Surprises in Jordan: Rain, Cold, and Scuba

Lydia Shippen is a student at University of North Carolina, Wilmington and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with her Arabic professor at UNC Wilmington. Lydia is currently studying in Amman, Jordan on a Fall 1 program.

This is a sunset in on the Gulf of Aqaba.

Up until the past two weeks, the weather in Amman has been fairly predictable: sunny, dry, and warm.  Things began to change in a drastic way within the last two weeks.  It actually started to rain!  Along with the rain came the sudden cold weather.  My roommates and I find ourselves frequently quoting Al-Kitaab (our Arabic textbook) as we say “Baarid jiddan” (It’s very cold).  The voice from the book will forever be stuck in my head.

According to the locals, the rain and the cold came very late.  Usually it starts raining near the beginning of November.  Instead the rain waited until almost the end of the month.  The day of the first rain was terrifying and exciting at the same time.  I wish that I had a photo to show the scene to you because it was so different than anything I have ever experienced.  The sky was literally divided into two parts: one half of the sky was clear and sunny while the other half was covered in black clouds that rolled in from the horizon.  I was on the bus heading to class while witnessing this scene unfold before me.  As the bus drove on I realized where it was taking me: straight into the cloud of darkness.  It was extremely windy and when the rain started it just kept pouring.  This was the first real rain in months and it made the locals happy because now the air will finally be clean and now winter can officially begin.

As I mentioned before in another post, Fairouz is one of the most popular artists in the Middle East.  Below is a video of her singing about her love in the winter and the summer:

While the weather (الجو) in Amman took a dive into the cold temperatures, my study abroad program took us on an excursion to the warm and sunny town of Aqaba in southern Jordan.  This city is on the Gulf of Aqaba which is a part of the Red Sea.  From Aqaba you can see Egypt and Israel, plus Saudi Arabia is nearby.  My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed our time back in the warm weather through scuba diving and snorkeling in the Red Sea. As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, the Gulf of Aqaba is a paradise at the edge of the desert!

My friend and I as we swam underneath the glass-bottomed boat while snorkeling.

The coral reef in Aqaba is absolutely beautiful!  The Red Sea has many species of creatures that are specific to that area.  The water is extremely clear and the reef is alive with colors and unique fish.

I think that I was born to live in the water. I remember someone calling me a “samak” (or “fish”).

After being introduced to the cold in Amman, getting away to Aqaba was a very nice escape.  Now I am back in Amman and am “baarid jiddaan” once again.  I frequently think of Aqaba and hope to return to its warm air and clear water in the future.

Author: Lydia Shippen

I am a double major in Spanish and International Studies, but I decided that knowing Spanish was not enough. And so began the long journey to learn Arabic that has led me on a road to Amman, Jordan!

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