Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Pictures!

Hey everyone! Here's some pictures of our Thanksgiving and of the Eid (Holiday) that the Muslims celebrate here - they were only a day apart this year!

Also, just an update on the hot water, we got HOT water on Friday. I actually forgot how nice hot water was. I had just been trying to not complain about lukewarm, but as the temperature of our house drops from the 80s of the summer to the 50s of the winter (62 in my room as I type), lukewarm, just doesn't quite cut it anymore. And I was a little timid about pushing to get it fixed, wondering well maybe this is just common here, but when our landlord's assistant says he has good skin cause he showers with 80 Celsius water! and we were just trying to get 40 degree Celsius water, I no longer felt like we were asking for something unreasonable!

We never had good water pressure, but somehow in the process to get hot water, we lost our water pressure. Now, it goes in and out and sometimes, if you turn the shower head upside down, no water shoots up, it only trickles down! But we all agree that we would rather have hot water than water pressure. Hopefully in the next week they will get it fixed, although if we understand correctly, the only solution is a motor installed in my room, that has a loud voice, that will wake me up if someone uses it. But I am heavy sleeper, and it will just be something that if it is really loud, we won't use late at night.

Anyways, just wanted to give you an update on that. Enjoy the pictures!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Villages and Minutes = nefsa she!

So today, I ran into our repairman on the street walking home with several bags of groceries. I have been meaning to call him, so this was a great opportunity to tell him that our hot water heater is still not working. When I told him, he acted shocked. How could it be broken, when he “fixed” it just a couple of weeks ago? (It was never “fixed!”) Usually before I have a conversation like this in Arabic, I have time to prep myself, and bring to mind all the vocabulary that I may have to use. I told the repairman that (after leaving the hot water heater on all night*) we only have only 3 minutes of hot water, and then it gets cold (ice cold) for 2 minutes, and then is warm again. Well, that is what I meant to say, but I said something like. “There is no hot water, maybe have hot water 3 VILLAGES, and then cold water for 2 VILLAGES” Yes, I am not positive, but pretty sure as I was walking away that I used the word for villages instead of minutes!

He was surprised that it was still not working and said he will come on Monday to look at it. So inshallah (Lord-willing) he will actually show up Monday to fix it, although this will be at least the 4th time someone has looked at it or tried to fix it in the 7 months we have lived here. Is it wrong that I want to really break it so that we can just get a new one?

Actually, I have kinda worked out a system with our water heater. I shower as quickly as possible before it turns cold, and then when that happens, I turn the water from the shower to the faucet, and shiver in the shower for 2 minutes before tuning the shower back on and thawing myself out again. Inshallah (Lord-willing) though, this can be fixed before this winter, when it gets really cold!

*Here you only turn on your hot water heater when you want hot water, it is not on all the time like in America. Some water heaters only have to heat for 30 minutes to have enough to shower with, while others you leave on a few hours or all night.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Food for Thought

The Dr. Pepper ship arrived! After about 3 months of not having Dr. Pepper, I had my first one tonight. I must say, after being Dr. Pepper-less, getting this one is so sweet….it makes me think of cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper’s from Sonic! It is glorious. Anyways, it seems that a fresh shipment of things for American holidays came in. I have seen cranberries out…Ocean Spray cranberries!

Also, while we are talking about food. I made some homemade salsa/picco de galo, whatever you want to call it fresh goodness. It was really simple and easy, and I made it up so I made it to my taste. I took a can of rotel, plus 6 tomatoes, a red pepper, a green pepper, a purple onion, a can of corn, a can of kidney beans (can’t get canned black beans here), a little garlic, and a dash of red crushed pepper. It made a lot of salsa, but it was pretty darn good, if I can say so myself! Oh, tomorrow I am going to add the juice of a lime! This is fun!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

All in a Day OFF of work

I am realizing that I am no longer a kid who gets to have lazy days of doing nothing. Today (Tuesday) was my day off for the week, because I will be working Saturday. We will have training for the young professionals club Saturday. So I slept in this morning till 9, which was intentional. I stayed up working last night till 1, knowing that the power would be off from 6-9AM, and it is always easier to just sleep through that power outage if you can. I have mastered showering in the dark, but it is still kinda scary what I will look like in public when I put on my makeup without any light.

