Summary of a hectic month
So, I've been busy up to HERE. Following is an explanation of some of what I've been up to when I'm not in school.
First Arab wedding:
Haya invited me to her cousin's engagement party and also to her brother's wedding. She helped me buy clothes. I now own gold glitter sandals.
For the engagement party, Haya had said I could dress in my regular clothes. However, while we were getting ready at her house, her mother kept looking at me uncomfortably and asked if I was going to do something with my hair. I wound up wearing one of Haya's sister's dresses, hand made by their mother. She makes amazing traditional wedding clothes which can best be described as 'fairytale princess dresses'.
Haya and I before the engagement party:
At both the engagement party, which is strictly women, and the wedding, which was all women except for the groom, the outfits ran the gamut. Anything from tight jeans with a blouse to the aforementioned fairytale dresses to a boudoir milkmaid outfit and 80s flashdance stuff. Once inside, many of the women who cover, uncover. Some can't be bothered and maintain the hijab. Others don't cover anyway.
At the wedding, the bride and groom came in together, stood and exchanged rings, and then danced together. Following this, the music pumped up and everyone was dancing. It was like a women-only disco for the next coupla hours. I was up there. Can't not dance to the ME beat. It's tough, though. ALL the women can belly dance. All of 'em, 8 to 80. It's just how they dance. And the groom is up there, able to see for the first time since he was too young to care, what women have going on.
At some point, they paused for cake and for the delivery of gold jewelry to the bride from the groom's mother. Toward the end, the women covered and the men came in and did a traditional wedding dance (which I recognized because, for some reason, they have videos of this on tv all the time).
First time driving in an Arab country:
We had a girl, Ida, staying with us at our apartment. She's a couchsurfer (see my links) and she had just been travelling solo through much of Africa (hmmmm....). She's a writer and is working on a documentary, gathering personal truths from people all over the world (utruthproject.org).
I inadvertently convinced her to visit Wadi Rum...my contagious enthusiasm apparently. Of course, she thought it would be great if I went with her and I wasn't difficult to convince. Due to the funky logistics of getting to Rum village, we decided that renting a car would be most efficient.
We went to the rental agency which is in the heart of Amman. Once they showed me the car, we did the usual 'looking over the car for dings' thing. I lost track but I was pretty sure that they were all covered on the little diagram, which already looked like a cross-hatch drawing. Then the guy told me that the first thing we needed to do was fill the tank because it was empty. He kinda described a place up the road where we could go. He also gave Ida, my navigator, directions to the city edge. Threre is apparently no good map of Amman (I've been trying to find one since I got here). Amman is a city of 3 million people built on 12 hills. Unlike San Francisco, where the roads are still generally on a grid, Amman's roads look more like Christmas ribbon. It took us over an hour to get out of the city. To my credit, I didn't hit anyone and really only got honked at two times (which I think is actually below the average). Once out of the city, the desert is a straight shot south.
Next time I'm taking the bus.
First time teaching:
So, I got a job teaching English technical writing. Previously, I've been known to have a strong fear of public speaking (some of you have seen this in action). So, there I was, auditing one of the classes at the language center to see how they do things when the director told me she had a class she needed me to take - in two days. It's a five week course, she said, with classes lasting THREE hours. Unfortunately, this particular course had no cirriculum and no teacher's guide. Two days later I'm up in front of fourteen people trying to muddle my way through, hoping they don't smell blood. I actually had no clue about what I was teaching because we started with formal business letter format. Did you know that if you begin a letter 'Dear Sir', it is to be signed 'Yours Faithfully'? Not only did I not know this. I can't even care. So when someone in the class asked if they could sign 'With Regards', I said that it was up to them. Holy Cow.
By the second class, we'd changed to a two-hour format and I had moved on to email correspondence. Also, we're focusing more on grammar...which I'm pretty good at (for an American). So things have mellowed out. It's even kind of fun. Now it's just a matter of picking a pace that works. Proper pacing - the bane of teachers throughout the world!