What a great weekend. This was the first weekend that Sarah and I have had off since we arrived in Bethlehem. The kids all went home on Thursday afternoon and (for the most part) they got back yesterday. We decided to go to Amman, Jordan to visit David and Susan Vila and family to celebrate the occasion.
The first highlight of the trip takes place just past the King Hussein bridge on the Jordan side of the river. I (Jason) got into my first full blown argument in Arabic. There were about 7 cabbies and bus driver (all a bit cranky from lack of water, food, and especially cigarettes) who were trying to convince me that we should ride with them to our destination. Some were being less than truthful with us regarding things such as the distance, the exchange rate, and the usual cost of a ride. We stood outside the checkpoint yelling and gesticulation wildly for about 10-15 minutes before Sarah and I finally got into the cab and left. Needless to say, Sarah did not enjoy this activity nearly as much as I did.
In Amman that afternoon, David and his 4 year old boy, Henry, took us to visit the Temple of Hercules (left, above) and the Roman Theater (right) in downtown Amman. I wish I was a great photographer, so I could show you how impressive the stuff we got to see is, but I guess you'll either have to settle for these pictures or come and see it yourself. Henry is a lot of fun by the way. And tough! He was climbing around like a monkey, and falling down, and just jumping right back up. He and Sarah raced to the top of the Roman theater. Sarah lost.
Saturday, Sarah and I got a bus to Jerash, an ancient Roman city (and part of the Decapolis) less than an hour north of Amman. It contained two theaters, a hippodrome where we got to watch a chariot race (check out our youtube for footage of the chariot race), temples of Zeus and Artemis, and 4 or 5 ancient churches. It was incredible to walk around on streets that are 1800 years old. You just don't get to see things that are that old in the US, I think our understanding of history suffers because of that.
In one of the Jerash theaters there were some primitive telephones. If you whispered into one of the indentations in wall, someone across the theater (around 15-20 meters away) could hear you better than someone standing within a 2 feet of you. (pictures on our album)
Also in this theater, we encountered what may have been one of the oddest combinations ever. Two Jordanian men in traditional dress, playing bagpipes in an ancient Roman city. Oh yeah, and they were playing "Yankee Doodle."
Saturday night, we got to attend church with the Vilas at an The Amman International Church. It was nice to sing in English and hear a sermon in English again. We also met a man by the name of Corey Casey who graduated from JBU in 1999. He is also the cousin of Tara Pianalto and the Brother-in-Law of Amy (Epperson) Casey. Small world we live in, no. So if we know anybody that knows Casey, he says hello.
We capped off the trip with a visit to a cafe. Sarah, Dave, and I enjoyed some Nargileh, while the boys had fun blowing bubbles into their fruit smoothies. Good times were had by all. There are benefits to no longer attending JBU. Someday, Brandon, you'll know how that feels too.
I think that the undisputed highlight of the trip was the Vila family. Dave and Susan were really, really, really hospitable. Samuel, Charlie, and Henry were a lot of fun. Hopefully, I did not corrupt the children so much that Dave and Susan won't let us back, because I would like to see them again soon.
P.S. There are a whole bunch of new pictures on our photo album. Pictures of the kids at Beit 'Araja are on one new album and our pictures from Jerash and Amman are one the other.