Sunday, 28 February 2010

Nothing is never easy in Jordan...

I grew up in South of France where NOTHING is easy - you have to work yourself through the administration for the smallest thing, the plumber says he comes at 10am and your are lucky if he shows up the next day at 4pm - ok i am exaggerating a little bit, but not too much. Well welcome to Amman it's the same story! Some examples:

- When you land at Queen Alia Airport: need to queue to exchange some money, because nobody tells you that you need 10 JD/per person to queue to get the visa; then you queue with immigration... and finally you queue to show your passport... Don't you just love it??

- If you are to be resident you have the whole blood test/police station thing - which I am sure must be a pain in the butt (excuse my french) should you miss one tiny piece of paper... I wonder when we will get ours. Nobody can really say how long it takes, I guess it all depends if Bob's employer pushes for it or not. And then to get your things out of the port of Aqaba, should you have send some, is probably very interesting as well! We have somebody from the hotel doing it for us, otherwise it is a drive to Aqaba (about 4hours with a baby) and some lengthy talks with somebody who goes through every single thing that you wish to bring into the country and one to pay import fees. I know somebody who was asked to pay 2000JD to get their stuff, they bargained it down to 800JD, still to get your own used things...

- Our dishwasher has arrived! Youpi! well it is still in the middle of the kitchen because it wasn't the right tap, and though the tap has been fitted now, well I don't really know when the guys who should get it up and running, are going to make a reappearance!

- When we moved in 3 days ago the heating was still not quite working, we were told it could take some time because the floors are so cold - good thing we are in Jordan and not northern Europe! The central heating button was on, but one day, two days went past and the floors remained stubbornly cold! So this morning an engineer from the hotel came and... the valves were not open. And as you can see there are a lot of valves. I guess there is one for every room/bathroom/cupboard in the apartment!

- We have a little red light that shows that the water level is low in the building. Well it as been on since we moved in... and last night no more water! So we call our favourite handy-man (and yes the guy-without-a-name will get his own post soon, he really deserves it) and up he comes, Bobs shows the tap: goes no water?? and he bla bla bla in Arabic (Mr Handy-man not Bobs)... Off he goes and 5 minutes later he is back and so is the water. Well apparently the tank was closed! Why don't know?!? And there is just so much one can understand when taking with the hands.

And finally this has nothing to do with the administration, or the apartment... When you are going grocery shopping: 2 things... First don't assume that because a supermarket had something last week that they will have it next week: if you like it, buy it!! and... people just randomly stops in an random aisle and speak with random people (no ok they probably know the persons they stop and talk to): so there you are heading for the tomatoes and suddenly you have these 2 guys chatting away about random things in front of your tomatoes...

Patience, patience is a key word in Jordan!

Saturday, 27 February 2010

A few lunches & snacks around town

The first place we headed for a snack when we arrived to Amman was of course to the 2nd circle and Reem. Jordanians & Non Jordanians agree: the best shawarmas in town, in Jordan, in the World :) Come on even the New York Times has had an article about Reem this winter! And yes they are indeed very tasty, the best? I don't know, but it is always packed with people buying these tiny sharwamas. Cars are parked in the circle, in front of the shop, and double parked, it's really something to see. Everybody comes there poor, rich, locals, tourists! Really a place that's worth the visit! Bobs went to buy them, it was late and Bibs was in the car so I can't really comment on the "buying" experience - for sure they don't speak english - but Bobs succeeded in coming back with them! I guess everybody can! Oh yes and of course this is clearly to put in the inexpensive section - though you can get bigger sharwama's in other places for the same price! - under 1JD.

Bibs has met some of her friends at 2 restaurants lately, both located in Abdoun. The first is Casper & Gambinis; - a trendy upscale restaurant, which very proudly shows off their "hygiene" certificates. It has a lovely terrasse, the service was ok - not the fastest but not bad either - and the food was good but quite expensive. I had a fruit smoothy, a bottle of water and a salad for a total of 16JD - that's what I call London prices :) but they were ok with 6 babies and their mums so they deserve a medal for that! The second place we went is the Blue Fig - they serve some really nice small kind of pizzas (5JD), I had one with pesto and grilled vegetables, it was Yummy. There is a little couch area where we sat, a lovely terrace and seating on 2 floors. They gave us a baguette each when we left, I don't know if they also sell it, but i did see some breads displayed, so maybe!

