Jordan part 1

I am trying something new this time.  I find uploading pictures through wordpress to be difficult and time consuming.  I have put them all on Flickr and should be able to link the albums to the blog.  I have divided them into 5 sets.  See how it goes…

Work continues to be interesting with new challenges cropping up regularly.  It is really nice to have Ellen here for support.  It continues to be a slow process but the nurses here are keen to learn.  This weekend, Janell from FMC will be arriving.  The west is invading!

On a more positive note, I was able to get away for a few days so I went to Jordan.  I was sick the week before I was leaving and didn’t spend much time planning anything.  Trying out winging it for the first time, let alone in the Middle East caused me a little stress.  It ended up being a great trip.  I arrived late Saturday night.  Lucky for me, May from the Philippines was looking for someone to go to Petra with her the following morning.  So off we went with our driver Jamil.  I slept most of the way there so I missed out on the scenery (flashbacks from my Costa Rica trip!).

Petra was incredible.  The pictures do not reflect how beautiful it is.  We had limited time and kept up a pretty good pace as we headed to the Monastery.  One day isn’t enough time to explore Petra but it was all either of us had.  We were there early in the morning so we beat the tourist rush.  It’s amazing what people wear to explore Petra.  Flip flops and jeans.  There are 800-900 steps up to the Monastery-what are they thinking?  I guess they could always take a donkey up the trail but that’s cheating.  On the way back to Amman we made several stops… castle ruins and Moab mountain.  Jamil treated us so well…we had fresh falafels, Turkish coffee and fresh bread along the way.  I decided to stick with him for the rest of my trip.

The next day I was on my own with Jamil.  He arrived with roses and snacks.  Once again, I didn’t have to worry about anything as took care of it all.  We went to Madaba, the “city of mosaics” first.  It has a 6th century map of Jerusalem and other holy sites.  By this time I was feeling pretty ignorant regarding Christian history.  Here I was visiting several historically significant sites without what I felt was proper background knowledge.  Next, we went to Mount Nebo where it is believed Moses was buried (see pics).  From there we moved on to Bethany, where Jesus was baptized.  It wasn’t what I expected.  The Jordan River is significantly smaller than it once was and over time, it’s path has changed.  The actual site is no longer near the river.  Just on the other side of the river is Israel.  People are still baptized here and we actually were able to witness a portion of one.  It was interesting and strange to stand back and watch.  This man is being baptized, ignoring the flock of tourists literally standing beside him, all the while an armed military guy is pacing back and forth between everyone.

Jordan part 2

From there we went to the Dead Sea.  By this point I was suffering from a killer sunburn from the day before.  I can’t believe I forgot to pack sunscreen.  Especially since I am rather obsessive/compulsive about it back home.  I found some British ladies to follow while I was there and just pretended to be with them (which is hard to do when you don’t want them to notice at the same time).  This was the only point that I wish I had had someone with me.  One of the cool things about the Dead Sea is that you really float on the top of the water.  It has about 10 times the salt content of other seawater.  Bobbing around alone got old pretty fast.  And then there was the whole mud thing.  The claim of Dead Sea mud is that full of nutrients and has various therapeutic benefits.  I had to have the guy selling the mud put in on my back for me since I obviously couldn’t do it myself.  People at work had a bit of a laugh at this but whatever, I will never see the guy again and I am sure he wasn’t too put out by doing this for me.  So in the end I didn’t spend much time at the beach.

On my last day, Jamil picked me up and we headed north to Jarash.  More napping and checking out castle ruins along the way.  Jarash is known for its Roman ruins.  The highlight of this place were all the kids (yes, kids).  Jamil had packed me a lunch but it was too heavy so upon entering the site I found some shade and started to eat so I could carry my bag.  Dozens of school groups were constantly passing by.  They were all boys, not sure why girls can’t go on field trips but that’s another topic.  Many would wander over and ask me where I was from and then carry on.  One particular boy hung out for while.  He noticed my camera and wanted to see it.  I asked if I could take his picture.  In an instant I was swarmed by boys.  It was pretty cute.  Their poor teacher had no control over them.  He eventually rounded them up and chased them down the path.  I decided to wait until they were far away before heading out myself.  About 5 minutes later, the original boy returned.  I started to tell him he was going to get in trouble when he handed me a little blue and silver ring for my finger.  “For you” was all he said then he smiled and ran away.  I bumped into them about an hour later.  I feel bad saying this now but when I saw them, I hid.  I found a rock to sit on and took a break while I waited for them to move on.  Well he found me anyways but this time he had a fresh cup of hot tea for me.  So cute!  I felt like a bag for trying to evade them.  We chatted for a few minutes…his name was Hamish.  He even asked for my email address…so funny!  Long story short, I ran into them once again as they were leaving.  Hamish grabbed my arm and asked his teacher to take a picture of the two of us.  He made my day.

Overall, I found the people in Jordan to be so friendly.  I went to the Citadel early one morning and was the only tourist there for awhile.  I could feel the tourist police watching me as I wandered around.  It kind of annoyed me until one of them came out to the hill I was on and offered me a cup of coffee.  I always tend to be a little cautious when people offer me things and wonder what they really want (money?) but he just chatted with me for a few minutes and walked away.  I missed so many great photo opportunities too…. such as a boy galloping down the paved street on his donkey in front of a fast food restaurant, or the shepherds and their flock waiting on the side of the 3 lane road to cross the road-within the city…camels and their babies on the side of the road.  Amman was a mix of traditional and modern living (see camel riding down highway in back of pickup truck).  I loved it.

Irish party, chalet and flea market

Work:  Not much to report these days.  We are seeing patients 3 days a week.  Our no-show rate is quite high.  You can generally expect a patient to arrive within a 1-2 hour window of their scheduled appointment.  There are so many challenges above and beyond simply teaching the nurses about their role in the clinic.  The entire culture surrounding health care  is so different.  I really hope we can get people to understand they need to show up for their appointments on time and that this isn’t a walk in clinic.  The language barrier makes things even more challenging.  Everything takes twice as long because of the need for an interpreter.  None of this stuff is a surprise though….  I am busy making clinic posters and instruction sheets which are then being translated into Arabic.  This place is full of potential PDSA’s (AIM will haunt me forever).

It is so dusty here

view from Leila's chalet

Staying 'hydrated'

Play:  The weather is mild.  The only bad thing about it is the dust.  The entire sky is a dirty brown colour and it’s just too dusty to go outside.  I went to an Irish Ball last weekend.  Another late night.  I think the last time I was up at 4am was when I was still working in CCU.  I have really lucked out meeting such a great group of people….Canadians, Americans, Irish, British, French, Kuwaiti….We had ‘English Tea’ (said with British accent) last weekend.  I made scones and some almond pastry thing.  I am growing both professionally AND personally!   I never expected to come here and BAKE.  Some things don’t change though, I had to toss the first batch of scones away because of missed ingredients.  I just can’t seem to follow a recipe…. (sound familiar Syd?)  I have a few days off in April.  I am thinking of going to Jordan.  I have pretty much given up on the Africa trip before I go home.  I will likely stay in the Middle East, probably Egypt.

Yeah, I made that

so domestic

Once again, all the pictures are out of order, no idea how to fix it.  Blogging clearly isn’t my thing.  Ellen from the Victoria Heart Failure clinic has arrived.  She is going to be working with me in the clinic.  I am really looking forward to having someone else around.  I can get so caught up in the little details of things…it will be nice to have someone to tell me when it’s time to get on with it.