Thursday, July 4, 2013


We were told that we would come back changed and I successfully say that I have accomplished that. The beautiful, welcoming country of Jordan has changed me - emotionally, mentally, and even physically.

I can't put into enough words how thankful and appreciative I am of this experience. Though not for everyone, it is life-changing and eye-opening. From refugee camps, to the constat hearing of bombs going off in the distance, to walking the streets of Irbid, to the weekend trips in 5 star resorts - everything came together to create a beautiful and perfect experience. I could not have asked to share it with any other people. By the end of the trip, we all became great friends and even though Emily, one of the girls, is transferring, I know we will remain friends. You can't spend six weeks in the Middle East with nine others and not come back without a bond. One learns a lot about others when in such an environment as the one we were in.

The last week of the trip was saddening and I did not want to leave. I could have stayed for months. Life is slower and is just appreciated. People are happy and love life. They celebrate soccer wins in the streets and graduations by hanging out the windows of their cars, driving far below the speed limit on the highway, all while honking their horns. We were welcomed at every restaurant we ate at and every shop we entered.

If this trip has done nothing else, it has solidified my want to continuing learning about the Middle East. It is comforting knowing I have chosen the right region to study and more importantly the right language. Arabic is hard, but it becomes worth it more and more every day. I have gained so much knowledge about the language in the short span of six weeks and it is a rewarding feeling, knowing it will all pay of one day.

There is nothing I would have changed about this trip, except perhaps the length. The Kaitlyn who arrived left a part of herself there and came back someone different.  This is what life is all about - having experiences that make you question everything. Comfort is safe and secure. I don't want comfort, I want adventure. I want to not know where life will take me.

I ended this adventure by celebrating my birthday in the company of my nine fellow students and two fantastic professors, sipping tea in the moonlight and talking about the trip. I realized twelve minutes after midnight it was finally my birthday on Jordanian time and I was so glad I was surrounded by amazing people for it. Even better was that I was able to travel on my 20th birthday, no longer a teenager, through three countries. I said goodbye to the country I fell in love with and headed on to London, where I was able to see the palace from the air. With less than an hour, we made our connecting flight and began the last leg of our journey: returning to the United States. I was greeted, quite surprisingly, at customs with a "Happy Birthday"and I was let on through with no trouble. Though six bags were lost out of the ten students, I lucked out and my bag was present. Though I had a heavy heart and it was hard to say goodbye to my friends after spending every day for six weeks by each others' sides, I was glad to be greeted by my mother, sister, aunt and uncle. It was sad to leave Jordan, but I know that one day I will be back, guaranteed, because a part of my heart with forever be in this country.

Remember, adventure is out there. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Journey to the Lowest Point on Earth

On Friday we set out for our last adventure at the Dead Sea. What was supposed to be a two hour drive turned into a longer one as our bus driver drove far below the speed limit and the bus sounded like it wouldn't make it several times. But we managed to make it up every hill every time, and it gave me longer to admire the natural beauty of the many rolling hills of Jordan. 

On the way we (they, as in the rest of the group) munched on meat pies and cheese pies. I had a potato pie. A little spicy, but good nonetheless. Meat pies in the morning did not sound appealing to my stomach (and to be honest reminded me a bit of Sweeney Todd) and no cheese for me due to this lactose intolerance issue I hoped would disappear by now. I am having serious ice cream withdrawals. 

I sat in my single seat on the bus with only my backpack and camera bag, for once having not over packed. We didn't head straight to the Dead Sea, however. Our first stop was at Madaba. Madaba is a Christian city in Jordan and they have this trail throughout the city that is similar to the Freedom Trail in Boston. We walked around the city to observe artifacts and buildings, mostly of Christian origin, if not all, from the past. The first stop was at a building that housed mosaics that have been discovered throughout the area and many of them were kept in remarkable condition. You could still see the colors and designs and letters and they were from various centuries a few hundred years after the birth of Christianity. 

