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Not really a Jordan update [18 Jul 2007|02:35pm]
Hey all, just wanted to make a quick post to say that I'm still alive and having a good time in the sand.

I've written e-mails with longer updates as to what I've been doing, but I don't have the time (read, I'm too lazy) to go through and edit out all the things not fit for public consumption and cut and paste the rest here, so perhaps I'll do that when I'm home. Or if you're really curious about what I've been doing, let me know and I'll e-mail you!

Hope everyone is doing well!
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And I'm off... [21 Jun 2007|05:18pm]
Well, I'm off to Jordan. It's been a rough little while, but hopefully I'll have as much fun and be as happy in Jordan as I was last year. If anybody needs to reach me, send an e-mail to my gmail account or leave me a message on facebook or livejournal. I will have a phone number there, but I don't know what it is yet, so if you want it send me a message or e-mail.

Thanks to everyone who came out last night, but especially to the people who came on tuesday night. It meant so much to me that you came to support me. Thank you.

Hope everyone has a fantastic 7 weeks and I'll see you in August!
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[12 Mar 2007|04:00pm]
Turns out Beerfest tickets are charging a ridiculous $4 fee to buy online, so I'm going to wait till July and have my brother buy me one at the beerstore...if anyone else wants to harass him to do so, feel free. I'll make sure he gets one for you, Brian.

In other beer related news...Boston this weekend for St. Patty's day! Should be tons of fun. On the off chance that anyone has friday and monday off and feels like hanging out with crazy Irish people, there is still lots of space in the car!

I gave blood today for the first time. Going to try and make a habit of doing so...it really wasn't as bad as I thought. Also, I need to buy plane tickets. Oh, and I dropped another course. The rest of this semester should be nice and easy...next year will be a bit harder, but maybe then I won't still be having 3 week headaches...
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beerfest! [01 Mar 2007|11:06pm]
Of course when I finally get around to posting it would be about beer..

I just wanted to let everyone know that beerfest tickets are *already* on sale at www.beerfestival.ca. As usual we will be attending saturday, which is the 11th this year. I'll be buying tickets soon - let me know if you want me to get you one too!

Other than that...school sucks, I wrote my deferred exams and they went fine, my current courses are not enjoyable at all; I just don't care about the course material for the most part, my head has been hurting for the past week or so, and I'm tired. (Yes, I realize LJ has a purpose other than my whining, but it's been a long day!)
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meh... [26 Jan 2007|02:34am]
I switched pills this week, and have been ridiculously hormonal and emotional and perma-PMSy. This had better pass soon, or I'm switching back. The other side effects were preferable, really.

I'm also working two days this week instead of just one, and 3 days next week. Hopefully somewhere in there I will also find time to start studying and doing assignments in advance because I have 2 weeks from hell in the middle of february. Good thing I don't believe in celebrating Valentine's day anyways cause that week and the next one are complete and utter writeoffs for anything but studying.

Also, it's cold. Stupid winter. My theory is that the only reason hell is burning is because it was invented in the Middle East. If the idea of hell had developed in Canada, it would already be frozen over. I bought a new hoodie though. Yay warm clothes!

I have to be up way sooner than I want to think about. It's been too many days with not quite enough sleep for various reasons.
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Cupcakes! [22 Jan 2007|10:33pm]
Hey P! One of these is for Brian, and one is for you. See if you can guess which is which!!

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[17 Jan 2007|04:57pm]
My petition to defer exams was accepted. This is good, I get to write exams over reading week.

Unfortunately I have 2 tests and a paper due the week before then, among other things...but I will survive. Going to hand in the paper early and start studying for the exams um..tomorrow!

Tonight: Readings for Athenian Empire and finishing a Narrative Analysis of the Book of Ruth. Isn't my life fascinating? I think I've decided to drop the Jewish Apocalyptic literature one because I have a complete and utter inability to arrive at school for 9am.
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It's been a while... [15 Jan 2007|02:13am]
So, what've I been up to since I last posted in September or whenever it was. Let's see.

