Saturday, October 23, 2010


Amman is an interesting city. It has large areas of town that are very westernized and many things in english. It has areas of town that feel like I'm back in Saudi. It has amazing, multimillion dollar homes and beautiful shops and restaurants, right next door to poor bedouins living, literally, in tents and raising goats and sheep on an empty lot. We are lucky enough to live in Abdoun, a very nice part of town, full of westerners and rich Ammanis, and all the trappings ... fancy cafes, exclusive boutiques, etc. Despite this, there are still a fair number of poor families living in the undeveloped areas in between houses and neighborhoods. Many of them are Iraqi refugees, I'm told.

Our particular neighborhood is no exception. It is a fairly newish neighborhood, with many empty lots, brand new huge homes, and many other homes and apartment buildings under construction. An example of this interesting dichotomy between the haves and the have-nots in Amman .... if you look out our front door, you see one of these expensive, large, beautiful homes ... the owner has a mercedes in the driveway, a land rover parked out front, etc etc ... and today, he had a heard of sheep and goats going by his house feeding in the empty lot next door. the herd is based out of a bedouin camp right around the corner and down in the wadi from where we live. if you look out the window in our master bedroom, we have a nice view of a wadi (canyon) and another bedouin camp across the way ... they live without plumbing, without electricity, without anything really ... in the states it's easy to brush these things aside and not think about it because it's not in your face like it is here. i'm not trying to make some deep social commentary, just pointing out an interesting fact of life here in amman.

here are some pictures i snapped this am during breakfast of the goats coming through our neighborhood. the first pic is taken from our kitchen window (don't be alarmed by the bars on the windows, everyone in Amman has them, even though crime rates are extremely low); the other pics were taken from our balcony, which looks back towards the street in front of our house.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lamb Brains

Good morning, all! Skyped with my family last night and it was won-der-ful to see their beautiful faces!!! Especially my darling nieces and nephew, who I will always refer to as my own!!! ha!

So. lamb brains. When I was talking to Mom, I mentioned seeing this "delicacy" in the grocery store and how disgusting it was, so she suggested I include weird stuff like that in this blog for everyone's viewing pleasure. These are seriously gross. I'm not usually squeamish about food, but there is something about seeing something so...brain-like all wrapped up in plastic ready for anyone to just buy and fry up that I can't quite stomach. Maybe if it didn't look exactly like a brain, I wouldn't mind so much. Anyway, enough about that - but do let me know if you have had brains before and what they tasted like!

Some answers to questions from my first post:
Brenda - we did go to Jara Souk the other day - have you been there? We were surprised there aren't more souks here - in Saudi there was a very large one that I THINK was always open....Jara Souk is now closed down for the winter, so we made it the very last weekend. We bought some beautiful framed photos of Amman that were taken by a very talented teenager with a great Canon. We also bought a miniature wooden door with key hooks to hang by our front door. I'm sure we'll buy some more rugs bc we love them, but there is also a cool ceramic store here that I'm sure I'll drop some money at, as well as furniture. There is a very cool curved wooden bench that friends of ours here have, and we kind of want it!

Uncle J- entertainment here is fine. We have AFN (Armed Forces Network) on tv, which is only ok. It's only about 10 different channels with lots of Oprah, Dr Phil, and military news. I get excited when House or an HGTV show comes on!!! There is a movie theater here, and supposedly it's a very nice one, with reclining seats and tables for food, but we haven't been there yet. I do believe they play current movies that are in the US theaters, probably with Arabic subtitles. There is also a movie store close to our house - very cheap dvd's of the most current things out - movies/tv series/hbo shows, etc. I'm on the hunt for the last couple seasons of the Tudors.

Also, malls. Jordanians LOVE malls. There is a mall on every corner. They are building a huge one near our house now, bc apparently they didn't have any in a 100 yard radius. Things are exceedingly expensive here though. It's kind of shocking really. Cereal is insane - like $6 or $7 per box. I just have to express my appreciation again for all the English here. Sometimes I just feel like I'm just living in a very ethnic neighborhood in DC!!!

