I arrived in the Middle East seriously, seriously sleep-deprived, with six nights in a row of less than four hours of sleep: from last Thursday night when I stayed up late playing gambling games with California Indians to Saturday night when I neglected to sleep at all, being too busy packing and talking on the phone with mishkin27 to Tuesday and Wednesday, both nights spent curled up uncomfortably against the wall of a plane. This means that I spent most of the past week in a haze, alternating between a slightly manic social energy, used to get to know the (very cool) other students on my Arabic program as we oriented in DC and began our long trek to Jordan, and an exhausted stupor, leaving me barely able to move or think, plus prone to falling sleep on patches of grass by the river in Frankfurt, place of an agonizing 12-hour layover, where a group of German men entertained themselves by throwing coins at me, a fact I didn’t quite believe until I woke up to find myself surrounded by 28 cents, all in one- and two-Euro coins.
(Okay, people, for real, who does that? Why on earth would a group of grown men decide to throw coins off a bridge onto a sleeping tourist? Not that I'm complaining--I used the money on a lemon gelato in the town square--but still. Weird.)
I left Berkeley less than a week ago but already it seems like forever and a dream in the past. (Days are long, as it turns out, when you don’t sleep.) I was only in DC a day and two nights, which I spent listening to a series of rules for Jordan--no, none of this, and don't even think about that--hanging out with DC friends, like Leon and the SLO, touring the Natural History Museum before it opened ("Don't worry," our program coordinator told a concerned security guard. "They're not civilians."), and generally freaking out the eerie sense of déjà vu in the city of my childhood—I didn't recognize anything, per se, but felt that I knew it anyway.
And now I am in Amman, a city in which I do not experience any deja vu, eerie or not. Instead, I'm wandering around lost, given that, as far as I can tell--and maybe it's just the sleep deprivation talking--every building in the entire city looks the same: white, five stories, square.
But I've had a good few days here nonetheless, touring some of the city's historical sites--a Roman theater, a Roman temple, an Umayyad mosque--getting to know my new neighborhood, and starting Arabic classes again after a three-year break. And I think, now, that this summer could be good, provided that I, at some point, can get some sleep--that is, if every night were not interrupted by a very loud proclamation of ALLAHU AKBAR. I love the call to prayer, I really do--nothing is more beautiful to me than the sound of a city echoing with it from every block--but with jet lag? Not cool. I suppose I should just resign myself, now, to a very sleep-deprived summer. At the very least, I can hope that Jordanians won't throw coins at me.