October: Thanksgiving was tasty. Crazy midterms, but I did well on everything. Halloween party was tons of fun, despite a lower turnout than usual.

November: Surgery on my jaw. I discovered how much I hate anaesthetic, and intubation. Not fun things at all. It was supposed to take a week to heal, it took me close to a month before I was functional again. I should have dropped a course, but instead I fell a month behind in almost everything. Luckily all my profs were incredibly understanding and let me hand things in very late.

December: Exams and stress and headaches...I didn't write either of my exams and I'm still waiting to hear on my petition to defer. Means I'll most likely be writing over reading week which sucks, but is better than it would have been writing in my condition in december. I handed in an essay around a month and a half late, but he didn't take off any late marks. Hooray for nice profs and doctor's notes!!

Christmas was great (got lots of nice presents, spent great time with family and all that good stuff), had a fun new years at the cottage with siblings and friends.

And that brings us to nowish. Still trying to figure out my schedule for this semester. My hebrew class was supposed to move from thursdays to fridays, so I agreed to work thursdays. Of course now the class is staying on thursdays so I have to figure out what to do about that. Also have to decide between Athens and Empire, Classical Greek Theatre and Jewish Apocalyptic Literature. I wish I could get into Mycenean and Archaic Greece, but I'm still 12th on the waiting list or something like that, whereas I'm first for the Theatre course, and am already enrolled in the other two. I dropped Egyptian, so I'm only going to do 3 courses and try to do more things outside of school in an attempt to reduce my stress, since last semester was so brutal. I want to start doing yoga, but Jivamukti, the place several people have recommended, doesn't have a beginners course that works for my schedule. Does anyone else know a good place? It would really help my jaw, I think. I'm also starting physiotherapy at the end of January, and I'm seriously considering bellydancing classes with nunoline. Hopefully I can keep working at Mokuba around my class schedule, but we'll have to see about that. Also, I want to see people more. Just not right now, I've got (yet another) bad cold and feel like crap. I'm trying to make changes in my life these days, to help my stress levels and health in general, but so far I've just been rewarded with a cold. The surgery did seem to have a good effect though, as my jaw opening is up to 41mm (last year at this time I was around 15-20mm). I'm also trying to do what I can to reduce my impact on the planet, but with every thing I do, I just feel like I should do more. So far I've exchanged paper coffee cups for a new mug that goes everywhere with me, I've vowed to remember to turn my computer off, turn lights off, use the car less and that sort of thing..but I want to do more.

I was invited back to be a junior staff member in Madaba next summer, which is both very exciting and a huge honour. I wasn't certain I wanted to do it at first, but now I'm 99% sure I'll go, barring any natural disasters or that sort of thing. I think it'll be a great experience again, it'd basically seal my acceptance into grad school and look fantastic on my future CV. There are also tentative plans to travel a bit in Europe beforehand with my brother and his girlfriend which will also be a lot of fun.

I was cleaning up my room and came across a bag of ribbon bits and pieces. I'm fairly certain someone wanted them for knitting, but I don't remember who...maybe sariska?

If anyone knows of any job openings in the graphic design area, could you please let me know? One of my coworker's boyfriend has been looking for work for ages and isn't having much luck.

I think that's about all that's been going on. Perhaps I'll update sometime again in the next few months...
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Look, real content! [26 Sep 2006|03:13am]
School's going alright so far. I had a horrible cold or flu and missed most of the first week and part of the 2nd. Combine that with moving my schedule around and joining classes late, and I'm somewhat behind already, but working hard to catch up. I'm only doing four courses, but they should be enough to keep me occupied:
-Intermediate Biblical Hebrew (same prof as last year. He rocks. Still behind in this class, but not as badly as I'd thought)
-Intro to Middle Egyptian (taught by one of my mom's classmates from last year so I've met her previously)
-Classical Antiquity in the Cinema (focus on Greek myth, in particular the Trojan War - REALLY interesting so far)
-The Hellenistic World (Not one I'm terribly excited about, but it seems ok so far.)

