Wednesday, April 16, 2014

You know it's official when...'ve got the t-shirt.

Gone Green... and other ramblings.

We didn't get nearly enough rain or snow in Amman this winter, yet the hills are covered in waving fields of green even so.  It's a lovely sight and I'm drinking it in as the brown and dust and rocky fields will return in the blink of an eye.

You know what I haven't done in a while?  Movies, books, that sort of thing.  Um.  Hrm.  Perhaps there's a reason for that.  

OK.  I'm 1/3 of the way through Unbroken, 1/2 way through Divergent, and just finished The Night Circus. I've started The Fallen Angel and just picked up a bunch of new books from the Embassy library.  I will never get through them all.  Never ever.

Movies, not much.  Saw the "Divergent" movie in the theater.  All the middle school kids had seen it and grumbled afterwards about how it wasn't right.  Now that I'm reading the book I see their point, the differences between the two, but honestly, the changes have been minor so far and don't impact the story. Picky kids.  Last night we ordered "Frozen" on OSN and had family movie night.  Cute movie.  We'll probably end up buying it.

TV shows.  I mentioned we watched Season 1 of "The Americans."  Good show, not for kids.  Just started Season 1 of "True Detective" and though we've only seen 2 episodes we're liking it.  We plowed through Season 1 of  the U.S. "House of Cards" and love Kevin Spacey (the British version is waiting in the wings).  Season 4 "Game of Thrones" is on now, can we just say Wow to episode 2?  Of course we read the books and knew what was coming, but still. Wow. We watched the first season of the Danish-with-subtitles "The Killing."  We've been spoiled with short seasons ("Broadchurch") and really short seasons ("Sherlock") so some of "The Killing" felt like a slogfest, but it was well-acted and still fun to watch.

Now that you're bored to tears with all that info, here is a picture of a camel in the back of a Toyota.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Gone for a couple days

Long story short, Ian and I left the kids at home for a few days and went to the Eveson Ma'In Hot Springs Resort. The place was mostly deserted (except for the family with screaming kids across the hall from us.... seriously Eveson?  There's 5 people staying at your hotel and you put them on the same floor across from each other?)

Anywho, the hot springs are just over an hour from Abdoun, so we knew if anything went down we'd get home easily. But first, a stop at the marker we pass every time we head the Dead Sea way: Sea Level.  And then you keep on going and going, down and down.

Hang a left when you hit the Dead Sea.  Pass all the resorts.  Hang a left again at the sign for the Panorama and hot springs.  Go up and up and up on a steep and twisty road.  Hang a right at the sign for the Hot Springs, and go down and down on a steep and twisty road.  It may only take an hour and 20 minutes, but it feels a lot longer the first time it's driven.

On arrival, the springs and pool were "not working."  That raises the question of how nature doesn't "work," but they assured us that it would hopefully be working the next day.  The main spring was running, but the springs for the spa were not and the pools were dry.  Nature is fickle that way.  Ian assured me that nature does in fact come in circle form and made out of plastic or metal and naturally brings water from somewhere to where we were, but I have my doubts.  Nature seemed to need a whole lot of help to get, and keep, the springs going.  I'm even wondering why the natural temperature of the spring is 34C but after it tumbles 50 feet through the air and over rocks and into the pool it heats up to 38C.  Ian promises that the perfectly round hole in the side of the pool that spewed really really hot water was also part of nature.

I do know what had nature all over and in it: the hot spring pool, loaded with floating blobs of green globs, and the sides that were overgrown with remarkably squishy white and green and brown... oh, just don't touch the sides, ok?

The first night we ate from the in-house buffet, the second night we took the shuttle to the Panorama restaurant overlooking the Dead Sea.  None of the other 5 families joined us, so we had the shuttle to ourselves, and upon arrival the restaurant was ours as well.  Not a soul aside from the waitstaff.  That can be an uncomfortable situation for both sides.  Thankfully it didn't stay that way the entire meal.

Our room was nice and had a view of one of the waterfalls, with odd balconies off both the bedroom and the bathroom.  We made up our list of what we needed (more than one hand towel, an extra bath towel, the mini fridge stocked even though we don't eat/drink from there, a bottle of water, a second glass, a second coffee saucer, spoons, a DVD player...) and we spent our time mostly lounging and enjoying the quiet.  We did watch and enjoy nearly the entire first season of "The Americans" and we kept in contact with the kids between naps, meals, and episodes.

We enjoyed ourselves quite a bit and did pretty close to nothing.  The kids survived at home.  Win-Win.


Last week we went with a group to wander a bit of downtown.  There was a traditional breakfast at the famous Hashem Restaurant, followed by a walk to the ancient Theater.  I'd like to go back to get some of the neat "antiques" along the way, but fear not, we didn't come back empty-handed.  Our destination was a little shop by the Theater that makes and sells daggers.  Ian couldn't resist.

There are, of course, plenty of shops all around that sell "antiques" and even though I saw multiple copies I bought 2 fish locks for a "very good price," because they are locks in the form of fish, and therefore cool.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Saturday, March 8, 2014

6 Nights in Bangkok...

Thanks to our Post Management and beyond, both Beth and I were able to go to CLO Training in Bangkok a couple weeks back.  It was an adventure, as only Bangkok can be.  I easily kept away from all things "What Happens in Bangkok..." and what did cross our paths won't be mentioned here.  

At the airport. M&Ms sharing Arabic coffee.

Signs of the times.  Flights to Cairo and Kiev... canceled.  Flight to Bangkok... delayed.  Everything else... On Time.  We were only an hour late leaving, but an hour at 1 a.m. makes for a very long hour.

Dinner out.  The ambiance was lacking, but the food was good.

Something you won't see on the streets of Amman.
Among many many many other things.

Spent a lot of time here.

The training was good. We came back with a lot of ideas, some good clarifications on what's expected of us, and several items of note that we "are never ever supposed to do."  Some articles in the FAM and the FAH are intentionally blurry, which is good and bad, so it was nice to have people in the know to bounce questions off.  The folks at training varied so much, from first time CLOs to those who've done this multiple times (!), from people at huge Unaccompanied posts to those who have a total of 15 Americans as their clientele.  Everyone had different concerns.

I guess the biggest news that came out of our time there was the restriction placed on our movements.  Limited time was always an issue, being tired after a long day of sitting in a cold room didn't help, but the protests stationed apparently at the entrance to every market and mall meant we were strongly urged by RSO Bangkok to stick to about a 3 block radius.  The day after we left, the protests shifted MO and moved to a park, which was great for the folks staying an extra few days.

I was glad to come home to our crisp, clean, dry, Jordan air, to my home and my family.  The week was good and I'm glad I went, but I'm a homebody and introvert, so really the best part was returning to the norm of living in the Middle East.