We then sat inside a beautiful Church and it was very peaceful. They had monks chanting in the background (on audio, not actually) and I couldn't help but sit there and be comforted by the four walls around me. After growing up in church, being in this one brought me so much peace. It has been a while now since I have been, due to school and being in a Muslim country. So I enjoyed being able to spend even twenty minutes inside just sitting with my thoughts. 

After, we went to another church which is the site of the beheading of John the Baptist. I had no idea that it was religious site in Jordan, but the ancient Jordan was far larger I suppose in the times of Christ. There was a stone room where there was a carved head of what I assumed was John the Baptist and paintings on various walls. Down another hallway was a set of stone stairs that led to an ancient Roman well that still worked! I wouldn't drink the water but the water was cool and it was still awesome to again touch a piece of history. Further into the building we were in (I actually have no idea where we were) we reached tunnels that led under the ground and it was so neat! I had never been in a tunnel but it wasn't too bad what with my height and the fact that I enjoyed it. I wish there were more tunnels I could have explored. 

And then we walked up the stone stairs that were so skinny I could barely fit through the exit. But we entered the actual church at this point and we discovered we were able to climb the bell tower! It was slightly terrifying and it was a lot of stairs and ladders and small areas with severa people but all one had to do was watch their step and make sure they didn't accidentally grab the rope from the bells! At the top we were able to see over the entire city and beyond. 

I'm very glad we stopped in Madaba. It was once part of the Holy Land and holds religious significance for many people. In my opinion, Jordan still feels holy, almost at points. Everything is so natural and the land is still the same and so much is preserved from the past. And the people and the culture and everything for some reason still feels so connected to a previous time. 

After hitting up yet another gift shop (we have to be tourists at some points, not just students), we visited one last place: Mount Nebo. Mount Nebo is where Moses looked out over the Promised Land of Israel for the first time. When we looked out over the side of the mount, we were able to see the tree where he planted his staff and water sprung forth from it. There wasn't much to see. It was just the thought that we were standing where Moses once stood and that was enough.

Finally, finally, we set sail for our real destination: the lowest point on the earth, the Dead Sea. 

My less-than-24-hour-stay in the Dead Sea was wonderful. Firstly, we were at the Dead Sea which is cool on its own. And second, we stayed at the Kempinski. Kempinskis are found all around the world in every major city (and even some non-major ones) and are 5-star luxury resorts.

Let me describe my first impression: we get off the bus and we walk through the front door and we are greeted with a cold, damp towel to cool off because of the temperature outside (it gets extremely hot in the Dead Sea, more so than other places) and then a woman proceeded to carry a tray full of a complete array of juices that we could choose from. If that's not service, I don't know what is. Unfortunately, now I have extremely high expectations from every hotel I stay in. Yikes. 

When we got up to our rooms, the surprises just kept coming. Our bathroom was a palace in and of itself. There was a separate part of the room for a desk and mirror. And there was free baklava and and mini bar. Oh, and the view was amazing. 

I decided to wait a bit before venturing outside, following a warning given to us by our guide, saying that the sun is very hot until about 5 pm. So i ate a light dinner (more like snack) and had the best margarita ever I think. They don't skip out on the salt there and it was fantastic. Then, I jumped into my bathing suit and headed down the the Sea to experience the floating sensation. The high concentration of salt in the Dead Sea disallows people from swimming or going under the water. So as soon as you sit in the water, you just float, with absolutely no effort. I wish I could do it all the time. Except the salt burns any cut or open pore or anything practically. But it was worth it, definitely. Then we went to the vase of mud awaiting the guests and put it all over our bodies. It has these magical properties that make your skin incredibly soft and it was a lot of fun.

And then we went to the pools. It was a hard decision, seeing there were four large pools, two of which were infinity pools. We hung out outside all afternoon and evening, watching the sun set over the Dead Sea from the pool. I felt spoiled but i we have been working so hard and so also felt like it was a reward that we deserved. 

