First I want to apologize for the tardiness of the update. I tried to give fair warning that these would be irregular, but I honestly meant for them to happen more often. Well to begin let me explain the end. Mark and Scarlett (aka my Dad and sister) left this morning to fly back to the States. Scarlett had a break from School and although none of us are positive as to what Marks job is, he was fortunately able to take the time off. They arrived in early December, giving them a month to explore the Middle East. And explore they did. Mark spent his time with a world renowned artist, who has done shows all over the world and was a professor at the University of Jordan, also meeting the man behind The Arab Open University branch in Jordan. A school which provides flexible in class and online education, allowing women access to higher education throughout the Middle East.
Scarlett spent her time cruising around the city with the Princes and Princesses of the Middle East, literally. She had a friend from home who attends the most prestigious school in Jordan and was able to hang out with kids her age, who also happened to be royalty. I’ve been living here six months and the closest I’ve come to the Royal family is the large self portraits, Scarlett was here a week and she was hi-fiving the Crown Prince of Jordan.
Although Jordan doesnt physically have a lot to offer, the culture and people could keep you busy for hours. We had many an experience that may have been a little unexpected for Scarlett and Mark. From going on a driving tour of the city and dancing a traditional dance in the King Hussein Gardens with a Police man whom we had met a few days before, to being invited over to eat dinner or drink coffee by… the guy that sold us olives, multiple taxi drivers, the coffee guy, the side of the road ceramist, the police office, the soldier and probably more. It is definitely a great part of the culture, but it does take some getting used to. Fortunately we kept busy. When they weren’t out hanging with the high life of Amman, we went to visit Jerash (the largest preserved Roman city outside of Italy), Petra (if you dont know it, you better look it up), the Dead Sea ( we watched Mark find his dream location) and more.
And of course, we cant forget…. Since 40 Years!
A week before Christmas, Dylan (the other brother) showed up in Amman as well. We were trying to figure out what to do for Christmas and when to go to Beirut, so we decided to make two splashes with one stone (I’m not a fan of killing birds). So after giving Dylan a one day breather, we headed out to Beirut.
Beirut was a city we had all grown up hearing about, Mark had lived there as a teenager and had dreamed of going back every since. So of course, it was an emotional experience for all of us, but for him, I think the best way to describe the situation is to imagine letting your kid loose in DisneyLand.
Since 40 years became the trip motto when we found a theatre that had closed right around the time Mark had left, and was reopening. The battered paper sign on the front, facing Hamra street, said “Since 40 Years.” The city had obviously changed, but it will always be Beirut. It was great to go around with him and really see the places where he grew up, to have him lead us through the Campus and show us the buildings he rode on a bike to in order to put out the lights during a brown out to protect against Israeli fighter planes, the sandbox some unfortunate kid was beat up in, the apartment where he lived. The American University Campus was beautiful, but to have him there made us think about how amazing the city must have been, 40 years ago. Beirut is a paradise, beautiful coast and mountains, perfect temperature (we went swimming on Christmas day), amazing architecture and history. Yet as a people we have turned it into just the opposite, it has been a hell for the last 30 years and although its facade is holding up and the city will still wink at you and smile, underneath the base is cracking, and the tension is simmering. It must be sad to have seen a city in its prime and then watch it destroy itself slowly. Beirut is a city among cities, I just hope it will always be around.
After a great trip touring Beirut and its Souks and Corniche and Ferraris and Shawerma and Mana’ouch shops we headed back to Amman. Overall I had a great time, Scarlett saw a new and very different part of the world, learned so much Arabic it was impressive and Mark became nostalgic with the smell of fat dripping down a fire licked shawarma spit and had random words in Arabic like “Grilled Meat” pop into his head… I think the trip was a success.
They headed out today, allowing me to make the last part of the last class of the semester, and prepare for finals tomorrow. It has been interesting. Of course there was lots lots more than what is written here, this is just the overview. Be sure to ask them all about it.
And finally we were able to put videos on Youtube of the trip. So after going to youtube, search Tanous Amman, and all the videos so far from their trip will pop up.
I wish you all the best, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,