Yalla: Explorin’ Jordan


This was the theme of last week, when my parents came to visit. And just as well, because life at the office has been, in the words of Larry David, “pretty… pretty… pretty” slow lately. This is largely due to the fact that practically everyone is on leave! UNESCO has a fairly generous vacation policy, which it seems like most people take advantage of in the late summer. Add to this the recent Eid Al-Adha holiday- an additional three days “off” here in Amman- and our office was (and to some extent, still is) a ghost town. With my supervisor out for another week, there really isn’t too much for me to work on. And even if there were, it seems like things at headquarters (that’s industry code for Paris) are similarly at a lull at the moment. I imagine this is a much different atmosphere than what some of my cohort members are experiencing at smaller organizations!

At any rate, I’mma let you finish, but I have the best mom and dad of all time. As soon as I learned I’d be in Jordan over a holiday, I half-jokingly extended an invitation to my parents… not really thinking they’d take me up on it. But to my delight, they actually did! Super shout-out to Joe and Sarah for being simultaneously the most adventurous and supportive couple I know. We’ve spent 4 of the past 5 years living across the world from each other, and will do so again when I move back to Korea at the end of my internship, but they are always there for me 🙂 Also maybe I’ve just become a good excuse for them to travel– I will say that my dad was really pushing for Africa when the where-in-the-world-will-IEDP-put-Cait conversation started. Sorry, pops. Next… time…?

Look how cute my parents are, enjoying Amman’s sunset by rooftop! Sorry @ameenagk, I didn’t ask their permission to post this, but I think they’ll forgive me.


So, where did we go? What did we do? Welcome to a potentially more “fun” bullet-point list than the one in my last post, accompanied by– you guessed it– not one, but two corny photo slideshows. Lucky you!:

  • Wadi Rum: Wikipedia tells me this desert is also called the “Valley of the Moon,” which I did not know. I do know that it is by far the most beautiful place I have been to on earth. Have you ever looked around yourself and thought “Am I in a National Geographic right now?” That’s what I felt like for two days as we sand-surfed dunes, climbed stone mountains, and Jeeped around looking for a herd of sheep (not kidding, my dad really wanted to see them for some reason). It was…unreal. I saw colors I had never dreamed of before, and don’t have the words to fully describe even now. Of course I have to show you some pictures, but honestly they don’t do it justice. If you suddenly stop hearing from me forever, I probably decided to sleep out the rest of my nights under the desert stars.

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  • Petra: Probably the most popular destination in Jordan, due to Indiana Jones (if that link doesn’t work, it’s probably due to copyright infringement heyoooo). I’ll be honest: it was worth going to, in that now I won’t be embarrassed when someone asks if I’ve been. There was also a pretty cool giant rock that looked like a fish from the side and an elephant from the front. And I got to pet a camel’s nose, which was pretty cool too. But after the natural beauty of Wadi Rum, I was less moved by the (still admittedly astounding!) creations of civilization. It was a little jarring to transition from the absolute silence of the desert to the dull tourist roar of Petra.
  • The Dead Sea: What a strange experience! To begin with, this is the most uncomfortably hot I’ve felt since arriving in Jordan– I think because of the humidity. Here in Amman, I am fine without air conditioning in my apartment. At the Dead Sea, however… suffice it to say, we hid in the hotel for about 5 hours before venturing forth at sunset for the beach. Though I had heard that the saltiness of the water causes you to float, I never really knew what that meant. It was almost like being in the direct path of a Jacuzzi jet-stream, in that I felt my body get carried away in directions I didn’t intend– but the water was perfectly still! At one point I had to grab onto my dad’s shoulder in order to balance myself to get upright again. Very weird, but very fun.
  • Jerash: Yes, I recreated my previous trip to the ancient ruins for my parents. How could I not? Sadly, the legionnaires were away for the Eid holiday (NOT SURE THAT’S HISTORICALLY ACCURATE, NOT THAT I’M BITTER ABOUT IT OR ANYTHING), but this time we hired a guide so I was able to learn even more. Mustafa was born and raised in the surrounding city and explained to us how locals, government corruption, and foreign actors have all impacted the site over the years. We also got to test out the incredible engineering prowess of the Romans, who planned out and then transported the materials to build two theaters each with an acoustic central point.
  • Amman: My parents and I didn’t actually have much time to explore the city I’ve been living in for the past eight weeks, but two things we did get to do were visit the Royal Automobile Museum- surprisingly interesting for a girl who doesn’t even have her driver’s license- and take a cooking class. I think my love of muttabal might be genetic?? I watched my mom’s face light up when she first tasted it and my parents have already recreated the recipe at home in New York.

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Sadly all good things must come to an end, or so they tell me. My parents have now returned stateside. As for me, however, unlike most of my cohort members I am not facing the end of my internship for another two and a half weeks, so you should be getting at least one more blog post out of me yet! I don’t know what is still in store for me here in Jordan, but I’m excited to find out. I can already tell I’ve learned a lot, both personally and professionally. For my last 18 days, yalla! Let’s do this!


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