After a breakfast of a yogurt and a granola bar, I headed to the gym. Where I cranked out 6.2 km on the elliptical while watching the Sea, and listening to my Arabic monologue recording for class the next day.

Next, I went to the grocery store. It was one of those days when you only need a couple things, so you decide to plan ahead and gather extra supplies that are harder to carry when you have many groceries, i.e. laundry detergent and softener. I really only went for some yogurt, red kidney beans and face wash. However I left with 6 six sacks and $70 less in my wallet. (The face wash did me in, hygiene products are expensive here-and I was just buying Neutrogena!)

I walked all my groceries home and my fingers went numb with only about 3 blocks left, but I made it home with everything anyway. I made some homemade guacamole with chopped tomatoes, onions, a garlic clove, and lime juice; and burrito meat with sautéed onions and beans. I tend to cook a lot of one thing one day and then eat on it for 5 days, so this is enough to make one Mexican meal a day for the next several days.

After cleaning up and doing a load of laundry, I was pretty exhausted, from all this work on my day off. I needed to practice my Arabic monologue and work on my MBA class, but lacked the motivation, so instead I rested on the couch for a little while with the help of the TV remote. I chatted with my college roommate on skype, and watched Tim Allen on Home Improvement.

When I finally was motivated to work on my MBA class, I realized that for my next assignment I had to research forklifts, and suggest 3 forklifts for the imaginary company I work for on the MBA program. And I can’t make these up, so I had to actually research forklifts on the internet. I was definitely spoiled with wireless internet in the States. Here it is sooo slow. Youtube videos can take 20 minutes to download, no joke. So researching forklifts was very discouraging use of my very slow internet. So I watched more pointless TV (a very old season of “Beauty and the Geek”) while I researched forklifts.

And now it is 9PM and I am writing this while waiting on the next video in my MBA class to load (which will be another 12 minutes according to the status bar, and has timed out at least 6 times.)

I guess I am just entering the real world. And realizing that in the real world, we don’t get to stay in pj’s all day and watch movies and eat moma’s leftovers. Oh, those were the days! (Although I probably did less of that than I am imagining)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

They look good even in the Rain!

Forgive me for not posting. I go through dry spells of not being able to come up with anything that I think would interest you.

On Friday it became Fall here. Overnight it went from warm and sunny to cold and rainy! It has not stopped raining since! It is nice to finally be able to join the rest of you wearing your sweaters and scarves.

In October, I started taking Arabic at a local university. And unlike university in Oklahoma these people dress nice everyday for class. It is like a fashion show everyday on the way to class. I can't get by with a tshirt and jeans like at OBU. Since I am taking Arabic at the university, there are only foreigners in my class. When the rain started on Friday, me and a Swedish girl were talking and she commented that the girls here dress nice even when it is raining. She was shocked that they even had cute rain clothes! It is true! The tall leather boots with skinny jeans tucked into them have returned. Us foreign girls can't get a break even on a rainy day, when you would rather go out in a comfy hoodie!

I also visited the dentist this week for the first time here, and it was a good experience. The dentist cleaned my teeth and not a hygienist. And my cleaning was about half the price of the States, only $40. He spoke very good English and was friendly. Not everything is so foreign here.

Well, that was this week, I think. I will do better to keep you updated, on the weeks ahead!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mom and Dad's Visit

Here are some picture's from mom and dad's visit last week:


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Do I tell 20 people that they may have been exposed to H1N1?

I had a great visit with my parents here this last week. They have made it safely home now, Lhamdillia (thanks to God). But dad got sick the last day, and now mom is sick. Earlier in the week, my supervisor got sick, and is still sick and now his wife is too. Then sometime around Wednesday night, my dad and roommate came down with something similar to what my supervisor had come down with. That same night I had 20 people over to my house for "Laura's Mom's American Homecooking Night!" (which was amazing by the way).

So after my roommate was still sick today (Saturday), she went to the doctor; it was confirmed that she has the flu (what kind is uncertain). She is on medicine now, and I have a preventative med to take as well.

