or sisters. They do all the “dating” for him. They check her out, see if she’s a good girl, and see if she’s interested. If yes, they are engaged! She is off limits until they decide to get married or not. If not, back on the daughter in law market! Word of mouth moves faster than Facebook! Everyone knows everyone’s business, and that keeps everyone moral. Sexual harassment is punishable by brutal beating and rape is punishable by death.

I have been living in a tiny village in rural Jordan for a month now! It all feels almost normal now!

Welcome to Jordan!

I am late writing about my adventures here. I left in August for a 4 month adventure to Jordan! Why? I am on an archaeology dig! Two of them actually. That us why I haven’t posted anything. I was too busy with too little Internet. But now I have zain 3G on my iPhone so I have good coverage. It’s time to start posting.

I will attempt to backtrack but first let me give you an overview. I so fat have been chased by a scorpion, shot at by some school kids (the guns weren’t lethal but still were painful), have made friends with Bedouin tent dwellers and locals from a Christian village, all the middle school boys know my name and try to follow me around, I have had marriage offers and am being pursued by a family to live on a farm in the lowest hottest place on earth, ate goat sheep and gazelle, twisted an ankle and was impaled by a cactus, found an iron age figurine of an animal butt, visited a friend I met on my blog who happened to live in my village, swam in the dead sea, got a free “tour” of a batt cave underneath Jerash, made apple pie using no measurements, picked up a hitchhiker, and have had some of the greatest moments of my life. What would you like to hear about first?

A tiny Christian village in Jordan, Smakieh (Smakiye, as-Smakiya, etc) and some nearby digs! This is located in the ancient Kingdom of Moab, that is mentioned in the Bible.