Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chocolate cake and strangers make the best birthdays

My birthday falls in a very inconvenient time of year based on the academic calender (Thanks Mom and Dad. Yeah. Really should have planned that better.). At the end of August, I've always either just left my summer spot and all the friends I've made there or just gone somewhere new and don't know anyone (though, Mom, I do apologize for making you run around pregnant and sweaty all summer. That probably wasn't any kind of fun.).

This time it was the latter - two weeks in Jordan and I've already used up my one birthday party of the year. And initially I was a little worried that I wouldn't know enough people yet to make it the swinging good time that it should be. Not to worry. My fabulous roommate Heather had it all planned out.

The day didn't start out so good, in that I had to be at school for a meeting that didn't happen at 9 a.m. I sat around for a while, as is the norm in Jordan, and did some lesson planning with my co-teacher. My morning brightened when my darling cousin and her clan showed up to wish me happy birthday. Maria and Laith (my cousin's children, for anyone reading this who doesn't have my extended family memorized) had picked out a stuffed cat to keep me company until I get back to my own adorable kitties, and my Aunt Anne brought me cards from my grandparents and herself conveniently filled with dinars instead of cash. Love my family.

They wandered off to lunch, and I played the "it's my birthday" excuse (which you can only use on your birthday, strangely enough) to get off work early and meet Heather for a mysterious outing I knew nothing about.

After getting a little lost in the taxi, we finally pulled up at a fancy spa called Kinda, which despite all evidence to the contrary is not a German daycare (Heather made the joke first; I just stole it.). Manicures and pedicures. All right!

We were lead to two comfy chairs, offered coffee and then almost immediately mobbed by three women each who were all responsible for different parts of our bodies. I had one woman for my hands and one on each foot. It was a bit like playing twister if truth be told, but boy did it make me feel spoiled. My hand woman asked what color I wanted. I requested a maroon color and ended up with blood red, but it still looked good.

The foot part was the best. After two weeks of walking around in the dust, my feet were in rather desperate need of a good, thorough cleaning. Heather and I joked that the women scraping the calluses off our feet took a good half an hour longer than normal. We kid, but not by much.

After about 45 minutes of pampering, our hands were painted and our feet were actually soft AND clean again. Incredible. Of course the clean part only lasted about five seconds out the door, but it was incredible none the less.

We then went home for me to rest a bit after my early morning. At about 6 p.m., we got ready and went out for a fancy birthday dinner: Fuddruckers. That's right, Amman does have a Fuddruckers. I spent the evening starting all my sentences with, "at the Fuddruckers in America," because poor Heather had never been to a Fuddruckers before, but it was extremely enjoyable despite the differences. Oh chicken sandwiches and fries. It was good to see you again.

After dinner we ran home and got ready to welcome our guests. By 10:30 p.m., the place was packed, mostly with people I had never seen before. All of them graciously wished me happy birthday, and one guy I didn't know even showed up with flowers. Just as I had ducked into my room to change for the club, I was called back out into the dining room, where my fabulous roommate was bringing in a REAL chocolate cake, with chocolate icing and everything. And Heather said the cake in Jordan was sub par! The guys lit some sparkler-looking candles, and everyone sang happy birthday in English followed by happy birthday in Arabic.

The cake was delicious. The people were fantastic. It was a good birthday.

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