So that left me with the dilemma of if I should I tell the 20+ people that were at my house on Wednesday night and if so, how? Or let it go, not wanting to scare them? I called a trusty national friend to ask what is culturally appropriate. And he said, "NO, don't tell them. That will just scare them and if there was sharing of H1N1 (which is not confirmed) they will not all get sick. There is no reason to worry them all."

Who knew when this swine flu first started (and the end of the world was that it could have made it here, and to my family during the 10 days that they were here in whole 2 years I will be here. I never thought I would have to worry about this. And honestly, I am not worried, just surprised about how everything turns out. Thankfully, no one seems to be much sicker than just having the normal flu. Please don't worry, no one is in the hospital or anything.

So as you think about it, remember those who are sick around you and over here: my supervisor, his wife, my parents, my roommate, and inshallah (Lord-willing) none of my friends from Wednesday night, or me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cultural Lessons from the Hospital

Just to clarify, I was helping out a friend who was in the ER. She is doing better now after staying overnight in the hospital and getting her appendix out the next morning.

In the hospital here:
1. You pay cash for any procedure before they will perform the procedure.
Thankfully, my friend knew this and stopped at an ATM and pulled out $2000 on the way to the ER.

2.You can bargain the hospital cashier how much you are willing to pay him!
At first, he told me that a surgery usually costs about $7,000. He was not looking at a computer or a paper, he just looked at the ceiling and then at me and said $7,000. I was shocked and made it apparent that I was not going to pay $7,000. He said that they just needed a deposit, because my friend was being admitted and the decision for surgery would be made the next morning. So he asked for $3,000. I knew I only had $2,000. (I was prepared to use my own money and ATM card if needed) I had already paid $300 for her catscan, so I only had $1,700 to offer him. Thankfully, he took my offer.
Like everyother place here, the cashier had to scan every $50 bill that I gave him. Through this process of scanning 30 $50 bills, we jokingly asked he had found bad bills before, and he said he had found 1 or 2. Well, you probably saw this coming, but the second to last bill I gave him was rejected. He tried many times but it would not go through! Thankfully, I had more bills to exchange for it.

3. After the ER staff were ready to admit her, I had to first pay the cashier, and the cashier is the one who looked for vacancies. Yes, he told me to wait, while he looked in the computer for vacancies! And then he asked which class I wanted. After checking with my friend, we got 1st class. So her room has a couch, a rocking chair, another chair, and a flat-screen tv.

4. My friend has a 3 month old baby. The hospital staff did not want the baby in the ER room. But we could not take the baby away, because she was still feeding her, so had to keep the baby in the ER room. Are there really less germs in the waiting room that the ER rooms?

Just wanted to share with you the cultural lessons I picked up on from the hospital here. I was very surprised to learn this, especially the first 3.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I have eaten more Ramen noodles in the time I have been here than in all my high school and college years combined!

Yes, the national brand of Ramen noodles is soo good here! And still cheap! I am a big fan.

I guess I am trying to make up for not posting for awhile. Ramen is really not the the topic for today, the real title is: Ramadan Moonwatching, and once again involves my language teacher educating me.

Yesterday in class, I asked her if Ramadan had started yet, it is hard to tell when it starts as you will see below. She was surprised that I wanted to know. I wanted to know for many reasons, the least of them being so I would know what was going on in my own neighborhood, and if I could serve her a drink of water or 7up. She explained that had not started yesterday, but probably was starting tomorrow. "What's this probably?" This very scheduled person thought to myself. She continued to explain, what I did know that the Sunnis and Shi'ites celebrate at different times, but it looks like this year they will be pretty close.

So at the end of the lesson, I asked if our next lesson would be the following day. She told me that it would depend on if Ramadan was annouced that night or not. Because if she was fasting, she would need to get into that schedule, and would not be available for class, and we could meet on Monday, which I understood. So that left me wondering, why does it have to be announced? Why is it so vague, and you have to wait on the others to announce when it starts?

I asked some friends, and then a little online digging and discovered:
There is a debate among the Muslim community on just how to calculate the beginning of the month of Ramadan (or indeed any month, but Ramadan takes on special importance). The traditional method, mentioned in the Qur'an and followed by the Prophet Muhammad, is to look to the sky and visibly sight the slight crescent moon (hilal) that marks the beginning of the month. If one sees the hilal at night, the next day is the first day of Ramadan and thus the first day of fasting. At the end of the month, when the community sights the hilal again, the Festival of Fast-Breaking ('Eid al-Fitr) begins.