All the classes have lots of little assignments, which is normal for language classes but a bit odd for the other two. It's keeping me plenty busy in the most annoying manner possible!

Tomorrow I'll be back on my bike which has me very excited. With the cold I wasn't really up to riding for quite some time and have generally been quite inactive. I want to start working out, doing yoga and doing belly dancing...in all that spare time I've got now that I'm back in school.

Had a Madaba reunion this weekend and went out dancing afterwards. Tons of fun. I need to go dancing more...anyone free this weekend and interested??

Very excited for Halloween already! As always, our party is the saturday before Halloween, so the 28th this year. Everyone should come! We were worried Judith wouldn't be able to come in, but it turns out she has a field trip right beforehand...to Toronto. Yay!

I should be in bed.
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[10 Sep 2006|08:52pm]
Got my new bike today. I shall call her Bianca! Very excited to ride to school tomorrow. Not so excited about the being at school part...

New bike
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[30 Jul 2006|11:50pm]
Ok, beer tomorrow night (Monday) at 8:30 at the fox and firkin just east of yonge and eglinton. Hooray for being back in Canada.

Hooray for way too long without sleep!
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[30 Jul 2006|06:49pm]
Home at last!

I've slept about 3 or 4 hours in the past 36 or so...and those few were on a plane so I'm not sure they really count. There was a 3 year old girl beside me who was alternatingly adorable and annoying as all hell depending on both her energy level and mine...

Tonight: Sushi, then sleep.

Everything is fuzzy. And I just cleaned the kitchen...willingly...cause it just bothered me that it was dirty. I think everything in Jordan being so unclean made me long for a somewhat tidier kitchen here.

It is good to be home. Really good.

I'm thinking tomorrow night for a beer if anyone's interested, let me know.
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Made it to Amsterdam in one piece [24 Jul 2006|10:29pm]
I've got about 20 minutes here, and it's about time I did a real update so I'll start with Paris and see how far I get.

Got to the airport in Paris and said a VERY difficult goodbye to most of the people from Jordan. One of the other people staying in Paris was supposed to stay with a friend, but due to a communications mixup, the friend wasn't there...so I figured rather than leaving her stranded in the Paris airport, I'd bring her back to my hostel where there was luckily still space. We were both very excited when we saw trees and grass in a little park as we came out of the Metro...you don't realize how much you miss that sort of thing until you finally see it again. We grabbed a very nice dinner of baguette, real cheese and ham (mmm...pig...we missed pig) and ate in the park along with a bottle of cheap wine. After that, I took a "nap" which turned into sleeping for 15 hours. Apparently Jordan had left me with a bit of sleep deprivation...

The next day we wandered around to most of the touristy sites with two other guys from the hostel. Saw the Eiffel tower, walked along the river to the Louvre and discovered that you can't buy tickets early and then went to Notre Dame. Notre Dame was really beautiful and we got very lucky that we just happened to go Sunday at around 4:30. What happens sundays at 4:30? Well, apparently this summer they've been auditioning new organists every sunday at 4:30, so we got to hear the organ in the Notre Dame being played. It was very exciting and very beautiful. At some point we also grabbed a few beers to drink in a park...I think that was before the Notre Dame. Did I mention it was ridiculously hot? Did I mention that it has been excessively hot my entire time in Europe? You would think I'd complain about the heat in Jordan, but I have personally discovered that what they say about dry heat is completely and utterly true.

After walking around we went for Sushi which was very tasty but I think I like Toronto sushi better. Unfortunately I then went to bed with terrible stomach cramps and other unpleasantness and didn't really do much of anything fun.