And then we went to the pools. It was a hard decision, seeing there were four large pools, two of which were infinity pools. We hung out outside all afternoon and evening, watching the sun set over the Dead Sea from the pool. I felt spoiled but i we have been working so hard and so also felt like it was a reward that we deserved. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Petra Adventure!

On Saturday morning, we woke up at the lavish Movenpick Hotel right outside the ancient city of Petra. We had another buffet breakfast and this time they even had Nutella. Of course, I lathered a thick layer of it onto my already chocolate-filled croisant and it was excellent. The perfect way to start off  my day.

We left the hotel and we were in walking distance of the entrance to Petra. We walked in and past the booth for tickets in an attempt to get in as Jordanian students and it worked! So instead of paying $50 JD to get in we paid $1 JD. Which rocked. Now I have $49 to spend on myself. Perfect.

The walk through the rocks is over a mile long. There were men at the beginning who have horses you can ride into the city and we politely declined but a fight almost broke out because two different men were fighting over who we should do business with. Unfortunately, it made us want to do business even less. But the walk in was quite nice and we could go at our own pace, and take pictures, and just look around. It's pretty shaded because you are walking basically through a slit in the rocks and they hang over you.

After walking, we finally see up ahead the entrance to Petra and it was overwhelming. I couldn't believe that I was finally there. I had been waiting a very long time to see Petra, being it is one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World and one of the few that still remains today to be seen. It is massive. And the history of the city is very interesting. Apparently the population disappeared and there is no trace of them to be found anywhere, where they went or why they left. One theory is that it is a tomb built for the people of Petra but there is not enough evidence.

We took many pictures in front of the entrance and even saw a bunch of camels! It was a great sight to see.

Although we couldn't actually enter the city in the rocks, we were able to walk around the outside and look into random doors and carved out areas in the rocks. And then came the hike that I was not expecting. You climb to the top of the mountain and look over the entire valley. And there are stairs built into the rocks - some by people and some were just there I guess. But they were uneven and some were small and some were tall and at some points there were no stairs, but just a flat surface on an angle. It was hot and I was sweating but we kept pushing forward and it was actually really rewarding. It was tough and every time we thought the end was near, it wasn't. But that's okay.

We finally made it to the top after about supposedly a half hour. It felt much longer to me but I'll trust my classmates judgement. We enjoyed the sun and the fact that we were on top of the world. After sitting for a while we tried to find out way down another way that the way we came up but we hit a dead end and had to end up climbing back up the mountain just to climb back down. And it was so much faster! It actually felt like we took a shortcut because it took us so long to get up.

Instead of walking out of Petra, a few other girls and myself decided to purchase a camel ride. I wanted to ride a camel at least once coming to Jordan and I don't know how I feel about my decision. It was painful and camels have a mind of their own. And when they trot you just bounce up and down and they almost ran me into the rock walls. But it was definitely worth it to say that I rode one. And minus the pain it was fun!

It was a very long day but it was one of the best. It topped off one of the best weekends of my life. I love that I have stood in multiple places here in Jordan alone where some of the greatest civilizations and men have stood centuries before me. It's amazing to think that these have stood for so long and were so vital in the past.

I woke up the next morning with a sore body, particularly from riding the camel, but it was a memory of a great experience and one I wouldn't trade for the world.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Wadi Rum

Friday afternoon we drove for a few hours until we reached the desert where we would spend our evening. Before I begin, I just want to say I think this day may have been the best day of my life.

We drove through the desert, almost getting stuck in the sand at one point, until we made it to a Bedouin camp. They ushered us inside a huge tent where there was seating and we were served tea. It was the best cup I have had so far, and every cup here is off the charts. We were waiting until 5:30 rolled around because at the time we would hop onto the back of pick up trucks where there was seating and we would drive through the desert for two hours until sunset, when we would watch it from high up on a rock. I had been looking forward to this moment all trip.

