Monday, July 23, 2012
23 July: Closed for Ramadan
22 July This is the mantra we are living by right now. I need to find someway to celebrate (and enjoy) Ramadan even if we aren't fasting (and feasting) all night long). Maybe buy some Ramadan decorations? All these closures are supposed to help people get through fasting/staying up all night, and probably are also in the spirit of family togetherness. We aren't fasting so the closures aren't doing us any favors in that department. We do not really care to stay at home and enjoy special Ramadan television programs together either, so the closures have us stymied doubly. I can see us fasting/feasting when we live here in the future and the girls are older. Likewise, they will have school off for Ramadan and I can see us taking advantage of the family time by going on vacations or putting together gigantic puzzles together...you know the kind of thing. What you do during Christmas vacation. But THIS time...what can we do in Jordan during Ramadan? Well, one thing you cannot do is go swimming. At least not at the pool we visited today. A friend from church who will be watching the girls during my Arabic lessons came over today with the intent of accompanying us to the pool. This, by the way, was a first for me--"nanny" help. My friend, a Filapina lady named Arapee, is a domestic worker. She has a job in the morning elsewhere and has agreed to help me during my three-four times a week Arabic lessons. I am grateful to her as I am only offering her an hour of work and I am sure she would like more. She had the morning off today so I suggested she come with us to the pool to get to know us and we, her. Once she arrived at our hotel I showed her our "getting out the door" routines. Loaded up and headed out the door. The pool is only a twenty minute walk away so I suggested we walk. I pushed the stroller and carried Yumi on my back. Arapee carried the backpack of swim supplies. Arapee is probably still shaking her head in wonderment at the difference between me and her previous employer. It was a hot walk involving weaving in and out of traffic and a steep hill, one that I am sure most normal people would not enjoy. Me--I love it. I cannot be happier when I am walking. Why is that? This was our first time visiting this pool. We had seen it before and enquired within about rates, but our first visit. We were all ready, in our bathing suits, loaded with floaters, water guns, and goggles. And what did we find? It was closed. I left the stroller with Arapee and went into the adjoining office building to the complex manager's office. With Yumi still in on my back and my hair plastered to my face with sweat, I must have been a surprising sight. The manager answered my question, though: the pool is closed for Ramadan. Come back after Eid. The sad thing is...that is exactly when we are leaving! No more pool, no more Safeway inflatable playground, no more camp. It will all open again after we leave. But, I will tell you what IS open, if for limited hours: the bird garden! That was my Plan B. I also suggested a stop for juice to soften the blow of no pool but, of course, not an open kiosk was to be found. So we just went straight to the bird garden. We pulled up under the big tree near the teeter totter and unloaded. And to my astonishment, a little girl walked right up to us and greeted Yumi by name! This little girl then turned to me and said, in very clear Arabic, "I met your daughter at camp." Indeed! I was visibly surprised and the family sitting nearby seemed to enjoy this whole scene. They got involved and explained the whole thing: yes, this little girl is named Anousha and no, she is not our daughter but this is her Russian grandfather who does not speak Arabic or English, and yes, she obviously knows your daughter and please, sit down and join our group. I did join them and while Mayumi very slowly but surely warmed up to Anousha and the other kids, I chatted with this nice family. Arapee took Emi for a walk to see the birds and I tried to keep Aya from eating cigarette butts. The sand toys I had recently purchased attracted a crowd and were joined by all. We stayed quite a while; Arapee needed to leave at 12:30pm but Yumi was only just starting to actively play with Anousha and the other kids visiting the park. There was a group there with a supervisor, probably a camp of some sort for kids whose parents still work during Ramadan and do not have extended family to care for them. Yumi clearly yearned to play with them but is pretty shy around Jordanian kids. Arapee left but, as I said, Yumi was finally playing with other kids so we stayed as long as I thought wise. Eventually we left. We found one vendor open in the nearby Shmeisani Mall--McDonalds--and bought some water. I asked the girls running the counter why McDonalds stays open during Ramadan. Company policy, they said, but they only serve takeout. Returned home while we all sing the BYU fight song. Aya bounces up and down in the ergo as we walk/sing. Despite the sweat, heat, hunger, fatigue, and thirst, we arrived home and had lunch without incident. Melted cheese on pita, cucumbers, and fruit salad. This afternoon: late down for naps so late getting up. With one thing or another (including lots of crying by Emi), it was 5:30pm and Nate was home. I had ordered food from Salsabiil that he picked up and I...I took off! I went to meet Lindsay for a fabulous Iftar (break the fast) at a Lebanese restaurant. We met at her hotel, chatted, and strolled about a bit before dinner. After a gigantic and delicious meal...plates and plates of Lebanese "salads" and sumptuous meats....we walked and talked for another hour. I slipped in and passed the sleeping girls at 10:30pm. It was such a wonderful evening. Thank you, Lindsay! I really needed it.