Monday we went to the Louvre. It was INCREDIBLE. Their Near Eastern area covered EVERYTHING including a lot of the stuff we'd been excavating! We saw the Mesha stele for real after seeing reconstructions in just about every museum we went to in Jordan. Ooh, and Hammurapi's law code!! We had such a fantastic morning there. We even had this really funny moment where I went "I wonder if there's any Nabatean stuff in here?" only to turn the corner and discover not only a Nabatean inscription, but one that came from Madaba! I could go on and on about how much I loved that part of the Louvre, but it would probably bore most people if I started saying "and they had red painted this, and ...blah blah" The only disappointment was that we were a bit late and we were supposed to meet up with someone else from Jordan (Mike) but he must have gone in already. It would have been good to see him.

We went for an expensive but tasty lunch and then returned to the Museum. Unfortunately I wasn't feeling particularly well and we were both really low on energy so the afternoon wasn't as great as it could have been. Also, the Classical ceramics section was closed which was a huge disappointment. We did see a lot of cool stuff from the classical section and of course the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa before heading off. I had another quiet night of not feeling too great and sleeping too much despite my best intentions of actually going out in Paris.

The next morning I went to Montmartre and stopped by Mike's hostel to see if he was around. He wasn't so I wandered to the Sacre Coeur which was really beautiful and had a fantastic view, then wandered around some cool parts of Paris searching for the Mokuba there. It was a great morning of just random streets and sights and whatnot. I did eventually find the Mokuba after going the wrong way for a good while...it was neat to see, but I do think the Toronto one is nicer. They're renovating there though so that will likely change.

I got back to the hostel where my friend had finally been in contact with her friend in Paris, so they headed off to her house while I headed to the train station to catch my ride to Basel. More on that later since I'm basically out of time.

I come home on the 30th around noon. I'm REALLY excited to get back. I've been so incredibly homesick my entire time here...both for home, and for Jordan so it will definitely be good to be back. People should come out for a beer as soon as I'm not too terribly jetlagged.
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[17 Jul 2006|08:13pm]
I'm in Paris and having a great time. The Louvre is fantastic.

I'm on an awful computer with a time limit so I'll write more from a real internet cafe in Switzerland. Just wanted to let everyone know I got here fine and all is well.
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Last day in Madaba *sniffle* [14 Jul 2006|04:34pm]
My adventures in Jordan are nearly done, soon to come: Adventures in Europe.

This past week has been fairly stressful. We had our exam on Tuesday night which absolutely sucked and caused my jaw to lock rather badly. I definitely studied all the wrong things and didn't do as well on it as I would have liked to. I also discovered that
robaxicet is my very best friend. Thursday everything was due at 6:00 and I had a bit of a freakout since it wasn't all ready on time. Luckily Deb was fantastic and let me hand it in about an hour late.

We finished uncovering bedrock in our square which is INCREDIBLY exciting. One of the main research objectives was to find the bottom of the fortification wall on site to date the construction of the inner face, and the fact that we found bedrock allowed that to happen. It wasn't the big rock that we had originally uncovered. That rock is about 50 cm or so high and sits almost directly on the bedrock. I was VERY excited to find it. I was trowelling back on what I thought was more rocks and it didn't end...so I kept pulling the dirt back and it kept not ending so I called out to our square supervisor. It was a pain in the ass to clean and brush off all the dirt especially with the giant rock in the square but we managed to get the bedrock sparkling for pictures. Unfortunately the rock has to stay down there since it is way too big to pick up and attempting to smash it like we did with many other rocks would likely bring the fortification wall tumbling down on us.

We finished excavation on monday or tuesday and Ian and I spent wednesday and a bit of thursday drawing the baulk in the probe. It was excessively tedious and ridiculously boring to the point where i very nearly fell asleep in the middle of it (probably doesn't help that I'd been going to bed around midnight and waking up at 10 to 5 in the morning...), but it was very satisfying to get it done, and the profs and TAs were saying it looked really nice which is always great to hear.

