Middle Eastern Halloween

Monday, October 31, 2005 | Amman, Jordan (map)

Taylor and I did not coordinate outfits—we just look badass like this all the time. (On a side note, depending on whether you're reading this from "over here" or "over there," one of these Halloween costumes must look very original and the other not at all.)
My friends David, Taylor, and Mike hosted a Halloween party at their apartment tonight. I convinced my host brothers Deeb and Laith to bundle a costume into their backpacks and sneak out with me to grab a cab. Highly skeptical of my story, until we arrived they didn't quite believe that everyone else at the party would be wearing costumes.

Soon we were sipping beers in a crowd of assorted Jordanians, Americans, and Europeans dressed as ancient Greeks, modern sheikhs (my pick), cowboys, comic book heroes, and animals. Good times.

Living it up at the Dead Sea

Saturday, October 8, 2005 | Dead Sea, Jordan (map)

Dead Sea: buoyancy like nowhere else. Sadly, my camera did not like its encounter with the mud.
A few American friends and I paid our favorite local taxi driver, Fawwaz, to drive us the 45 minutes or so from Amman to the Dead Sea (البحر الميّت) this afternoon for a dip.

The Dead Sea is famous for two things, the first being that it is the lowest point on earth. Because it's actually been a few hundred meters below sea level for millennia, the Dead Sea has no outflow to the nearby Red Sea. The water that trickles in from the Jordan River and from the region's scant rainfall hardly replenish what evaporates every day in the hot sun, so the so-called "sea" is really more of a dwindling lake.

The second reason it's famous is the salt—because the Dead Sea has no outflow, sediment from the river and salt that washed in eons ago from the Red Sea just continue to concentrate. Today the water is about eight times more salty than the ocean. It's actually only about 2/3 water and 1/3 salt, which makes it uninhabitable for most life forms—hence the name—though apparently there

Grand Tour of Jordan: Jerash, Umm Qais, Pella

Sunday, October 2, 2005 | Jarash, Jordan (map)

Fellow members of our study abroad group explore the Roman ruins at Jerash.
Just a few short weeks after our trip to see the main sites in southern Jordan, our group of American students loaded back onto the bus for another road trip. Here's what we saw, this time in northern Jordan: