Making Room for New Wives, New Stories

holy land mount nebo jordan by eva the dragon 2013 When God told Moses “Behold you are about to sleep with your father,” Moses quickly finished writing down his book of laws.  After finishing his final sermon to his people, God told him,

“Ascend this mountain of Abarim, Mount Nebo which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho; and view the land of Canaan….and die on the mountain you ascend.” Deuteronomy 32:48-50

Depositing my poor sick friend at another host’s house, my Irish friend and I continued to Mount Nebo so, like Moses, she could view the entire Holy Land before she died.

I first ascended Mount Nebo several years ago.  At that time, we simply walked up small road, past the boys selling chocolate and bottles of water, to the old Byzantine Church. Standing on the balcony built facing west, the sky was filled with dark grey clouds. As we looked across the Dead Sea to Jericho, a few clouds split open and the sun’s rays streamed through highlighting the small piece of earth causing such turmoil. It was a powerful moment. Both my husband and I felt it was a Divine experience.

This time I easily found my way by following the government signs posting the road to Mount Nebo. We parked in the nearly full lot outside the newly constructed gate. While my friend gathered her things, I said “Salam” to the group of guards manning the Guard House and a Jordanian guide and walked through. I began taking panoramic photos of the entire valley. Behind me, footsteps crunched on the gravel.

“Madam, madam,”

I turned.

It was a short, brown-uniformed security guard and the guide in a sparkling-white thobe.  He was very tall and carried a long, goat-herding stick. They came up alongside me, a little too close.

“Madam you must buy a ticket.”

“Really? That is new. I apologize. How much is it?”

“One JD.”

I rummaged through my bag. I only had twenties, fifties and hundreds. I offered my twenty. The man shook his head. “You don’t have one JD?”

“Sorry, maybe my friend does.”

The man came closer. Too close. His closeness was not respectful. He pointed down the hill.

“You see the big tree? That is Mousa’s spring. There he took his stick and opened the rock. Sweet water comes from the spring. If you want later, I can take you.”

Mousa is Arabic for Moses. Very interesting. I had never been there before. At the end of the curvy road, cars were parked near the leafy tree. I could see flashes of color as children played in the stream.  After seeing the church, we would go, but not with this man.

“No thank you. I am a very good driver. My Pajero can make it down the road.”

“Where are you from? UK?”

“No. America.”

“Ahh America. I have always wanted an American wife,” he smiled. Again, he moved too quickly to intimate matters. It was aggressive.

“I am sure,” I said. “American wives are very popular. We are very independent and know how to make money.”

His eyes brightened with appreciation. “

Yes, I am looking for an American wife.”

“So did my husband. And he got me.”  I thought that would stop them. The man in the thobe piped in.

“I have three wives. I can have one more wife. I would like an American wife.”

Time to teach them a lone woman was not an invitation.

“My husband has three wives too,” I told him. His eyes nearly popped out of his head.

“Yes, my husband is Saudi. Right now he has three wives. Me and the other wives are tired. We want him to marry an American wife.”

“Your husband is from Saudi Arabia?” I nodded. “I am first wife. I have given my husband three children. Two boys and a girl. The other wives are pretty, but they are, well, not so good like me. We are looking for a new wife.”

The man nodded in understanding and appreciation. The security guard was watching me.

“How can I get an American wife?” the guard asked. He stepped back a respectful distance.

“You must look on the internet. Lots of people find someone on the internet. There are many websites for good Muslim girls. Put up your photo and I am certain you will find someone here in Jordan.”

“I want an American wife. Can you help me find one?”

“No, no. American women are very particular who we marry. He must be a man with very high standing. He must have a good job. He must be able to buy a house. It is very difficult to find an American woman to come to live in Jordan.”

“I speak English. I have a good job.”

“It will be very hard for you to find an American woman. But maybe,” I shrugged my shoulders.  “Try the internet.”

“Your daughter, how old is she?”

“Absolutely not.  She is too young to be a wife.  She is smart and must go to university.  Besides we are very careful who our daughter will marry.”

“I am a good man.”

“I am certain you are. But we do not know you. You would have to fill out an application, tell us all about your family, your history, your job. Only the best man will marry our daughter.”

“I work for government. I have a salary.”

Too much. Time for the hammer.

“You are a security guard. My husband is a business man.  He would never allow it.  And you smoke. Look – your teeth are brown. I would never let my daughter marry a man who smokes. You will die early and leave your wife and children all alone. Who would take care of her?  Absolutely not.  My daughter will NOT marry a smoker.”

“Please help me find an American wife.”

“No.  I am first wife. I know who is a good wife and who is a good husband. American women like men with shiny white teeth and who are healthy.  Look at you.” I pointed to his large belly. “You must find someone who will take a man like you.”

