Journal in the Holy Land
June, 2002
we will not be updating this page regularly while we are temporarily in the States
Journal Archive
Our Main Page
(Having multimedia problems? Download Windows Media Player for free or see our help page )
The sounds of Zababdeh: 
4:30 AM, Rooster (3 sec.)
4:45 AM, Muslim prayer (40 sec.)
6:00 AM, Church bells (40 sec.)
6:30 AM, sheep
7:30 AM, National Anthem (40 sec.)
17 hrs./day, Generator (5 sec.)
Night-time, shooting (5 sec.)

Saturday, 6/1/02:  Our last full day away from "home."  We headed first to the Street called Straight, entering the church built on the site believed to have been the home of Ananias, the early disciple who helped Paul in his conversion (Acts ).  We paused to reflect on the place and its meaning in church history, particularly for those of us from Western traditions - it was Paul's missionary efforts which brought the gospel westward.  We sang "Amazing Grace" together before moving on to the nearby St. Paul's gate, from which his companions lowered him in a basket past those waiting to seize him (Acts ).  Our last stop was the Ummayad Mosque in the middle of the Old City, a place which had once been a temple to Jupiter before it was turned into the Cathedral of John the Baptist.  Outside are large, dramatic mosaics of natural scenes and geometric patterns.  As we entered, the women in our group were provided with brown cloaks, a large group of Friar Tucks - a bit unpleasant in the heat.  Once out of the sunshine and inside, we could see the old architecture of the cross-shaped church still evident, altered in order to turn it into a mosque.  In the middle sits a green-gilded shrine which is purported to hold the remains of John the Baptist (there are several other churches which have similar claims).  Elizabeth chatted with a group of women from Iran, and then had another chat with women from Iran. The mosque (and Damascus) seem to be a pilgrimage and tourist destination for Iranians. The ladies were tickled to meet a real American - we're something of a rarity in the Middle East these days. We then headed off to shop in the Old City.  Marthame headed off to look for some beautiful pearl inlay lacquer boxes.  While waiting for the shopowner's son to track down a portable argile (the traditional Arab water-pipe, a gift from our group to our leader), Marthame admired some of the old Russian icons for sale while they watched a couple of World Cup matches together.  Meanwhile, Elizabeth headed off with a small group to look for rugs and gold in the Old City's markets. Elizabeth wasn't going to buy another rug, but was more than happy to watch rug proprietors show their wares to other customers. There were some beauties! Then we were off to the gold souq, where the group broke up and she splurged on a necklace and earrings. On the way, she bumped into a few Sisters of Charity (Mother Theresa's order) on Straight Street. She chatted with them, and promised to bring their greetings back to their compatriots in Nablus. Now we have met with Sisters of Charity in Nablus, Baghdad, and Damascus. Where next?  Elizabeth had no luck finding good leather in the souq, but she did find a delightful lacquer box salesman (where she bought Marthame's birthday present: a lovely inlaid backgammon/chess board) and then a delightful (and fluent English-speaking) silversmith. She also chatted with a spice salesman, who sold the familiar (cumin, rose petals, mint, chamomile) and the not so familiar (dried newts). He was full of information about what ailments each item could heal; people here still rely in large part on traditional medicine. She chatted with a man at the sweets shop, and bought a kilo of barezeq, a Damascene sesame specialty, for the teachers in Zababdeh when we return. At most of these stops, she was served tea - she felt like she drank six or seven glasses. Oh yes - and she had a liver sandwich from a little kiosk full of locals, tucked away in a corner of the textiles market. Finally, we gathered back at the hotel for one final meeting, a chance to share in fellowship, Bible study, singing, and prayer, a good way to round out our time together over the last few weeks.  Our fellowship continued as we headed off to an old Ottoman house in the Old City that has been turned into a restaurant - one last moment of table fellowship in the city of Paul. 

