Friday, February 6, 2009

"We Will Learn You Arabic in One Month"

Of all the possible homestay scenarios I envisioned, ending up with three elderly Palestinian sisters somehow never crossed my mind. At ages 76, 66 and 63, it's like living with three grandmothers. None of them have ever been married, and they moved to Jordan in 1948. They are all very sweet and have a lot of family. In the last two days, I have met 11 of their family members. Only the oldest one speaks good English, and I don't think she's in very good health because she doesn't leave the house or move around much. I also get the impression that she's kind of the head of the household and bosses her sisters around. She's really nice and helpful, though. They have hosted 3 or 4 Americans from my program before.

My first meal with them was "The Best American Pizza" as advertised on the box. Hilarious. They are all excited to teach me Arabic and I'm learning new words by the second. Marina speaks a little bit of English and Margo doesn't speak any whatsoever as far as I can tell, but she enjoys touching my face and hair which I find endearing. They live in a really nice apartment 10-15 minutes from the university, and I have my own enormous room AND bathroom. I also have access to wireless internet if I stand in just the perfect spot in the corner of my bedroom. 

After/during dinner we watched probably 3 or 4 episodes of Arab soap operas. Literally every scene is someone sobbing, and I loved listening to the sisters have heated discussions about the plot. Something tells me this consumes much of their time. The TV is on pretty much constantly, whether someone is watching it or not. They also seem to have at least 3 visitors stop by per day.

Today I walked into the kitchen while they were preparing lunch and asked if they needed help. They laughed at me, and then I realized they were chopping up sheep feet. When it came time to eat it, the texture made me want to gag but i swallowed as much as possible. We also had meat, rice and chickpeas cooked inside sheep stomachs. I ate the meat, rice and chickpeas but passed on the stomachs. They could tell I didn't love it and tried to offer me leftover pizza from last night, but I was able to politely decline. 

Marina and I took a walk today, and she showed me the bus stop where I can get on to go to the university. We also went to the pharmacy and I got to see the neighborhood which is really nice. I love that Amman is such a hilly city because you have a really nice view pretty much anywhere you go. Also, another girl in my program named Marcella lives next door so we can take the bus or a cab to school together. 

-Very few people stared or said anything when I was out with Marina. Americans with future plans of traveling to the Middle East, this is the key to fitting in: following an elderly Arab woman. 
-Despite the presence of sidewalks, most pedestrians choose to walk in the middle of the street. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Just wanted to let you know I'm enjoying reading your blog. It sounds like you're really making the most of your experience - and that you'll have a really unusual one!

    (This is Sarah from the OIE at Miami.)