Questions and debates have arisen around the following questions:

* What if people in one area sight the moon, but those in another area don't? Is it okay for them to start and end the fast on different days?
* Should we follow the moon-sighting in Saudi Arabia (or any other area of the world), or should we in our local community sight it ourselves?
* What if our location is overcast and cloudy, and the moon is not visible to us?
* Why do we even bother looking for the moon, when we can astronomically calculate when the new moon is born, and thus when the crescent should be visible? That eliminates human error, right?

Over the years, various scholars and communities have answered this question in different ways. The prevailing opinion is that one should commit to a local moon-sighting, i.e. begin and end Ramadan based on the sighting of the moon in your local vicinity. Astronomical calculations can help us predict when the moon should be visible, but Muslims still tend to follow the traditional method of looking at the sky themselves and physically "sighting" the moon. Thus, the exact day of the beginning of Ramadan is not generally known until the night before the fast begins, when the moon is actually sighted and confirmed.

My thought along the way, was that I took McWilliams Earth Science class, and we can know exactly when there is a full moon, but however we can't predict if we will be able to see the moon behind clouds or not. I was very surprised to know that the Muslims may use a local moon or the Saudi Moon to decide.

Oh, and it has been announced here:
The highest Sunni authority, announced that the holy fasting month of Ramadan begins on Saturday.
The start of the ninth and holiest month of the Muslim calendar is traditionally determined by the sighting of the new moon, often dividing rival Islamic countries and sects over the exact date.

Because it follows the lunar cycle, Ramadan comes 11 days earlier every year on the Gregorian calendar, bringing the fasting month this year in the summer.

During Ramadan, Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn until dusk as life slips into a lower gear during the day. Activity peaks between "iftar," the breaking of the fast at sunset, and "suhur," the last meal of the day before sunrise.

I hope you found this at least half as interesting as I did!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fairouz continued

so after my language lesson today, I had to update you. My teacher wrote out the English translation for me of one verse of the song.

I thought I would share it with you: (this is how she wrote it)
By the latest days of summer, the young girl slowly, slowly went down to the village place (yard) (village called Mayss El Reem) and the carriage stopped.
We are late. We can do nothing, My lover. We are so late that we can't be on date. I wish if I could see you (with my eyes). The hell with the car, wether it works or not.

Okie, American, English:
On last day of summer, the teenage girl leisurely headed to the Mayss El Reem town square, when her car broke down. Oh no! She is late now, because she can't fix the car. She can't meet her boyfriend for her date! She so wants to see him. To heck with her car!

Also, she is tough! She made a whole lesson out one of the letters I have a hard time saying, the "Ayn." (You use the same muscles in the back of your mouth that you use when you gargle with this letter.) Trying to read the sentences that she wrote is like trying to say "peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers" in a foreign language! But inshallah, after all the repetition I will finally pronounce the letter like an Arab!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I have a new language tutor who is amazing. One of my homework assignments, was to learn a song, by the infamous Fairouz. ( My roomate and I tried to come up with an American equivalent to Fairouz, but failed. She could be the Johnny Cash, Madonna, Sinatra all in one of the Middle East.

My teacher transcribed one of her songs for me, with blanks that I was supposed to fill in. I listened to the song at least a dozen times, and still could not read her writing and figure out where she was singing from. Can you imagine learning a new song in another language? Especially when they hold some words out longer than others!

Well, I finally cheated and got some help from a national speaker who informed me which parts were repeated and were the refrain! Which helped so much!

Next week, I get to do a Demke (dance) song! I like the Demke music because it is the closest to country music here, and the dance is very similar to country line dancing.
If would want to hear the song I learned this week, go to this link. Select the song: "Akher Ayam Al Syfya." And use the controls in the banner at the top of this page. Hope it works.

