Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How many is that again???

I'm settling in and enjoying the city life more and more every day! I spent some time talking with a friend about my language study a couple of days ago. My job for this week is to find a "nurturer." A language nurturer is someone who will spend hours and hours with me every week nurturing me in Arabic. There will be a lot of visual learning and repetition. My nurturer doesn't have to be a language tutor, so I would really like to find someone my age who I will connect with. This means I have to get gutsy and start introducing myself to random people. I met one girl in my apartment today. It was a short conversation because she speaks about as much English as I do Arabic. I was really happy to do it though. My plan is to pursue a friendship with her if I see her again, enshallah (God willing).

Yesterday I went shopping on my own, with the goal of speaking only Arabic. There is a mini supermarket that I can find most things with little difficulty, but there are also fruit carts and bakeries on almost every corner. The fruit carts and bakeries demand more conversation (as well as being cheaper) so I decided to try those out. I found a fruit cart in an Arab market where I had to walk past skinned animals hanging from the celing. The tails were still attached to the animal and everything. Gross! I wound my way through the meat to the fruit in the back and as I began to order, I realized that the smallest number I knew was 1/2. This meant I ordered 1/2 kilo (at least!) of every item. The people helping me where absolutely thrilled to teach Arabic to an American so they pointed out and named every fruit and veggie near them commanding me to repeat. I did, but don't remember a thing they taught me. All said and done, I ended up with 11 tomatos, 13 cucumbers, 8 apples, and 3 mangos. A few too many fruits and veggies for me, but it was fun. If only you lived closer, I would invite you over to eat up some of it!!!

Today, I adventured to the airport to drop friends off and then found my way home as well. My taxi driver didn't know where to go do I directed him...in Arabic!!! Then, I bought a water filter, had a key copied, and bought a pitcher...all in Arabic!!!

What fun this is!!!


Here's the view off the balcony attached to my room. You'll notice the clotheslines. Yep! No dryer here!




Here's the view of the road outside my flat. We're on the 4th floor. It's fun view and I still hear all the horns, car alarms, donkeys, etc.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Another stamp on my passport!

I returned a few days ago from an AMAZING time in Jordan! I made some great new friends and connections and saw some amazing history. I travelled across the Red Sea and even saw wild camels wandering the desert.

I spent a day in Petra, an entire city that was actually carved out of rock 2000 years ago. Pictures are on their way!

Yesterday I moved into my new flat. I'm on my own right now, but my two roommates will be moving in later this week. The apartment is furnished and well... very Arab in style. I have AC in my room (thank goodness since the low is in the 90s and the high is around 110). The rest of the house is quite warm, but enjoyable. Pictures of my new dig (as my Aussie friend would say) are on their way as soon as I get internet.

I am LOVING everyone's emails and will do my best to respond! Blessings all!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Travelling

Holla! Just a heads up: I'm out of town until the 24th, so I won't have internet. I'll catch up with you after that. Blessings!!!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Triumph #1

Today was a triumphant day where I set out on my own with an agenda...and I actually accomplished it...in Arabic! Ha!

I slept in until 11am. This partially due to jet lag and partially due to the fact that the city culture doesn't slow down until between 2 and 3am. A co-worker and I hit up "City Stars" shopping mall to find a few things and then had my favorite meal, called Kushari. It consists of macaroni noodles, spaghetti noodles, lentils, and like 15 other random foods. Then, you pour tomato and lemon sauce over the top and mix it up and eat it. The best part is that it only costs $.50. Holla!

We came home and I took a nap. Once refreshed I decided it was time for me to adventure on my own. I braved the insane traffic and crossed the street on my own, flagged a taxi, and said something along the lines of, "Corba, sharia Baghdad." I'm not really sure what that means, but the driver took me to the right place where I then said, "Henna, quais," meaning here is fine. I handed him some money and then wandered my way into the Votophone store. Yes, it was time for me to get a mobile (the word they use for cell phones here. To pronounce it right, you need to speak in a British accent and make sure it has 3 syllables: mo-bi-al, not to be confused with the Spanish mo-bi-le). I picked out my own, got some sort of plan that confused me even though I had it repeated to me four times. I finally pretended I understood and just signed the dotted line. I found my way home in triumph! Here's a picture of me celebrating my new phone!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Safely Arrived

Just a brief note telling y'all that I arrived safely. The plane rides were easy (isn't it strange that plane rides actually take hours and hours but when you get off it feels like no time has passed at all?). I couldn't make sense of the fact that it was Thursday night when I finally got home. They just waved me through customs and hardly spoke a word to me, and I was also able to find a cart to push my stuff around. Though, I did have problems juding the size of my bags and kept getting caught in small places with other people's baggage as well.

Today I went to HCC (my fellowship) and then spent the afternoon with my Arab family. They fed me loads of food and told me over and over that I "lit up their world" with my arrival. It's so wonderful to be here and have a place to fit. My first silly language move: they were trying to tell me how to say watermelon in Arabic ("balikh"), but I thought they were saying "my name is" so I kept calling one of my brothers balikh and they kept laughing at me until someone explained it. Nevertheless, the name has stuck and I now call him balikh. My Arab father has told me he will teach me all of Arabic and I that I should come over every day and he cannot wait to meet my parents in the spring. He will be their official tour guide. Ha! Then, I came home and took a nap (a nine hour time difference can really take a toll on a person!) and now I'm going to dinner with my co-workers.

I have an apartment all set for me to move into, so I will do that when I get back from my trip next week. I'll be living with two other girls in "Medan Triumph," which is kind of like a burrow of the city I live in. Appartently it has a great night life!

Being here feels like home already. I missed the INSANE traffic with incessant honking, the fresh, fresh fruit, the 5 times daily call to prayer, and the silly jokes everyone makes. The heat came as kind of a suprise. I don't think I'll feel any sort of cool until November, but I can't complain considering how much I dislike the winter.

Thanks for all your thoughts everyone! I'll update soon!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Time to Soar!

This is it! Today at 5:50pm, I wave goodbye to beautiful Colorado for the next two years.

I feel ready. I wasn't ready a week ago, or even a day ago, but I am ready with all my heart today.

For those of you who made it to the going away party last night, THANK YOU so much for your love and your thoughts. I really can't walk this road without you. I love you all.