Monday, September 28, 2009

Bad Mood

Yesterday, I hated the Middle East.

Come on…I can’t reasonably be expected to be positive about this place all the time. Regardless of how glass-half-full I am about the experience of being here, there are aspects of it that really suck And besides, if you spend long enough anywhere, isn’t it normal to hate it at some point?

I think part of the problem is that the novelty of dealing with Middle Eastern travel restrictions has worn off. Initially, it was super interesting to try to figure out how things work and to see how governments use official and unofficial channels to control people and borders. But at some point, I felt like I got the hang of things – I saw enough check points and interacted with enough ass-hole military guards to get a sense of the frustration and hassle that is traveling here. And now, waiting in line no longer feels like an interesting sociological experience…it just feels like a huge pain in the ass. Yesterday, I got up at 5:30 and left Amman; I arrived home in Sde Boker [a mere 90 km away] 11 hours later, after taking 4 buses and 3 taxis. And I was sick.

It was enough to make a person hate the Middle East.

That aside, the rest of my time in Amman was great. I had a few really productive days [work-wise], got to do a ton of climbing, and had a lot of fun hanging out with Naz. Last Friday I also went with Hakim and some of his clients on a crazy 18 km canyoneering trip through Wadi Assal. It was an amazing day…but long. We left Amman at 7 am and didn’t get back until about 10 pm. The views were a spectacular combination of desert canyons and tropical oases -- I’ve never seen anything like it. [Unfortunately…no pics to show.] While it was a wild experience, it did cross my mind that going canyoneering is kindof like just doing the annoying parts of rock climbing: a really long approach hike carrying lots of gear, getting stuck behind slow parties who are epic-ing, rappelling off sketchy anchors….

It was also great to be staying in a city…with restaurants, grocery stores, cafes…other people. I guess I’ve gotten used to being in an urban environment after the past few years in Boston. While I spend a lot of time climbing in rural places, I haven’t lived in one since Viroqua. And in a lot of ways Sde Boker feels more isolated than Viroqua…which is saying something. At least in Viroqua I had the Co-op, the Driftless Café, a gym, and my car. Grinnell was a freakin’ metropolis, by comparison.


Anyway, I’m obviously in a depressive mood, which is not necessarily helping me to write an interesting blog post…so maybe I’ll just leave it at that. Here are a few random pictures from Jordan than aren’t of rocks/climbing.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Andrea,

    Hope you're well! I've read some bits of your travel blog and it seems like you're having an amazing experience in the Middle East.

    Keep in touch, and let me know when you're around States Side :)

    We should get some sort of an MIT cross-border architecture network going! Was in Bulgaria earlier this summer and things there really need a design boost.