Oh, and in case you want to know what the song is about. She is sad that the summer is over, and uhh, well that is the most I have for now, something about how they can't drive their car to their favorite spot anymore now.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Confessions of Comfort

So, I have been thinking a lot lately of my comfort zone and all the ways I am being challenged to get out of my comfort zone. And today, walking home I starting thinking of all the things that God has blessed me with inside my comfort zone here. For example, where I was home from…

Around lunchtime, I was craving Hardees, which I don’t remember eating in the States, but here Hardees is really good! There burgers are my favorite, and I really don’t like the beef here, but theirs are good. And at this Hardees, you get to refill your drinks (very rare here) and the fountain drinks taste normal (even rarer here). So I walked to Hardees for lunch, about a 7 minute walk. I wanted it so bad, I even went and ate there all by myself. And after I finished my delicious lunch, I went to a rather large grocery store that is right next to Hardees. For those from NE OK, it is bigger and has more variety than Reasors, but not quite a Walmart. This store is also a favorite, because it has all these little incredible signs that say, “imported for you.” I have found this beloved sign on Dr. Pepper, Sarah Lee Lunch meat, Pillsbury frozen biscuits, and many delicious things! At this store, I picked up some chicken breasts for dinner, some lunchmeat, 2 Dr. Peppers, M&Ms, olive oil, granola bars, and some school supplies. Mom and dad know how much I secretly love school supplies! Yes, it is sad, I really am that much of a nerd! I was upset that last year that I didn’t get to buy school supplies. I got a cute notebook, which I did need, and some printable index cards (what a good idea!), that I can use for work.

I am always careful to not get more than I can carry at this store, which is probably a good money-saving tip, because I will walk home with all my things about 10 minutes. But on the way home, I just was reminded of all the things I have been blessed with in this country that are comfortable, that I did not have to adjust to from what I had grown up with. Even the fact that I can walk home by myself in public for 10 minutes wearing capris and a short sleeved shirt is more comfort than some people in other countries in the Middle East. Other comforts of my country, which I have enjoyed here: most of the people can speak some English, the clothing styles, the beach, the friendly people, flexible work schedule, the cinema, the shopping, the malls, and cable TV.

Well, not to complain, but to give you a better picture of life here for you, I wanted to share with you what I experience here that is outside of my comfort zone. Those with a *, I have adjusted well too, so they feel like normal now to me. My comfort zone has expanded to include those with an *.

• Tanks with Military Police on street corners in my neighborhood*
• Military Checkpoints (I even drove through these in Jordan)*
• Greeting women with 3 kisses*
• Greeting men with 3 kisses (this is rare, but with some people groups it is fine) {no * here}
• Parties, yes, I have been to more parties here with people drinking than in the US
• Swear words (thanks to Hollywood, people here think that we use curse words in our common language, and don’t realize that some of them are even inappropriate)
• Never flushing toilet paper (but hey, we have Western toilets)*
• Walking in front of traffic *
• Drinking chi and coffee when served in a home*
• Being without electricity for 3 hours a day {want to put an *, but still working on not grumbling and complaining about this on some days}
• Expensive phone and internet service
• Taking taxis*
• Hummus, and Arab food!*
• And eating street food, manaeshe and schwarma! * yum
• Walking past mosques, and the call to prayer 5 times a day*
• Seeing women in full black abbayas and men in full length white thobes with scarves (these are foreigners here, while the dress in common in the middle east, it is not common in this country)*
• Walking up and down 10 flights of stairs to my apt, when the power is out*

Well, I hope this was a nice little lesson on how life is different, but yet not completely foreign overseas. Lhumdililla (thanks to God) for comforting me enough so that I can effectively function here, while making me uncomfortable enough to have to learn that I need Him every day. Inshallah, (God willing) this will be an encouragement to you, that you could live or at least visit me here; life in this country on the other side of world is pretty nice!

Monday, July 27, 2009

More pictures

More pics!

Monday, July 20, 2009


So last week, I got to tour the country of Jordan with a college roommate and we had a blast!

Here are the 100+ Jordan pictures: (they don't follow the order below)
(copy and paste the address in your address bar)

Here is the short version of all we did:

Day 1:
We toured old ruins at Jerash and Um Quays. From Um Quays in the North we could see the Sea of Galilee, and the surrounding countries. Had a wonderful dinner with friends at a traditional place. Then I met up with some young professionals for an after dinner party. It was great to reconnect with people that I had met the week before in my country.

