Monday, August 22, 2011

USA: Home

An urgent family matter took precedence over the Ramadan adventure.  Inshallah, it will happen next year!  Blogging will resume upon my return to Jordan in September.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Disi - Rum: Family Time

When travelling through Jordan during Ramadan, one notices a silence in the streets.   The world moves at a slower pace as people store their energy reserves for the long day of fasting.  Seen from a religious perspective, Ramadan is a time to reflect upon one's relationship with God.  From a social perspective, it is a time to enjoy one's relationship to family.  Restaurants are closed, offices have reduced hours and the heat of the day urges all to seek refuge in air-conditioning and under fans.  Passing through the homes of two business partners over the past day, I have observed marathon card games, watched episodes of serial soap operas produced especially for the Ramadan season and reclined on mattresses gossiping about business, news, life in the village and mutual friends.  While this easy pace of life exists outside of the month of Ramadan, the shared fast brings people closer together and more time than usual is devoted to the simple act of being with each other.  As sunset and the time for the breaking of the fast draws nearer, a drowsy haze envelopes all, the mind slows down and the emotions speed up - both laughter and fervent discussion of irrelevant topics characterize the final few hours of the fast, with the last few minutes devoted to the hasty preparation of food which allows all participating in the fast to return to a temporary sense of normalcy before the rapidly approaching sunrise.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jerusalem - Madaba - Airport - Disi: Skipping Down the Jordanian Interior

As they careen toward the end point, learning is summarized, students reflect and instructors wrap up, time tends to get away from those noble instructors running Dragons' courses.  Such was the case this summer.  A quick recap:

2 Aug:  Our last day in Jerusalem was organized by the group of students who came to be known as the Jew Crew.  The most fascinating aspect of this day were our two guest speakers - one a veteran of and one a reservist in the Israeli Army - two gentlemen with markedly different views of the relationship between Israel and Palestine.  Mikhail works with Breaking the Silence, an organization of former Israeli Army combatants who are working to educate the Israeli public about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and the abuse directly associated with that occupation.  Mikhail spoke from his personal experience and we were left with the strong impression of his emotions and his experience.  Ori, our second speaker, a captain in the Israeli Army reserves spoke of his love for his country and his desire to protect it.  He spoke of the Israeli management of disputed territory and his sense that the Israeli government was working to empower the Palestinian Authority to eventually manage its own affairs.  This fascinating set of conversations left us with a strong sense of the complexity of the situation but also with hope for the future.

3 Aug:  A long day of travel by bus, foot and taxi took us from Jerusalem north to the border crossing at Beit Shahan, from which we crossed back into Jordan and proceeded south to Madaba, Jordan's Christian capital.

4 - 6 Aug:  Our last days as a group were spent in Madaba, where we were able to reflect together on the lessons learned during our time together in Jordan and Jerusalem.

Moses' glimpse of the Promised Land (2011 reenactment), Mt. Nebo, Madaba, Jordan

7 Aug:  Early in the morning, we congregated one last time as a group for our morning emotional and health check in before departing for Queen Alia International Airport outside of Amman.  Darren and the students boarded the flight and Yoli and I hopped into a taxi for the last leg of our journey back home to Disi, where we arrived mid-day to Ramadan in full swing.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Jerusalem: First Iftar

Today the Muslim group introduced the Ramadan fast to the tribe.  The students rose at 4 am to partake in suhoor, the traditional Ramadan breakfast, which takes place before dawn and is an opportunity for those fasting to hydrate themselves and fill their stomachs before the long day of fasting ahead.  After our suhoor, the students returned to bed and awoke around 9 to begin the tour of the Muslim sites and Mt. Olive.  The day closed with one of my favorite Dragons' student led activities to date: a student run Iron Chef Iftar!  The iftar is the breaking of the fast, which occurs at sunset.  Today, from about four to eight pm, our dear students, slightly loopy and with quite a few giggles due to the hunger of a day of fasting, tracked down ingredients in the markets of the Old City, cooked up a storm in the kitchens of the Citadel Hostel and served to their I-team judges a sumptuous iftar meal.  Spiced chicken, dates, yogurt, couscous, rice, salad and some mysterious M&M filled Ramadan cookies were all put to the test as our team of judges evaluated the dishes prepared by the three teams based on the Iron Chef's criteria of taste, preparation and sassiness!  The winners were the Jews, whose spiced chicken was loved by all. In second place were the Muslims followed at a close third by the Christian contingent.  The group is now on it's way to bed, stomachs full with pleasant memories of our day long celebration of Ramadan!

Our Tribe on Mt. Olive, 1 Aug 2011