Finally my friend arrived carrying two tickets. I laid my right hand on my heart.

“Shukran. Masallamah my friends. I pray that Allah blesses you with a good wife.

“Wives? What was that all about?” my friend asked.

“Laying down the law. Those men needed an ass-kicking.

Enjoying Jordan?  For more, click through to All the amazing sites from the Bible and ancient history you can find in Jordan. Jordan – The Holy Land Museum The Land of Shared Ancestors More About Moses’ family and exploring Petra

To Hire A Man or Not – Being assigned our Pajero at the Queen Alia Airport

Interested in Oman?  Click through to Touring Oman – First Stop Fanja

Or riding the train to France? click through to Don’t Pick Me Up – Eurostar Evaesdropping

Or life on a small desert island? – Read A Day in the Life of Unexpected Coincidences

Fearless Living in Jordan

You might wonder what this beautiful, blond, self-help author and this grey-bearded, Syrian refugee have in common.

Years ago, before Oprah, before Starting Over, before she was America’s #1 Life Coach, Rhonda Britten and I were friends.  Even then, as a young, 20-something, she was full of wisdom and optimism.

I remember being amazed at her beautiful, rented apartment painted in feminine colors and angels.  She replaced the industrial shades with soft, white curtains.  Saving my dollars, it never occurred to me to spend my money to decorate someone else’s property.

Her answer has always guided me,

I don’t know how long I will live here, but I want this space to be my home.  Having the colors I love makes me feel like it is mine.  When I open the door, I feel safe and warm.

During the Salam Neighbor filming in Jordan, people have shown their make-shift classrooms and sleeping mats inside of their UNHCR tents.  The camp’s desert sameness is a bit dreary.

fearless living jordan salam neighbor fountain zaatari camp

The other day, three, red-haired boys appeared and pulled Zach and Chris’ hands.  They led them through the tents to a beautiful fountain their father had built in the middle of the Za’atari Refugee Camp.

An innovative recycler, Ziyad has decorated their camper, planted a garden and built a bread oven.

As he told Zach and Chris his story, he explained his efforts by pointing to his sons and saying,

I don’t know how long we are going to have to live here.  I want my family to feel at home.

Regardless of how temporary our lives might be, our hearts are filled with joy when we feel we are at home.  Creating beauty amidst the ugliness in the world is Fearless Living.

ABOUT ZIYAD AND SALAM NEIGHBOR

You can read the entire posting called Neighbors of Za’atari Part Two – Ziyad. at Livingonone.org.

What does the daily life of a Syrian refugee really look like?

In partnership with 1001 MEDIA, Living on One founders Chris and Zach have just launched Salam Neighbor. They are on a bold, immersive journey into the heart of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis. From January 19th through February 15th, Chris and Zach will live alongside refugee families in Jordan to uncover the daily realities, struggles, successes and dreams of displaced Syrians.

Chris and Zach can’t do it without your participation! As they film they will be releasing weekly blogs and live-stream hangout sessions to hear and help answer your most pressing questions about the humanitarian crisis and life as a refugee.

Join the Salam Neighbor film and journey. Learn about the humanitarian crisis. Take action to change the world!
www.salamneighbor.org

Cheese Versus Beans

I am comparing the UNHCR refugee lunch to the Wadi Rum, sack lunch my Bedouin guide gave me when I was in Jordan.

We both got tuna.  What I wondered was whether Zach and Chris had a guide who taught them how to use the tuna can lid as a knife?

As a paying tourist, I got an imported apple and plastic plate.  And my lunch was all mine.  I didn’t share my cheese with anyone.

Looking at the refugee lunch, it struck me, is it possible a family of four can live on that can of beans?

You can read all about Zach and Chris eating their lunch at Registering as Refugees.

 ABOUT SALAM NEIGHBOR

What does the daily life of a Syrian refugee really look like?

In partnership with 1001 MEDIA, Living on One founders Chris and Zach launched Salam Neighbor. They are on a bold, immersive journey into the heart of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis. From January 19th through February 15th, Chris and Zach are living alongside refugee families in Jordan to uncover the daily realities, struggles, successes and dreams of displaced Syrians.

Chris and Zach can’t do it without your participation! As they film they will be releasing weekly blogs and live-stream hangout sessions to hear and help answer your most pressing questions about the humanitarian crisis and life as a refugee.

Join the Salam Neighbor film and journey. Learn about the humanitarian crisis. Take action to change the world!

www.salamneighbor.org

Facebook Saints and Mobsters

gold shoes and sandal close to petra cliff edge by evathedragon 2013

My photo collection began after my grandmother gave me my first Kodak Instamatic camera.  Processed at the drive-through Foto-mat, a lifetime of pictures are mounted in albums with sticky backs and plastic covers.  Stored in our spare bedroom closet, the photos have faded but you can still tell who the characters are.