Day 2:
My roommate arrives and we head to the DEAD SEA! Our first stop was Mt. Nebo, where Moses saw the Promised Land (Deut. 34) From there we went as close as we could to the spot where Jesus was baptized, without having to hire a bus and hike an hour. Then we explored "Prophet Lut's Cave and Monastery," aka Lot's Cave, where Lot and his daughters lived after Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed. We were that close to where Sodom and Gomorrah used to be! (Gen. 19) Then we watched the sunset at the Dead Sea! The Dead Sea is so salty, that you just float in it. It was a really cool feeling! The mud there is supposed to be great for your skin, so we also enjoyed giving ourselves full body mud masks on the beach!

Day 3:
Off to Aqaba and the Red Sea. We stayed at a hostel less than 5 miles from the Saudi border, and could see Egypt across the Sea. We scuba-ed in the Red Sea; a first for both of us! We explored a sunken aircraft destroyer tank on the bottom of the Sea, surrounded by coral, fish, and a couple of snakes.

Day 4:
PETRA. Here we explored amazing, huge ruins carved into the mountains from on top of camels, and rode donkeys up 800+ steps to a Monastery. Oh, and got invited back to our donkey guides' Bedouin tents for the night, but unfortunately we had to get back to Amman! ;)

It was a great trip, even if we were a little under the weather most of the time!

Monday, July 6, 2009

What a Week!

new pictures: (cut and paste, link below)

Wow! This week was really busy!

Wednesday: The Launch of the new year of the young professionals club with a Gala Dinner at a 5 star hotel! This event was very formal, and we enjoyed a nice 3 course meal! Very important people and ambassadors were in attendance.

Thursday: 5 star resort beach with the young professional club members from other countries.

Friday: I had to do actually work, then met up with the young professionals at The Island Club.

Saturday: July 4th! another trip to the beach, and then American food with American friends, complete with fireworks!

Sunday: Sarah's Birthday with lunch by the Sea!

now, fast forward a few days to this Friday, when I head out to meet up with my college roommate in another country for vacation, and then coming back to show my country off to her!

Enjoy the pictures, DAD!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Teenage Dance Party

Sunday was my friend Jill's daughter, Georgina's 15th birthday. My roommate and I went to celebrate with her family. It was a family party, we were the only ones that weren't family there. Several teenage cousins were there with their mothers. The party quickly became a dance party to Arab music. I really need to do so Arab music research, so I can say who my favorite Arab singers are. (along the lines of music, in EVERY conversation I have had with a national since Friday, they have always ask if I have heard about Micheal Jackson's death)

These girls were really good dancers! I wish I had video of their moves to share! Here the dance consists of shaking your booty alot, and turning your wrists with your arms up in the air. The national dance though is "Demke." Demke is kinda like a grapevine line dance, in that you dance in a line (or circle) and repeat the steps. It has some stomps and kicks in it. It took this white girl a little while, but I think I eventually caught on. The girls were very patient teachers.

After one girl said she liked my ring, I made the mistake of saying I liked her bracelet. Then she tried to give it to me. I knew this trick and knew that if I accepted her bracelet, I should give her my ring. After I refused over 3 times, and put the bracelet back on her wrist after she put it on my wrist, and she still took it off and put it on my wrist again, I put my ring on her hand. I was kinda sad to lose my ring, but it was just from AVON, so was not anything too special, but now I have an imitation diamond bracelet! Mostly I was frustrated, cause I knew this trick (that you never complement jewelery), but yet I feel for it, after she complemented my ring. In addition to good culture practice, the party was good Arabic practice, as well!

At the end of the dance party, we had a layered chocolate cake from a local bakery and orange soda. We all sang Happy Birthday in English and then in Egyptian Arabic, and then they ALL blew out her trick candles. They were all really excited to get to the cake, and pulled the trick candles off the cake before they were done. So they were stomping on the candles on the ground, like they were cigarettes.

Also to celebrate, they had fireworks, which is very common here. These were just really big sparklers. And for some reason they set them off right under the electrical cables. They made the mistake not aiming the sparklers away from themselves, and an 8 year old got a spark on his shirt!

