I don’t have much time tonight for extended writing (as I only have internet access from the house of one of Philip’s friends, Winkie) but I wanted to let everyone know that I’ve arrived safe and sound in Jordan as of about 10:45 this morning. The flight was excellent; once you understand that you’re a six foot tall man who needs to reserve an “exit window” seat on the plane so you can stretch out to your full length, flying is no longer an uncomfortable situation. On my first hop from O’Hare to New York, I sat next to a friendly young Spanish woman who was in America with her parents to visit her sister, a teacher at a University in Ohio. We tested out our knowledge of each other’s respective languages, and the two hour flight well, flew by! Although I very almost missed my flight from New York to Amman (thanks to a half hour wait on the tarmac in O’Hare for no apparent reason) I found my massive 767 plane comfortable, and was fortunate again to have a wonderful conversational partner for the next 13 hours with Ann, an elegant older woman heading to Amman to visit her husband. Ann and I hit it off right away and chatted for hours about our plans in Jordan, our traveling history, and joking about the food and movie selection. She even helped me out when I arrived at the Queen Alia airport, carrying one of my massive bags (against my protests). There was almost a snafu with the Jordanian security when they repeatedly scanned one of my bags and saw the long, black oblong tube that could have looked much more threatening, although once they opened my bags in front of me they discovered it was a spare laptop battery.

I was met at the gate by Ahmad, a young Jordanian clutching a sign with “Zach Heise” printed on it. As we chatted on the 20 minute bus ride from Queen Alia into central Amman, I learned that he had been working with Philip for many years since he was in high school, and that he would be aiding me as my translator. We seemed to hit it off right away, laughing and joking as we sped along the highway past the sand-swept date palms and military checkpoints. They don’t seem to have clearly-delineated lane markings in the roads here, which meant that my heart was in my throat as cars, buses, and people weaved about each other at breakneck speed, each searching for a speed advantage over their fellows.

I met Philip soon after arriving at his house, and spent the next few hours chatting with him and another associate about refugee aid, vocational training, and administrative policies. By this point, I was struggling to keep from nodding off, and after helping Philip put up a few tables in his otherwise-empty home, I finally collapsed into bed in my room and instantly fell asleep.

When I awoke just a few hours ago, I met some of Philip’s friends (colleagues, I think?) down on the first floor, but then he and I took off down the block to have dinner with his British friend Winkie, whose computer she was gracious enough to yet me use. On the way, Philip and I stopped by a vegetable vendor, where he and the vendor conversed in rapid Arabic, chuckling and laughing, glancing at me and singing “I Want To Live in America” from West Side Story. Everyone’s hospitality for a tired young American has been astounding and appreciated, and I hope to be the best intern I can to repay everyone’s kindness!