Saturday, February 2, 2008

but baby, its cold outside

this was a blog that one of my roommates posted and i thought that it was so good that it belonged on my blog as well.

I and my friends arrived here during the hottest months of the year. 120 degrees Fahrenheit was a daily thing. I think I even remember commenting once that every time I went for an extended walk, it felt "like my hair was burning."

Yes, we all arrived in the Sandbox about 9 months ago with blood thickened from an American winter, and the north African summer promptly and relentlessly treated us like first-year cadets at a military college. Felt bad.

But now, winter is upon us, and since our bodies have adapted to the temperatures here, we've found that we are actually chilly in the evenings. Just now, Jason and I were arguing over which of us should run across the street to the little general store and buy soda (oh how we crave it!). Here's a snippet of that conversation:

"You owe me. I went last time!" says Jason.

"What? You did not! When?" I say, showing my usual lack of thought before giving a response which contradicts itself.

"I got stuff for both you and Jamie. You wanted milk," he responds.

"Oh. Yeah, ok, but... I don't wanna go!" I say maturely.

"We should go in turns. That way we both don't have to go out into the cold," says Jason.

Jamie chimes in from the next room: "It's not that cold outside."

I am wryly incredulous. "Are you kidding me? It's 72 degrees!"

i know...sounds crazy huh

Friday, January 25, 2008

why is it...a her

in teaching english i get all kinds of questions about the culture that i am from. they can be as simple as...
what kind of food we eat to explain the difference between family relations here and family relations there. (they don't understand why i would leave my family behind to come here...something they might have in common with my mother.)

anyways..a couple of days ago i was in a discussion with some friends and when the wind began to blow very heavily to where leaves were falling all around us. and to this i made to comment.."i wish she would stop throwing leaves at us." this set off a conversation that i was just not ready for. upon me saying this one of my friends ask me if i just called that tree a she. to which i responded, yea, of course. he immediately said "no thats an it." i began to say, well yea but...and i began to see that this was going to take some explanation. so i took a deep breath and began to tell them that in my culture, as a guy i call many things that might be considered an "it" a "she".

the example that came to my mind was my car.(who i miss alot..she was good to me.) i told them that when i talk about my car i refer to her (it) as a she. such as...
she is so good to me.
she can be a pain in the butt
she just got washed and is now looking good.

things like that

well by this point it was time for me to go and teach so i said, "excuse me i must go and teach but if you see jamie ask him about turbo (the name of jamie's car). then i left.

i came out from teaching and saw jamie talking with a couple of the guys that i had had this conversation with and asked them if they had asked him about turbo and having not done this they thought this would be a great time to do so.
so they do just this and everyone gets a good laugh but they decided that the answer that i gave to why we call its a she no longer satisfied them and asked jamie why we did this. already having had this conversation with them i sat back and just went along for the ride.

he begins by telling them pretty much the same thing that i said to them but unlike when they were talking to me, they did not like or maybe did not quit understand what jamie was saying, so they prompted him further. what they really wanted was why do we not use the masculine "he". so jamie tried to explain that in some cases we do use the masculine "he" but that usually it was more of a joke. (much like some friends i know who have named their cars "derek" and "philip".....excellent names by the way). by saying this they did not understand why we use "he" as a joke, so he had to explain further. at this point i am really starting to laugh because now this whole conversation is just going in a circle and it seems that there is no end in site. however i do have one thing that always end the conversation when they start to go like this. thats the bus system. when it gets late all the busses stop running, so luckily for me this is exactly what happened.

the conversation ended just as strangely as it started, with an abrupt, i gotta bounce...

so the moral of the story...

don't call an it, a she

culture shock

before leaving for a new culture, everyone who has ever lived in one, as well as some who have not, try to give you information on what it's going to be like. things you might encounter. things you might like as well as things that you may dislike. and for me, this is where i found most people focusing. they would focus on things that might make you want to pack it up and go home...
things like... no one speaking the same language as you do, so you can not communicate with anyone.
having to eat food that you would otherwise have nightmares about
having to squat all the time to use the bathroom
using public transportation that takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour longer than it would if you had your own car...
you get my point...

in my short time here I'm not going to try and make it sound like i have experienced none of the mentioned things above. however, i will say that none of the for-mentioned things are anywhere as bad as others made them out to be.

but, a few weeks ago i had a culture shock moment that no one warned me about. no one told me that this could happen. and thus culture shock hit...

there is only one restaurant in this crazy town that even comes closes to reminding me of home. ONE. so, from time to time i enjoy going there. on this particular day, jamie and i decided that it would be good if we went to this place for lunch. we eat so much food off the street, that every now and then you want something that you know will be good for you. so we order and we eat and then conclude that our time here is done and the world outside those tinted doors is awaiting us.

