Let’s try doing this chronologically.

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. Don’t worry, the guys from the hotel are very nice and older Volunteers have assured us they’re safe, and they’re going to drive us.

In other news, I plugged in that battery eliminator thing and it blew up. Big bang and smelly smoke. Oops? When Dad comes, can he bring me another one? Or two years’ worth of batteries?

So, about the homestay. My family involves nine children. NINE CHILDREN. They range in age from 2 to 20, and I’ve never even heard of most of their names. I don’t think I could remember eleven names if they were names I knew, but I guess I’ll get to know all of them eventually.

I don’t know what to tell you about your question about harassment. Yes. And no. It’s weird: guys whistle and catcall and everything and are rude. It’s not like Egypt with the tourist-desperate vendors, but it’s bad. But when you encounter someone one-on-one, like a shopkeeper in a store, or if you defer to an older person getting onto the bus, they fall over themselves to be nice to you. I think we confuse them because they see us every day and we’re more modestly dressed than the tourists, but we still don’t belong here. And wow, the tourists: today I saw a tanned, long-legged woman wearing a man’s ceremonial kafiyeh and short shorts.

Yesterday we learned to count to ten and some family vocabulary. You guys know I speak almost zero Hebrew, so I’m guessing that Arabic and Hebrew must be basically the same language, because even with my zero knowledge I’m finding cognates all over the place. The alphabet is the same too. I feel very successful in that I can distinguish individual letters among all the squiggles now!

The other big excitement is that I did laundry today and hung it up to dry and it was totally dry 60 minutes later. Same deal with my hair when I wash it. Unfortunately, same deal with my eyeballs.

Well, I should go, there’s only so much second-hand smoke I can inhale in one afternoon. Oh wait, it doesn’t matter where I go, there’s going to be second-hand smoke. I suppose I’ll get used to it eventually?

Love, me

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