The last one we visited was Ren Chai a fine dining chinese restaurant. It is located at fourth circle, behind the French Embassy. It seems very popular, with many large tables filling up as we left: Jordanians eat lunch very late (compared to northern Europe) at around 2.30pm onwards. Well I can safely say that it is the last time we come there! The food was uninteresting and really not worth the money (total bill of 46JD for 2 for lunch with a bottle of water), the service was OK, apart from one waiter who was plainly rude.

I need to add a couple of things: in front of every restaurant the parking spaces are allocated to valet parking so let's say that the guy at Casper's was not immensely impressed when he found me parked right in front of the restaurant as he came back from his break! Tough luck for him, haha, but to be honest I am so not used to it, that it didn't even cross my mind when I parked! He didn't say anything, but I did see him leaned against my car the whole time (2hours) we were there. The other thing is that all prices in restaurants are excluding VAT & service charge so you always have to add 26% to the prices on the menu: important if you order a good bottle of wine, not so much if you buy a sharwama of course (I think those come all included!!).

At the bottom of the page is a link to map where I put the location of all the restaurants.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Thoughts about Individuality

I am a wife, I am a mum, I am number 2 of 2 sisters, I am a daughter, I am an aunty and a sister in law. I am all this but who am I? I mean: me, as an individual?

I have given up my carrier in hospitality, yes, my choice – so that I can have a stable family life and take care of my baby-girl. I have left the continent where I have my family, my friends, yes my choice again – so that my husband can fulfil his career ambitions. These 2 decisions have of course changed my life, and I would do it all again. No regrets. Am I happy? As happy as I can be. But of course it doesn’t leave much space for me: I am a wife and a mum! So what do I do to be me? What am I passionate about?

I have always liked writing – so I have started this blog. I don’t think am particularly good at it. But it is a way for me to keep “in the loop” those back “home” (see my previous post about this topic), helping others who wish to move to Jordan (tomorrow probably another country) and it is also good for my brain! Who knows? I might even get better at it as well! But more importantly I enjoy it! I enjoy thinking about what I am going to write about and always having my camera on me, should I see something that I find interesting and that I want to share.

That brings me to the second thing I really enjoy: photography. I am really working on this. Is it an art? I guess it can be – even though I don’t create something as such, a great picture still brings emotions just like a painting or a piece of music can do. I take pictures of Bibs (tons!) and then of everything and anything. These past couple of years I have taken thousands. Am I good at it? Sometimes I capture what I want but most of the time I miss. So here again I hope I will get better over time…

The last thing on the list is of course being Mum. Wow, that is the most amazing thing in the world! I am working on it every minute of my day – every day brings it’s new surprises and I love it. But I also want Bibs to grow up seeing me as being someone else than “mum”. And I hope that the 2 previous hobbies will help me to achieve that.

These things are mine. The other things I am passionate about are all things shared with Bobs: the travelling, the hotels & the restaurants, the cooking. But again, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yet, it is difficult as an individual to evolve in an everyday life where everything is about the persons you love – should they be close or far away.

Thanks Elisa (and your sister) for this amazing subject. Hope I have answered your question…

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Preparing the move

6 weeks today that we arrived to Amman and finally we are moving... today, tomorrow... don't know but it is happening and that's fabulous :)

Yesterday as I was packing, Bibs was looking very couriously at me while one toy after the other went back into the suitcase. She must have been wondering, what's happening now? Why are they disappearing ... again! So nearly everything is packed, just waiting with the last few things. They had some trouble starting the boiler - so we are waiting for the hot water to reach the taps and then we are out of here!

We have been to Carrefour to buy some pots, pans and other necessities we need until we get our things delivered, which should happen on sunday. Price wise: Tefal pans are between 15-20JD depending on the size, pots the same. I bought a mixer/blender for 33JD (promotion), for cooking accesories like wooden spoons and things like that, count between 2-5JD depending on what you want. Food wise prices are not terribly expensive except improted cheese, creme fraiche, ham... for exemple the tiniest pot of creme fraiche (1dl I guess) is 3.5JD and then wine as well: don't think you get a bottle under 10JD. Carrefour doesn't sell alcohol. You have a small shop inside Cozmo or you have to buy it from liquor stores - I haven't seen many but there is one at 5th circle. No special licence is required (like in UAE, for exemple).
I have to say it was quite a feeling to put things in cupboards and the fridge again. Simple things of life can make one very happy.