as we step outside and begin to squint to adjust to the sun, we begin walking back to our rat infested home. upon turning a sharp right we glance up and at maybe a hundred yards in front of us we see culture shock.
you see we live in a culture where you really don't talk to the opposite sex. so much so that if you ask me how to talk to a girl in arabic i will look up at you and laugh and say "ma9lesh". (means sorry)
but these were not just any girls..these were three white girls who clearly had not been in country for long, for they were wearing clothing that i had not seen in a long that i mean shorts...on a girl

let me back up just a bit.
before turning this corner jamie and i were having a marvelous conversation, about something deep and meaning i am sure. however, as we looked up and saw these girls, it was clear that neither one of us knew what to do. so we did what any twenty something guys do when they see white girls in a foreign country... we stopped talking and looked at the ground as if we thought dirt was the most amazing thing we had ever seen. as if we had never seen it before.

now i must say that during all this i really had no idea that either one of us where thinking "oh my gosh, what are we going to do," but i for one can admit that if these girls would have said anything to us i would have looked up at them and said something like..... "howyoujasonmyname" all one word.

right then and there i realized that i have forgotten how to talk to the opposite sex.

if you would like to know the rest of the story there is not much to tell. the girls said nothing to us, and we said nothing to them.
as we continued on our way, we did not miss a beat in continuing our conversation. at the time it was like we did not even realize what just happened.
this is how things go here. culture shock shows itself in many different forms. for me, it just revealed itself in a way that i may have to apologize for a lot when i return home.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

barid Shadiid

its that time of year when the temperature drops and everyone starts wearing long-sleeves and hooded jackets...
yep you know exactly what I'm talking about.
90 degree highs and 65 degree lows.
i know, right now just hearing about those crazy temperatures is making you cold....and you know something.....i agree.
i have not only pulled out the one and only long-sleeve shirt i brought, but also started sleeping with my -15 degree sleeping bag. i remember before coming, i was packing up thinking to myself "why would i ever need this sleeping bag." however, i am praising the Father for it every night.
this morning i woke up and found Jamie sitting by his computer. i asked him what he thought the temperature was outside and he quickly glanced out the window. his answer was prophetic. "i think i see ice on the windows."....ok so maybe that was a bit drastic but with the way my body feels right now, he was not far off. when your body is used to 120*, 80* feels pretty cold.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

joys & sorrows

it has often been said that you must be flexible to live in a different culture than your own. it has also been said that expectations are not something that you want to have, for most of the time what you actually encounter is something completely different than the expectations you had.
never has this be more true in my life then these last few months. the roller-coaster ride that i have been on, has hit peaks at times as well as traveled rather fast down the slippery slope.
however: in all this the father has remained faithful to the promises He as made. it is such a blessing to see that in all this chaos He is still at work and moving among His people.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


i know i'm going a bit overboard with posting twice in oneday...but...

there is just something fun about eating with your hands. the culture i live in at the present moment cares nothing for forks, knifes, and spoons...toss them out the window...we eat with our hands.

tonight we went to an Ethiopian restaurant (Ethiopian food could be my favorite food in the world) and everything that was ordered is brought in front of you and then everyone digs in with their hands. (oh yea...we dont believe in napkins either. to get our hands clean we just lick our fingers and go back for more.)

this is the way that we role here...and to be honest i kinda like if i come back home and eat with my hands

please forgive me

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

.Jamie does not sweat enough.

so i guess i should first say...
i'm very sorry for the delay in blogging...
i would not be suprised if not one even reads this anymore, but if you do...this is for you.

here it goes:

jamie is on this big workout kick. at first he thought that waking up at 5:30 would be a good idea. so for a couple of weeks he began waking up at 5:30 and working out and the days he did not work out he would run. however he began to run into a problem because he would be wanting to go to sleep at 8:30, and this is no good. so after a meeting with the boss man jamie came to another conclusion. that was... that he would work out between 1:00 and 2:00. this has been very beneficial for the both of us.. Jamie gets to work out and i get to see him with his shirt off for a couple of hours. however today i encountered something that i have not encountered before...
i went to the fridge to get my daily liter or two of pepsi when i saw jamie there working out with the fan off...i said to jamie, "you know the fan is off, right" and then he replied back to me "of course, sweat it good, i dont sweat enough.." to which i thought to myself "its Dec and it is still 100 outside...we dont sweat enough...all we do is sweat"
it baffled me to think that someone living here would want to sweat more...i always thought we wanted to sweat less. today i learned that i was wrong.

sweat....its a good thing