Pictures are coming!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

adding on and checking off life's to-do list

Had a good week, last week doing some training in another city. Enjoyed meeting co-workers from other countries. The highlight was having MEXICAN FOOD at a fancy hotel! It was sooo good!

The lowlight was getting sick! I caught a virus the last day. Let's just say that although vomiting on an airplane was not on my life's to do list, it can now be checked off! gross, huh?! They take swine flu very seriously here, and I was really afraid that they would think I had it, but I just played it off, like it was the take off, or something I had eaten. Anyways, it was only a 50 minute flight, so the humiliation didn't last forever!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cars and Traffic

Everyone talks about cars and traffic overseas. It can get a little annoying, because it seems that traffic and driving is more difficult and crazy in foreign countries. The reason everyone talks about it is because it is true!

Two stories from today:
1) My first fender bender accident in a taxi. We were through an intersection, when another car hit my taxi's rear passenger tail light. I was sitting behind the driver, but of course without a seatbelt on, so I hit the drivers headrest. (please, don't tell safety officer, Rachel, that I was riding in a taxi without a seatbelt! :) ) We were not going very fast. It is rare to go fast here, because there is always traffic!

So, the driver and front seat passenger both get out, waving their arms to tell the other driver what-for, which is the appropriate cultural response. Leaving me in the taxi, wondering if I get out and get a new taxi, or just wait it out. After about 2 minutes of blocking the intersection and lots of cars honking at us, my driver returned and drove to the side of the street. They surveyed our car's damage and the other guy's damage, and then left. There is no exchanging of insurance here. What's done is done.

2) Cats are everywhere here. You know that I do not like cats. But today, I actually had compassion for a cat. A cat ran out into the street towards the car in front of us. And although the car in front of us slammed its brakes, the cat was hit. It was not killed, but scrambled/slithered across the street as fast as it could, on three legs. I did feel really bad for the cat.

At least now, I will have some stories to tell in Arabic class tomorrow. Yesterday we started our unit on cars. I can talk to you in Arabic about changing oil, getting gas, changing tires, and after tomorrow about car accidents!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

When was the last time your cable man said you had gotten a little fatter since the last time he saw you?

Mine was today! except he said it in Arabic, and then when I asked what he said, he struggled for 30 seconds to find a word in English and then resorted to using widening hand motions.

It might have hurt a little, but I know that if anything I have lost weight since the last time I saw him, so my clothes today, just might not be that flattering. But that is okay, cause I am not trying to attract the cable man!

The funny thing is that here, he was not being rude at all. Just making an observable comment. There is nothing wrong with telling people they are ugly or fat. Thankfully, I was able to just laugh this one off from the shock of it all when I got home.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Where to start? Moving is a process in the States, but here it is an event and a half. To save you the details. Here are the highlights.

  • All the furniture had to be taken apart to be moved. We have armoires, because there are no closets here. I am very thankful for our armoires, cause they are really nice and big and hold a lot. Still they must be taken apart and reassembled to travel. Pretty much anything that wouldn’t fit in the elevator had to be taken apart.

  • Very little was damaged in the actual move. Half of our oven was hanging off the back end of the truck, so that was a little scary, but it made it. The most damage was done to my African Violets. My plant was looking really good, the best that it had been since I got it in January. Unfortunately, when I was not looking, the movers stuck my plant in a plastic bag with a lamp! Let’s just say that now, I have an A-symmetrical plant. But at least plants can grow back, right?! My TV could not grow back!

  • Speaking of TVs, for the first time since January, we have a TV with Satellite. Although our cable line runs from the roof of the building through our balcony door. We had to pay $75 for this set up, because we did not want the TV in the dining room where the cable line was. We fit more into the community now, before we were thought of as really odd for not having a TV. And we have about 80 channels in English, Arabic, and French.

  • It took 4 visits from our landlord’s assistant and 6 days to get hot water. Hot water heaters are not left on all the time here, like in the States, you turn the water on, and leave it on for several hours before you shower and then turn off the heater when you are done. For this we have to learn all the switches in our fuse box. Still not sure about hot water in the kitchen, but there is some in the bathroom now! LHUMDILILLA! (Praise God!)