Thought I would share a couple a pictures of the apartment. As you can see it is not fully furnished -some things have happened since I took the pictures: the furniture in the right place, some plants, a coffee table... but still it gives you an idea.

The entrance to the building

The living/dining room

What is now Bibs' play area

Living Room 2 - and the TV was already there...

Kitchen - dishwasher supposed to arrive today! Oh and the tap is up as well!!

And I have to add that the pantry does have windows as well - I was exagerating in my previous post! I absolutely love all the sliding doors, that was one of the things we nearly all the apartments we visited - the apartments in the older buildings tend to be a bit dark.

I won't have an internet connection to begin with - apparently we have to wait for our residency to get it installed so it may take some time. So I don't really know how I will manage to get my posts online. Will have to find a cafe somewhere where there is Wifi!

Monday, 22 February 2010

One of these days...

You know, that day where you should have stayed in bed; the one where, without anything majorly bad happens, everything just seems to go wrong??? Well I had my day today!

It starts with that I wake up with a terribly stiff neck. No, it starts at 4am when Bibs has decided that she wants to feed every 30 min or so, then the bad neck and the headache that goes with it, bouh. The temperature has dropped (to normal) and the wind picked up, bouh. The Director of Guest Services calls Bibs: Isabella - which was our fancy gold fish that we had to leave behind (poor Isabella, now dead), bouh. A couple of hours where nothing happens. I am now at a friends apartment for a so called "baby group" - been there 30mins, Homecentre calls to say that our coffee table is on the way, so I have to leave - too early, didn't even finish my juice and Bibs is playing so nicely, bouh. Reverse out of the parking space and "boom" into a parked car. My first accident in Jordan, bouh. To my defence the car is parked about a meter from the pavement... Leave my phone number and explain I am in a rush - at least there is a lady who understands a bit of English. Get to the apartment, and guess what: The table is already there! So accident for nothing, double bouh! Drive back to the car-parked-in-the-middle-of-the-street. The whole family now is involved - Father, Daughter, Son, and baby girl, even neighbours. I have to wait cause the police needs to come to make a statement, bouh. Back to my friend's place. This time I get a cup of coffee. After 30mins the police comes, he asks me for the papers and what happened. So I explain and he says "you need to pay 25JD", so I say "Why" - and here comes the obvious: because it's my fault, bouh & rebouh. Mr Policeman and myself get invited on the terrace of the owner of the car-parked-in-the-middle-of-the-street, we get a glass of juice while he does the paper work. I don't think that kind of thing would happen in Europe! Get Bobs on the phone who tells me I need to watch where I am going when I am driving (thank you!) and say I have to go back to our apartment, because something is wrong with the boiler and they need access, BOUH. I am tired now, it's 4pm I still haven't had lunch, you guessed bouh!!

So all in all a very Bouh-Bouh day! Then I look at my beautiful daughter, who has been a star through this day and ok I am short of a couple of hundred JDs for the insurance, my neck still hurts and I am hungry but I know that I am blessed with a fantastic baby-girl and a wonderful husband, so it doesn't matter.

Was still a bouh day though...

Saturday, 20 February 2010

I like my new hair & my chat with the street vendor at the red light

This morning I decided to go the hair dresser. Now that we know where we are going to live, I chose one not to far from our new "home" and went to "Pace & Luce" at the Sheraton. All the big hotels have their hair dresser and it is very common to come from the outside. So I put Bibs in her pushchair and off we went. I had already been there a couple of weeks ago to have a pedicure done (8JD) and Mary-Lou had told me I could bring Bibs and she would look after her while I had my hair done! So I took her word for it... and she did entertain her the whole time I sat there. And though I was a bit sceptical when the hairdresser started I must say I love my new hair, just need to get some highlights done now as well, maybe next week. It cost me 28JD not cheap but not a price I find too stiff either, far cheaper than the UK or my dear hairdresser Cyril in Paris - I miss his "sexy" haircuts!