And so when the time came, we hopped on and I just so happened to pick the vanguard of the three trucks and also the best driver - or craziest for that matter. We drove off into the desert and we were surrounded on all sides but massive rocks scattered throughout the area. We drove on no roads, just paths used by the trucks to carry tourists. Still, it is a very bumpy ride. At first we went a little slow and I had expected to go faster. But then once we hit a certain point my driver just took off and I felt so free.  We were flying through the desert and we left the other two trucks with the rest of my group in the dust - literally. The driver took us over hills, sideways on hills, swerved in every direction, just to make the ride 100 times more exhilarating and fun.

We stopped a few times. The first place we stopped was at a hidden place bewteen a few rocks where archaeologists had discovered a map carved into the stone of Petra. It showed the hills and the valleys, our driver said. It is over 2,500 years old. To get out we could go the way we came or climb down a steep side of the rock I chose the  steep side of the rock. And then I climbed a little higher and higher, because I just felt so free and what better place to rock climb than in a valley with sandstone and granite rocks waiting to be climbed. I couldn't not climb any rocks while I was there.

We got back on the trucks and drove around some more. I stood up and held onto the bars and with the wind blowing all around me while I admired the natural beauty of Wadi Rum, I couldn't help but scream "This is the best day ever!"

We stopped at an area where there were these plants that people of the valley had once used to make soap. We tried it and it was so cool! All you have to do is break the plant into little pieces to release the oils, mix with water and rub your hand together really fast and it turns into soap! All natural too.

After, we stopped at a place where there was basically a wall of sand on the side of one of the rocks. And we got to climb it! Except it was a challlllenge. But worth it to get to the top and over look the valley. Getting down was the best part though because the sand absorbs all your movement so you can jump into it and not slide anywhere or leap down as I did and not slip or fall or anything.

Closer to sunset, we stopped on the top of another hill where we took pictures and had fun in the sand.

And now it was time for the sunset. We drove really fast one last time over bumps and hills. We passed a huge caravan of camels on our way which was truly a sight to see. And we stopped at this huge rock that we would climb to get to the top to see the sunset. It was an easy climb. It basically had ramps that we could walk up built into the stone. And we got to the top and were rewarded with a beautiful sunset. The wind was fierce as we sat there and enjoyed looking out at nature and the sun, enjoying each other's company.

We climbed down and made our way back to the camp for dinner. We ate a traditional dinner in which the food is cooked in pots that are buried in the sand. It was really good! There was even a pasta salad to cater to the tourists. We sat around, played with some kittens and talked and then I was pulled aside by my professor who earlier asked me to take part in a mock Bedouin wedding. So I agreed to and I donned a traditional dress and a hijab and was "presented"with Chris, another boy in my program to all the visitors in the camp. My professor, Waed, even took the liberty to apply  bright red lipstick to me, quite generously. We danced and had a good time and it was a very interesting experience being fully covered. I had never been prior to the moment. It was a learning experience to feel even for a short period of time what it is like to walk in a long dress and have your face covered (this only happened for moment or two because it kept falling into my face. For a majority of the time my face was kept visible).

As we left the camp, my professor asked our bus driver to pull over in a dark area so we may look at the stars. And it was a magical experience. I have never seen so many stars in my life. I felt so small standing the dessert with the entire universe above me. It was so clear that night that we could even see the Milky Way, which resembles a light cloud in the sky. It was almost a spiritual experience. It was nearly overwhelming to be able to see so much of the universe. I even saw a shooting star! I could have stayed there forever just looking up at the stars and constellations and the moon.

Being in Jordan has made me realize how small each of us really is and how much more there is to life than just what is happening around you.

It was a remarkable day. 

First Time in Paradise

On Thursday morning we set off for a 3-day weekend to three different spots in southern Jordan: Aqaba, Wadi Rum, and Petra. Aqaba is a gulf in the Red Sea and it is so beautiful. The weather is always warm and sunny - every single day because it rarely rains here - and you are surrounded by crystal clear water on one side, desert on another, and then mountains frame the entire area. It is truly paradise.