Sunday, 6/2/02: Many of our group left late night and early this morning. After breakfast, we left Damascus with five others, taking a van-taxi from the hotel, heading off for the Jordanian border, making our way to the northern city of Irbid.  From there, the rest of our small group headed to either Amman or Jerusalem.  We headed towards the northern bridge to the Galilee, dropped by our bus along the main road.  "Five minutes to the bridge," we were told.  Half of a hot, heavy hour later, we arrived at bemused Jordanian security (we encounter a lot of bemused security in this part of the world), passing on to the Israeli side near the town of Beit Shan (once called Beisan).  We were stopped and our bags searched thoroughly by Israeli security, the first time that has ever happened in our two years here. But the security people were very polite; after determining we had no explosives, they carefully helped repack the kaffiyes and Palestinian and Iraqi flag decals back into our bags.  All in all, from the time we first entered the Jordanian side of the bridge, it took two hours to get across.  We arrived in Nazareth in time to clean up, take a power-nap and head up to the English hospital for their English-language evening service.  Marthame had been invited to preach, sharing with them a few moments of our journey with the churches through Lebanon and Syria.  Considering how many countries we had traversed in one day, we were eager to get to bed early and sleep, sleep, sleep.

Monday, 6/3/02:  We slept, slept, slept before heading off for Zababdeh around noon.  After two taxi rides and about two hours, we arrived back home (theme music courtesy of James Taylor - 5 sec.).  Things are relatively peaceful now -  news is much more about the World Cup than about the situation...

Tuesday, 6/4/02:  School has been proceeding as normal as possible, but with constant Israeli incursions and pull-outs, it is impressive that the students from Jenin have only missed one day of exams.  This morning, the students from Jenin and Qabatiya were late, waiting for an Israeli withdrawal.  It came this morning, and the rest of the students waited for them before heading upstairs to the hall for exams.  We shared some Damascus sweets and Iraqi dates with our fellow teachers who were both glad to see us and jealous of our mobility and ability to travel places they cannot go.  We also shared with them the many, many words of solidarity and comfort to Palestine from the places we visited.  It was stunning that, with the economic and political difficulties facing Lebanese and Syrians, they would continually turn Western minds towards Palestine and Iraq.

Wednesday, 6/5/02:  Today is the anniversary of the 1967 War.  The official Israeli view is that that War was a war of self-defense (as Ariel Sharon's op-ed published in the New York Times said today).  Other voices, including those of the Israeli New Historians (bouyed by declassified remarks of Moishe Dayan), see the War as something Israel prompted with the intention to occupy the West Bank and Gaza.  Whatever the interpretations, the fact is that today marks the 35th anniversary of the Occupation.  Marking this, a member of Islamic Jihad drove a car (loaded with a car bomb) into a public bus at the Megiddo junction, killing a number of soldiers and civilians.  We received word of this through friends who work at the school.  People here are tired of the violence, tired of the coming and going of the Israeli army, tired of being unemployed and poor, tired of having no freedom of movement.  Another suicide bombing, for those folks, does not bring any light at the end of the tunnel.  We couldn't agree more.  We wrapped up exams a bit early in order to get the kids home before the Israelis entered Jenin again in response to today's attack.  Fortunately, there was enough school time for Elizabeth's seventh graders to complete their final exam. We spent most of the day working - grading and trying to catch up with all that has piled up in our absence.  Foremost in our minds is our two months of travel and conversation in the States.  In the evening, we heard the disturbing rumble of military activity in Jenin as planes circled over head.  Isn't it nice to be home again?

Thursday, 6/6/02:  Today is the last day of exams - during this two-week period, the students have an exam a day.  Because of the Israel re-incursion into Jenin, the two busses from there and beyond (and the students and teachers therein) didnít come.  We continued with exams for the rest of the kids - the Jenin students will have to catch up when it opens up again.  News from Ramallah isnít good - the army has destroyed most of Arafatís compound, including the prison and intelligence headquarters, capping it off by bulldozing a burned-out car right up to his doorstep.  The good news is that Jenin opened up again at the end of the day.

