I can’t believe that it’s already drawing near the end of my first four months in Jordan. Time has really flown; it still seems like yesterday that I was meeting Ahmad at the airport, awkwardly shaking hands with him while carrying what seemed like a dozen bags, and taking my first sleep-stupored bus ride into Amman. These days, Amman seems so familiar to me that it’s almost second nature, and all of the neighbors (who were already used to Philip) don’t even give the tall, skinny white guy a second glance. It’s only on rare occasions, when I’m getting lunch at a small cafe in Ayn Al Basha or other villages and a small child stares at me opened mouthed, or I’m interrogated as to my background by a curious adolescent, that I remember that I haven’t always been here, teaching and working in a busy but comfortable routine.

When last I wrote, it was right after the choir concert and the 4-day long festival of Eid ul-Adha was about to start, marking a long, glorious week of lazing about (primarily), visiting with Haitham in Zarqa, a Christmas party with my coworkers at the Christian school, writing all the old postcards I meant to write before, and trying to catch up with my books. I’ve begun to read the Bible again, for the first time in 8 years, and I have an English translation of the Qur’an as well that I’m attempting to muddle through. Haitham warned me when I got it that even though it’s in English, it’s a literal translation and therefore, most of the metaphors are so flowery that I have no idea what I’m actually reading. I’m only on the 4th chapter so far (barely scratched the surface) but it’s the chapter on the treatment of women and sexuality, so it’s particularly interesting.

Of course, the vacation couldn’t last forever, and for the past few days I’ve been teaching again. Since we got the internet hooked up at the school, it seems like my job has simultaneously gotten easier and harder at the same time. It’s nice to be reconnected to information again, but of course it means that since I’m the IT guy, I have to be in a dozen places at once, trying to put out small fires here and there (usually not literally, hah!) – it’ll be nice when I have the proxy server finished, which should allow me to monitor and lock out file downloading, and inappropriate websites. We’ve gone through 7GB of data downloads in 3 weeks, and the service provider has dropped us to dial-up speed.

Qayssar continues to be extremely helpful to me, both in verbal translation and also now in written work as well. Because the class will need to continue during my two week absence in America, I’m trying to write out as many documents as I can, so Qayssar can take over as teacher in my place and have them to hand out as worksheets. Have you ever wanted to learn about computer RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks)? Of course you have! Now available in either English or Arabic, for your reading pleasure!

I should be able to write one more entry that’s actually interesting before returning to the snowy fields of southern Wisconsin; I’m going south to Aaron’s Tomb with Pat this weekend (or Lot’s Tomb, I can’t remember which one) and of course I’ll have my camera with me. Pat told me we’re going caving, which sounds fun, because last time I went caving back in high school it wasn’t as much fun because all of those American “safety rules” and “warning signs” that kept us from having fun – here in Jordan, they tend to follow a Darwin Awards mindset towards safety and security – “if you die, you probably shouldn’t have done that.” Should be a blast!

In other news…I got some pictures from Lauren from Thanksgiving in Wadi Rum. This one is by far my all-time favorite.

I have photographic evidence that I really did look as silly as I thought I did.

I have photographic evidence that I really did look as silly as I thought.