Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Moving on from Amman

I'm sitting in the old, converted stone building of my hostel in Jerusalem, temporary home to tons of disheveled and bearded travelers through the Holy Land.  A brief note will follow--

After I finished and presented my culminating research project for my program (an examination of the role of the student government at the University of Jordan in the context of regional revolution and national reform) our program went on a last excursion to East Jordan, did some final things, talked about re-entry into American, and then adjourned.

The next morning several of my friends and I flew to Beirut for three days.  Lebanon was incredible, especially after Jordan.  So green, so clean, everything so new (a result of fairly recent destruction of the city), everything so liberal.  With my hostel we toured a bit around Eastern Lebanon, saw the cedars, the ruins at Baalbak, Hezballah supporters and copious army checkpoints.

This morning we flew out of Beirut at 845, landed in Amman, hired a taxi to the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge and crossed the border into Israel/Palestine.  After hours of lines, questions, and various forms of semi-public transportation my group and I, now only 4, were walking through the winding Muslim quarter of the Old City to find our hostel with a rooftop view of the Temple Mount.  Jerusalem is amazing.  So old, so (to the naive visitor, perhaps this perception will change) integrated.  We walked by Eastern Orthodox priests, families of Hasidic Jews, and Arabs.  We saw the Western Wall, the Armenian and Jewish quarters, etc.  Tomorrow we're seeing the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque, Holocaust Museum, and all the other Jerusalem sights.  The next day, maybe into the West Bank to see Bethlehem, Ramallah, and perhaps Al Lud, the town where my host-family in Amman is from.

After three nights here, we head back to Amman to catch a flight to Cairo and meet the rest of our friends for six nights in a rented apartment in the very safe and convenient neighborhood of Zamalek.  I will write more from there.

The Middle East is pretty cool, I would say.  

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