Friday, 6/7/02:  The amount of things that need to happen before we leave for Jordan (on our way to the States) on Sunday is a bit overwhelming.  While we try to sort through our Lebanon and Syria pictures, plan our talks for our summer travel, and finish up work at the school, everyone in Zababdeh is eager to hear from us and visit with us.  Balancing these is a trick, and even a Friday (half of our weekend) doesnít give us much chance to rest.  Fortunately, the brutal heat waves outside means that very few people are venturing out until late in the day.  In the evening, Marthame went to a friendís internet cafe to do some web research.  As he wandered home, all eyes were on the skies and the constant flares fluttering off to the West.  The Israeli army had re-entered Jenin and had also gone to the nearby village of Jaba.  The talk in the streets was that they would come to Zababdeh tonight, but fear has a way of multiplying itself beyond reality.

Saturday, 6/8/02:  No army entry into Zababdeh, and still no sign of the Jenin students.  Because of military actions nearby, there are even several tanks parked at the nearby intersection between Misilye and Qabatiya.  One of our teachers from Qabatiya came today, but had to travel through the hills to do so.  We were hoping to visit a student in Qabatiya who is moving back to Romania next week, but tanks parked on the road make our visit unlikely.  Elizabeth spent the school day wrapping things up, completing her students' marks, and cleaning out her storage drawers. Marthame spent most of the morning working on a language lab proposal, something we are hoping to benefit from next year.  There is a great need for more language instruction in the Jenin area, and we're hoping to add a language lab to our school facilities which will benefit our (and hopefully others') English education. It is unbelievably hot, even for June in Palestine, and by noon everyone's brains are cooked in the school - time to head home for quiet and siesta.  In the cooler afternoon, we headed out to fulfill some social requirements and visit friends.  Weather like this helps us understand Arab hospitality a little better - as soon as you enter the home and sit down, you are given something cold to drink (whether you want it or not).  Today, it was quite welcome. We also stopped by to see the Rosary Sisters in their Convent.  We've just learned in the last few days that two of them are being transferred elsewhere - one to Beit Jala, the other to Jifna.  They have both spent eight years in Zababdeh, which is an average term, so it is time for them to go.  Weíll miss them.  Our Latin seminary students are back for the summer and, it seems, for the next year.  The seminary, which is located in Beit Jala, has had numerous problems continuing safe education in the current sitution.  As a result, they have decided to close the school (with the exception of twelfth graders and deacons) at least for a year.  For this place, that's as far in advance as one can plan.  The many wheat fields surrounding the town have turned golden yellow, and people are busy harvesting them. Most of the grain is harvested by machine, and packed in big white sacks, but some is still cut by hand with sickles. Some of these hand-cut wheat ears are kept and even sold as home decoration - a wheat bouquet. Finally, mechanized balers cross the fields, making bales from the remains of the crop. From our window we see rows of green leafy tobacco, squash bordered by tall bright sunflowers, and a few spindly broom plants - patches of green laid out like so many ornaments on the golden fields of wheat.

Sunday, 6/9/02:  We headed off to worship at the Latin Church of Visitation.  Today was the six-month memorial service for the father of one of our students.  Deaths are not only marked by the funeral (usually the day of or after the death), but also by memorial services three days, forty days, six months, and one year after.  Depending on how close the family member is to you, that determines how long you will wear black.  After church, Marthame headed off to Jenin to pick up some digital cassettes, learning that it opened up again this morning.  Sure enough, it was open.  The heat is still unbearable - opening the taxi window only brings hotter air than that which is circulating inside the car.  The scene inside Jenin is much like a people trying to maintain a sense of normalcy.  Every incursion brings some more destruction - sometimes it seems rather arbitrary, like the busted up pedestrian crossing sign.  And every departure means more straightening up.  Who can pay for this is a question we canít answer.  The evening (after an inside respite from the heat) brought us back to the Latin Church for the wedding of two young friends of ours.  Her brother died tragically of cancer less than a year ago - combining that with the current national tragedy, the usual post-wedding party was stripped down to one dance for the bride and groom followed by the feeding of the 5000 (well, perhaps 500 guests).  For some of the family, this is the first time in nearly a year that they havenít worn black.  With the weather we're having, that's merciful.

