Written 10 November 2012
On Sunday, 14 October, my driver took me to my new apartment, barely 500 meters from the center of town where the hotel Diane and I had stayed in April is located. This was good, I was in somewhat familiar territory. We were met by my new landlord (there's an unfamiliar word in my vocabulary, one I haven't used since 1979-80 when Diane and I rented a house in Astoria before we bought one!), Ramzi Kildani. Ramzi is a great guy and has been very helpful to me in my first weeks here in Madaba (more about that later, first the apartment). It turns out that Ramzi is the brother-in-law of the CEO of AUM's Advancement office (more about how AUM is set up in a later post. Look forward to that one, too.) Ramzi lives in a house just behind the apartment building; he, his wife, two sons(one away at college in Amman) and a daughter on the first floor, his mother on the second floor) Having met most of them, I can say they are really decent, welcoming people, making a man far from home feel just a bit more connected to the local scene.
The apartment is a 3rd-floor walkup in a four-story building on one of the busiest streets in town. All of the pictures I'm showing were taken on 10 November, almost a month after arriving, so they show a somewhat more lived-in environment than when I first arrived. Casa Madaba is 3 rooms (living room, kitchen, and bedroom) plus a bathroom that is quite small (not small enough to give a mouse claustrophobia, but definitely 'right-sized' for a guy my size).
Here's the tour:
the door to the apartment leads directly into the living room. I don't do all that much living there. There's a couch, chair, a couple of end tables, a hutch with an old TV (with a satellite hookup that shows about 500 channels of content, most of it in Arabic) that I have turned on once so far. There's a small window in the wall near the TV facing northwest, more or less, so the afternoon sun comes in there.
There's a table and three chairs, a stacked refrigerator/freezer (refrig on top), a gas fired 4 burner stove with oven(gas cylinder to the left of the stove), a double sink and some counters and cabinets. The apartment came 'furnished' with everything I might need; mostly a mismatched collection of dishes, silverware, cups, glasses, etc. all of fairly pedestrian quality. Since arriving I have added dish towels, a broom, dustpan & brush, mop & bucket, a dish drying rack, and, (courtesy of Diane and a late-October shopping extravaganza at IKEA and the Jerusalem Mall) two good covered cooking pans, an indestructible frying pan (the one in the apartment was a decidedly limp Chinese-made offering), a coffee grinder, decent knives, a whole raft of spices, 4 liters of good olive oil, a 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) bag of coffee, various and sundry small cooking implements, two sets of colorful towels (thanks to Kate R and Olivia Bee), and two sets of high-quality bed linens to supplement the one set (decidedly stiff and 'scratchy') that came with the apartment.
The bedroom and bathroom are both reached through the kitchen.
The bedroom, painted a most fetching lavender, contains a single bed, night table, a large closet complex, and a smaller one to hang/store some stuff. As you can see the top of the closet has become home to my suitcases (there are four because I had to borrow two from Diane to get all my extra goods back here in late October). The window in the bedroom faces downtown Madaba to the east southeast, so it gets good morning sun.
The bathroom, small but functional, has an open shower, sink and toilet. One had to be careful not bang ones knees on the sink pedestal while on the throne. The window in the bathroom faces the same direction as the bedroom window, so gets good morning sun as well.
All in all, it's a perfectly adequate place for one guy living on his own in a new country. I'm sure there are many less appealing places to be had in town. Given that I'm not paying for it (except with my labor at AUM), it's fine. I had hoped that I might end up with a two bedroom apartment so that I could host guests while I am here. Unless I move to new digs, that's not gonna happen. Hardy souls can use the couch in the living room; otherwise, the Madaba Inn Hotel (perfectly adequate in a faded 1980s sort of way) is just down the street. Overall, the place is probably 1/3 to 1/2 the size of Diane's 3 bedroom, 3 balcony palace in Jerusalem for those of you who know that place.