I wanted to check out a Chicco store that I saw last time on Naser Ben Jameel Street. Just after 5th circle at the red light was this street vendor selling Jordanian flags that you can put on your window screen and I thougt I'll have one. So I called him over and handed him 1JD, he gave me the flag and said 2 JD. It went on for a little while, "1JD... 2JD" and he said "got 2 babies, please come back tomorrow ms" and I said "OK maybe". I continued my way to the Chicco store and Bibs as usual got plenty of things. It is a very well furnished shop, with toys, travel systems, cots, baths, clothes. Got Bibs a walker (65JD) and a few toys, including a phone in hope she will leave my cell phone alone now... wishful thinking! Wish one would you prefer??

On the way back we meet the flag guy again! And of course he recognises me; he comes over to the car and makes a sign so that I open the window. And he goes "2JD" and "I have 2 babies" - this times he shows me how small with his hands - seems very newborn to me, maybe twins?!? lol. So I tell him: jordanian price 1/2 JD, but me 2JD? and he goes "YES" with a big smile and gives me another flag! So I guess he deserves his other JD for being so honest; even if he is not married and has no children! Bless him.

Friday, 19 February 2010

The Yogurt Post!

I love yogurts - natural or with fruits, blended or with pieces. I am a yogurt fan. I love the fresh taste in the mouth, it's sometimes a bit sour, sometimes you get this big piece of fruit. But why on earth do Jordanians like so much gelifier in their yogurt?? Had to check, but the word seems to exists! Since I am kid I love to look at the ingredients list on the side of the pot (also on cereals!) and I am not surprised to read: modified starch, pectin and agar agar - I mean seriously one of these should be enough. This morning I have an "Elle & Vire" Lychee, I have tried Danone, 2 Jordanian makes and they are all the same. A kind of over-gluey artificial milky desert. What a strange thing! Another funny thing is that in Europe, you'll constantly see "fat free", "low calories",... well here it is the opposite: "with at least x% of fat". I know I still have some makes to try so I am not completely disillusioned yet, but if ever there is a yogurt maker reading this, please do something about yogurts in Jordan!!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Freedom of Speech

There has been much written in the papers during the past week about the detention of two columnists for some televised statements they made, in which they questioned the involvement of Jordan's intelligence service in Afghanistan. While I strongly believe that a country should do what is in it's power to protect its citizens - and this includes cooperating with foreign intelligence agencies - I also strongly believe in everybody's right to say what they want and express their ideas.

The 2 columnists, Mwaffaq Mahadin and Sufyan Tal, were released on bail yesterday, however they have been charged among other things with "harming the Kingdom’s relations with a foreign country" which if found guilty could make them spend up to 15 years in prison.

There is nothing wrong in having different opinions and certainly it is not "dangerous", in the contrary it is a healthy and important part of democracy, a country should take pride in not being frightened of its citizens opinion.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

House hunting in Amman

This week-end (please notice here, that it’s Sunday yet the week-end is already over! and yes it takes a while to get used to…), so I was saying this week-end has been rather uneventful, as we haven’t really visited anything, so I thought I would share with you our house hunting story! We have been in Amman for a month now and are still staying at the hotel. We have found our apartment but haven’t signed the contract yet and there are still a couple of things which need doing before we can move in. But it took us a while to get here! Just want to add they have met people for whom it took 3 months to find something they liked... So I guess that a month is not so bad!

The hotel put us in contact with Abdoun Real Estate, one of the leading agencies and we started visiting straight away. We were looking for a furnished apartment and let’s say it is not an easy task to find something that suits our European taste! Some of the apartments we saw were very nice but the decoration a bit overwhelming. The apartments are generally large – compared to European standards - and with an impressive amount of living area (and sofas) as well as bathrooms! After 10-12 visits we finally found one located in Abdoun (the area in Amman where many expats live) – not very large compared to others but this one was furnished in a modern way! After a couple of weeks of waiting for the contract, the owner suddenly said that there was an issue with the lift and that it was too expensive to repair it! no lift = no apartment – with Bibs getting heavier and heavier there is no way that I was saying goodbye to the lift. So we lost a couple of weeks (bouh) and we were out looking again...