Monday, 6/10/02:  We headed off for Nablus this morning, as early as possible to beat the heat.  Itís amazing how much faster the commute from Zababdeh can be when you donít try it on a Friday (as Marthame did the last time he went down).  We switched taxis in Tubas, then drove up just past the one-time summer playground of Beidan to the beginning of the destroyed road. This has become a familiar passage for us, the twenty minute walk uphill through ankle-deep dust that finely coats our shoes and pantlegs.  A local engineer shared our walk, talking about his nearly twenty years living, studying, and working in Texas and West Virginia.  Like so many others, he returned to his homeland with the onset of Oslo, believing that finally peace and independence were on the way to Palestine.  Now, he and his wife and kids are stuck here, with little work and little hope. The sun beat down mercilessly as we boarded our final taxi in towards Nablus, which let us off not too far from the Anglican Compound at the edge of the Old City.  We did stop on our short walk to share some delicious knaffe nablusiyye (Nablusís famed cheese sweet) and a lot of icy cold water.  There was another Israeli incursion here last week, accompanied by a curfew of four days.  People find ways to adapt to the constant going and coming of the army. Somehow they still manage to live their lives, but their financial, physical, and emotional resources have worn dangerously thin.  After dropping off our bags with friends at the convent, cleaning off our shoes and having a cool drink, we walked to the British Council Library to return some books and videos and take advantage of their air-conditioning. They will be closing their doors in March, something extremely unfortunate for us.  We're hoping that the school can inherit some of their children's resources to improve our English program. After catching up with friends over lunch, we headed out to visit with the Missionaries of Charity and Abuna Dominic, the eighty-seven year-old Italian priest who was once in Zababdeh.  Itís always a pleasure to visit with him and to walk with him down his memory lane.  As we strolled through his garden, two teachers from the Latin School in Nablus returned to the Latin Convent which they are temporarily calling home.  They live in the nearby village of Huwara, which has the great misfortune of being situated right on the main settler by-pass road to the south of Nablus.  The village has been under curfew since the beginning of the Intifada, almost two years.  Four hours a day, the curfew is lifted so people can go shopping and the like.  The rest of the time, people are forbidden to leave their homes. These two teachers moved to the Latin Convent so that they could still get to the school in Nablus. By chance, Marthame knows one of them - the two of them were roommates at a computer conference in Tel Aviv just days before Ariel Sharon sparked the flames of the current violence.  The conference was meant to bring school children together across the dividing lines through internet projects - those days seem so very distant and hopeful now.  We then headed up to Raffidiya to visit with Abuna Yousef at the Melkite Church of St. John the Baptist.  Raffidiya was once a Christian village in the Nablus district.  Now, it is a mixed neighborhood of sprawling "Greater Nablus." Abuna Yousef's particular concern is for the shrinking, vanishing Christian population in the northern West Bank.  He related the stories of which villages around here were once Christian - and not that long ago.  He has taken it upon himself to take care of the one or two elderly Christians who remain in villages and cities like Sebastya, Nusf Jubeil, and Tulkarem.  He is hoping to build a Christian housing and cultural center on the grounds of the Melkite Convent, but lacks the funding.  For the some six hundred Christians in Nablus, it could potentially be a stabilizing force.  We enjoyed the cool evening before heading back to the Anglican Compound.  The talk on the street is another Israeli incursion - everyone is sure it will happen tonight, and everyone can give their evidence as to why: the police are out on the streets, the army will pull out of Ramallah and come here, the hospitals have all been contacted, etc.  It's never clear how much stock to put in this haki fadi (literally "free talk" - gossip/rumor).  The worry merely compounds itself, as each new report sends people home early, which makes the streets quieter, which send more people home, which...

