The Jordan Times

This entry is a little bit more serious in tone but lightens up at the end.
I got the idea for this entry whilst sitting in Books@Cafe sipping a beer. More on this place at another time.

You can learn a lot about a country by the headlines in the national newspaper, in this case from reading the Friday 3rd of September edition of The Jordan Times.

The main focus is on the Palestinian and Israeli peach talks. Some of the headlines read:

Leaders face tough choices as peace process resumes;

All eyes are upon us;

Palestinian negotiators real target of Hamas attack;

Mixing middle east diplomacy and mid-term (US) elections;

Palestinian strategy towards independence; and

Islamists, professional associations decry peace talks

and the Editor is entitled ‘To make Peace a reality’

I guess these are predictable, given the region, but it is obvious that peace here is key to stability for a number parts of the world.

Two other challenges which we all face are youth unemployment and what to do about CO2.

Give us jobs, say Somali pirates

Export restriction stand to hurt industry – this about restrictions on exports of cucumber and zuchhinies because of hot weather, Russia has a similar problem with wheat, no exports until the local population is feed!

Obama struggles with urgent task of fixing economy – as the US economy is 70% related to the comsummer, nothing will improve until the 10% unemployment comes down, which must be a disaster for those directly effected.

Climate aid reaches $30 billion – a central quote ‘its (.. the aid ..), is horribly confused’ rings in my ears.

Disasters show ‘screaming’ need for action – UN climate chief.

Red Cross aid workers face anger in Pakistan – one doubts the floods are related to climate change, but the worlds response seems lax at best. But who would know, remember the frog in a pot of slowly heating water.

There is also a familar ‘Arab society looks down on artists’, which is a common complaint as far as I know.

Afganistan also figures, and on a slightly lighter note in the Business pages there is a quote from the Finance Minister ‘We gave assurances to people that their deposits are not lost’ and then is added, ‘will not be lost’ – hmmmmmmm!

Stock exchanges or using the French word Bourse, are considered shining lights of a western style economy. One headline grabed my eye

Yemen hopes to draw investment by setting up bourse authority.

and, the Amman Stock Exchange rose 0.61% yesterday.

Sport is still important, but does not run for pages, in Amman only one page is allocated to cover the deads of the Jordanian U-19 & U-16 football teams, and there is bit of US sport.

Finally, Jordanians, I am pleased to say have a great sense of humour, as I think this small supermarkets sign indicates – remember it is Ramadan!

Joke, I think

To make Australians welcome there are a few gum trees around, this is one of pair down town.

Gum Tree

And, here are a couple more views of Amman at dusk, which is by far the best time of day.

Down you go!


Amman is fun

The weather has turned out to be just perfect, about 21C at night and about 31C in the afternoon and then quickly drops about 4.30pm when the breeze picks up. In fact, there is rain forecast for this week on Friday, in the mornings there are often clouds rolling past the window looking to East – the flat is reasonably high up and hence the clouds appear quiet low.

Taxis work reasonably well, they are certainly cheap, but you often have to some idea were you are going, as despite assurances, in my short experience many drivers don’t speak English and I certainly don’t speak Arabic – yet! However, the easiest way is to learn were things are by a landmark, in my case, Amman Mall and then guide the driver from there, shortly I will know the Arabic for forward, right and left and also STOP! I have had two more funny taxi experiences. My trip from the Readers bookshop saw me asking the driver if his aircond worked, he smiled and flicked on the aircon and fine white dust poured out and blew all over the both of use – ‘no’, he said. Modern education learning theory (along with the old maximum experience is the best teacher) indicates you learn best from experience, I certainly learnt that the air con did not work. The other was a trip back from the Rovers Return an English pub near the Crown Plaza. I had easily made it there in a taxi, after another round of mobile phone call conversations back to the base, but the return trip did not go as smoothly. The driver was a young happy guy who kept asking other drivers across the passenger side window where he was and where the Amman Mall was. He spoke a few words of English and was able to explain that he was only helping his Dad out, who normally drove the taxi – ‘he would know where to go’, he said. Well, with much laughter between us and despite ignoring my advice to turn left and getting lost, he eventually got me home!

My work collegue, Manar, is full of enthusiasm and is pleasure to work with, as is the e-Learning coordinator, Lina – they treat me as the expert, but they are both clearly capable. Today I attended a typical staff meeting. The same problems were raised as those in Oz, the only mild difference being the enthusiasm with which the teachers contributed, clearly they were very committed to the education of their charges. ABS is keen on meetings, just possibly a little too many.

On Wednesday we went to the medical centre to have our blood test. This was accomplished by all expats and some new staff pilling into a couple of buses and being taken to old white multi-storied building. There were a number of young men hanging around, or so I thought, but they were simply there to get the same blood test to get a work permit. The groups of men lined up, as we did and we were ushered up some stairs and ask to wait and then ushered down the same stairs and asked to wait or sit, I sat! Our passports were taken and given to either one of the two nurses (I assume they were nurses) who efficiently drew blood – hopefully I passed, I did in Australia having had the similar test on behalf of the school, nothing like a bit of duplication.

I am off on Saturday on holidays, returning on Wednesday. First stop is the Mujib nature reserve which is just South on shores of the Dead Sea. I have had trouble booking this online, so hopefully it is not overbooked. The reserve is on the edge of the Dead Sea and there are small chalets that overlook the sea. I have got a paid for reservation for a couple more days at the Swiss resort Moebpick, which is also on the shores of the Dead Sea – this looks really wonderful, it is still low season as it is a bit hot, not sure how hot! I have booked a nice new car at 30JD per day from EURO’s Car, they have an office just down the end of the hill near the apartment, very convenient. The main road leads off towards the school and you turn left down towards the airport, but turn right on to the highway to the Dead Sea before you get to the airport.

I thought you might like to see some pics of the sky in Amman – they are often blue, but as with yesterday and today cumulonimbus (can you believe I spelt that word correctly) clouds can be seen – I think that is what they are called, no doubt I will be corrected if they are not.

Blue Sky




Next week I’ll tell you a little about the country side, the Dead Sea and driving in Jordan.