It's really nice that all the work is done, but I am definitely sad to be leaving this place and everyone here. I almost wish I was coming straight home since I have a feeling Europe is going to be a bit lonely. Hopefully I'll meet nice new people there. I've been such a people person on this trip which is so out of character for me.

Thursday after finishing on site for the last time and stressing about getting my field notebook handed in, we had a bit of a party. It was fairly uneventful, especially since the workers were present and out of respect we weren't drinking. We had fun, though everyone was exhausted. We got our square supervisor, Jenny, and the field B supervisor, Andrew, some gifts to say thank you for being so awesome, which they really were.

Not sure how often I'll update in Europe, but I'm sure I'll have plenty to talk about when I get home. Really looking forward to seeing everyone when I do!!

And also, my mom e-mailed me and said that instead of full on surgery I'm having a very minor procedure to flush out my jaw joints, so August is going to be fantastic!
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I lied...I do have more to say [07 Jul 2006|06:29pm]
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!
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So much to say and so little time... [02 Jul 2006|07:45pm]
Not sure where I last left off, but obviously the main thing that's happened since then is our 3 day program break to Petra.

Petra is beyond words. I cannot describe what an incredible, emotional and beautiful experience it was. Part of me was terrified that it was too built up and it could never live up. It did, it exceeded, it was one of the best experiences of my life and I will never forget it. The first glimpse of the treasury actually made me gasp out loud. I don't want to say anymore for fear of spoiling anything for those of you who will one day see it. And trust me, if you ever have the chance, see it. And climb to the monastery; the 800 some odd steps are worth it.

The day before Petra we drove south and stopped at two more castles, Kerak and Shobek which were both very cool. I was clambering up some rocks to try and read an Arabic inscription at one of them and had a rather amusing slow motion fall and scraped and bruised myself a bit, but it was no big deal and I'm all healed by now. One of the castles was built really quickly using whatever materials were available so there was one very cool stone that had part of a Nabatean relief on it. We stayed at a not-so-nice hotel in the evening but still had some fun swimming and then drinking and hanging out.

After Petra we went to a MUCH nicer hotel in Aqaba. Aqaba is right on the red sea and absolutely fantastic except for the oppressive heat. I wanted to head to bed early but once I felt how hot it was out at night I decided to walk around and hang out a bit then rather than in the morning. Paulo, Tory and I did go out for a bit in the morning to see the red sea, but it was a brief trip. We saw some nice little ruins and the sea through a fence but decided a trip to the public beach was way too far in that heat. Before leaving Aqaba we stopped at Aqaba castle which was again nice but nothing terribly special. The museum there was really great though, one of the TA's on our trip had helped to put together a display which was very nice and included some stuff about language and literacy which always excites this geek. In Aqaba and in Petra I got a few little things including the PERFECT gift for my mom and also some non-amstel beer most of which I drank for Canada day. Amstel or something called Philadelphia is about all you can get in Madaba so I was very excited and bought some Carlsberg, Becks, Heineken and Stella for our Canada Day party.

On the way back from Aqaba we stopped at the nature reserve of Wadi Rum which I DEFINITELY want to return to with some rock climbing and camping gear. It's huge and what I saw of it was incredibly beautiful. Unfortunately I hit my jaw on the bus and developed quite a headache so I was just taking it easy while others rode camels and went to see some ruins. It's ok though, I don't like riding camels anyways. My head has been bugging me a bit more since then, possibly also because my bite plate is loose and I can't seem to tighten it properly. Bleh.

This past week was more of the same: Dig dig dig, hoe hoe hoe, sift sift sift and carrying gufas. Thursday night I was wonderfully surprised by everyone taking me out for dinner for my birthday! It was tons of fun and great food and being so incredibly naive I had no idea they were planning it even though it was really given away a couple times. Ah well, I'm glad I didn't realize cause the surprise was so fantastic. My jaw started hurting again because I couldn't stop smiling. OH! We also discovered a donut shop here in Madaba and as we walked up to it the guy goes "Tim Hortons!!" and Tory (she took me out "shopping" to occupy me before taking me to dinner "just the two of us") and I go "What??" and he goes "You Canadian? Tim Hortons!" and we say "YES!! TIM HORTONS!!" He's got great donuts and good coffee and we'll definitely be spending a lot of time there. He lived in Canada for many years and loves us Canadians and all that. He's got a carpet (those are big here) on his wall that says Canada Love and a Canadian flag and he came to our Canada day party for a bit.