Tuesday, 6/11/02:  We slept in today, a rare treat for us in our curtain-challenged sun-enters-early Zababdeh apartment with hi-fi-rooster-acoustics.  The weather, while still warm, has cooled off considerably today.  We headed towards the busy center circle, passing through the Old City, which Elizabeth hadn't seen since the April siege. It is amazing to see several-foot thick stone walls destroyed, and to imagine the firepower necessary for that. The worst damage was still not as comprehensive or expansive as in Jenin Camp, but it was still very disturbing. The estimates are that more damage - in terms of both lives and dollar figures - was done here.  From there, we hiked up to the Latin School.  The teachers and administrators were finishing up their marks for the year, so we had a short but very pleasant visit.  The school was once run by St. Joseph sisters, and is still known by that name around the city (though there are no longer any sisters there).  It sits up on a beautiful hill overlooking the hustle and bustle of Nablus.  The school is home to four hundred students, from kindergarten to eighth grade, sixty of whom are Christian - probably the entire Christian population of Nablus for children that age.  We headed back down to the Circle to visit one of Nablus' central tourist attractions, the old soap factories.  This one sits just outside of the Old City and is the only one still in operation in the city - two were destroyed in recent Israeli incursions, and two more have simply stopped production due to the crumbled Palestinian economy.  We are treated to a cool yogurt drink and a tour from the proprietor, whose great-great-grandfather started the business.  For four days, the olive oil (imported from Italy - most local oil is consumed by families, and so there's not enough left to buy for soap production), caustic soda, and water are heated and turned in huge vats.  Then, the resulting "soup" is poured out across a huge floor, leveled off, and cooled for a day.  Then soap workers stamp the firming soap soup with the business insignia, cut it into bars, and stack them into impressive conical piles. The soap will stay piled up for several months to dry and harden.  Then each bar is hand-wrapped in paper (video - 5 sec.) and packed into burlap bags.  The business is largely export - about 85% - to markets in and through Jordan.  In the days of the Israeli Occupation of Nablus, government officials would come to visit the factory when they would tour the city.  The last was Ariel Sharon when he was Minister of Defense.  Strange things happen in this place.  Despite our fierce protestations, we were given ten kilograms of the stuff - a generous (and hefty) gift.  After lunch with friends, we had to turn on the TV - it is World Cup time, and Fr. Hossam, the Anglican priest for Zababdeh and Nablus, is a Germany fan. He even brought his flag to celebrate their every goal against Cameroon.  Early in the evening, we took some time to film an interview with him - we're hoping to show a short film this summer as part of our talk, with each of Zababdeh's priests and pastors speaking a few words.  After a little soccer of our own, we took a cab to Raffidya to meet up with the teachers from Huwara and share some more knaffe. As we headed back to the Anglican compound, word came of a suicide bombing in Herzilya.  The whole city was already nervous about another Israeli incursion - this news wonít make people any more relaxed.  Our friends were despondent about this latest attack - not only for the potential of innocent lives lost, but also for what it might mean in reprisals.  They are desperately trying to leave the country, as are many young people.  We sat out on the porch eating supper and listening to the evening sounds of the city: helicopters, gunfire, the usual.  We hope tonight isn't the night either.

