Friday, May 21, 2010

Pancakes arabi, dirty buses, and Mansaf feast.

In the Middle East, staying up till the early morning hours is very much the fashion. I sit up with my family here till 1 to 2 in the morning. We often eat our third meal of the day at Midnight. Last night, I was really craving some kind of warm breakfast food and Fidaa(my host mum) made pancakes for us all. Apparently, breakfast for dinner is not just a American thing. The flap jacks arabi really hit the spot. The kids liked to put ice cream toppings on their pancakes like chocolate syrup and strawberry sauce. I went traditional and stuck with the genuine synthetic maple syrup. Good choice.

As we were eating, I got a call from Aline ( the new intern from the U). She had made it to Amman and was interested in traveling with the group to the branch in Al Husn. We tried diligently to find a good meeting space that we both could locate. We decided to meet at C town( a mall/ grocery store about 5 minutes away from my house and 10 minutes from the bus station). Luckily, Lavon and Iwere able to find a taxi at 7:55(on the sabbath day granted) in the morning. It must have been written. We met the group and took a fancy Hijazi bus up to the Al Husn.

The small branch of Al Husn was an incredible sight to behold. Mostly Arab members were present. The meeting was held in both English and Arabic. I have never felt the spirit more than when I was listening to the sweet words of Huda (the primary leader in the branch) sacrament talk. Insha allah I will be able to go back up a few more times before I leave Jordan.

The bus ride back to Amman was not as smooth as the ride up. We got on the wrong bus and ended up paying for a tour of the three small roads we drove down. Eventually, the right run-down bus was found. You meet the best people at bus stations. We found a man who was Jordanian but had lived in Louisiana for years. He was peddling local tours of Jordan and gave us stolen pamphlets from the local hotels.
Later, a small Shahud( gypsy....panhandler child) came on the bus to beg. It was disheartening to see the state of this child who didn't even ask for money but instead grunted and moaned and stuck his hand out. No one gave him money( me included) I instantly felt regret. I then saw him outside below my window and i called, "Ya, walad( hey boy)". I handed him a package of chocolate biscuits I had bought for the trip to Irbid. He took it with no problem and ran off. The local men told him to say thank you but the small child refused. The situation in Jordan is hard on many. Unemployment is at 16% and one can see children walking through congested streets begging for piasters. It is difficult to know what to do sometimes in these situations but I am always up for giving food items to the kids. I just hope the kid liked chocolate.

Tonight, I was reminded how fortunate I really am. I have a family at home who loves me....and I have a host family who protects, cares for, and feeds me everyday. I was lucky enough to help Fidaa in the kitchen tonight as she prepared a Jordanian delicacy for us. MANSSAF! Manssaf is a special dish that is prepared for honored guests and on special occasions due to the high cost of the ingredients for the dish. I stirred yogurt sauces, sliced almonds, and watched Fidaa perform culinary magic throughout the cooking process. The meal turned out beautifully. Manssaf has a bold and impressive presentation in the way it is plated. Traditionally, manssaf is communally eaten by hand. I had a friend show me once how to eat "the right way" but I did not get the chance to try out my technique. I ate with a spoon. Joud told me that it is usually the men that eat it with there hands not girls. But maybe i will eat will my hands someday. As we all sat down to eat, I looked around and at the faces of the people around me and I realized how blessed I am to be here in Amman.

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