Laura Finaldi in Jordan, 2012

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Whew!!! What a weekend

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Ladies and gentlemen, I just had one of the most eye-opening weekends of my life. It was filled with cultural insight, renewed confidence, my weight in mansef and a crash-course in parenting. But before I delve deeper into all of those relevant things, I have something I need to get off my chest.

BABIES PLANKING.

Look at that exquisite form.

I guess this is what people in the Badia really do for fun.

Seriously, twice in one night. Is this a thing in the Middle East, because if so a) why didn’t anyone tell me and b) why isn’t there a Tumblr page for it? As soon as I get my hands on little Cal Hempel-Edgers, I’m going to do everything I can to get him to pose for a planking picture too. Don’t tell his mom.

If you have no interest in reading about my time in the Badia, aka the more rural part of Jordan, then read no further. I mean my time in the Badia can’t really compete with babies planking. But I know you all love me so read on.

If you ever plan on trekking out to the Badia for any period of time, fear not – I’ve compiled a list of everything you’ll need to know to survive.

1) Be prepared to eat … a lot.
I’ve always thought that as an Italian-American, I possessed an appetite that puts others’ to shame. I was wrong. Not only do these people make plates of food that rival our annual Thanksgiving dessert selection, but they also actually finish everything.

This was our dessert table last year. The Jordanians would have taken one look at this picture and laughed.

My mom always says we have too much food at our family dinners. But there were just as many of us in the Badia – if not less – and we managed to annihilate an entire plate of mansef. When Kate and I said we were full, they genuinely did not understand what we were trying to say (and it wasn’t just the language barrier). I probably gained five pounds. To all of my peers who will be given the privilege of seeing me in a bikini at the Dead Sea tomorrow, I’m sorry.

Dessert from a child’s birthday party we went to. Yum. I should have taken a picture of the mansef.

Anyway, I ate a lot. Which leads me to the next point:

2) Be prepared to sleep as much as you’ve eaten, if not more.
You can leave the valium at home. Between the pita bread, macaroni, mansef, hamburger buns and Laughing Cow cheese, there are enough carbs in the Badian diet to make anyone want to curl up in a little ball and stay there for hours and hours and hours. Which is exactly what Kate and I did. On Friday after we had mansef, we laid down for what we thought would be a short nap at 3:30. At 8:05, I opened my eyes and noticed the room had gotten substantially darker. Oops.
You’d think after that I would be up all night, but nope. Instead, they fed us again and we passed out at 11:30, just as tired as we were pre-nap. Life is rough.

3) There are children everywhere
We lived in a big house with a large extended family, all of whom had young children. Our “parents” (who at 28 and 27 were young enough to be our siblings) had two babies, Juju and Lulu. But their siblings also had kids, and we went to go visit their other siblings, who ALSO had kids … you can see where this is going.

Juju (right) and Lulu. Don’t be fooled by the look on Lulu’s face–she knew exactly what was going on.


I forgot how much energy little kids have. I was wiped out after chasing these two around for 20 minutes, but three hours later, they were still going. Let’s just say I’m not going to be having babies for a very, very long time.

4) Knowing Arabic will make your life a lot easier
Not that we would know. As journalism students, we don’t have the language training our comrades in the Arabic program do. I wish I had taken even a semester of Arabic before I got to Jordan. Our father in the Badia works at the airport, so he knows a good deal of English, but other than that we were pretty much lost. All that aside, everyone was extremely nice, hospitable and welcoming. We spoke through our father and laughed collectively at the funny things the babies would do. Both of our “grandmothers” told me I looked like an Arab. I like that!

Do I look like an Arab? You be the judge.

Anyway, awesome weekend. We’re off to the Dead Sea tomorrow, which is going to be a 180 from this weekend–we can wear bathing suits and smoke argila by a resort pool. Legendary! I’ll fill you in tomorrow.

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Written by laurafinaldi

May 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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