  • Electricity, now that is a blessing, not a right. At the old place we had access to a generator line when the electric was off. We could not use many appliances on generator, but enough to function. We assumed when we were told there was a generator in our building that we would have a similar set up! SILLY AMERICANS! What were we thinking?! Of course, it is not the same! Every part of our city goes without electricity for 3 hours a day. At our new building though, they don’t turn on the generator for the whole period we are without electricity. I am sure there is some reasonable explanation for this, at least that is what I am holding out for. Here is the schedule:

Time without Power

Time with Generator

6 AM – 9 AM

7 AM – 9 AM

9 AM – 12 PM


12 PM – 3 PM

2 PM – 3 PM

3 PM – 6 PM

4 PM – 6 PM

Thankfully so far, we have been able to work around this schedule so that we have not had to walk up 11 flights of stairs to our apartment at a time when there is no electricity. I have only had to walk down 11 flights of stairs 3 times, which is much better!

  • Mysteriously, we had had water appearing in our bathroom floor. We could not figure out where it was coming from, until today. It was coming up from the floor drain! Yes, they clean their floors by squeegee-ing water here, which requires floor drains. We have since poured a product a step above draino, that would never be approved to be sold in America in the drain. The first time we did this though, the water came pouring up out of the drain. I waited 30 minutes, then went back in with a glove and a knife. Can you guess what I found in the drain? No, not hair or gross bathroom things. Rocks, gravel, and a few screws/nails! It is much easier to dig for these things. I can get my whole gloved arm in the drain. But this just felt like I was getting a water sample for earth science class, so I was not grossed out. In fact, I was joyful! For the first time here, we had a problem that I could fix and work to correct, I could not do too much about the water heater except depend on other guy and change my schedule so I could be home 4 times this week for them to come. I will post pictures of the drain finding eventually.

  • There is definitely more of a community feel in this neighbor, except for the school on our street (which has school on Saturdays instead of Fridays, because Friday is the meeting day at the mosques here) and construction across from our building. The vegetable/fruit man across the street from us is very nice. On my third visit there this week (cherries are in season!) he asked where I lived and I pointed and said the name of my building and he responded with, on the 10th floor. He already knew where we lived. Word travels fast here. And it is the community mindset. But he welcomed us and said peace be on my head. He was not creepy at all, just welcoming me to the neighborhood!

I will post pictures of the apartment when we get it ready to be viewed!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fun Videos

Wanted to share some videos to make you laugh, about life here:
She thinks My Camel's Sexy:

Food Here:

Tabbouleh: (finely chopped parsley and tomatoes) All my language teacher can get her girls to eat is tabbouleh and french fries


Hope this makes you laugh!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

In honor of Mom, I am posting more pictures of the Beautiful Boardwalk here at Sunset! We may be across the ocean, but we have the same gorgeous sky!

Love you Mom, and Mema and Grandma Sue, and family!

For the Oklahomans, out there!

Some things that I think all the Oklahomans out there will enjoy! (now that I have the fidget, I can see when you all sign on, and there are so many of you, so this one is for you!)

Missin' Tornadoes and Thunderstorms in Oklahoma Springtime
It doesn't rain here during the Spring and when it looks the least cloudy, the Oklahoman in me comes out and I look for the big thunderstorm or tornado. Who knew I would miss those living here? I guess it is the excitement of the storm or how great it is to sleep through the storm. And I hear that you all in Oklahoma have had a lot of rain and storms recently!

Driving 4-Wheelers in the City
So I have seen a couple of four wheelers in the city over the last couple of weeks, alongside all the mopeds here. It is actually, odd to see full-sized motorcycles, cause I have gotten so used to just seeing the mopeds. But to see 4-Wheelers, which remind me of Oklahoma country on these busy city streets was a shock!

Ready for Memorial Day at Lake Tenkiller
Living this close to the beach, but not going to swim in the Sea yet, has been hard. The public beaches are to be avoided here, because of the kind of guys that hang out there. And the private beaches are expensive. Makes ya miss just going to Lake Tenkiller, or the Illinois River for free. For Memorial Day, go out and enjoy the water and grill a steak out for me!