It was a 7 hour journey from the north to the south with a stop for breakfast at a place called Hashem's. We had gone there once before on our trip to Amman and we decided to go again. They have the best falafel that I've had here so far and the best hummus. And their tea is also one of the best. Here in Jordan the only tea people drink is black but unlike in America, they only drink tea made from the top part of the leaf. Its the Lipton Yellow label in America. Anyway, so it is stronger and just tastes so much better. And they put a LOT of sugar in their tea here but its so good! I don't know if i'll be able to return to drinking tea like I used to with milk.

So we hit the road from Irbid finally around 10 am and we were on our way. You could feel the excitement on the bus. Everybody was very ready to relax for a few days and treat ourselves however we saw fit. Our wallets were full and our minds were turned off from school work.

We stopped in Amman for a bathroom break and that is when I had another first here - I had to pee in a hole in the ground. I have been waiting for the moment when I would have to do it. It was a struggle, but I figured it out and got the job done. Everything is an experience, is what I tell myself.

After a very long drive coupled with an inability to sleep on a bus, I arrived to the Intercontinental hotel where we stayed a very happy girl. I was finally here. We walk into the hotel and it is lovely. I have never been in something so nice! Our professors had told us they put us in 5-star hotels before we even arrived in Jordan because we deserve it and I was so glad they did. There were several pools all connected to each other, a swim up bar, a spa, a private beach, so many things! Our room had a spectacular view as well.

We wasted no time and went right up to our rooms to change into bathing suits and hit the pool and the beach. When you have less than 24 hours in paradise, you need to take advantage of every second. So we spent the afternoon hanging out in the sun, just relaxing. The Red Sea is so gorgeous and so clear.

It was also a time where we could reflect because it was such a peaceful atmosphere. I realized that I was in the same body of water that Moses parted in the Bible. It has religious significance and thousands of years later I can be in the same places mentioned in the Bible. 

Later in the evening we all went out to dinner at the yacht club. Zac, who had come on this trip last year as well, knew of the place because he went there last year and so we decided to go again. And it was so worth it. I ordered a pepper steak and it was one of the best pieces of steak I ever had. It was so tender and so tasty. And finally, even though it was only one slice, I had a potato. Of all things I miss form home, it is potatoes. Jordanians just don't eat them as regularly as I would like I guess. We also purchased 2 bottles of wine for the 9 of us and I felt very classy. And it was just so much fun. I love hanging out with this group of students. We all get along so well and enjoy each other's company. 
We walked back to the hotel because it was a short walk and it the weather was beautiful. I hung out with 3 other girls and we ordered room service. Two ordered grilled cheese, however, the hotel took it literally and grilled a few slices of cheese. It wasn't good from what I gathered... Next time, we know to clarify. 
And so we slept and woke up early the next day, running on only a few hours of sleep. But we needed to make the most of Aqaba. We went to the buffet breakfast and it was phenomenal. After, we went back to soak up some more sun before we had to leave. A few of us went to the dock to sit further out into the sea. And bouncing up and down just watching jet skis and boats pass by was just what I wanted. I wish I was on one of the boats, but I'll take what I can get. And I can't really complain about these 20~ hours. 

On our way out of Aqaba we stopped at a mall which was also known as China Town. I have no idea why. Inside, it was a mix between Christmas Tree Shop, Michaels, and Marshalls. Very interesting place. 

And so, midday, we left with heavy hearts and almost tears in our eyes but also with excitement as we headed for our next adventure in Wadi Rum. 

