Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ten Years Since My Trip to Jordan

This past month I've thought a lot of what I was doing exactly 10 years ago which was my life changing experience of living in the country of Jordan.  How did I get to living in Jordan for 2 months digging around in the dirt?

I majored in Archaeology and each student had to participate in field school (i.e. an expedition).  Most years the field school was to go to Southern Utah/Four Corners area but every several years they would send the students out to Petra National Park in Jordan.  I was lucky to be there for that year.

I was super excited.  This was going to be my very first time out of the country (I had never even been to Mexico or Canada).  Since it was post 9/11 I was often asked if I was nervous to go to a Middle Eastern country.  Honestly I was not worried at all, in fact, since I had taken a couple of courses on Islamic culture and religion I was very excited to have first hand experiences.

We flew from Salt Lake City to New York to Paris and then finally to Amman.  We spent the night in Amman before heading to a small village called Um Sayhoum outside Petra.  Petra was the film location of the tomb that held the Holy Grail in the 3rd Indiana Jones movie.  When we weren't playing archaeologists we played tourists and explored the amazing sights of the ancient culture, the Nabateans.  Here's the history in a nutshell, the Nabatean's heyday occupation was between the 1st century BC and 1st Century AD.  They were able to successfully keep the Romans out because of natural defenses, namely the Siq, a long narrow passageway to the main portions of the settlement.  They were innovative with being able to collect and display water through huge cisterns, piping and fountains.  They prospered because of their location along the Silk Road.  Eventually they fell and through the centuries various groups of people occupied the area.
Perfect example of the Siq.  You can also see the roman roadwork and the cut outs on the side where water collected

Remnant of a camel and person as decoration for the water passages.
Close up to the water passages.
Recognize it from the Indiana Jones movie?
El-Khaznah or the Treasury, no grail inside, just a big open room.
This is from the Treasury looking back towards the Siq.
This was the main drag of town, shops would've been set up along this.
This is the Temple my director excavated during HIS field school in the 70s
Brown University excavates this large temple complex.
This is my scare-the-crap-out-of-your-parents photo.  I wasn't too close to the edge ;)
Riding a camel is not like riding a horse.
Located in the next town over, this is the traditional spot where Moses hit a rock and water came forth (Numbers 20:11).  This is considered Holy Water and people come to collect it.  I have a bottle myself.
Eating dinner with our hosts at one of his other houses.

The long walk up to El-Deir or the Monastery, my FAVORITE place in Petra.
There are no words to describe this location.  It is HUGE! You can see me at the entrance.  It was re-purposed as a monastery during the middle ages.  It was also used as a film location in the second Transformers movie (the only reason why I actually watched the movie).
Part of the entrance to a Crusaders Fort.
Jebel Huron, traditional burial place of Aaron, the brother of Moses (Numbers 20:28)
How we traveled to Jebel Huron, at least till the truck couldn't go any further.
We traveled the rest of the way on foot.
The local people are descendants of the Nabatean and used to live with in the many tombs throughout the park.  The government built a village nearby and started moving the bedouin people there to clean out the park.  The success of the Indiana Jones movie helped push this along.     
This tomb was the family home of the people we lived with.
The bedouin village as seen from the park.
Our host family lived on the first floor and we took over the 2nd and 3rd floors.  I loved going on the roof to hang out and watch the stars.
They did our laundry.  There was a donkey that lived in the back yard so sometimes the donkey would rub up against your drying clothes.  We all took it in stride.

Two of the daughters cooked for us.
We had two sites we excavated, a multi-generational tomb and a triclinium which was a ritual eating place.  Some days it was hard labor.  We dug up buckets of dirt and sifted them for things we missed and then dumped the extra dirt.  But we also had plenty of mini adventures: we worked through a sand storm, got interrogated by undercover CIA agents, called a gold finding a Dragonfly because we didn't want our Guard to come loot our sight at night looking for more, got caught in a grave with a scorpion, saw snakes eating lizards, had goats walk right through our sites, amongst more.

Mapping our site before we started digging.
Tons of dirt blown in.  You can barely see the wall exposed at the entrance, compare to the next photo...
After we were all done.  You can compare to see how much dirt we had to remove.
Sometimes we had to be very meticulous with our excavating.
Love this picture!  It seems to capture it all.  Waiting for dirt to sift, carrying buckets to be dumped, and being exhausted by the labor of it all.
Sometimes we had to be creative on how we removed the dirt as to not damage what was underneath.

