Just wanted to post a quick update. Finals week just ended so I am now one day away from vacation! The break will consist of 4 days in Beirut, Lebanon followed by 5 days in Istanbul, Turkey. Very excited for this trip, more so for Istanbul since I have been to Beirut once before.
To give an update on volleyball- I have been practicing with the team regularly now. Practice is 4 to 5 times a week, for a couple of hours. The coach, as it turns out, was once the coach for the Men’s and Women’s Jordanian National Team! He is a really nice guy, funny too. This past weekend the team went on a trip out to a scheduled away game in Madaba. However, when we showed up, the other team informed us that they had to cancel due to conflict in schedule. So we decided to head over to Mkhawer Caste for a brief picnic (check out an earlier post about that, it marked the second time I’ve been there), followed by a trip to the Mayn Hot Springs. Located by the Dead Sea, the spring was actually a waterfall which fell into a small pool area. Alright, I thought to myself, this looks like a pretty solid place. I knew it was a “hot spring” but what I did not expect was that the waterfall itself was hot water. It was a glorious feeling standing underneath, imagine a nice hot shower but then multiply the water pressure by about 10. Right next to it was a cold waterfall, so you could easily trade off temperatures. Also, behind the waterfall was a small cave that essentially became a sauna. Running through the middle was a small trickle of a creek, which I was warned not to step in. I did the toe-test for temperature, which was a mistake because the water was probably not less than 5 degrees from boiling point. Some people were washing from it (the water contains healthy minerals and such, good for the skin) but it was too hot for me to tolerate.
We finished up by traveling to a hilltop over the Dead Sea, where we watched one of the most incredible sunsets I have ever seen. It set over the Dead Sea, and as the sun was gone and the moon came up you could see the city lights of Jerusalem in the distance. The red colors were incredible, and the team insisted that I take pictures (many, many pictures) of everyone with the sunset so I finished the day with over 200 on my camera. We cooked out at the spot, mostly دجاج و لحم (chicken and beef) with pita. It got a lot colder than I expected, and I was underdressed, so the last hour or so wasn’t as enjoyable.
Life here is starting to feel more normal. Its also getting a bit colder than I expected, and I don’t have all the warm clothes that I wish I had, especially around the house at night since they only use space heaters, no baseboard or central heat or anything. I haven’t dreamed it Arabic yet (thats a big turning point) but I have been trying to speak Ammiyya (colloquial Arabic) wherever I can. Its amazing how fast the semester is going. I am hoping to do some traveling in Europe between semesters, since much of the Middle East is not great/safe for traveling right now. The plan is Greece/Greek Islands with my family, followed by Italy or Germany, or maybe both. Expect a big update from the vacation soon!