Monday, June 10, 2013


I cannot lie and say that the situation in Syria is not dangerous. It is. And it has become something of a reality for us students to hear the bombs going off at night. But tonight they have worsened. As one bomb after another went off in the distant, like the sound of distant thunder approaching, we looked at each other and realized with some small ounce of fear that we are very close to this war. We heard the boys rushing up the stairs past our open door to our apartment, heading for the staircase that leads to the rooftop. We followed and for the first time for the past several nights we attempted to look for any sign of the conflict on the horizon. After realizing that Syria lies in a different direction than we thought, we correctly turned our gazes to the North, to the border city of Daraa. Daraa is currently the city being fought over by the opposition and the Syrian government. But with the recent arms being sent over from Russia, the case for the opposition doesn't look hopeful. In fact, some people are saying that the government plans to massacre the entire city. That's upwards of 90,000 people. That is the estimated amount that has been killed in the past two years. And some expect that same number to now double because of this one fight. And a fight it will be. This is the city where the revolution began. It is the city were the protests started when around a dozen children wrote anti-government slogans on a wall and were arrested for it. People protested and some were killed in the streets. It is a symbol for the revolution. And it is very close to Jordan.

Today, we had intended to go to the border crossing once more, but this time to enter it, to be able to go as far as possible without actually crossing the border. We weren't allowed because of the recent battle that has begun. Some of the towns that are near the border have actually been evacuated for the first time, ever. Our professors said they heard that American military men had rolled through the city we are in, Irbid, around 8 pm tonight. Training exercises that have been planned for months began today in Jordan by the US military.

We are very safe where we are. The bombs are farther than I let on. But when we went onto the roof and saw the smoke billowing through the wind, we were startled at how real this is all becoming. Reading about a civil war for 2 years is one thing - seeing it with my own two eyes is another. I know what is happening a few miles north of us. But seeing a small part of the aftermath of bombs being dropped on people's homes with the intent of killing those inside, makes it so much more distressing and yes, terrifying. But it is an experience I wouldn't pass up. I am living through history right now. I am seeing refugees in cities, towns, and camps. I am learning how the borders may be closing soon, trapping those who want to flee inside the country that is killing them. I am seeing the economic burden it has caused on the country, and knowing not enough is being done to help make right this problem. I wish I could do more but I am just a student, a learner. And I am with people who also are so eager to learn. And in the end, what better way to learn than with reality. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Castle, A Colosseum, and the Capital

On Saturday we ventured out on our first weekend excursion. This was a one day trip to Amman, the capital of Jordan, and to Ajloun and Jerash. Ajloun is an ancient castle that was built during the crusades in 1184 and it sits on top of the highest peak in the area, which is not only very hilly but also is surrounded by a valley.

We only spent about 45 minutes there because basically all their is to do is climb through the castle to get to the top where there was an incredible view of the surrounding area. There were mountains on all sides and more mountains behind those mountains. Definitely a good place to keep a lookout for approaching armies all those centuries ago. Inside, there was a small museum with ancient artifacts. They consisted mostly of bowls and jugs but there were a few treasures, including totally intact colored glasses and a cross from the crusades. There were also several mosaics that had survived the years, minus some weathering around the edges. The inside of the castle was slippery due to all the wear the rocks have gotten throughout the years (centuries I should say). And the rocks are not suitable for quick climbing. They are uneven shapes and sizes. I thought humans were tinier back then? People must have slipped or they must have owned better shoes than me.

This was my second encounter with an old castle, my first being Blarney Castle in Ireland, built in the 1400s. But nonetheless, it was very exciting. Castles are great. Especially in the Jordanian heat. Not surprisingly, the castle was very cool inside, the heat trapped by the rocks.

We went to our first gift shop and of course had to buy several things, including fun hats to keep the sun out of our eyes. It made us look more like an American tourist more so than anything else, but it was worth the 3 dinar I paid for it.