Wednesday, 6/12/02:  Last night wasnít the night.  No army incursion, thankfully.  We caught a taxi and headed back towards Zababdeh, expecting to walk the twenty minutes downhill.  Somehow, in two days enough people have persisted that the road is now - vaguely - driveable.  Unfortunately, we didn't leave from the garage, so our taxi dropped us off at the top of the hill.  We began to walk down, hoping to find a ride at the bottom.  As we walked, a white van with yellow (Israeli) plates drove past.  "Do you want a ride?" one asked is flawless English.  "Sure!" As we got in, one of the young men said, "Hello, pastor," in Arabic.  It wasn't anyone we knew, and even though Marthame's collar is a dead giveaway to Christians, the 98% of Palestinians who are Muslim rarely catch that clue. Then we began to notice the van's decorations - the word "Jesus" written in English on the dashboard, a cross hanging from the rear view mirror, a picture of Mary, a Christian song on the tape deck...The four young men inside were Jerusalemite Palestinian Christians, members of the Christian Missionary Alliance church, headed up to Zababdeh to bring gifts to some of the families of the village.  Many moments in this place would make great short stories - this was one of them. We arrived back in Zababdeh, thankful for our Providential (and air-conditioned!) ride, just in time to take care of some English translation work for various folks in the village.  Given our imminent departure, many are anxious to visit - itíll be a busy few days.

Thursday, 6/13/02:  A busy day.  Michel Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, arrived this morning for one of his several annual visits.  This morning is his most important one - first was worship, a feast day in Zababdeh, Ascension Thursday.  Celebrated forty days after Easter, it marks the day that Christ ascended to heaven (Acts 1).  Since Western churches in Jerusalem are on Western time and West Bank churches are on Eastern time, the Patriarch was free to come up and worship in Zababdeh.  We also celebrated the confirmation of the Latin community's sixth graders - they took part in the leadership of the service, from reading Scripture to singing anthems and hymns.  As the Patriarch completed his homily, the students came up one by one, each accompanied by an adult.  The Patriarch anointed them with oil in the sign of the cross on their foreheads.  As the Mass ended, everyone headed downstairs for the next celebration of the day (we pack them in around here), high school graduation.  For the kids who made it this year, it's quite a testament to their perseverance.  Most of the ones from Jenin missed two months of school.  One of them who lives on the other side of Jenin snuck through the hills every day, hiring special taxis on his own dime, in order to finish up.  Today was every bit a reminder of the hardships, though - the Israeli army is in Tubas today, where they've instituted a curfew.  None of the teachers could come. What a day for a party.  As with most ceremonies here, there were speeches from community leaders in addition to folklore dances and songs from kids.  The students also gave speeches, including a beautiful one in English: a great testament to the school, the teachers, and the community.  As the seniors came forward to receive their diplomas, one of the teachers read a poem she had written for each one based on the meaning of his or her name.  It was well-received with plenty of applause and laughter - we sure wish we could understand more Arabic.  As the party closed, several older women gave the traditional congratulatory ululating.  It was quite moving.  Congratulations, our young friends, congratulations.  We also said a sad farewell to one of our students who is moving back to Romania.  We'll miss him dearly, but there's little to tether young, bright people to this place if they can escape.  We wish there was more cause for hope...

Friday, 6/14/02:  As is becoming customary these days, we are spending an inordinate amount of time getting ready for our departure - not only are we preparing talks and schedules and renovating our webpages (check them out!), we are also doing the mundane work of defrosting the fridge, dust-covering furniture, and giving the toilet a final scrub.  These are exciting times.  In the afternoon, Marthame met Abuna To'mie Daoud at the Greek Orthodox Church for 5:00 prayers.  Twice a day, in the morning and evening, he prays at the church in Zababdeh, usually accompanied by one or two of the congregatoin.  It's a discipline that he keeps faithfully.  After prayers, Marthame filmed him for a video we're hoping to use this summer in our talks.  Now all we have to do is find someone to help us translate it.