They are my personal treasures – both for the memories and for their value.  Half-jokingly, I have threatened my friends with,

“If I ever find out someone says something rotten about me, I will post these to Facebook.”

While in Jordan, I found a kindred spirit in our young, Bedouin guide, Mazan.

After my friend loaned her camera to him, his professional demeanor dissolved into a child’s joy. He scampered around the cliffs recording choice moments for digital posterity.

petra cliff walking by eva the dragon 2013

Joumaa conned Louise into crossing a tiny ledge along the Petra cliffs.  She cursed and nearly fainted but made it across.  When we stopped to regain our composure, Mazan nudged my elbow and asked for my camera.  I could not tell what he was looking at but I figured it must be interesting.

He started snapping photos, then shouted something in Arabic.  I recognized one word – Facebook.

“What do you see?” I shaded my eyes and squinted.

balcony scene from petra version romeo and juliet by evathedragon 2013

He placed his hands on my ears and moved my head.  Across the canyon, like Romeo and Juliet, two, star-crossed, Bedouin teenagers, sat alone on top of the cliff.

Mazan took more photos and shouted again, “something, something, something Facebook.”

Facebook is going to turn all of us into either saints – or mobsters.

Salam Neighbor – Hello Neighbor

1001Media Mohab Khattab Salam Neighbor leaving for Jordan to film

I just dropped my Mojo off at the airport.  Carrying two extra bags of winter clothes, he is on his way to Jordon.

His first stop is Amman to meet American filmmakers, Zach Ingrasci, Chris Temple and Sean Leonard, the creators of  Living on One.  They flew in from California.

Why?

Zach and Chris want to say “Salam Neighbor” to the 570,000 Syrian refugees.

On January 19th, he will drive them and their Jordanian translator, Ibraheem, north, five miles past the Zaatari Refugee Camp, to the Syrian/Jordanian border.  There, in the middle of the wintery desert, he will drop them off, and they will walk away with the clothes on their back and a camera.

You might be asking, “What kind of evil plot is he involved in?”

The Jordanian government and the UN have given Zach, Chris, Sean, and Ibraheem permission to become a refugee for the next month.  Like a half-million Syrians, they will walk away from the bombs to the the fourth largest city in Jordan, the Zaatari Refuge Camp.  Joining the long-line, they will be checked in, given an UNHCR tent, a ration card and, maybe, a blanket.  Sean will film everything and post to YouTube.

Why have they given this opportunity when international reporters have not?

Because these extraordinary, twenty-somethings proved in Living on One that they are willing to take themselves out of their comfort zone and live in unimaginable circumstances.

The state of Syria is currently unimaginable.  And the refugees keep crossing into Jordan.  No one knows how or when it will end.  No one knows what these young men are going to encounter.  Security measures have been put into place but Zach and Chris want the full experience: getting tossed out of their home; crossing a border; and setting up a new life in a UN refugee camp.

Salam Neighbor is not just a film, but a social action campaign.  Generous donors will give $1 for every Facebook LIKE.  The funds will be distributed between UNHCR, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee

On January 19, they will leave Amman and journey north.  Zaatari will be their home-away-from-home until just after Valetine’s Day, February 15th.  

I invite you to stay abreast of how Zach and Chris fare during this winter. They are already tweeting @livingonone and put up blogs on their website.

You can participate by sharing Salam Neighbor on your FB, Twitter and Instagram accounts.  And in your nightly prayers, send your wishes for Salam to the Syrian refugees and their Jordanian hosts.

ABOUT SALAM NEIGHBOR AND LIVING ON ONE

What does the daily life of a Syrian refugee really look like?

In partnership with 1001 MEDIA, Living on One founders Chris and Zach have just launched Salam Neighbor.

They are on a bold, immersive journey into the heart of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis. From January 19th through February 15th, Chris and Zach will live alongside refugee families in Jordan to uncover the daily realities, struggles, successes and dreams of displaced Syrians.

Chris and Zach can’t do it without your participation! As they film they will be releasing weekly blogs and live-stream hangout sessions to hear and help answer your most pressing questions about the humanitarian crisis and life as a refugee.

Join the Salam Neighbor film and journey. Learn about the humanitarian crisis. Take action to change the world!

www.salamneighbor.org

To the Edge – or Falling into The Treasury

Entrance Road to Siq

Road to Siq

“Hey Bahrain!” the Jordanian cowboy called out as he waved me down.  “You want your horse ride today?  It’s free, part of your ticket.”