After we were done, we hopped back on the bus to drive to our next destination: Jerash. We were on a tight time schedule and despite the hills and small gaps between the cars on either side of the road, our bus flew. Like I've said before: if you can drive in Jordan, you can drive anywhere. You think the bus won't fit? Oh it can. Always. And I haven't seen an accident yet between any two vehicles here. Anyway, so we're driving and the city is so cool. It is like something out of a movie where people are chasing each other in cars of motorcycles or something. Its just alleyways and curving streets leading in different directions and hills and people walking everywhere. And the coolest part was that the houses are built into the hills.

So Jerash is an ancient Greco-Roman city. This was my first encounter with a site from ancient history and I loved everything about it (except the heat of midday, but at least my new sun hat came in handy). And to be honest, it is still in great shape seeing that it was built sometime before 300 B.C. and has lived through several earthquakes. Alexander the Great has walked where I walked. That is crazy.

The ruins are beautiful. There is a huge archway that is preserved and the other large part to the ruins is the amphitheater. It is HUGE. I've never seen something so large. We climbed to the top and we could see everything. People actually climbed this to watch theatre or some other form of entertainment. It was quite a climb if I do say so. But so worth it.

Again, we got back on the bus after a quick rest, some water and some shade. We were making our way to Amman. Amman is unlike the rest of the country. It is very modern and the shops are more westernized and most things for that matter.  We went firstly to the top which is huge and has many stores and restaurants us Americans love dearly like H&M and Chile's and Pinkberry and the best of all, Starbucks. I treated myself to a grande caramel chocolate chip frappacino with a chocolate chip cookie on the side and it was just what I wanted. It was like dessert in a coffee. Everything in the stores was expensive since it was Amman and so we didn't buy anything but we set out to explore the city a bit by bus. They took us past the US Embassy which was very interesting. It is heavily armed with men stationed in jeep-like vehicles pointing there guns to everyone driving by. They even have signs saying you can't take pictures. It was sort of bizarre. But I guess this is a crazy time over here and so they need to be careful? I have no idea. It was a huge building and surrounded by a large gate and fence so I couldn't see much besides plenty of massive satellite dishes on the roof.

After the mall, we changed pace a little and visited a mosque. It is one of the largest in the country and holds an original letter written by the Prophet Muhammed to some important figure in history asking for peace. There was also one of his hairs that was held by tweezers and magnified  but I still had trouble seeing it. And there was also an offspring of the tree he apparently used to sit under. It was fascinating. Whether you believe it or not is one thing but the idea of it is a whole other. What it means to others is fascinating. We were allowed inside the mosque, but we had to cover our hair, which I didn't mind actually. I did it out of respect, no questions asked (I didn't have a choice if I wanted to enter) but it didn't cross my mind to question it.

Being inside the mosque was very beautiful. And most of all it was peaceful. One of the most peaceful places I have experienced so far in life. We were there as the Call to Prayer began as well and something my professor had told me earlier came true: that no matter what you believe or how strongly, the call to prayer resonated through you when you are inside the area from which it is being projected. It was unbelievable  It just fills you with good. And brings you closer to God almost, whatever one you believe in. It was a beautiful moment and I am glad I got to witness it.

After we went to a very famous street called Rainbow Street. it is very Western with all its shops and cafes. It even had a Nestle Toll House store. And when we began to drive away towards the restaurant we would eat dinner at, I was in awe at the sight of the outskirts of Amman where the houses are stacked into the hill, more so than in Ajloun. It was unbelievable! Just house after house, up and down the rolling hills.

For dinner we ate at this lavish restaurant that had fountains and tapestries hanging from the ceiling and was huge! So much larger than restaurants at home. The grilled chicken I got was fantastic as was the salad. It was mostly made up of cucumbers and tomatoes like many of the salads here and is drizzled with lemon it tasted like. Either way, it was just so healthy and fresh, like everything here. And I was craving watermelon, and just like that, they bring it out on huge platters. It is melon season here I've been told and I could not be more excited. Watermelon here is some of the best I've ever had.

This was a great start to our trips. This coming weekend: Aqaba, Petra, and Wadi Rum and I am so very excited.