We haven't had any exciting field trips since I last updated, but some interesting stuff has still happened, both on site and otherwise.
My birthday was EXCELLENT! Even though they threw me the surprise dinner on Thursday evening, they still went all out for my actual birthday too. The first surprise was at second breakfast; one of the worker's sister baked me a birthday cake which was absolutely delicious. Later on in the evening a few friends took me out shopping and for a donut and then were supposed to bring me back to surprise me with more cake and a small party. Unfortunately I had Tory's cell phone with me because I was expecting calls from home, so the surprise was a bit spoiled when I picked up a call from someone back at the house who said "Get her back here!" It was still a big surprise since they'd already done so much for me. It was overall an incredible birthday to spend here in Jordan. Unfortunately I didn't get a happy birthday phone call from my parents since there wasn't any connection, but I spoke to my mom briefly yesterday or the day before. I'll have to call again and hopefully get a better connection.
I strained my wrists, particularly the left one on site on Sunday or Monday and they've been really sore all week. Typing all this probably isn't the best idea, but oh well.
My update for site is NOT going to say "dug, sifted, gufaed" since I was actually assigned a VERY cool project. In one corner of our square we started a probe to try and find the bottom of the fortification wall that surrounds field B (where we dig, the other half of the group is on field C below the fortification wall). Anyways, we had left the probe (or sondage) for a while since we reached a plaster floor level, and we've been working on the rest of the square. The square next to ours closed early since the supervisor is leaving to work in Pompeii (how cool is that?? Plus she's the nicest supervisor...the other ones will barely associate with the students outside of site, but she's incredibly friendly). So her students came to work in our square and I was assigned to continue the sondage along with one other student, Ian. It's a really huge honour since we're working MUCH more independently, we're responsible for recognizing what we're finding and responsible for our own paperwork and that sort of thing. I feel really good that I was chosen for the job, even though it's bloody hard work. It really shows me that my square supervisor (Jenny) and the field supervisor (Andrew) both think I'm working hard and well. We're no longer doing anything but taking turns digging and doing the paperwork. The most difficult part of it is that the hole is REALLY deep (taller than me with my arms above my head outstretched) so there is absolutely NO air movement and it gets bloody hot down there. Ian is a really athletic guy who can work incredibly hard so they've nicknamed us the Bulldozer and the Bobcat. We work really well together. He was picking up the ground and I would pull up the dirt quickly and we were getting lots done. Unfortunately now we have to use a ladder to get in or out and to pull out the dirt so that slows us down quite a bit and we're working a bit differently. Thursday he did lots more work since my wrists were killing me, but hopefully they'll be all better by Sunday. We haven't found too much interesting stuff in terms of pottery and finds...the 3 loci we've gone through so far have been incredibly sterile. We have found one REALLY exciting thing though. The whole point of the probe was to try to dig down to bedrock and find the bottom of the fortification wall. There is a HUGE stone emerging in the centre of the locus, which may well be bedrock. We're all keeping our fingers crossed, especially since there's no way we could get a rock that size out of such a deep square. Normally big rocks are broken up with a sledgehammer, but that would likely cause the fortification wall to fall down on us. It's relatively safe down there, but both Jenny and Andrew freaked me out the other day. Andrew told us to stop walking or putting any weight on the fortification wall, and the baulks on one side are cracking, though he says they're perfectly safe. Of course, he then tells me that if I hear any rumbling sound, GET OUT. Also to throw my arm up so they can at least find my body (don't worry, he was joking.) Later on in the day, Jenny asks me if I could get out of the hole. I respond "yeah, with the ladder I'm fine but we're not allowed to climb up the fortification wall anymore), to which she responds "No, I mean, if you had to, could you?" I said "yes," which is true, I could climb up the fortification wall...unless it happens to be what's falling on me. But really, it's quite safe, I promise, or they wouldn't let us down there. It's a just in case sort of thing. It's nice to be only digging too, but I miss the breaks we would get while on the sift and running gufas. It's all hard work, but digging is definitely the hardest, especially in The Hole as I have come to affectionately call it.
I'm sure I've mentioned before, but I have lost tons of weight which is nice. However, NONE of my pants fit me anymore. Even the one pair I brought which was a bit tight on me is baggy...even in the hips. I'll have to go shopping in Europe (or perhaps Amman some evening next week).
Another exciting thing is that someone I know from Toronto was here to visit today...an almost completely surprise! We met just hanging out in the NMC undergraduate lounge studying Arabic (he's a year below me in those courses, but his Arabic is SO much better than mine!) and he came to Madaba to visit a friend of his who's on the Laurier trip (there's a large group from Laurier digging nearby too). We hung out and walked around a bit this afternoon. Tory and I gave him a quick tour of the site, then Tegan and I wandered around Madaba for a bit with him. We stopped at a store owned by one of the site's benefactors and chatted and had tea for a little while which is always fun.
I finally ordered a rug the night before last. Madaba is known for its carpets and mosaics and they do really beautiful work in both. I had seen one on the street that I really loved, but never got around to ordering. Yusuf, another shop owner, has taken many of us to the factory where the carpets are made and you can choose the one you want in whatever size and colours. I found out the place where I'd seen the one I loved is actually owned by them as well so they're making me the same one in reds with white writing and black detail. It's got mirrored Arabic writing shaped like a mosque/landscape that says La Allah Illa Allah Muhammad Rus-ul-Allah (There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is the Prophet of Allah). It's incredibly beautiful and I'm excited. I will think it's worth it even if I have to carry it around Europe for two weeks. Hopefully one of my friends here can take some stuff home for me though, and I'm definitely leaving some other stuff behind.
I have to sign up for courses next week so I've spent some time picking them out. There's definitely a lot I'm excited to take, in particular a Biblical Hebrew course on Myth and Story with the same prof that I loved so much last year. I also need to start booking hostels for Europe so I may well be back to the internet tomorrow evening after we go to the Dead Sea and Mt. Nebo.
Not much else going on..I'm excited for my trip to Europe but I'm also really looking foward to finally being home. At the same time I'm going to miss this place so much, in particular all the great people I've met. I know I'll be good friends with lots of them back home, but it'll never be quite the same. Plus other things at home have changed, so I'm sure I'll have to do a bit more adjustment than I expected. I miss everyone so much though, and tons of canadian things that you just don't get here (good coffee...biking around. Speaking of which, I'm no longer too upset at the loss of my bike and I'm excited to buy a new one).
Once again much love to all back home and thanks to those who sent birthday wishes!