All the King’s Men


[Note to readers: Sorry it has taken me so long to post these. This last week and a half have been extremely busy and we do not have internet in the town in which we are staying. As things settle down, I will try to post as often as possible, but this is mostly dependant on where I end up on the weekends.]

WednEarly Days of BMP-09 102esday, June 17, 2009

Andrew arrived last night at around 7 pm (local time). He did not sleep on the plane-ride over, so he looked exhausted. I went with him to exchange some money (he had rented a car), but all of the money exchangers had already closed for the day. So, we stopped to get him something to eat instead. When we returned to ACOR we spent some time chatting on the veranda, recalling humorous events from last season. Well, perhaps I should say that they are humorous in hindsight. One of the dearest things to me about ACOR is evening on the veranda that overlooks the city and the great conversations that take place. Last night the weather was especially pleasant, the temperature hovering roughly around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and a cool wind blowing from the north. Last night’s conversation consisted mainly of small-talk. Most of the resident-scholars here know each other from projects past, and those who were still awake stopped by to chat.

Today was an exceptionally busy one. Andrew and I woke-up at around 5:30 am. After about an hour and a half of checking emails, taking showers and enjoying some coffee, it was time to get to work. Andrew stopped to clarify some issues with Kathi, who works in the ACOR office, and by 8 am we were on the road. Our first stop was a Western Union to exchange some money. Following that, we made our way across town to the Department of Antiquities in order to get our permit. It was apparent from the very beginning that the man responsible for issuing the permit and Andrew had known each other for some time, and he was very happy to see us. After discussing some minor issues with Andrew about our project this summer, he tallied-up what we owed the Department for our permit. Unfortunately we were a little short of cash, as we forgot to account for the cost of having a representative from the department attached to our project. This was not a big issue, since there was an ATM around the corner and ten minutes later we were all squared-up.

Our next stop was at the Jordan Valley Authority. This department is in charge of the development that is taking place in Wadi Araba. Here we talked to a man about using a compound that the JVA owns in al-Risha as living quarters. Andrew was denied permission to use a military school-house last year because the compound was already being used by a Swedish company that had been hired to clear mines along the Israeli border. We did not get permission this time to use the military school house, but the man said that there is an old office- building that we could use as our camp. Securing this compound in al-Risha will save us nearly four working hours per day in travel time, since it is only about thirty minutes from our survey area.

After receiving the good news, our work was not done yet. Andrew was curious about our prospects of also securing the newly revamped facilities at Bir Madhkur, so we headed back to ACOR in order for him to draw-up a letter to the Hashemite Fund—a nonprofit organization that does public works in Jordan, which is headed-up by the Princess that Andrew had met with last year. Soon we were back on the road and heading toward the building where the NGO was housed to deliver the letter.

Old, dilapidated Bir Madhkur Village

Old, dilapidated Bir Madhkur Village (from left to right - Greg Oke, Abu Musaf, and Lucky)

The New and Improved Bir Madhkur Village

The New and Improved Bir Madhkur Village

That mission complete, all that was left for the day was to stop by a supermarket to buy some groceries for our new home. The supermarket where we did our shopping was like most supermarkets in the United States. The one exception being that they piped the Muslim call-to-prayer over the loudspeaker at the appropriate times. I am not sure if that is a courtesy, a secular law, a religious ruling, or all of the above.

We ended the day at Andrew’s favorite Chinese restaurant; a place called Chen’s. As we shared dumplings and a plate of Kung-Pao Chicken, Andrew and I discussed our prospects for this season, which at this point looked very good. Overall, the day was very productive and we had but to wait for the rest of the team to arrive.

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