One More Day

Glimpse of Petra Treasury

Tomorrow at this time, I will be in Jordan. WOOHOO!

Initially my mom wasn’t going to allow me to go to Jordan until I had secured housing. Initially I was going to buy my own darn ticket and go anyway.  But as I put off the housing search and the date drew nearer, I won without a struggle. So tomorrow, I’ll arrive in Jordan completely homeless (!). I’m pretty excited.
But, really, not completely homeless. There are lots of Mormons around and one of them is even going to meet me at the airport. So though I may be arriving homeless, it’s unlikely I’ll be spending my night on the street.
So that’s good.

Jet Lag’s a—well, you know.

The past few days are hazy.

In fact, last night was the first night I didn’t pass out on the couch. I haven’t even been eating dinner I’ve been so tired. The tug of some whacky circadian rhythms have had me out by 7 PM each night, tossing and turning through the wee morning hours, and out of bed by 7 AM.

The heat is stifling. I’ve woken up several times during the night with a sore throat, chapped lips, and a lovely sheen of sweat, especially around my hairline. Ah, long hair in summer.

I can’t remember much, but I’ve been taking lots of pictures. Here’s what I gather I’ve been up to:

Sahara Mall with my Mom to see Up.
We stopped at the food court.
I took pictures of the train at Adventureland.

Malls in the Emirates are not just for shopping. In fact, I think shopping is really just a bonus. Malls are really a big air-conditioned refuge for kids to eat and play.

Hence the mini roller coaster:

Another day, I had lunch with my very first college roommate. We happened to walk past the Deans List board (yes, so few students actually make Deans List that all the names fit effortlessly on one board).
Commentary was scribbled in all over the place, but this was our favorite comment:

Diana’s name is circled–presumably by Diana herself–and an arrow points to this note:
Yay!! =) Note: 3.92 =p (hate me)
Another arrow appears at the top and draws the reader’s attention to yet another message written, we can only presume, by an indignant engineering student. It reads:
LoL ur CAS !!!11! ur 4.0 is Engineering’s 2.0 loL
It’s a gem, this one. First with the typo-exclamation points, and then with the butchered English and finally with the presumption that Diana’s near 4.0 humanities GPA (CAS=College of Arts and Sciences) is hardly worth a scoff over there in COE (College of Engineering). Really? COE is SO MUCH HARDER than CAS that it has rendered you entirely inept at English? Well, next time you want to LoL at a CAS(!!!11!) student, I’d like to see you write a dozen 8-15 page research papers–properly spelt, cited and punctuated, and without resorting to plagiarism. Then we can have a nice little chat about GPAs.


At some point I went grocery shopping. This can also be done at the mall. At any mall. Seriously.
I find this to be a particularly interesting food:

The sun, the moon, the whole sky looks different over here. I think it’s all the dust in the atmosphere.
Whatever it is, it makes for some cool pictures:

I didn’t shoot it in Black and White, nor did I edit it later. That’s just how it looks.

This was just yesterday, so it just happens to be fresh in my memory. One of my former professors took me out to dinner to celebrate my completion of college. We passed this house along the way:

I like the blue glass.

And this one, too:

I have a thing for ridiculously spacious homes. (More to come.)We decided to dine in Sharjah, even though half of the restaurants in Sharjah failed their food inspections. Heh.
It’s just that we’d heard such good things about Qanat al-Qasba, and it did not disappoint.
Her daughter really enjoyed the dancing fountains:

While I found the ferris wheel (Eye of the Emirates) particularly photogenic:

The Journey: Photo Essay

Read about it here.
Goodbye, Salt lake City!

This was the flight I was supposed to be on…

Instead I flew through London, a place of strange seating customs

I think we replace “flush” with “start the wave”

You know how when something, say in an airport bathroom, is broken, we slap up a sign that says Out of Order ?

“Out of Order” the British way


And not only were there vending machines at the gate…

…a Book. Vending. Machine.

Mmmmm….airplane food…

My favorite part of flying Emirates is the starry ceiling.

Ah. Home sweet home…ish.

The Journey of 8,000 Miles Includes 7 Times Through the Security Line

View from SLCArrive: Salt Lake City International Airport, Noon.


One o’clock, decide to watch Arrested Development on my laptop.
Turn on laptop; realize charger is still plugged in. At home.

Nearly 3, Roommate Amy drops charger off at airport.


Return to gate to board plane. Learn that flight has been delayed 3 hours due to mechanical problems.
Go to United ticketing desk and get rerouted from Frankfurt to London.


Fly to Denver.


