August 18, 1999
The big highlight of my week is that yesterday I got to help cook something. Normally I’m not allowed in the kitchen, which is really starting to get old — I feel like a guest in a situation where everybody else is overworked, and it makes me unhappy. There is an aunt who lives with us but who never speaks and just seems sort of… simple, in a very Victorian sense, and she seems bound and determined to keep me out of the kitchen, although she’s very polite about it. Eventually we’ll have to see about that. But yesterday she wasn’t home and there were these green things that needed to be hollowed out. I think they were zucchini, but Um Shakur kept saying “okra,” and since I’ve never seen an okra in the wild I just don’t know?
We each had a long sharp tool and the trick is to hollow out the vegetable without piercing the end or making the walls so thin they break. Continue reading
If we were thinking through this chronologically, the next entry would be here: What Enas Told Me, Much Later.
Busy couple of days! Two days ago a small group of us went to visit Mount Nebo, where Moses is supposedly buried. You know because of that thing where he hit the rock instead of speaking to it politely he was banned from ever getting into the Holy Land, but because God is basically a nice guy he decided at the last minute to let Moses see the Holy Land before he died. Well, now I’m not sure if that was a joke or not. You get to Mount Nebo and there’s a plaque thing set up at the edge of the cliff with arrows pointing to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, what have you, all of which are supposedly visible from that point. But you will remember what the horizon of the Judean desert is like. You can see the east coast of the Dead Sea, and that’s about it. Maybe at night? Or maybe if God was in an extra-good mood he made the haze go away. Or maybe it was supposed to be Moses’s last act of faith, believing that there was a lovely land out there in the haze for his people.
Whichever: the last time I saw the Dead Sea I sure didn’t think I’d be looking at it from this side!
So, on to more sober news. Something bad happened yesterday, and it’s kind of complicated to explain. Continue reading
Monday, August 2
I found an internet cafe! In fact, I opened an account, so I can log on each time I’m in Madaba — which will be about one night a week, after this week.
We got our homestay assignments today. I’ve been assigned to a city called Namus, a couple miles south of Madaba. I like the person who will be our language teacher, and I think I like the three other girls who will be with me for training for the next three months. Wow, three months. It didn’t sound like that long when they send us the pre-arrival materials, but this training is the same as a trimester at college! I’m nervous about living with a family of complete strangers for that long. Really, really nervous.
So it turns out there are actually neat things to do in Madaba. You know that famous mosaic of Jerusalem that’s on all the t-shirts in Israel? That’s here! Moses’s tomb too, and we’re going to see that on Friday. Continue reading