Speaking of which, friday night we had an early Canada Day party which was also a fantastic evening. Lots of great music, some good beer, and just enjoying hanging out with all these wonderful people. Saturday we had a relaxed field trip around Madaba to see all the Mosaics and other sites. The mosaics in this city are just incredible...so many of them from different places and times. Definitely worth seeing, especially the famous Madaba mosaic map. It's way bigger than I expected and beautiful and so meaningful. For lunch on Saturday they surprised us with pizza!! Very exciting. As I've said before the food here is generally fantastic, but it's nice to have western stuff. I took a great 3 hour nap afterwards and still managed to fall asleep at 9pm. Hooray for greasy food and catching up on sleep!

Oh, Friday during the day a bunch of us went to a mall in Amman. We had great adventures taking the public transit to get home, but eventually arrived and were just a bit late for the party. My meager Arabic skills came in handy but definitely should have saved us more trouble. The most exciting things for me (other than almost getting quite lost) were buying a Harry Potter book in Arabic (Whitney, if you're reading this, I'm giving it to you after I'm done!) and having a REAL hamburger. It was fanstastic. Tory bought a beautiful dress and other people bought more interesting stuff but I didn't find anything I thought was worth carrying around Europe for two weeks. I was hoping to find a pair of pants that fit since pretty much everything I brought is way too big. Hooray for losing weight, boo on nothing fitting anymore.

I think that's all. Tomorrow is my birthday but I'm not sure anything special will happen since we've already celebrated. I'll make sure to request pottery washing music though, and maybe demand the first shower after site. Next weekend we go to the Dead Sea and Mount Nebo and I think one other place which should be fun. I can't believe we leave here so soon...less than two weeks now. I suppose I'd better plan my trip to Europe, pick courses and perhaps actually start doing my readings for the final exam (although she promised it's not that hard). I'll probably be back in the next few days to do those things but I'm not sure I'll post since I'm sure it'll really just say "Dug, sifted, gufa-ed."

We have new workers on site who speak more english and are very nice so that makes the days a bit better. I'm definitely not so elated on site as I was at the beginning. It's hard work, but I'll survive the next two weeks just fine, have some European adventures and then come home and see you all! I'm thinking that I'll refuse to have the surgery unless it's 100% necessary since I really do want to enjoy the rest of my summer in Toronto as much as I've enjoyed the first part of it here.
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[19 Jun 2006|04:16am]
Also, we're going to Petra this weekend and I'm REALLY excited!!!
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More from the desert... [19 Jun 2006|03:34am]
Hello everyone! I hope people are actually reading this and enjoying hearing about my adventures, but even if not it's a good record for me of the things I've been doing.

Site is still going really well. I'm learning lots and DEFINITELY getting in better shape. I'm actually starting to get defined muscles in places. We've been focusing mostly on one area of our square trying to figure out whether it's a room or whatnot. We've gone through what we believe is a destruction layer and found the bottom of a stone wall...very exciting stuff for all of you, I'm sure. On Sunday we had one hell of a busy day removing a baulk. Not sure if I mentioned before, but a baulk is basically a wall of dirt that you leave standing at the side of or between excavations so that you can clearly see the stratigraphy throughout the dig. It was a lot of digging and carrying and all that fun stuff...although that actually describes every day except for the sifting.

