Posts

Safe and Sound

It's been a busy several months! Let me see if I can sum-up... Our second COVID test came back negative, so we moved back to Picasso in late August. Classes at The UWI Cave Hill began in September, so I was right on time. My classes were/have been 100% online, and that was challenging, since I really like to drag students into the field. Hopefully next term I'll be able to do that. Still, teaching online wasn't that bad for me, as I have prior experience doing so: I pioneered the Geography department's online program at University of Colorado Denver when I was there, and helped create an online master's degree program while I was at ASU. I also worked for Western Governor's University, which is a fully online university. So I am familiar with online pedagogy. Things went well the first semester, even amidst COVID-era restrictions: we explored, we played in the ocean a lot, we set-up our house, we went to the movies (when that was not happening anywhere else in t

Returning Home

Getting back to our home amidst a pandemic was no easy task. Especially considering we have been nomadic for the past half-decade. Seriously. Since summer 2015, we have moved 7 (seven!) times, four of which were international moves. Now, we did have a “house” at each place, but it took a couple years before realizing what it took to make each house more of a “home”. Before that, we were used to traveling for a couple/few weeks at a time, and that’s no big deal. But actually living in a new place – getting an address, doctor, dentist, chiropractor, and learning where to shop – is totally different than visiting a place. We found that taking a few precious items with us to each place helped. We also learned that certain smaller items did a lot to make a place feel more like a home. Fluffy towels. A couple rugs. A couple pieces of artwork. Refrigerator magnets. All of which we could either pack with us or purchase inexpensively once we arrived. Now, we are home. Back in Barbados. We r

The Power of the Fulbright Program

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The Fulbright mission, “…to increase mutual understanding and support friendly and peaceful relations between the people of the United States and the peoples of other countries,” remains a dominant driving force in cross-cultural communication and appreciation. I’m proud to be part of the Fulbright Family. I stand ready to help anyone who is thinking of pursuing a Fulbright opportunity. The program is, quite frankly, amazing. One of the Forgotten Fortresses of the Eastern Desert: Qasr Q'ilat  (Castle-castle). It's really a dam that's been there since, according to my Bedouin guide taking a smoke break on the dam, Roman times. He showed me Roman engravings. This is OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. But such a neat place! I ’ ve had some time to reflect on our experiences in Jordan, now that we ’ ve begun settling back into life in the States. And here's the thing: I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the experience  –  or the Kingdom, or its people. I can hones

Jordan in the Raw...

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When we first arrived in Amman, it was winter. A little chilly, but pleasant. It snowed several times. I noticed how the city was always changing , and the role its vernacular landscape played in the change. But there was something about the city I couldn’t quite describe. All the adjectives I thought of just didn’t accurately portray what I was observing. Then Kaelin said, “…it’s raw.” After a lot of thought, I agree. Jordan is raw . This has led to many great discussions over the last several months. Just so you know, I don’t consider “raw” a bad thing. It’s just a non-pretentious, what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of word to me, especially when applied to place. Like definition 2c : “[N]ot being in polished, finished, or processed form.” Essentially, something which has potential to be much more, but is not quite there yet. That describes Amman – and the country as well. It’s a young Kingdom, still finding its way and deciding who it wants to be. It’s striving to be a country

Qasr of Jordan’s Eastern Desert

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Ruins. One word that always seems to make me giddy. I’ve always liked ruins – especially the ones you can climb on/around/over/under/in and explore. That’s how it’s been ever since I was a little kid and my parents took my brother and me to Mesa Verde’s Anasazi ruins. Jordan has lots of ruins. Like a lot a lot. People have been inhabiting this region of the world for a long time, so the ruins span millennia. Yes, there are the well-known ruins like Petra and Jerash , and lesser-known places like Kerak and Umm Quaiys. But the Kingdom also hosts numerous others, some of which barely have a name, and others that are literally in the middle of nowhere. These forgotten fortresses have been a big component of my research here. Qasr az-Zahib . As I was taking pictures, a little Bedouin kid who was out herding sheep and goats came over with tea. We chatted a bit. He showed me a nearby cemetery, a still-functioning well, and another set of presumed Crusader ruins that I can't fin

Shobak

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After pretty much traversing Jordan’s width and breadth – from Aqaba in the south to five miles from the Syrian border in the north and the Dead Sea in the west to As-Safawi in the east – there’s one place we keep returning to again and again: Shobak (sometimes spelled Shabak or Shawbak). Yes, the Dead Sea Highway is quite unique, the Eastern Desert magical, and Wadi Rum vast. But Shobak is...well...different. Kind of a high plains desert that captures all my favorite components of each major physiographic province in Jordan.  Shobak is about a two-hour drive from Amman, along the Desert Highway and en route to Petra. The town itself is best known for its castle . Built along the caravan/pilgrimage route between the Gulf of Aqaba and Syria by King Baldwin I in 1115 AD, it stood for several decades and repelled Saladin’s forces for two years later in that century. It’s also out of the way – you can’t see it from any main by-pass road as you can with other castles like Karak, Azraq,

Rock Art in Jordan's Eastern Desert

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Dixie in her natural habitat: outdoors. Here in Southern Utah, 1993 When I was a little kid, Dixie (my mom) was into Native American (Indian) things. Actually, she was always interested in them. And because she was, and we spent a lot of time together, I became interested in Indian things too. We spent time discussing ancient native cultures, her (some would say wild) theories about them, and the more spiritual/mystical aspects often tied to the rich cultural heritage. She also liked “glyphs”, as she called them, and I soon became aware that these glyphs – rock art – were found in almost every culture around the world. Fast forward to my PhD work where, by luck really, I ended up studying rock art (though not in the traditional archeological sense) – and in the Desert Southwest US, no less. I learned there are four main types of rock art: petroglyphs (those carved or pecked into the rock), pictographs (paintings on rocks), intaglios (scraping away of a surface to reveal ligh