Our "Dragonfly"
One of two partially articulated skeletons we found.
It was such an amazing experience that I spent months and even years constantly referencing back to my experiences there.  Over the past month I've thought to myself, why was it a life changing experience?  What did I learn that was unique to that experience?  These are some of the things that came to mind.

1. Life can be lived in many different ways.  Seeing the bedouin live in a style that is completely different than my own puts my own style of living in persepctive.  Not only has it allowed me to have appreciation for things but it also has made me see the excess that I have and try to live more simply.  This reminds me of the hashtag, First World Problems.  It's pretty ridiculous the things we get upset over so I find that I've become a lot more easy going and don't let things bother me as much.

2. There is beauty everywhere.  Going into my trip I wouldn't have said that there is a lot of beauty in the desert but after living there for 2 months I can appreciate the beauty that is there.  I can still close my eyes and see the landscape and I get a small pang of nostalgia. 
Taken from the roof and therefore the scene I saw most.  This is what I see when I close my eyes and think about Jordan.
3.  Learning of other religions help me to understand my own.  Learning from first hand experiences is also different from learning from a book or even media, ESPECIALLY media.   Seeing how other people worship helps me to understand how God loves all His children and how similar we all are in our practices.  It has allowed me to be a better human being and brought me closer to God and becoming like God.

4. Plain and simple, trying new things stretches you.  It may make you slightly uncomfortable at first but then you grow from those experiences.  This is good for your mental health.  I noticed after I came home I had a new confidence that I didn't have beforehand.  I still face situations that are slightly uncomfortable or something I rather not do, but because of the growth I experienced there, I can face it with a stronger resolve.

If you get a chance to visit Petra, you need to take it.  It was such a unique and amazing place to visit.  I'm so gratful my field school was in Jordan and not Southern Utah.  I think my life would be a bit different if that were the case. Who knew 2 months could affect you so much?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

8 Weeks To Go

I'm now in the single digits for how many weeks I have left.  I can't believe it!  Part of me feels this baby is going to be here before I know it and part of me thinks the last few weeks are going to DRAG!

32 Weeks!

I was a little pompous and thought that since I didn't experience the more uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy in the beginning that I could last the whole pregnancy that way. Not quite true.

Almost like clock work, when I started my third trimester I started to get really uncomfortable.  I feel really huge and have to literally roll out of bed or off the couch (yeah I'm sure that can be entertaining to watch).  I've already had to lay my car seat back a few inches to accommodate my belly.  Anytime I sit I have to sit at an obtuse angle because anything 90 degrees or less just doesn't feel good with my big belly pushing against my chest. I also have had some muscle pains right below my ribs which I think are the organs pressing up (some people suggested it was baby but I don't think she's kicked in any one spot continuously to cause bruising).  To relieve the pain at the back of my ankles I've been walking around with sandals with a slight heel. 

Oh and the swelling has started.  Both my feet and my hands are becoming plumper.  There are more days than not that I no longer can wear my wedding ring.  Yep,  I'm going to have fat cankles by the end of this.  I'm doing my best to minimize the swelling by drinking tons of liquids, putting up my feet and even swimming but I have a sneaky feeling they're here to stay (at least till I give birth).

And boy oh boy have I been tired!  I didn't feel overtly tired during my 1st trimester so I wasn't used to the sensation.  But do I ever feel it now!  Just the other day I took two 2-hour naps, one at 9AM and one at 4PM.  And I was still able to go to bed at my regular time and sleep through the night (except, of course, for the obligatory bathroom run). 

Overall I still feel pretty good.  I'm definitely not at the point that I want it to be over.  I enjoy feeling and watching baby move.  She usually moves the most when Sean is around, he says its because she misses him.  We're excited for our baby shower this weekend because we feel like after that we can really start preparing for baby.  We've taken a childbirth education class which was not as cliche and awkward like we thought.  Overall, we're feeling pretty good about having baby join our family at the end of July!

They spent 5 minutes talking about swaddling babies.  They made everyone swaddle and change the diaper on the doll.