Saturday, June 21, 2008

No Sleep 'Til Berkeley

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.

7 comments:

KrumperKids said...

I didn't realize you were in Jordan already, so this was a fun double surprise: a new blog and one with funny foreign-land experiences.
This is my attempt to comment and not just lurk.

Bored in Vernal said...

Oh, I feel for you. We just got back to the States and since I CAN NOT sleep sitting up on an airplane I am seriously jet lagged, too.

gar said...

i love your random travel stories; they always make me laugh =) maybe the german guys thought you were homeless and were trying to be generous? hilarious.

Ginsberg said...

So are you a spy? Or maybe a super-thief? Honestly, I don't know anyone who gets around the globe like you do except James Bond, Jason Bourne and Danny Ocean (in Ocean's 12 anyway--underrated and misunderstood, I've decided after my second viewing) and they are all fictional. Send me a postcard if you ever make it to Barcelona.

LNA said...

We “me and family” made a trip to Petra in Jordan in April 2007. it was a piece of art and  fabulous.


We flew from Berlin to Amman- Jordan. We traveled at modern buses with a guide/driver.


Our route was Amman, Jerash, Ajloun , Petra , Dead Sea.


On the way we experienced architectural, archaeological, historical and cultural places: noble mosques, interesting museums, ancient castle, unique ruins, stone paths, the lowest point on earth with mineral salty water at Dead sea. Also we went to see how nomads live in their tents.

 


Before our trip we got a lot of warnings and surprising comments on Jordanians' hostility toward Westerners. Anyhow in every city, town and village we felt ourselves very welcome and every person was polite and hospitable to us.


Our guide was the best possible guide. His knowledge of Jordan, the past and the present is enormous and his driving style is convincing, A trip with him was like a trip with a friend not with a formal guide.

 
From my experience, http://libertytourism.com/Programs.html is one of the best tours at Jordan where all you may need and ask on one place.  
 
Hans Herrman

LNA said...

We “me and family” made a trip to Petra in Jordan in April 2007. it was a piece of art and  fabulous.


We flew from Berlin to Amman- Jordan. We traveled at modern buses with a guide/driver.


Our route was Amman, Jerash, Ajloun , Petra , Dead Sea.


On the way we experienced architectural, archaeological, historical and cultural places: noble mosques, interesting museums, ancient castle, unique ruins, stone paths, the lowest point on earth with mineral salty water at Dead sea. Also we went to see how nomads live in their tents.

 


Before our trip we got a lot of warnings and surprising comments on Jordanians' hostility toward Westerners. Anyhow in every city, town and village we felt ourselves very welcome and every person was polite and hospitable to us.


Our guide was the best possible guide. His knowledge of Jordan, the past and the present is enormous and his driving style is convincing, A trip with him was like a trip with a friend not with a formal guide.

 
From my experience, http://libertytourism.com/Programs.html is one of the best tours at Jordan where all you may need and ask on one place.  
 
Hans Herrman

Petra said...

Krumperkids--

Yay! I love it when people comment!!

BiV:

Glad to know someone feels my pain.

Gar:

I hope I'll have lots of other weird travel stories when I get back. I got hit on by a mounted policeman today--can that count as a weird story?

(In the Middle East, actually, not so much. At least he wasn't offering camels for me.)

Ginsberg--

If I'm a spy or a superthief, my cover is so good that not even I know about it. So I guess that makes my answer "quite possibly."