Saturday, June 30, 2012
30 June: The police station
30 June Visa renewal day! I guess we really are staying the whole summer. After breakfast and a quick workout, we packed up and went to the local "Institute of Safety," or police station. I wish I could have taken pictures to demonstrate just how different Jordanian and American police stations are but alas--they confiscated my camera at the gate. We were directed to the second floor of the building and, deciding that we should leave the girls in the stroller, picked it up and carried it up two flights of stairs. After papers and passports were examined we were told to go back down and across the courtyard to get our fingerprints taken. We found the fingerprint office easily enough and were welcomed by the officers lounging therein, smoking and drinking tea. Not so different from the proverbial doughnut I suppose! They were very chatty and won Yumi over with pictures of their children saved on their mobile phones. Yumi always loves to see these photos and learn the names/ages of these other kids. I think she is pretty lonely for friends here. (As an aside, when I got her up this morning and said brightly "Today is a new day!" she asked hopefully "Are we going back home today??" Sigh.) Fingerprints taken, just I returned upstairs with Emi on my back to finish up the renewal. Not too painful of a process and I was able to chat with a few people/get a job done in Arabic. That feels good. And the process for renewing a visa in Jordan is about 500 times easier than the same process in Egypt. Oh, boy, you had better hope you don't need to renew your visa in Egypt if you only have one day to do it. Impossible. The process today, however, took little more than an hour. It was nearly noon when we finished but I had promised the girls we would go to Hakawati--the bookstore with a built-in craft center and story time. We were too late for the storytime but forged onward anyway. Maybe I should have just insisted on a return to the hotel, lunch, and naps, but I am an addict for activity. The girls were clearly tired and hungry, however, so they did not want to sit with the nice jordanian girls who run the shop and do crafts. They were only interested in looking at the halloween book that makes noise and the set of princess stories (both of which showed up in a previous post). When Aya crawled over and tried to push the buttons that illicit scary noises, Yumi shouted at her in Arabic, ordering her NOT TO TOUCH. Yumi was close to tears...I knew we needed to get home. The girls perked up, though, when we passed by the attached play area and saw kids playing therein. So we joined them and I chatted with a woman I saw at storytime last week. Turns out she comes every week and lives near where we are staying. Maybe we have a new friend? I hope so. On a side note, there were some other ladies there who asked me in accented English if I am America. I gave my usual response, in Arabic: "I am sorry, I do not speak English. I am Russian." This usually works but today their faces lit up and they all launched into vociferous and enthusiastic Russian! I had to do some back peddling ("I come from Russian origins but don't actually know Russian..."). These Russian ladies--only just arrived in Jordan--seemed pretty disappointed. Returned to hotel, richer by three books, stickers, and glitter glue. Lunch, naps. Turns out the hotel staff did not even know the Internet was down until I told them! So now it is fixed. Alhamdulileh. I took Mayumi over Abu Manal's to pick up the laundry (nice man, bleeding us dry-US$40 for five day's worth of clothes!) and to Amir's for something like 25lbs of grapes. We also made a brief stop at the bakery for some of the yummy sesame seed snacks (baraze). Nate stayed back with the still sleeping Emi and Aya. This evening found us on Rainbow Street. We caught a ride there with an extremely enthusiastic young man named Ahmad who works at a bank by day and moonlights as an unofficial driver. He happened to be dropping someone off at the speciality hospital near our hotel and saw Nate trying to hail a cab. We negotiated a price and away we went to Rainbow Street. An old friend of mine--Sylvia Cabus--linked me up with an old friend of hers who is married and lives here. Today we had plans to visit her and her family. What a treat! She lives right off of Rainbow Street on the first floor of a magical villa. The view from their lovely terrace garden of the city is astonishing. Potted and hanging plants are mingled with hammocks and swings that hang from wrought iron arbors covering the garden. Amanda and her Jordanian husband Samer are delightful. We enjoyed chatting with them and, best of all, their daughter Dunya (an Arabic name I campaigned for on behalf of Ayame Little Pants), has TOYS and played with Yumi and Emi. I neither saw nor heard from my girls for about a half an hour. I eventually checked on them and found them, in the terrace garden, in PRINCESS attire. DRESSUPS! With TIARAS!! My girls were in heaven. We made plans to meet again soon. I am very grateful to dear Sylvia for introducing me to her kind and fascinating friends. Next on our agenda was to check out a hotel on Rainbow Street recommended to us by my dear friend Lindsay. We learned about the Heritage Hotel after making our 28-day reservation at Beity Rose. Too late--but we agreed we would investigate Heritage in person and consider making a switch. Well, the time has come to decide. As it happens, Heritage does not have any available suites until mid-July. So we do not have to decide as of yet, although if we are going to stay here another two weeks me might as well stay the rest of the summer. Heritage is much nicer, but more expensive. Much roomier, but quite far from Nate's school. Aside from its distance from Nate's school, it is situated in a far more enjoyable neighborhood than Beity Rose. And yet, we are considering a camp for Yumi in Sports City, practically next door to Beity Rose. Heritage has a little bit more of a kitchen (a stovetop) but if I am truly honest, do I want to spend afternoons cooking? And the Heritage refrigerator is still just cocktail sized so how to shop, cook, and store food in it? Maybe we should just stick with Beity Rose, with it's parrot and nice staff that adores our girls and puts up with us? Despite their lack of towels and nearby eating/shopping/wandering opportunities? Obviously, moving represents another upheaval that maybe we should spare the girls from...but maybe they would benefit from the proximity to restaurants and "fun" neighborhood. Well, the list of pros and cons can go on. We have to renew our reservation with Beity Rose the day after tomorrow. Obviously we couldn't move to Heritage the day after tomorrow even if we wanted to--but if we do want to move their then we will only make a two week booking with Beity Rose. So we shall see. One OTHER factor involves a camp for Yumi. There are camps at nearby Sports City. Surely there are camps near Rainbow Street but I do not now of any...except for one in which my new friend Amanda has her daughter participating. It is a co-op "Arabic School" for Jordanian-American kids whose parents want them to learn Arabic. They just play and cook-but in Arabic, lead by Arabic teachers. Amanda said she felt sure her fellow co-op moms would be happy to let Yumi join. The co-op is taking place near Rainbow Street. But will Yumi even want to participate in this camp or the Sports City camp? Even if she says she does, she may not end up liking it. So many decisions... After the hotel, we ate dinner (standing up) in front of the juice and sajj place we frequent. The same enthusiastic moonlighting taxi driver--who had called me three times while at Amanda's and Heritage--picked us up and took us home. Nate took Yumi on a little walk to get ice cream because she was so good today--yay! I got Aya ready for bed while Emi screamed in the bedroom...but everyone went to bed by 9pm relatively happy.