At the beginning of our search we had visited an apartment through somebody at the hotel. His nephew (lucky or not??) was supposed to get married but didn’t after all so there he was with a not totally finished apartment – however he asked for a little bit too much so we had decided not to take it. But then we thought, let’s try again… and this time he was willing to discuss the price :) whoop whoop!!! after a couple of days of bargaining we finally agreed. And let’s be honest we got a bargain here! Ok there are a couple of things we need to take care of, like there is no tab in the kitchen, but that is the biggest problem, the rest is just some lamps to buy and a little bit a furniture. In the end it’s probably better this way we can start buying our own stuff as well. Bobs just called me to say that he got the keys, that’s another Whoop! we just need to sign now…

In every apartment building there is a “handy-man” – don’t know if it’s the right term. I have been told that they are generally Egyptians (don’t know if ours is) and they are paid directly by the tenants on a monthly basis, don’t know how much either :) Lots of don’t knows there! So the handy-man might get his own post later on, when I know more about him! Well I know one thing, that’s that his English is very bad!!

Rent wise (in the nicer part of Amman): you should count between 8K to 10K for a 2 bedroom apartment furnished, up to 15K for a 3 bedroom... but as I have said they are large, a 3 bedroom is easily 220square meter, sometimes bigger. You don't need to go through an agency to rent. If you drive around Amman in the night you can easily see what is available as it is custom to leave all the lights on! Then you just need to find the "handy-man". There are plenty of signs on the balconnies as well.

When you are looking at the descriptions of the apartments, sometimes you see "maid's room". It is very usual here to have a live-in-maid. When we visited our "soon-to-be" apartment with the owner, he walked into the kitchen and then straight to what I would call a pantry and said: "this is where you can have a washing machine and the maid". A tiny room, there is just space for a bed, no window and there is a tiny bathroom (with no door in between the room and the bathroom). I just smiled and said we won't have a live in maid! That's something he didn't understand... Difference of culture.
Furniture wise there are some options: in Mecca Mall there is a shop called “Home Centre” – On Mecca street there are lots of furniture shops, I know some of the mums I meet have had some things made – which might actually be a cheaper option, as there is no IKEA around the corner! For the lamps it’s a good idea to go to Cosmo (on Mecca street) they have some ok things and you can easily bargain the prices as well.

One thing to keep in mind is that most owners will either negotiate the rent or will be willing to change some furniture, buy something you might think is missing. In Amman, when they say furnished, they mean it: it is possible literally to arrive with your luggage. There is everything – even in the kitchen: microwave, coffee maker, kettle, glasses, cutlery...

Wow! I can’t wait! I am soo looking forward to move into our new “home” and getting our things which are still in Aqaba waiting to be send to Amman.

Oh and…
Kung Shee Fat Choy!
Happy Chinese New Year!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Lunch at the Wild Jordan Nature Centre

Today I met with a couple of other mums and their girlies for lunch at the Wild Jordan Nature Centre. It is located after the 1st circle, above the old city of Amman and with fantastic views over the Citadel as well as the famous flag of Jordan (which is absolutely huge!). You can see it on the left hand side of the picture below.

The centre promotes the protection, the sustainable use of Jordan's resources as well as Eco Tourism. On the Website you will find information about trailing in different nature reserves, where you can stay, the costs...
The building is a new structure in glass and steal, built on the edge of a mountain, there are plenty of floors, but an elevator as well! There is a craftshop with really nice items from different nature reserves around the country. I bought some small things: 2 small hand made bowls, a soap tray and a soap made from olive oil - total of 14JD - I know not cheap but it is for the good cause! Then there is an area where with sofas and nature magasines. This is where we had lunch, they usually don't serve there but 3 mums and 3 babies made them understand that it was a bit easier. It is also a breastfeeding friendly place. The food is a "healthy option" place - it offers healthy snacks, salads and light meals through out the day. I had an Artichoke salad which was really nice, very fresh produce - with a blueberry milkshake (skimmed milk please!) and a bottle of water for a total of 11JD - that's also not cheap - but the location is nice and it is breastfeeding friendly! 

Then you have the restaurant located on 2 floors (one smoking, one non) as well as an outside terrasse I think, but it didn't look open and don't know if it was easy accessible with a stroller.
All in all a nice and refreshing place to come and enjoy some amazing views, and contribute as well to the protection of Jordan's fabulous nature heritage.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Promised Pictures: Jingo's Jungle

Yesterday I went into the kids playground on the 3rd floor of City Mall, well this isn't a playground it is an amusement park! see for yourself...