Eat candy.
Fly to London.
Go from terminal 1 to ticketing desk in terminal 3.


Wait in line for 40 minutes.
Discover United did not give me Flight Interruption Manifest. Must go back to terminal 1.
Miss 2:15 flight.
Booked for 5 PM flight.
Take bus (again) to terminal 1.
Terminal 1.


Take bus to terminal 3.
Terminal 3.


Get boarding pass.
Hang out for 2 hours.
Discover just how weak the dollar really is–while munching on really expensive candy.
Spend the London-Dubai flight watching 30 Rock, Marley and Me, and Taken.

Arrive in Dubai at 3 am (1 pm Utah time. 25 1/2 hours since leaving home).
Wait for luggage.
Wait for luggage.
Wait for luggage.
Discover 1 piece is still in London.
Fill out paperwork.
Leave airport just in time to hear call to Fajr prayer.
Get home just shy of 5 am (Dubai time).

Grand totals:

4 airplanes

7 times through security.

31 hours from home to home.


Next week at this time, I’ll be soaking in the heat of Dubai. I say ‘soaking in’ because today it topped 48 C and combined with the humidity, I bet it feels a lot like a vat of stew.
I’m down to the last five days of waiting, and unfortunately they won’t be filled with parties and last hangouts. Instead I’ll be calling comcast to cancel my subscription. I’ll be checking on maintenance fees at Wells Fargo and trying to figure out where my USAA ATM card has gone. I have to give USMail a forwarding address and a half-dozen other annoying but necessary things. Oh, and I need to find a place to live in Amman.
Today I got the last of my necessaries, which includes putting down another $100 on camera stuff: rechargeable batteries and a two-year protection plan with Geek Squad. Now if I could just figure out how to use it…

Driving in Yemen

Yemen village through windshield

The more time I spend with A, the more I learn that Yemen is just a crazy place. It’s *noisy*! Honking and shouting all the time. A says chaos is just part of the culture. It’s surprisingly true. I mean, all the Yemenis I know in UAE (all two of them, right?) are so mild. But here, the Yemenis are really different. Kids shout to me on the streeets, they come to A’s windows and shout; one kid today even climbed on my door and hitched a ride a few metres. At the traffic lights (which they obey with surprising integrity) vendors come up to the window and try to sell you water or tissues or tapes. Yesterday we were stopped at a light and Amal asked the guy for a certain tape. He pulled out three and A was loooking at them when the light turned green. Honk! from behind.

Khalas! She said, hurriedly returning his tapes and stepping on the gas.
I asked her it takes to get a drivers license in Yemen. She says, Nothing.


She said, Nothing. I went to the place and he said can you drive? I said Duh, why else would I be here? Okay, said the man. And gave her a license.

If you can drive in Yemen, you can drive anywhere, she told me. Driving in Yemen is as chaotic as you’d expect, but I think it’s worse in Beirut and Egypt. A’s favorite place on the road is smack dab in the center. I said A! Just pick a lane!

No! She insisted. It’s all mine! And she laughed.

It’s a good thing they can’t go very fast here. She put on the brakes tonight and I discovered that the seatbelt wasn’t so great. I remarked that I’m probably the only one in the country even wearing a seatbelt. She thought for a second and said, u’re probably right.

To Converse, You Must First Be Able to Speak

Throne of Queen ShebaDay 3

I made it a goal to write at the end of each day. Boy, that sure lasted.

Yesterday was my first class. It was fine. Actually, I thought it would be easier than it turned out to be. I asked to work on conversation because I feel I have a lot of knowledge of Arabic, I just don’t know how to express myself and since I want to be able to talk with people, I figured I should focus on conversation. The Director asked if it was important if I had someone who spoke English.
I said, Well, yeah. I would prefer that.
He said, Maybe one of the two teachers will be, but it’s best that I have someone who speaks only Arabic because otherwise we’ll revert to English.
My teacher is Afrah, from a little viallge whose name I’ve forgotten (heck, i’m not even sure that it’s a small village). She speaks minimal English. It was so tough! She just came in and we started speaking Arabic and I realized how helpful it would be to have someone who spoke English. What I want is someone to explain to me Arabic syntax and grammar and use of prepositions. Anyway, I was able to stumble my way through an hour (maybe more? Not sure) unharmed. She spoke too fast for me most of the time, so the feeling of accomplishment was all the greater when I actually understood what she meant. I think with a little more studying on my part (okay, a lot) I’ll be able to communicate well at the end of these three weeks.
She also helped me with pronunciation and taught me some new vocab. It’s going to be very good, but I haven’t studied much :s. I’ve been out with A!!