“Sorry,” I told him.  “We are allergic to horses.  Plus, we arranged for a donkey today.”

“With Juomaa?” he asked.

“Yes,” we confirmed.

Defeated, he shook our hands and said good-bye.  The game was over.

9:20. Of course, we were late.  The tour groups had already made it to the Treasury.  A sound floated our direction – a whistle? Our eyes followed the sound to the grinning Maaz, still dressed in brown.  We hardly recognized Juomaa sitting next to him, looking regal in his thobe and gold ghuttra.

Our Salams said, we boarded our 5-star donkeys.  Our tent-mates insisted we could make it to the High Point of Sacrifice by ourselves, but Joumaa’s promise to show us the unmentionable place held my curiosity.  Maaz led my donkey while I texted my husband.  “If you don’t hear from me by the end of the day, then send someone to look for the circling buzzards.”  Following narrow trails, we reached a silk-rock cave.

“This was a classroom.”  Joumaa pointed out the markings on the walls.  They were early 19th century, nothing ancient.

“And here is the place,” he said ushering us around the corner before he hurried away.

Ancient Fertility Symbol

The unmentionable  – a reminder of the Goddess’ rites practiced under a full moon – a huge phallus carved in the back wall.  After seeing that big boner, I understood the Old Testament tirades against Baal.

The visit took ten minutes.  4,000 years later, save the lone phalli, there was nothing left of those wild, fertile times.  When we returned, our donkeys were gone.

“I sent the boy ahead.” said Juomaa.  “We will walk this way.”

Joumaa Kudblan #petra bedouin guide @evathedragon 2013

He led us through trees and boulders, narrow passages.  We were not the first to cross the ancient steps, but we definitely needed a Bedouin’s guidance.

I heard humming, the echo of a thousand, gathered voices and whispered to Juomaa.

“Shhhh, he said pointing at Louise.

Still wearing her gold shoes, Louise broke through the brush.

“Close your eyes,” I said.  “Hold out your hands.”

“Why?  What are you going to do to me?”  Conjuring the vestal virgins, she stood tall and held out her palms.

“We will guide you.”

As if she knew her fate, she asked in a regal tone, “Where are you taking me?”

“Trust us,” said Juomaa.

It took us a dozen steps to walk her across the boulders.

“Stop here,” Juomaa commanded only centimeters from the edge.  Gripping her forearms so she could not break away, he said, “Now – open them.”

Startled, she nearly fell.  Then tears swelled in her eyes as she took in the Treasury below us.  From our ledge, the tourists and the Bedouin looked like ants.

treasury overlook people are ants by @evathedragon 2013

“It’s so beautiful,” she whispered.  “I am overwhelmed.”

Surprise,” said Juomaa.

To be continued …

ABOUT JUOMAA KUDBLAN THE PETRA BEDOUIN GUIDE

Jouma Petra Bedouin Guide Jordan by Eva the dragon 2013

Juomaa Kudblan, Mr. Friday, was a man we instantly felt comfortable with.  His mobile is 00 962 7 7753 5425.

You can arrange to meet him at the Petra entrance, or, if you are lucky, arrange to meet him at Haroun’s for a sunset trip to the Monastery.  He charged us each 50JD for our four-hour tour.  His rate matched the rates quoted on Frommer’s.  His donkey were well-cared for, and he is a kind, stable individual.

Arranging for Our Sacrifice

high point of sacrifice #petra #jordan @evathedragon

“I want to show you something.  There is a cave near the High Point of Sacrifice.  In it, is something they used to … used in the old days,” said Juomaa.

Our Bedouin guide was obviously struggling to wrap his tongue around something.

“What is it?”

“I cannot say the word.  Before Islam, they used it – for ceremonies.  Would you like to see it?”

“Of course, we would.”

“Tomorrow I will take you by donkey.  I will meet you at the Siq’s at 7am?”

“No, we’ll never make it by 7.  Try 9 o’clock.  I will confirm with you later.”

We exchanged mobile numbers.  While I paid Juomaa, my friends slipped Maaz his tip.

“Until tomorrow.”

“Inshallah,” we said.

Maaz had kept up the pace, but his smile had faded.  He had not eaten anything.  He had turned down the drink we offered him, obviously instructed not to ask for anything from us.

After a shower and dinner, we were ready for bed.   My friend had made it through the day and enjoyed our trek to the Monastery, but she was fighting bronchitis and was exhausted.  She begged off the next day.

Around 10, Juomaa gave me a missed call.

I texted back.

Salam.  There will be 2 of us coming tomorrow.  We will see you at 9am at the dam near the Siq Entrance.  Thanks, Eva.

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