RandyLeGrant's Travel Journals

RandyLeGrant

 
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  • 68 years old
  • From Oklahoma, United States
  • Currently in Connecticut, United States

Middle East in December

I am the Executive Director at GeoVisions. I'm in Amman, Jordan tonight and will be here through Wednesday. I'm then headed to Damascus and then Beirut to check up on our volunteers and tutors and and visit our projects.

Day 2-Monday in Amman

Jordan Amman, Jordan  |  Dec 13, 2010
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 Although I had a 17 hour work-day, I managed to jot down a few touristy types of things. If you're in Amman, here are 10 tips that you may find interesting or helpful: 

1.  Like Beijing (China) Amman is made up of circles or "rings" and it will be easier for people to find you or for you to find a site it you know which circle you're in or going to.

2.  Jordanians are the most awesome people on earth.  Friendly.  Hospitable.  Warm.  Westerners take note:  laugh more and kiss everyone you see 4 times.

3.  Spend time in the "old city."  OK...make sure you do it during the day or if at night stay in a group.  Stop and smell the food.  Drink the coffee or tea.  Walk by a Roman Ruin at night and stare at it for a while.

4.  The old "Roman" part of Amman was named Philadelphia and is still referred to as that area today.

5.  If you are approached by a beggar who happens to be a child and his lips are quivering and it's cold outside, give him a Dinar or 2.  If he could be anywhere else on earth, he would.  Just do it and move on.  And don't forget there are needs that must be met everywhere you travel.

6.  If you meet a woman in traditional dress, don't try to shake hands and those 4 kisses I mentioned above?  Forget it.  Smile and dip your head and say hello.  And when she refuses to shake hands get over yourself.  You are about to embark on an incredible learning experience.

7.  In Central and West Amman forget busses.  Taxis are all you're going to get.

8.  Shazam the music you hear in restaurants, coffee shops and shop shops.  Wow!

9.  Enjoy hot tea with mint.  Take 30 minutes to consume a glass or cup and spend that time looking all around you.

10.  The country is run by a King and a Queen.  Not tokens.  The real deal.  So you're actually not in a country.  You're in a Kingdom.

I might also add number 11, a bonus, and mention that it snows in the Middle East.  I landed in a sand storm, I was rained on from the airport to Amman (the rain was totally sand) and then today it snowed and all afternoon it rained.

Today was a working day, so I'm afraid I don't have a lot of "tourist" adventures to share.  But if you ever wondered how programs are born at GeoVisions, this is a good journal entry to read.  If you're after all the tourist bits, tomorrow's entry will be much better and since I have a free day Wednesday...that's the jack-pot day.

When I'm doing programming, I put in 14-18 hour days.  Today began officially at 8:00 a.m. with a hotel pickup and ended at 12:30 a.m. with my return to the hotel to write this entry.  100% of the time was spent working.  Welcome to a 16 1/2 hour day.  But who's complaining?  I'm in Amman, Jordan.  Not a bad office...even in the rain, the blowing sand and the snow.

Think working on a schools project near the Red Sea.  Or the Dead Sea.  Even Petra.  Queen Rania of Jordan has, as one of her favorite projects, Madrasati (My School).  Approximately 15% of the 3,257 public schools in Jordan are considered badly inhabited. Volunteering with GeoVisions means you can help build and create healthy environments for Jordanian school children.  You can tutor students or, if you have teaching experience you can tutor teachers and help them with their English assignments and worksheets.  You can beautify school grounds by painting, planting and clearing.

Next meeting was incredibly exciting.  The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature needs Conversation Partners, but for some very unique and interesting projects.  We are going to be looking for Conversation Partners to work with The House of Calligraphy, and with mappers and trail guides.  Candidates with PowerPoint skills are preferred.  Warning:  The projects are in very remote areas.

Then it was off to the Theodor Schneller School, which is actually an orphanage.  150 orphans and about 150 regular day students are at this school.  The orphans are split into "homes" and there are 15 homes on campus.  We will be looking for volunteers to plant trees, shrubs and flowers as well as paint room and work on the grounds.  We are also going to need Conversation Partners for the classrooms.

This was my day.  It ended at Ghazi Musharbash's home, a Senator in the Jordanian Parliament.  Dr. Musharbash is the General Manager of the orphanage and we did a lot of planning at his home in Amman.  17 hours.  Time to upload a few photos and go to bed to start all over again tomorrow.

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