Monday, May 21 – Day 1
I arrived in Amman with the same route through Toronto and Heathrow – but it was much different. There was no flight with other University of Toronto students and no delays. Good? Yes.
It is now summer, 2012. I leave on my first flight out of Toronto with the sun at my back heading away from a beautiful Victoria Day, a day where many spend the day north at the cottage or at the beach lighting fireworks. As for me, I went through customs quick, with ease, and even had time to spare for a physical pat down. Opting out of the body scan was something I was curious about as I have read mixed reviews from doctors on the health risks from tallying up the exposure to radiation over time. Since I took over a dozen flights in the summer of 2010 alone, I thought perhaps cutting back on the scanning would be a good decision for the long run. If you have been curious about how friendly the security gets with the physical, I can tell you here, that from my experience, I recommend it. I requested for the physical to the security checking my bags, and he called over a woman.
She asked if I wanted to go into a private room or was comfortable in public. I opted for the public so that I would not waste too much time. It was the typical procedure of lift your arms and pat down the loose clothing front and back, and a check of the waist band of my yoga pants and the bottoms of my shoes. The only thing that left me in the uncomfortable state I thought I would be left in was when she whispered in my ear, Are you pregnant?. Was it part of the routine procedure? Was it because I opted out of the body scan? Or was the airplane outfit I spent three days choosing an unflattering ensemble? It left me wondering if I should have hit the gym more, and I quickly decided to also opt out of the moving sidewalk and briskly walk to my gate.
Tuesday, May 22 – Day 2
With the walls decorated with African animals in colours to match the vibrant orange chairs scattered in the cafe, “Giraffe”, I had just received my Mango Mama smoothie at the Heathrow airport and was deciding on breakfast. This is a difficult task when your body knows it is four AM at home.
This long decision gave me time to reflect on the last ten hours. It was four in the morning in Toronto, and I had already made three new friends. On the plane ride over, I had shared a few miniature bottles of white wine with a British American named Katy. As a dance instructor and free spirit, she was a near doppelganger to my Auntie, Taya. Katy was just the person that I needed to meet. Apart from a good person to share stories with, she gave me advice which she had gained from the book, The Secret, and told me to send out positive thoughts by not using any negative words. Instead of saying, “Don’t do that! You will break it!”, you should replace it with “Be careful, it is delicate.” In addition to the advice that has already been put to use, I gained a great cheers that has been in Katy’s tradition with her girlfriends, and it goes as such: “To the land that we love and the man that we land!”
Although we had parted ways in cloudy London, the company was continued when I met Nele over brushing our teeth in the bathrooms in Heathrow airport. Nele and her boyfriend Nils were on their way back to their home in Brussels, Belgium from their 5-week trip to Australia after having finished their Masters programs in Corporate Psychology. With their passion for animals and the great outdoors, they were anxious to get back before even having returned home. I found that Nele and I had a lot in common in our passion for travel, interest in becoming a pilot, and not being sure if travel or work is the next best thing after graduation.
From Katy, Nele, and Nils, I have found comfort and better understanding that people do not live as they plan. You must actively make decisions and listen to the universe, work hard and enjoy the ride. For the moment that this thought came to be, I decided to enjoy the rest of my Mango Mama.
At the time that I had awoke from my deep slumber on my flight from London, the pilot had started our descent to my destination to Amman, the busy capital of Jordan. As the sands below changed colours, I felt something within me stirring, and it gave me the feeling that this season will be different. My director, Debra Foran, met me at arrivals and I was immediately seeing familiar faces from the drive to Madaba and the walk to dinner after checking into the Madaba Inn Hotel where I will be spending the next two nights.
Deb and I walked through the arches of Haret Jdoudna, the old Ottoman house turned restaurant. The table in the open courtyard sat both familiar and new faces. With members of Tell Madaba’s upcoming crew and a former professor for several years, Hallad, Steve, and Dr. Ted Banning and members of his crew for the Wadi Ziqlab archaeological project were finishing dinner with drinks in celebration of the field season’s end and departure. With a light dinner of dips and a traditional cheese and tomato salad, Deb and I caught up in drinks and listened to the ups and downs of the Wadi Ziqlab project. From the surveys that discovered Neolithic to Iron Age occupation, as well as the looting of Roman graves, Ted Banning recounted the events through the use of an iPad.
Conversing about the developments in archaeology and technology while seated in an open Ottoman courtyard as the ancient stars and flying airplanes move above us, the men dressed in white refill our drinks until it is time for some to catch planes, catch a few hours before an early work day in the field, and for me to catch a ride back to the Madaba Inn Hotel. With the clock striking 1 AM in the lobby that provides wifi, it is time to retire to my hotel room that overlooks a familiar city.