Sunday, January 13, 2013

International Adventures: Baby, It's Cold Inside!

I spent two great weeks in Seattle over the Holidays; Christmas, New Years, and Gwynedd's Birthday. I left Seattle under cold and rainy skies on the morning of Sunday, January 6 and arrived in Amman under cold and rainy skies on Monday, January 7 in the evening. It has grown steadily colder here since then.

I went to work on Tuesday, not realizing it was going to be my only work day until Saturday. On Wednesday and Thursday, AUM cancelled school due to weather. It wasn't bad here in Madaba on Wednesday, but many of the faculty and staff come from the Amman area and they had more severe weather there.

Thursday morning dawned with a blanket of  snow! As you can see from the frozen latte shown here we only got a couple of inches, but it was enough to paralyze this desert country for a number of reasons.

One of the main reasons is roads and traffic. Understandably, no one here buys snow tires. Jordanians tell me that it can go 2 to 3 years with no snowfall at all. If they have a heavy year, they might get 2 or 3 snowfalls. Why would anyone buy snow tires when the occurence is so low? I know that I wouldn't. I also know that I left my little grey Aveo right where it was on the street for two very good reasons; one, I knew its tires wouldn't handle even this modest snow fall, and two, I have no confidence that Jordanians can drive in this stuff. Better not to find out the hard way!

A second reason for the paralysis is the lack of snow removal equipment. Again, why make such a tremendous investment for such a rare occurence. They did, however, press some slightly unorthodox machines into service. This photo was taken from my landlord's front balcony just around the corner from my apartment building. In fact, all the photos in this post were taken by my landlord. He sent them to me so I could have a good look at was causing me to stay nestled in my little cocoon in my bedroom.

The street level views show that, while we didn't get that much snow in absolute terms, it was more than enough for this area of the world. In addition, the native plant life did not take too kindly to the frigid weather, though there is something lovely in this picture of the palms with a covering of snow.

The rest of these pictures were taken from the rooftop of our apartment building. The lamp, with it's CFL light burning, has a feel of Lamp Post Waste in Narnia. If only I could get to the Kingdom of Ward Robe in the Land of Spare Oom from here.

It continued to snow during the morning which was kinda cool.

This is the view down the street that I see from my bedroom two floors below. The center of Madaba is just down at the end of the street.

The downside of this winter weather occurs inside the buildings and are the inspiration behind today's title (as is Ray Charles' Baby, It's Cold Outside). They are, for the most part, built of poured concrete with tile floors and stuccoed walls. There is absolutely no central heating in any of them and for most of the year there is no need for it. In my apartment, I have one small electric heater. All during this time I have dressed in as many layers as possible ( I am so glad I brought two pairs of long underwear back with me!) and then stationed myself as close to my one heater as possible. I continually thank Gwynedd for the hat she knitted me while I was home. I wear it most of the day. I have spent my days at the kitchen table and actually did a bunch of work related stuff, even though we had the days off. Mostly, I read a book by L. Dee Fink called Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. It is the source material for the design approach I am taking with the course I will be teaching the faculty at AUM over the coming weeks (more on that in a later post, I am sure.), so I wanted to give it as close a study as possible. These two quiet days gave me the opportunity that I needed.

In the evening it becomes a strategic dance. Do I move the heater to my bedroom and warm it up some, or do I keep it with me in the kitchen where I am reading, fiddling with the computer, watching videos, reading and writing email etc? How cold can I stand to be before I retreat to my bed with its coverlet and two comforters. They are, indeed, comforting to me, as they keep me warm and toasty all night long. For the past week, though, I have taken to wearing a hat to bed in order to keep all of the heat I have with me.

When I first got to Madaba in mid-October it was still quite warm. At night I slept on top of the covers in an effort to stay cool. I'd imagine that when we get to high summer here I would be exceedingly happy for some of this present coolness to make a reappearance, but right now it is a condition to be endured.

That last sentence seems kinda whiney to me. These are the conditions in the country I have chosen to live in. It's really my job to figure out to live well in them and to make the best of it. After all, the Jordanians have learned to live in this weather over the course of many years. It's my job to observe them and learn what lessons I can. I can do that.

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About Me

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.