Last week I learned how to draw baulks clearly showing the stratigraphy and tonight I learned object drawing. At first it made me want to cry, but I think I did alright by the end. Everyone was laughing at how distressed I looked. Other exciting site stuff involves me finding a figurine during pottery washing. I picked it up and went "is this a figurine??" and a split second later our field supervisor, Andrew, was standing right behind me and the figure was no longer in my hand. Turns out it's a bread-basket carrying Moabite figurine. We also have found a possible figurine head as well as some other neat pottery stuff in our square. Our square rocks, we find fun stuff, all the people are good and our supervisor's pretty great too (especially compared to some of the other ones). Some rocks fell out of the baulk the other day and missed my head by about a foot. One rolled onto my hand but I was not at all injured. I am however getting bruised to hell all up and down my legs. Even just kneeling seems to give me a bruise.

Stuff at home is decent, but there have been some "issues." Unfortunately the supervisors have been growing more and more impatient with us over stupid little mistakes as we're still adjusting to living here. I don't mind being corrected as a group, but they are treating us with such incredibly rude condescension. Everyone makes mistakes, but that doesn't justify treating a bunch of students who are all at least 18 like children. They took us on a "field trip" to see where we're supposed to put the garbage since apparently we were supposed to know we have to take it out, even though there's a house manager that we were told does this sort of thing. It was really rude and angering and basically ruined our night off by making us all so frustrated and pissed off. Also, I'm sure I mentioned that even though they said "meals will be provided" that just means second breakfast and lunch. Otherwise they provide food and we have to cook ourselves. This doesn't bother me so much. What does bother me is that they really don't get groceries often enough, or enough groceries. We run out of bread and eggs particularly quickly. Lunch is always fantastic, but second breakfast is literally the same thing EVERY DAY. No matter how good something is, you can't eat it every day without getting sick of it. They get falafels and pastries and unfortunately the falafels make me feel sick. They used to get them from a different place and they were fabulous, but they're different now and they just don't sit right. Despite all that I'm still having a great time and really happy. Even if the TA's are sometimes bitchy, and maybe one or two of the other students once in a while, everyone else is so great.

Last tuesday my head went really bad due to a mouth infection. I was gargling with salt water several times a day and I think it caused a muscle spasm. I was in incredible pain and the advil wasn't doing anything, so I figured I'd take a Robaxicet. I then proceeded to spend an entire lecture on the iron age levant and then the rest of the evening incredibly stoned. It culminated when I went to bed and was apparently lying there talking to myself saying "it's ok" over and over. Then, one of the rocks in the wall (which admittedly does look like it has a bear face or something in it) looked just like a dragon to me. This in itself is not so weird, what was weird was when the dragon turned and looked at me with an incredibly evil grin...one of my roommates was kind of worried. The next morning my head was still really bad and despite tons of painkillers I had to leave site early when I almost started crying from the pain. It's been bothering me a bit in the mornings, but for the most part I've been doing fine since.

This past Friday I spent another relaxing day off at the pool. There were more people around since everyone is finally over the horrible plague which struck us down. It was lots of fun, and they had burgers! Not even good burgers but it was still really exciting to have some western food.

Saturday we went on an incredible field trip. We started in the Roman ruins of Jerash (ancient Gerasa) which were indescribably beautiful. I have tons of pictures of columns which I'm sure I'll force everyone to look at over and over. I saw the famous oval piazza and a few temples and a really beautiful theatre. In another theatre we saw an Arab bagpipe band which was pretty hilarious. They also have a hippodrome where they put on a reconstruction of legionaire warfare, gladiator battles and a chariot race. It was really fantastic to see, and the announcer was GORGEOUS. I know I saw I like middle eastern men, but really, they're not all that great...once in a while though, there's one like Sayeed (from Lost). It was kind of strange since he looks a lot like an Arabic version of a childhood friend of my older brother. Don't worry ladies, I took pictures!

