Written 10 November 2012
16 November: I wrote this in anticipation of having internet connectivity in my apartment. That hasn't happened yet, but I'm going to leave what I wrote rather than fix it at the moment. I am posting this from Diane's apartment in Jerusalem.
Take this paragraph with a grain of salt. It is mostly not true yet.
I've been in Madaba for almost a month now and I finally have Internet connectivity in my apartment. It has been slow going getting that set up, but now that it is, I can begin sharing what I've been doing for the past month(s) and then on a more or less regular basis going forward. I have Internet connectivity at work, but felt that it would be an unjust use of my time there to write personal blog posts.
Up until now, Readin', Racin', Fish, Tunes, and Hoops has been not only the title of this blog, but also the subject matter covered. I'm now expanding the scope of the blog because I find myself almost halfway around the world from my home in Lake Forest Park, Washington. Up until now, I haven't been sure about whether I should change the title or what the new one should be; I'm going to go with Readin', Racin', Fish, Tunes, Hoops, and International Adventures.
Almost a year ago (December 2011) while I was looking for work after taking early retirement from Cisco Systems in July 2011, I was encouraged to share my resume with the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem with the possibility of working for/with him at the new university that was being started under his auspices in Madaba, Jordan. That university is the first Catholic university in Jordan, the American University of Madaba (AUM). Through a fairly lengthy process, I corresponded with, interviewed with, and was finally offered a job by the powers that be at AUM. They offered me an apartment, the use of a car, and some dinars (the local currency) each month in return for my services. What those services would be was, at the time, somewhat nebulous, but would likely involve helping the faculty at AUM to incorporate technology into their educational efforts at as deep a level as possible.
During late August/early September 2012, I made plans to move to Jordan for almost a year. My current contract with AUM runs through August 2013. If they like my work, they'll offer me a new contract some time before that one runs out. If I still like the work and feel that I can make a positive difference at AUM, I'll accept it. We'll all see what happens as we move through my time here.
I left Seattle on October 12 at around 8:30 in the morning, flew to Chicago on American Airlines, then after a 7 hour layover boarded Royal Jordanian Airlines flight 243 direct to Amman, Jordan. I arrived at Queen Alia airport at 5:30 in the afternoon on October 13. After about 23 hours of travel I had arrived in my new country. My driver, who spoke very little English, picked up me and my two bags (packed as close to 50 lbs each as I could manage), my carry on and Tom Bihn Empire Builder (a really well designed soft attaché-type case and delivered me to the Hotel Miriam in Madaba just as dusk was turning to night. At that point I really had no idea what lay ahead of me, but decided that they had brought me over in good faith and would make good on their promises. Sooo, I just decided to roll with it. There'll be a lot of that moving forward!
When Diane and I had been in Madaba during April 2012 and I was interviewing, we did some exploring of the town and found the local Catholic church. So, Sunday morning after a really decent breakfast, I wandered away from Hotel Miriam in hopes of being able to find my new parish church. One gift I've been given is a good sense of direction and a strong visual memory. Within 1 Km , (yes, Jordan is on metric and I am going to switch all my measures over to that! Just remember (for now), 1Km=.625 miles, a little bit more than 1/2 mile) I found myself in the center of Madaba. I knew where I was then and quickly found my way to the church. After Mass (all in Arabic, but the comforting thing about Mass is that no matter the local language, the overall pattern and individual parts are still the same, so I could follow along more or less), I took a leisurely stroll through town and back to the hotel. When I got there, my driver from the evening before was in the lobby waiting to take me to my 'new' apartment. I went upstairs, packed my things back into their respective bags, we checked me out and I was off on the next stage of my adventure.