Saturday, 6/15/02:  Today students' grades are available, and they came in droves to pick them up.  There were also lines out the door of parents and students to ask about certain (low) marks.  We saw the teachers for the last time before our departure.  The Tubas teachers were there, too, and we were curious to hear about what happened in their town on Thursday.  About 3:00 in the morning, the Israeli army had surrounded the village, primarily coming from the East and North.  There were some armed clashes as a result of this, but not very fierce resistance - a handful of arms was no match for tanks.  At 5:00, the army announced a curfew, then went to houses asking for certain "wanted men."  One teacher had soldiers come to his house, and he reported that the captain was very polite when asking about someone else in the village.  We have talked to many people about their experiences with Israeli soldiers in their homes, and they have widely-varying experiences.   Some of them are horrendous and terrifying (wanton destruction and theft of personal property, forced use as human shields, etc). Others (like our Tubasi teacher friend) report that soldiers were polite and orderly. And occasionally, Palestinians report genuine kindness and compassion from their Israeli occupiers.  Much of the behavior seems to boil down to the attitude of the Captain in charge.  The kind and polite ones give us hope.  In the afternoon, Marthame walked over to the Latin Convent to film Abuna Aktham.  After a week of wrapping up the school, the poor soul is beat.  We hope he gets a chance to rest this summer.  We also got a call later that Fr. Hossam was in Zababdeh for a baptism.  We went over to St. Matthew's, Marthame assisting in the service of - not one, but two - baptisms.  The church was every bit as full as - if not more so than - it would normally be on a Sunday morning, but since everyone is related to everyone else in the village, there's not enough room for everyone to come for a family ceremony.  Marthame was up late finishing up some paperwork when the power went out (as it does every night from 2:00 to 5:00 - to save petrol for the generator).  The town was deadly still - no lights, save from the University, making the stars plain to view; no sounds, save the barking of the dogs and the distinct rumble of an Israeli tank. 

Sunday, 6/16/02:  We made a last round of visits to each of the churches to say our goodbyes and to worship at the Anglican Church before leaving town.  Before we left home, we downloaded some wonderful news - our dear friend Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel (from Kufr Yasif) was elected Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Alf mabrouk (a thousand congratulations)!  We took our roundabout taxi to the two of Jalame, walking along the settler road up to the checkpoint.  We approach checkpoints with a lot of caution these days.  The soldier who stopped us spoke very little English, but was very good at pointing and shouting.  He flipped through our passports, and looked at our cellphone, asking, "you have  in Jenin?"  With his middle finger he then thumped Marthame's throat, on his clergy tab, saying, "What this?"  How fresh!  Finally, he handed us our passports - "take...go."  It takes all kinds.  We caught our second taxi to the Sheikh Hussein bridge, breezing through passport control and customs, catching the Jordanian bus on the other side.  This is the first time we've actually seen the bus moving (unbelievable).  It's cheaper than the taxi we usually have to take to Amman, but we soon discovered why - first it heads north to the city of Irbid before heading south towards Amman, doubling the journey.  Whatever - we have time.  We arrived to visit with our friends in Amman (part of the Zababdeh diaspora), watch the Spain-Ireland penalty shots, eat an overdue lunch, take an (even more) overdue nap, and head out into the gorgeous Amman night for batikh (watermelon) from a roadside stand and hummos from a local restaurant.  It looks like a good night's rest awaits us.

Monday, 6/17/02:  Today we played it very quiet, waking up in time to watch a couple of World Cup games with our hosts before doing a little shopping and the like.  It was nice to see the USA win - first time they've made it this far in the tournament!  We had another reason to celebrate, this being our seventh anniversary.  We went out together to a nice restaurant called Kaan Zamaan (Roughly translates to "It was a long time ago") outside of town to have a nice dinner in the cool desert evening.

Tuesday, 6/18/02:  We're ready (n'sha'allah - God willing).  The bags are packed, our tickets our confirmed, and we have a big fat bowl of ice cream waiting for us in Texas when we arrive!  What more could you want?  We're coming to America (theme music courtesy of Neil Diamond - 3 sec.).

Journal Archive
Our Main Page