Erica- as far as we know, there have never been goats on Wilson, but he just meant that's how weird it looked -- as if we were seeing goats walking down Wilson!! And the weather has been FANTASTIC so far. Sunny every single day, warm days with slightly cool evenings. Much better than dreary fall back in the States!!

Some exciting news - hopefully we will be getting a maid soon. To those who have lived overseas before (Ahem, Denise and Albert), having maids is very common and very cheap. I'm just excited that someone else will vacuum up Susie hair for awhile!!

Oh, the mustard potatoes. They were just ok. I had to make so many and didn't have the right pans here, so I think that hindered my effort, but I think in a smaller batch where you have more control over them, they could be good! I'm now obsessed with roasting potatoes and swear I will master them.

Brian and I went to dinner last night to a very cool "gastro-pub". Online definition: In the United Kingdom, many working-class citizens frequent pubs, short for public houses. These neighborhood watering holes offer patrons a selection of cold beverages and basic comfort foods known as pub grub. In the early 1990s, however, some enterprising British chefs decided to upgrade certain pubs in order to appeal to a more upscale clientele. They called their new style of restaurant a gastropub, a combination of the French word gastronomique and pub.

Anyway, it offered FANTASTIC views of the city and was a cool place all around. Service here in Amman is so crappy though. We ordered an appetizer and 2 entrees, and it took 45 mins or so and then we got all them all at the same time. Did I mention, we were 2 of only 6 patrons on the WHOLE UPPER DECK??? Not sure why service isn't great here, but we have definitely noticed that at a couple other places.

Ok, enough ranting and raving for now. Have a fantastic day!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Welcome to Amman!

Well, this is the first blog entry from the Reams family in Amman! I think this is probably the best way to communicate with everyone instead of sending 9 million individual emails!

We've been here just over a week now and are settling in..somewhat. The first shipment of our household goods should be here in a few days (HOPEFULLY) and the second shipment will still be at least another month or two. We can't wait for this first shipment to come, as it has all of our dishes/utensils/pots and pans, sheets, towels, pictures etc etc. It will really feel more like home once we have all those things. Our house is pretty nice, and a lot larger than the condos that both Brian and I have left behind in Nova. I counted - there are at least 21 different places to sit in in our apartment!!! Certainly feels palatial to us in that sense. It's also nice to have 2.5 bathrooms and a few spare bedrooms! That's for when you all come to visit us!

As I'm sitting here, our house is actually being painted. Anything beats those sterile white walls, so we are so excited to get some color into this home!

Our neighborhood is interesting. It's a very nice neighborhood in the sense that we live near other lovely apartment buildings and beautiful homes, but we still have herds of goats that sweep through the streets, which is a bit surreal. We have also seen the goats walking down the normal streets of Amman, which Brian likened it to seeing goats walk down Wilson Blvd in Clarendon! So weird!!

So far, we've just been trying to figure our way out around the city. Brian has started work and we are currently a one car household, so I stay home a lot with the pup! Thankfully, we have several friends of ours that were already here, and we've made some great new ones, which has helped the transition immensely. Nothing like seeing a friendly face in a strange place, that's for sure!

I am planning on getting a part time job (no clue what that will entail yet), but more importantly, I am planning on doing some volunteer work while here. There are numerous options for me, but I am interested in doing something with children/babies.

Thankfully, many things in our neighborhood are in English -- signs, labels, street names, which helps us so much. We went for cupcakes last night to a place that Brian actually read about in the NY Times and had a nice conversation with the owner who grew up around Americans and had a very American accent! We are also constantly on the lookout for the best shwarma around - which is essentially shaved chicken, beef or lamb in a pita with tahini sauce and pickles... fantastic mid east fare. You can get variations at home (Leb Taverna, anyone??), but everything seems to taste better locally!

That's about it for now. Off to roast 9 lbs of potatoes for a potluck dinner tonight. Have to give some love to one of my favorite websites -- will let you all know how they turned out!

Recipe here:

Much love to all of you - hope you had a wonderful weekend and that fall is in full bloom at home!