So this Jingo Jungle is an area over 5.500 square meters (yes!!) dedicated only to the pleasures of kids! It has it's own food court (6 different restaurants), is on 2 levels - the "mezzanine" area being for the young adults. I bet kids love to go shopping with their mums in this country!
The toddler's area is 2JD per entrance - 1st timer has to purchase a 5JD card which can be topped up afterwards. For the rides and bigger children I will remember to update later!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Blood test for residents

I had never heard of the obligation to be tested for HIV in order to get approved for a residency. I guess that coming from Europe makes one very naive in a way. I wonder what Human Rights think about that one. So what happens if somebody is unfortunate and discover that they are HIV-positive? Are they send back where they come from? Well yes they are, they are expelled from the country. I am of the curious sort so I found a website that actually tells you per country what the regulations are: and most countries in the middle east have the same regulations (UAE, KSA...) here is the website: HIVTravel.
I could see the point if they were testing everybody (inc. Jordanians) and then giving treatment and helping those who are sick, but that is not the case obviously. In many European countries today you are tested for HIV, hepatitis... when you are pregnant. In France it has been standard for years, in the UK you can opt out but then you are refered for a sort of counselling I think. So what's the difference you might say? Well, it lies in what happens afterwards. Doesn't it - you are not going to be deported because you are HIV positive!

Ok so this morning we went to do our blood test (Bibs didn't have to do it, thanks for that!) - it is quite a large building in not such a good state, located somewhere in a back street of Amman - and there are plenty of people there, mainly philipinos coming to Jordan in order to work as nannys, or live in maids. I have to admit that I think we escaped most of the waiting as there was somebody from the hotel with us to make sure everything went smoothly - he paid (don't know how much it costs), we got our blood test done and left again. Then we are supposed to present ourselves at the nearest police station as well, but the hotel does that for us as well. So I guess we are missing out on a bit of the experience here, but hey am not going to complain about that...

Monday, 8 February 2010

Panic?? No... No need to panic when driving in Amman!!

I have to admit this was the one thing I wasn't sure about! Well to be honest once you have understood the Jordanian "rules", it's not that bad... I was very reassured when I was told by the doorman at the hotel that there is a very big fine if they don't stop for the red light, so the drivers tend to respect it!... Ok let's be honest it's a bit messy, driving in roundabouts (and there are many of those) is not for the fearful, you have to take care when arriving at an orange light, somebody might hit the horn behind you as if the driver wanted to say  "don't you dare stopping"!! and then there are nearly no road signs (or road map) in Amman. But apart from that driving here is no worse than... Rome?? So I couldn't really answer "yes" to my mum when she asked me if they were driving nicely!

I don't know what is the most daunting the missing signs or the taxi drivers? But then taxi drivers are the main problem in all big cities - no offence! But come on,  it is true, they think the road belong to them. So it has to be the signs or more the lack of signs or road map! So in order to find a place, I would give the name of a landmark and then explain from there - it sounds a bit odd but it works: I had to take Bibs to the paediatrician and she told me: "go to the Palestinian Embassy, then take the small alley and I am at number x of the street".  I told the taxi driver at it worked! Amazing. Ok taxi drivers... we have only had good experiences, but then the drivers are attached to the hotel, so they better behave :) But many I have met have told me not to take taxis, especially with a baby - they smoke in their cars and are driving really fast apparently. There are 3 different types - the white ones, which you share with other passengers, yellow ones which you can also stop in the street and than there are companies like "Merz Taxi", which are more "upscale" and apparently better. Taking a taxi doesn't cost much, they work on meters (except at night), just make sure to have the right amount as they don't have change. I think you should be able to go where ever you want in Amman for less than 5JD - more is a rip off. At night time it is usual to agree on the rate before starting the journey. Oh one more thing about taxis - and this is for everybody really! - they tend to stop everywhere and nowhere, they don't really care if there are cars behind them, so be always prepared to hit the breaks!

