Friday, June 21, 2013


Hey family!!! Guess what? Hurray! I have finally found a job at a bakery. I don't know why I didn't pursue it earlier, but I really did this past week and it paid off. But first, some other things happened too!

We went to Habiba's. It's a dessert company that has delicious Middle Eastern food. We oftentimes will go to the one down in the city center in a quaint alley next to the bank, but this time we went to the mother of all Habiba's. It's like a big, fancy sit-down restaurant for just desserts. :) So we had a good time. In the picture you can see the fanciness of the setting in the background. In the foreground we have the stunning and delightfully curious Marc Jay, who never ceases to warm my heart with his smile, grace, and laughter. I love you roomie. You are loved and appreciated! By me. And by others, too. But especially by me! :)

[He went with the hairy kunaafa. I went with something else delicious , but I forgot his name.]
We also went to another festival at the King Hussein Gardens! This was quite a new experience. The Arabs in attendance were super Western—lots of uncovered hair, lots of hipsters, lots of free drinks, Western tunes, excellent English speakers, etc. It was to promote new ideas and business products and such, and it actually gave me lots of hope for Jordan's future! Some of the people I work with seem to be stuck in a rut of complacency because of harsh circumstances, which causes a lack of drive and efficiency and productivity plummet. I really do love all of the people around me at work, these are just some observations I've made. However, at this festival people were full of life and drive and excitement for the future. And they were all young, talented, educated, beautiful, wonderfully Jordanian people. So that was fun. I got my blood tested for free at one booth! They tested me and asked if I had drunk a Pepsi or eaten right before the test. I told them I had eaten a ton that day, the last time being about an hour prior. They told me I needed to go to a professional blood clinic and get a full check. They said my blood sugar and hemoglobin levels were totally wack. But then I explained that I had run 20 miles that morning for marathon training and that I had been eating a full meal every two hours for the entire day to reach a full recovery. And they looked relived and said I was probably fine and don't worry about it. My body was just trying recover. So I didn't worry about it! And I am fully recovered and healthy. No worries.

We also went to the King Hussein Mosque at the Gardens. I visited before, but this time we went in and got to witness the evening prayer. Very cool. We were walking toward the mosque as the sun was setting, and the call to prayer began. Soooooo beautiful. And then we made our way with the Muslims into the prayer room. The girls brought scarves to cover their heads this time so that we could all go in. We went to the men's area and the women to the women's. It was so beautiful and peaceful. Indescribable, really. 

[Markie Poo and Loagie Bear checking out the inscription on the Mosque wall. I love my roomies.]

[Purty, huh? I loved being there with so many people of faith. It really is a holy spot...]
The next item of business is my new dew / do / due. I guess it is "do" because that's how you spell hairdo? My hairs were getting really long and shaggy and my coworker kept asking me and asking me why I hadn't cut my hair yet. Like, really, I could tell he thought it was pretty horrendous. And then another coworker told me that my hair was ugly and made me look really old. He told me I should gel it straight back or cut it or something—just change it somehow. I told him that my mommy back in Arkansas likes long hair on boys and so that I'm used to long hair, cause that's what I had all growing up! That didn't help much. But it's true! And I love you mommy, so don't worry I fought as hard as I could. But in all truth, it was getting there, you know? Like pretty long. And if I were at the beach, I'd've kept it. But I'm in Amman. So I got it cut!!!!! And here's the proof. 

[Before. When I was "ugly and old."]
[After. When I'm "young and exactly like all the shabaab I see on the street." Convenient how that happened...]
Yeah, so that's the new me. The Arab me. All of the guys here have super gelled hair and short, tidy, cuts. So when I went to get a hair cut I told him to just take off a little bit everywhere but to keep pretty much the same look. And he just kept cutting and cutting and then he gelled my hair and parted it real fancy for me and gave me "the Italian swoop" as he called it (that's the cute flippy thing in the front, I guess). So yeah! Pretty new. I've never had that look, but I guess I fit in a lot better now. And people comment on how the good the change was for me. Like A LOT of people at work comment on how much better it is. And my boss said that with long shaggy hair (which he always calls "not nice") I look 24 or 25, but with this new cut, I look 18 or 19. So I guess that's good? I don't actually gel my hair every day, just the day that the dude cut it. So it actually looks pretty normal and not very short. It's a good cut and I like it. It was just funny to see the cultural differences!

