Saturday, May 19, 2007

Visiting Suf

This year, when I spent time at Yarmouk University (my Fulbright affiliation) in Irbid, I've spent time hanging out with a few student friends, in particular K and M. They are sisters from the small village of Suf, not far from Jerash. They help me with my terrible Arabic, and I help them improve their (much better) English. K studies archaeology (on the right); M is more interested in ethnography and cultural anthropology. We've had some good conversations and often go for a coffee at the new little coffee hut outside the department. I gather that faculty do not 'hang around' with students, or as little as possible, but since I'm not teaching, I have few opportunities to interact with students. However, K and M sometimes drag along a friend or two. They are brave, in fact, for ignoring the predictable gossip.

I have had a standing invitation to visit their family house for some time. They admitted that although in the past they have had some visitors to their house for meals, those were all females. So, I was a bit nervous about going to visit for the simple reason that I wasn't sure what the rest of the family might think about me visiting. Mo left weeks ago already, and I was worried that going alone would be a rather stilted visit.

Last week after numerous invitations we agreed that I should come for a visit because the school year is quickly coming to a close (exams are in two weeks). I asked Miss A and she was up for an adventure, so we went to buy a big platter of sweets in Souk Sultan. The 'plan', if you can call it that, was to take a bus from Amman to Jerash, then another from Jerash to Suf. From the village we would then need to flag down to a 'bekup' to get to the family home, outside the village. Although being late is a perfectly Jordanian thing to do, this was starting to look like it might stretch the limits of 'fashionably late'. I called up my contact N., who in fact had one rental car available, and within half an hour we were on our way!

Amazingly, it was an overcast day and had rained the night before. As far as I know, this is pretty unusual for the region in the middle of May, but its welcome. We eventually found the sisters' brother, F., who was waiting for us in Jerash to show us the way. Conveniently, his fifth call trying to guide us to him happened to occur just as I was being pulled over by the police for an illegal u-turn. Handing the phone to the policeman, he listened, figure out where K. was waiting for us, and then gave us directions. The illegal U-turn was never mentioned and we were on our way, and found K. waiting for us a little further down the road.

We arrived at the family's house and were greeted warmly. Small cups of delicious Arabic (or Turkish, depending on who you are and where you are) coffee were soon produced and we sat in the front receiving room. We eventually had a wonderful platter of 'capseh', a yummy dish of the region that involves rice, veggies and chicken, all cooked in a huge container, and then flipped over. Nuts are also generously strewn over this, and this is all eaten with yogurt. Really, really yummy!

After lunch, we decided to pile ourselves into the little car and go out to look around the area just a little bit. We didn't go far and went slowly to take in the local scenery; the radio was belting songs I didn't know (although Miss A may have known all the words) and there was virtual dancing in the back seat (I'm not sure...I kept my eyes on the road).

We then pulled off near their house and walked around the fields, taking pictures. Our guests were quite giddy and despite a bit of dampness, all had a merry time.

After a bit more coffee and chat, we finally decided we should hit the road and head back to Amman. We had much more fun that day than expected, and I'm sure we'll keep in touch.


Jaime said...

Wow - that was a totally NON-lame blog story!

I love procrastinating by reading your blog -- who needs a PhD anyway??

Mrs. Goodwrench said...

I hope you got the recipe for that dinner. Thanks for keeping up the thread of the story of your travels.