Another interesting thing about driving in Amman is U turns. You might remember on our first drive we got a bit lost (and have been lost since as well!) but no panic... cause you can always make a u turn somewhere! So if you miss your exit - because of the lack of sign:) - you know that further down the road there is either a roundabout or a traffic light where you can make a U turn. Now roundabouts are an exciting feature in Amman's traffic jungle - every time I come to circle or a smaller roundabout I wonder why we are stuck. The same signs and the same rules exist - except we are in Jordan, so it doesn't really work that way. This is the time you want to close your eyes and just go for it! They seem to be willing to wait when they arrive at the roundabouts and then they get fed up and just drive, so this is a guaranteed mess when it is busy.

All in all am loving it! Would be perfect if I had eyes in the back & coming out of the ears as well...

I'll add a picture of a messy roundabout as soon as I have one! It won't take much time, I have a very busy circle just outside the hotel.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Baby stuff in Amman

Some things are easy to find, others like baby food (in jars) are a bit more difficult! However not completely impossible. You may think what a lazzy mum not cooking by herself... I wish I could! However we have still not moved into our apartment and if I want Bibs to taste anything else than banana, baby rice or avocado well I don't really have a choice. And there might be other occasions where it is needed! So I have found one small supermarket called "CS Corner" and they have a tiny selection of baby foods - 2 brands, Bledina (French) and Gerber (US); apparently he has also ordered from the UK. The supermarket is located between 4th and 5th circle, the street is called Bou Medien. If you leave the 5th circle (dir 4th circle) it's the second street on your right, the shop is opposite the Belgium Embassy. He also has "swimmers" - nappies for the water. The only thing is it's quite expensive: about 2.5JD for a jar of food and 7.5JD for the nappies... But then all imported things are. The only other place I have seen jar food is at Cozmo - and it is only fruit ones.

What else... car seats, prams, travel systems, travel cots, all that can be found at Mothercare (City Mall, Mecca Mall) but it is VERY expensive! At least twice what it would cost in the UK. There are other shops as well where these type of things are available. Clothes wise - apart from Mothercare - you have a lovely brand called "tape a l'oeil" also available in above mentioned malls, and many others including Debenhams, Zara baby... At the Four Seasons Hotel you can even find Cacharel - but that is also very expensive... 90JD for a dress! but the owner alwsays keeps some of the old collection and will happely sell it very discounted - I got 2 dresses for 50JD - shhh don't tell anyone that I spend so much money in baby clothes :)

Toys wise there is an Early Learning Centre in City Mall and they have exactly the same things as in the UK, but as with all imported goods you will pay it much more - there is a Hemley's as well on the same street as Mecca Mall. Carrefour seems to have quite a large toys section but haven't really looked at it, so I don't know how much they have for babies, but they have a selection of baby-walkers. There are indoor playgrounds in all the malls I think - I have only had a look at the one in City Mall and it seems impressive, there is even a carousel - haven't really looked at it further asy Bibs is far too small - need to take a picture!

That's all I have discovered until now, I will come back with more on baby stuff as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Citizens of the World

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day during our now weekly Starbucks Mum & Baby meet-up and she asked me what I consider “Home”… Many people actually ask me that question.

I am born in Denmark, this small Scandinavian country – and no there are no polar bears walking around in the streets of Copenhagen!! When I was kid we moved to France where I grew up, then went on studying in Switzerland and started to travel – US, UK, back to France, back to UK and now Jordan. Well I don’t know where home is! I feel very Danish and I am proud to be Danish – but I left far too young to able to call it “Home”. I grew up in France and I call my parents house “home” – but I don’t feel or consider myself French, so it is not there either…

That got me wondering, is that strange not to be able to say where home is? Yesterday home was London, home today is Amman, tomorrow it will most probably be somewhere else. Of course it has it’s disadvantages: you are often far away from your family & old friends, it is difficult to keep up with family traditions, I miss some foods… but apart from these few things I can only see advantages: it has made me who I am today – tolerant, open minded, new things don’t scare me (well they do a little bit now that I am a mum and that’s a new feeling!). I have visited plenty of countries and will hopefully see many more. I know people from big cities and others from tiny places there are not even on maps.

So am I missing out on something? and more importantly what about Bibs? will it be a problem for her as she grows up? or will she just adapt easily to her new surroundings every time we will have to move? of course we might find in this world a place where one day, we would want to stay and that I finally can call “Home”.

Maybe, some time, some where…

For the time being, I guess I can call us Citizens of the World.

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