People read my blog and wonder if I’m on holiday. No, I’m not. Sometimes I like imagining I am though. However, my primary mission here is teaching English. I teach those who were forced to leave their own country in order to flee war. Palestinians in the camps, Syrians in the suburb. I teach women and children. Maybe they can use their new knowledge one day and create a better life. Actually, it’s not even that much about English. It’s about spending an hour together, playing games, laughing, explaining some basic terms. What are the continents, what does an elephant look like, where is the rainforest? They are so motivated to learn, probably more than I’ve ever been in my school life. They’re not in a hurry to leave the classroom once the lesson is over. I like to believe our classes mean to them at least as much as they mean to me. Before we leave, friendly ladies offer us delicious biscuits with some juice, a coffee, sometimes they get someone to drive us to the nearby road where we can catch a bus from.
On the bus. We wait until it gets full, only then we leave. If we’re lucky, it has AC. Otherwise, we take some wind in our hair and take a wild ride on Amman streets, where one has to fight for their priority. No one really knows how many lanes there are; cope with it and drive! On the bus, I usually connect to the Internet, let my mom know I’m OK, study Arabic, or just wonder.
I wonder about how happy, satisfied I am, how everything is crazy and new, what’s next on my to-do list once I get home. Maybe I’ll stop at the market on my way home, I’m running out of fruits and zucchinis. I also need to find a place where I can buy some cocoa powder, as Klara and I promised we’d make a dessert this evening. It’s funny, I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks and it already feels like home. I have my favourite fruit and vegetable guy, who always gives me good price for tomatoes. He must be around 13 and I think he’ll succeed in his life, he has a genuine smile. I have a couple of new friends that I meet on the roof, mull over life, sing, and smoke shisha with. I have my favourite spot with most beautiful view. I have my herbs and natural oils supplier. And a shop where I get eight packs of spaghetti for a dinar. Some favourite falafel and hummus shops. I’m starting to know the coffee shop finger language and can order whatever coffee I want directly from the car. I know where to get the best dates. The figs are still too expensive for me, except for the ones in the camp. I can get a taxi by myself, ask if the meter is on, tell the driver where I want to go, arrive, pay, thank for the ride. Without using a single word in English. I found out I can mix tahini (sesame paste) with date molasses to get a superb dessert, on a spoon. I know when the prayer takes place. I turn the music off during that time. At 6 pm, the church bells ring, it sounds familiar, kind of homely. All these are things I think about on the bus.
When all the seats are taken, a man offers me his place despite my you really don’t have to, it’s OK, thank you. Accept. You should always take what’s offered to you, a wise local man told me soon after my arrival to the Middle-East. Sometimes three women collegially share two seats. Some other time, a man goes to sit with another man, so I can have my own seat. Of course, it is unacceptable if I sit next to a man, except for some extreme cases.
Sometimes the bus stops, a uniformed man is checking the documents. I can feel restlessness, tension. There is a young man without his ID and he has to leave the bus, accompanied by the policeman. No one cares about mine, which makes me feel slightly offended, although the partiality is in my favour. Can’t I be dangerous?
The bus goes its way, at some point we have to pay for the ride. A supple young man is counting the coins, he calculates fast and never forgets to give the change back when he gets some. There is a man wearing an elegant shirt, he immediately notices we’re foreigners. I’ll pay for you, you are my guests. Welcome. There are four of us and we all tell him there is no need, we have money. He insists, welcome.
The ride and all the waiting and changing takes about two hours, depending on where we go. Just don’t be in a hurry.