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Up All Night

May 12, 2012

It is 3:54 a.m. on Saturday in Amman, Jordan and I have slept for less than 10 hours in the past three days. In my sleep deprived and jet-lagged delirium, I sit here listening to the first call to prayer that I’ve heard since I left Kazakhstan a year and a half ago. The sung Arabic is haunting and beautiful as it echoes through the city streets. I listen from my hotel window, looking out over the sand-colored buildings and their dark windows. Few cars pass on the main road. To think that at this moment, hundreds of people are simultaneously kneeling to the floor and declaring their devotion to their God, Allah, is stirring.

Traveling abroad distorts the mind — you leave your home on a Thursday night and arrive in a foreign land a day later. The jet lag tricks you into forgetting the days and the hours you’re supposed to be sleeping. I feel as if my ride to Boston Logan Airport was months ago. Less than two days ago, I was listening to a baseball game in the park outside my Brookline apartment. This morning I woke up to Arabic.

The journey here was surprisingly uneventful, which is much different than my previous experiences traveling to different countries. The process of getting where I’m going abroad have never been pleasant for me — without fail, every time I have visited another country, I have been pushed to panic before experiencing the fun. I am no stranger to horrific eight-hour bus rides with a colicky babies, full days on trains over 110 degrees with no open windows and chasing trains, just to name a few. But albeit sore necks and being up for over 24 hours straight, we hit our final tarmac in Amman without incident or issue.


Our group of 49 landed at the Amman Airport in the middle of a desert. After being immersed in Married to a Bedouin by Marguerite van Geldermalsen for the entire flight and landing for the first time in the Middle East, I expected to hear some traditional music come on the plane, even though it was a British airline. But alas, we got, “She’s a Lady,” by Tom Jones, instead.

As our group moved from the plane and through the airport, exchanging dollars to dinars, purchasing visas and picking up luggage, it was an easy entrance as well. This causes me to wonder if all my previous issues in obtaining visas was a result of being a Peace Corps Volunteer, rather than a student. Or Kazakhstan’s fault. But I digress.

Our 30-minute bus ride gave us a fleeting introduction to the city. We passed enormous and grand khaki-colored buildings on our way the Imperial Hotel, as well as less palatial and abandoned ones. Cars were filled with curious children and women with their heads covered. On the side of the main street we were traveling on, there were many people picnicking on the side of the road in the shade of the trees. Yesterday was their Holy Day — their weekend is Fridays and Saturdays.

My first introduction to the people was via two boys who were riding on the back of a pick-up truck, their seats softened by stacks of carpets. They rode with their arms slung around each other’s backs and blew kisses to the windows, giggling at themselves. Seeing the boys’ silliness excites me all over again to meet my host family, whom I will be meeting on Monday.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Tyler permalink
    May 12, 2012 4:09 am

    Nice to hear you finally had a pleasant international travel experience. Not many of those last time around. Can’t wait to read more as your trip continues and you get to learn more about Jordan

  2. May 12, 2012 11:29 pm

    Jealous, but really excited for you. Have an adventure for me.

  3. May 12, 2012 11:29 pm

    Jealous, but excited for you. Have an adventure for me.

  4. sharon bigart permalink
    May 13, 2012 10:33 am

    Your going to do just great, Melissa, what an awesome experience! Have yourself a ball.
    Sherry Bigart

  5. Grace Tabeek permalink
    May 16, 2012 10:18 am

    Thnaks for sharing your experience with us…I have a feeling that’s as close as I’ll ever get to a Middle Eastern country…your writing brings me right there with you…

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