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So, I fail at keeping this blog. What else is new? However, now that the school year has calmed down, I'm off on another adventure. 

I'll do another year in review (plus a half one for 2015!!!!!) but this summer I am in Morocco for 6 weeks. I had the lovely pleasure of having nearly 48 hours of straight travel (I had to sit and think rather hard about what day it even was before I started writing this...), and I have been on planes, trains, and automobiles. 

I met up with the wonderful Sarah in Madrid, and whille it was only breakfast, I enjoyed the catching up and lots of hugs that were shared. 

Having made it to Marrakesh (pronounced Ma-rock-ish), I was dismayed to learn that my luggage had not made it with me. While I was (obviously) upset at having made it this far only to have my luggage disappear, I was honestly more upset that a. my Chacos were in there along with my trusty b. Hans Wehr. 

I lucked out though and my friends from the program here were there at the airport. Adam, Dana, and Samia were all waiting for Fatim to pick them up. She was gracious enough (and her wonderful father) to take their luggage and go to the hotel. I didn't end up staying with them in Marrakesh, but we went out for lunch/early dinner and I had my first experience with a tagine (ta-jean), which was delicious. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture. 

Afterwards they took me to the bus station where I took a bus to Agadir (where I'll be staying) and pretty much slept the whole ride down. 

I felt very much the accomplished traveler that a. I was able to sleep and b. was able to successfully navigate getting a taxi, and finding the hotel on my own. 

I got a pleasant surprise when going to my hotel room as I noticed that Anthony was in the lounge area on his computer. He's the last member of our group. So yay! Familiar faces!

So here I am, safe and sound, and I'm going to go pass out. 



















So wow, this is quite a bit off, but I've been rather busy. All of these events happened around a month ago. So keep that in mind. 

So a bit of background, Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for Muslims. And since they follow a lunar calendar, it gets earlier and earlier each year until it resets. This year it was smack dab in the middle of summer. This can be really rough on people since you're expected to fast during the daylight hours. For those in countries like Sweden, Norway, Canada and Iceland, that could mean that the sun never sets. Or it could mean that you technically are supposed to fast for 22 hours. Obviously this is not possible and so they usually go by the Saudi schedule of fasting. So what do they mean by fasting? This means no drinking, no eating and worst of all (or it seems like it for most Jordanians) no smoking. :P I'm not going to lie, I loved the smoke-free-ness of Amman without the perpetual black haze. 

Oh well. Anywho, so the purpose of this fasting is to become closer to God and to be able to set aside worldly pleasures and focus on a greater cause. This month is also marked with aiding the poor and generally trying to be a better person overall. It's similar to the LDS practice of fasting once a month. Only this is a lot more intense. 

Iftar is the breaking of that fast. It's a time for getting together with friends and family and generally a time to get to know one another. It's a very joyous and festive time. The tradition is to break your fast with a (huge) glass of water and some dates. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that dates were the ideal food and so these are used to break the fast and usher in the time of festivity. Some people then go and pray at this point, but others don't go until they have a larger meal. I've honestly met people who do both so there doesn't seem to be a consensus on it other than you definitely have to break the fast (at least a little bit) before praying. 

Back in the beginning of July, quite a few of us Georgetown people were around and decided to do a get-together. Afaf lives here in Amman and so she invited us over for iftar. It was delicious and so much fun! She's such a wonderful person!

The gorgeous view from her apartment

What we thought was dinner...but was just the starters

Afaf, (her amazing Kibbeh), Andy and Rachel

The main dish-Kabsa! It was so delicious....

Everyone hanging out

Mmmm food

Rachel, Tim and Lena

We all decided that we had such a good time that we needed to do iftar another time. A week or two later, we all decided to gather at the very delicious restaurant near the university called Bab el-Yemen. It is SO good. 
And the view was gorgeous walking there

The wonderful restaurant

View of the table pre-annihilation 

Looking over our choices

Lots of people go out to restaurants for iftar

Nom

Round one of our food

The end result, I think we killed it. 