Okay. Now onto the gooood stuff. Bread! I took some pictures of where I work. I have class two nights a week and then the Sabbath is Friday, so I usually can go in Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday nights and then Saturdays for a while when we don't take group trips to wonderful places around Jordan. I just showed up at a bakery and said that I want to learn how to make bread and viola! I was in like flint, or however that saying goes. The owner wasn't there, but they let me work with them and said they'd ask the owner if I could work for real at the bakery each day. He showed up two days later. His 13-yr-old son was one of the guys working so he had told him all about me—"Boolos" the American who wants to learn Arab bread so that he can actualize his dream of opening his own bakery in the States, cause that's what I told him. The boss came and watched us for a while and then pulled me aside and we had a good chat. He doesn't know a lick of English which is awesome for me. Actually none of the workers do, so I get to learn Arabic AND bread in one session. It's like heaven. Only hotter, kinda like hell. But not really because the bakery is a place of happiness and learning and laughter and delicious smells and tastes. Anyway, so we are talking and he asks me what I expect and want from working. All the workers want me to just quit at the Ministry and work with them all day, but I told them that I have to go to the Ministry because it's part of my schooling and I want to graduate and such. I think they wanted to pay me, too, but I told him that I honestly just wanted his knowledge and to get to use his equipment and so the boss told me I was welcome to work for him! He's a great guy. He also told me that his dream is to open an Arab bakery in the States. He told me we should go into business together. So yeah, he's a great guy and I love the bakery. I got a few shots that kinda outline the bakery.

[Das oven. The tanks of gas heat it. The round thing spins slowly in a big arc.]

[Fire. It gets very hot. Heated from below and above.]
[We form the balls of dough (on floor) and then put them through this machine to flatten them.]

[Then stack them in these trays. All the ones stacked on the left are full.]

[Then put them in das oven and let them do a full two rotations.]

[And then slide them off and stack them on racks to cool for a minute before baggin them in 2kg (4.4 pounds) bags. It's 50 JD cents which is about 71 US cents. So cheap!]
The young guy holding his hand out toward the majesty of the oven is Ahmad. He's the baker's son. We are tight. I love working at the bakery. It's good to just chat and work with the Arabs after a day of translating super technical government documents. The pictures show the normal pita bread, but we bake lots of other kinds as well. It's so tasty. There is an Egyptian, a Syrian, a Jordanian, an Iraqi, and an American guy (that's me) that work at the bakery. We are a pretty rag-tag bunch and each have our own story of how we got here, but we have fun. The Iraqi guy grew up his whole life in Baghdad and was 15 when America began the whole occupation business. He came here two years ago and has a wild story, but that's for another time...

Family, I will make us some of this good bread and we can have a nice Middle Eastern meal when I get back. I'm already excited! Tomorrow morning I'm meeting them at the bakery at 5am to start the mixing process for the dough! I'm pumped. And then we'll work a while and then I'll do my long Saturday run, then take a quick nap before we leave Amman at 12 for our trip to Ajloun and Umm al-Qais just a little ways north-east of here, I think. Not super sure, but it's supposed to be gorgeous. Life is just wonderful out here. Momma, I hope your marathon training is going well! I'm so impressed that my mommy is doing it with me! You are a pro and I hope I can keep up with you. I've never run that far in my life!

Well, I'm out. Stay safe family and I'll see you before you know it! Heidi, have a blast at BYU this summer and when I get there we'll party like no brother and sister have every partied. I love you guys!


  1. paulie. you are truly an amazing person. i am in awe of your awesomeness. way to give 110% to your life.

    love you.

  2. that was elyssa, ps. not camp peterson. but i'm at camp peterson and just got back from the inaugural boat run of the year. my legs are already sore from the wakeboard. yesh.

  3. I absolutely LOVE that you found the bakery. Bring all your bread secrets home with you!