“Weathering Life” at the American Center for Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan

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Contributed by Sarah Tobin, ACOR Fellow, PhD Candidate at Boston University

Perched atop a hillside across from the University of Jordan, ACOR is the perfect location for observing the patterns of life in Amman. Each morning, trucks delivering cooking gas to neighborhood homes drive by, announcing their presence with what can only be described as the familiar tunes of an American ice cream truck. Throughout each day, the Muslim call to prayer, the athan, comes from several mosques to the north and south of the building, each reflecting the unique voice of the local muezzin, or the prayer caller. Each evening, the balcony on the east side of the building provides for breathtaking views of the colorful reflections of the setting sun. My own room looks upon a set of archaeological ruins and the now-green blanketed hillside of this northern area of Amman in springtime. 

Snow at ACOR in 2009.

Snow at ACOR February 20th, 2009.

Spring has arrived in Amman, but not without the tense struggle of making it through winter. See, winter came late this year in Amman. In 2008, snow had fallen several times by the end of January, along with several inches of rain. But it wasn’t until the last two weekends of February that Amman saw snow fall. Rainfall has been slow to arrive. The late snowfall and colder temperatures so late in the season made the longing for the signs of springtime particularly observable.

Anxious to take advantage of ACOR-sponsored excursions to local sites otherwise inaccessible, many of the ACOR residents went out, only to be rained on. Others stayed in to avoid the weather, choosing instead to increase their caffeine intake with the always-ready tea and coffee on hand at ACOR. In the evenings, dinners were ordered in, the satellite TV played everything from Obama’s Inauguration speech to films commemorating the Chinese New Year, and building-wide festivities included a delightful celebration of Mardi Gras foods and drinks. We were anxious to do anything to pass the time in the cold evenings; winter felt like it was never going to end.

With the arrival of the Spring Equinox, it appears that spring has made its appearance at long last. The hillside outside my window shows some signs of life again as wildflowers bloom in shades of red, yellow, and purple. Residents are taking advantage of the weather and the weekends to get out, exploring areas as distant as Petra and Wadi Rum or as close as the Roman Amphitheater and Omayyad Ruins in Amman. The TV has been off and the pizza delivery guy has made few appearances.

Spring in Jordan near Pella.

As the semester continues, and as the weather begins to make its shift from the moderate temperatures of spring to the hot temperatures of summer for which the Middle East is so famous, ACOR too will makes its shifts. Some fellows will depart and new ones will arrive. Those living here and studying Arabic will begin to transition out, making way for the summer students to pick up where the others have left off. Temporary visitors will each share their own unique experiences in Amman with those here. And thus life is “weathered” at ACOR, with new seasons and new faces and new experiences. But before things change again, those here at ACOR appear to appreciate greatly what is finally here. 
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1 Comments for : “Weathering Life” at the American Center for Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan
    • Maryah
    • May 8, 2009


    I didn't know you were blogging! Nice pictures, and what a great description of life at ACOR!

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