After a few hours in Jerash we went to Umm Qeis where there are more Roman ruins. They're done in native basalt stones so they're darker but they were much smaller and less impressive apart from one nice theatre. We had lunch at the top of the ruins with an INCREDIBLE view. We could see all the way to the sea of Gallilee which means we were probably looking at both Syria and Israel and possibly Lebanon too, my geography is rusty...which is strange since one of the people I'm closest to here is a geography and archaeology student. It's nice, he keeps us from getting lost when we wander around.

After Umm Qeis we went to a crusader castle in Ajloun. It was also really beautiful with incredible views. Once again I'm sure I'll force pictures on everyone. We also had ice cream. I love ice cream.

The bus rides were nice too. I got some great naps in using shoulders as pillows. We got back and had to rush off to "laundry guy" (everyone's a guy here...laundry guy, ice cream guy, coffee guy) to pick up our clothes. Unfortunately he was closed but some friend people from a shop and restaurant nearby called him and he came back so we all had our dig clothes for work the next morning. People here are just so damn friendly, it's really nice. On our way here we stopped in a shop and chatted with the guy and he gave us free keychains even though we didn't buy anything. People also LOVE the fact that I speak some Arabic. My Arabic isn't all that practical here seeing as everyone speaks dialect, but they all get such a kick out of the tiny little pale-ass white chick who can speak their language a bit. I'm loving it and I'm definitely picking up some more vocabulary. Speaking of being white...I'm actually tanning a bit! More freckles than tan of course, but my arms are way darker then the bits that don't get sun.

Not sure what else to say. I apologize for the long-ass train of thought style post but there's no time to read it through and fix all the grammar/typos.

I'm still doing great here, though I'm really starting to miss some Canadian things and definitely missing all my friends and family back home. Much love to all!
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More from the desert [11 Jun 2006|07:13am]
The party on thursday was excellent. I dressed up and felt clean and nice and all that good stuff for a little while at least. I had a few drinks, but definitely not as many as others. We also had bbq chicken, which was tasty but apparently tainted. Friday morning literally HALF the people on the trip woke up really sick. Possibly food poisoning, possibly something else but a lot of people have been quite ill. I've had some stomach cramps and other unpleasantness but for the most part I've been ok.

Friday was relaxing. Those few of us who were not ill went to a pool at a hotel here in Madaba. It was a bit too chilly, but really nice and relaxing and fun. Saturday we had our first field trip to some desert "castles" (not really castles...one was a meeting place, another a kind of resort). Most of them were early islamic era, but one was a Roman era which was then rebuilt by the islams and used by Lawrence of Arabia. It was incredibly interesting and cool, but I had two unfortunate things happen. First of all, I discovered that when my camera says it has half battery power, it lies. My batteries died so I only have pictures of the first two sites. I'm sure everyone else on the trip will share though. The other thing is that I wasn't feeling particularly well...my stomach cramps started in the middle of the day unfortunately. I've been doing better today, but still not 100%.

Today on site there was nothing particularly interesting. We removed some big rocks, generally cleaned the site and took measurements and levels. Levels are pretty cool...basically measuring the height above sea level using some fancy equipment. Too complex to describe here. In lab we learned about washing bones and registering pottery both of which probably sound way more exciting than they are, which should give you an idea of how boring lab tends to be. It's not bad though since the company is good and we usually have decent music going. On that note though, my brother's cd player stopped reading the cds I brought. It's an mp3-cd player and it won't read any burned cd...I have yet to test a regular cd. Fortunately Tory, who sleeps across from me, has a laptop and plays songs for me when I get them in my head.

I seem to have come down from my elated high of the new place. Still doing great but not as freakishly and un-Ellie-like happy as before. I'm sure it'll come back as the last few days just haven't been the greatest. I wish I had time here to read everyone's journals, but the netcafe is kind of expensive for a poor starving student so I try just to stay a half hour at a time. Perhaps one of these days I'll make an extended visit and catch up with everyone so to speak.

I had something else to say but I forget what it was. I hate that feeling. It'll come to me sometime randomly in the middle of the night.
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