And if we hadn't stuffed ourselves enough, we decided to go out to get some sweets. So we headed to Habibeh which is a very famous sweet shop. We didn't want to go to the one downtown, so we went to one off of Shaheed and that was nice. 


Kunafa

A special Ramadan treat

Warabat: the tastiest thing this side of the River Jordan


Warabat

From L-R: Ellie, Sacha, Rachel, Melissa? (Ack, I didn't catch her name!), Afaf, Lena, Craig, Myself and Andy!

Again, we had a great time getting together and just having fun. It'll be nice to be back at Georgetown and have an expanded friend base. There's something about sharing in a study abroad experience that brings you closer together. Such a fun group. 
So after the awful, no good week, I needed something good to happen. As luck would have it, I had a rather awesome weekend which made up for what had happened previously. My roommates and I had decided to have a taco night that Friday. It was just what the doctor ordered. 

We all pitched in, and it was fantastic! Ashley had a bit of fun making the cake and it kinda came out interesting...
It was supposed to be a pineapple...it did taste delicious though. 

We all put our stuff on the table and chowed down to tacos. Just remembering it makes my mouth water. All of us kept making Cafe Rio comments the whole time. 
The whole spread

A closeup of my burrito/taco hybrid

After that wonderful spread, the next day I went to Wasd al-Balad to meet up with a friend and to do some errands. It was a very successful trip and I was able to find a nice duffle bag for 5 JD, a nice dress for the same price and a couple of pairs of swim shorts. (One for me and one for a friend for our Wadi Mujib trip-more on that later!)

After that, I decided to get most of my souvenier/gift shopping done. One great thing about going abroad is that it makes some great gifts. However, it also means that I need to get creative after a while.

Al-Husseini Mosque at the center of downtown

My friend's shop

After shopping, I was talking with my friend, the shop owner, Muhammad. He then invited Allison and I to Iftar. It was neat to finally get to do Iftar in the Balad and we got to hear some of his amazing stories. He used to be a translator for US forces in Iraq and at one point was part of a special operations group from Jordan. He's had some interesting life experiences, that's for su

Muhammad!!

After Iftar, Allison and I were heading to a friend's to pick up something when we passed by Habibeh. EVERYONE says that you HAVE to go to the one in Wasd al Balad because it's the original and the best. Well, whenever we've gone past before, it was PACKED and the line went waaay out onto the street. This time, however, it was a reasonable line os we decided to get some dessert. Neither of us is a big knafa fan (I know, gasp!) but we both love Warabat. So we grabbed some of that and ate it outside. It was delicious. 
The goods

The location

After dessert, we headed over to Rachel's place. She lives in Weibdeh, so close to Wasd al Balad, but up an ENORMOUS set of hills. Thankfully we took the servicĂ© taxi up. The view from her place was gorgeous. 


We had made the trek to pick up a certain package. You see, Rachel was leaving the country soon and couldn't take it. She had been walking outside when this poor, dirty little kitten ran away from boys who were throwing rocks at her, and just started mewing at Rachel until she picked her up. 

Already that week Rachel had seen 2 cats get killed by cars, and she was so little so she decided to take her in. However, because of her time restraints, she couldn't keep her that long. She was getting worried about taking her when my roommates and I decided to take her in. 

Ashley will be here for another 3-4 months and I'm here for another 3 weeks. So...we got a kitten. Her name is Amira and she's an adorable little monster. 


Play?

Allison freaking out over having a kitten


Zonk


Toy?

She's rather active, but fun to be around. And other than the fact that I'm apparently HIGHLY allergic to her, I'm good as long as she doesn't go in my room. I knew my dad and brother were allergic, but I've never had a reaction to a cat before. I just spent a few days at Emily's place in Portland in February and her cat Mal didn't bother me one bit. Whatever, she's here to stay for a bit. And she's adorable. 

Passing out after chasing something.