حديقة الطيور the bird garden
We finally went somewhere this week that we had never been before, and it was totally worth it: the bird garden! Not only is the park’s name serendipitous for our family, but there was plenty of shade, lots of different birds on display in cages, and a large fenced-off play area with slides and swings in the middle of it all. We have looked for a park like this every time we have come to Amman, and now we finally found one! It doesn’t even have that many cigarette butts stuck in the sand! And since it was only 5.5 Jordanian Dinars total for the taxi fare, entrance fees, and chocolate ice-cream bars from the nearby concessions stand, I think we’ll be going back soon and often. Joy made it a picnic with Jordanian-style quesadillas (i.e., pita bread stuffed with slices of halloumi cheese and fried in olive oil). What also made it great was the friendliness of all the people there. Several older children made it their duty to chaperone our kids from toy to toy, and one lady even pushed Nadya on the swing while Joy and I were busy with the other two elsewhere. You can bet that our skin color, hair, use of English, and other indicators screaming “we are American” probably drew their attention, but it sure was nice to be welcomed warmly in such an anonymous environment.
محطة الشرطة the police station
Getting a student’s visa in Jordan requires a large amount of work and some social capital, which we do not want to go through for 35 people staying for only 4 months. Instead, we buy a visitor’s Visa when we first enter the country which lasts for one month. When that is about to expire, everyone packs into buses and we head to a local police station to get a 2-month Visa for the rest of the program. This week marked the end of our Visas and so off we went! Fortunately, Qasid Institute takes care of all the paperwork, but we still had to wait several hours outside in our buses while we all took turns going through the seemingly simple, but apparently time-consuming process of getting finger printed and recorded in the police records. The kids didn’t have to be fingerprinted, thank heaven, but we did have to hang out for quite a while until our bus could take half of the students back while the rest continued to wait. Nadya and Gideon are starting to get pretty friendly with some of the students, which is fun!
وادي موجب wadi mujib
One of the coolest places in Jordan that BYU students always go is called Wadi Mujib, a tall narrow canyon near the Dead Sea that has a warm river running down it. The conservation entities in Jordan have built up some infrastructure to develop the area and maintain the wildlife so that people can keep coming to enjoy it, but that also means paying a nice entry fee of about $30 per person. Like the last time I was here, I put together a trip for the students where we rented a large bus and paid for everything up front so we could just walk through, put on our life jackets, and have a good time. It worked! I’ll eventually post some video of the trip after I edit it, but for now a picture will suffice. The GoPro we bought for our last trip to Jordan came in handy again, as the only waterproof camera available for capturing the trip.