Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Long weekend

Gird your loins, this is a long post.

Sunday morning we got up and ate breakfast, Benjamin didn't really nap at all.  We got packed up and after lunch drove to the Dead Sea.  The Dead Sea is, of course, the lowest point of land on earth.  I hadn't thought about the change in elevation, but Amman is on a hill and we went down a lot of twisty roads at noticeable grade.  I'm glad we didn't try to do it at night, the road markings aren't good.  But the highway was pretty good and despite getting a little lost, we made it in good time.  It's about a 45 minute drive away from Amman.

We stayed one night at the Mövenpick Resort & Spa, which was pretty nice.  The architecture was very Middle Eastern, which was neat.  They let us check in early, about 2pm and also upgraded us to a "deluxe" room from a standard one.  It was a nice room, very tall ceilings.  We rested for a while, hoping that Benjamin would take an afternoon nap.  Sadly, I think the excitement of a new place and borrowed crib and mom and dad being in the same room weren't conducive to napping.  We watched a little TV and then put our suits on.  We slathered ourselves in suntan lotion and climbed down many flights of stone stairs to the shore where the hotel had its own little dock to get into the water.

I had envisioned more of a beach, but it was very rocky and lots of the rocks out of the water had crystallized salt on them.  Thomas and I took turns getting into the water.  We weren't sure about taking Benjamin in.  It is very strange, the water is ten times saltier than salt water, and you're very buoyant.  It was much more viscous than regular ocean water.  When I was done, after about two minutes, it took me a while to swim back to the wooden dock.  We didn't stay very long, and didn't take advantage of the mud, which is supposed to be great.  It was so hot.  I was about to pass out walking back up the 3 or 4 stories it took to get to the family pool.  They had a little man-made sandy beach which turned into an infinity pool.  Very nice, we just sat in the water and let Ben splash around.  We did the beach and pool for maybe just an hour, it was so hot.  Then we got showers and gave Benjamin a bath and went to dinner.

This is at sunset, after we ate dinner.  You can see the little beach at the bottom, where we played.

The land you see on the other side of the Dead Sea is Israel.

This is the part of the pool that turns into the infinity pool.  Somewhere in the middle the sand turns to tile.

The view back toward land, mountains in the distance.

There was a little village square-type thing with a couple restaurants.  We checked out the menus for the Grill and the Italian place.  We picked the Grill, and it was pretty good.  Thomas got a steak and I got slow-cooked ribs with mashed potatoes and broccoli.  Pretty yummy.  Ben ate a fruit salad and his yogurt bites.  The waiters were all very friendly with him and brought him a glass of apple juice.  I had been holding off on giving him juice, since that's the new health guidance.  But I figured, we made it 18 months so might as well.  Thomas held the glass and he drank from the straw.  He liked it, and drank half the glass.  Then he decided he didn't like it anymore, and has been drinking water since.  So, I guess if I want to start giving him juice it won't be a big deal, but I'll probably still give him water most of the time.

First sips of juice!

Tastes great!

Beautiful sunset.

After dinner we took pictures and then went back to the room to put Benjamin to bed.  We eventually had to move him to the bathroom, because he was just not settling down.  I forgot that in new places he has a hard time adjusting the first night.  Eventually he went down, and Thomas and I ordered dessert from room service.  My cheesecake was fine, too much berry sauce, but his pistachio ice cream was not good.  Not quite up to the 5-star rating.  And then all night long, Benjamin kept waking up screaming, probably every hour or every two hours.  It was nightmarish.

Monday morning we woke up about 8:30 and got ready to eat breakfast at the main hotel restaurant.  We were basically zombies.  It was a horrible night, which was sad since we had a really nice time on our mini-vacation.  I think the lesson is, we have to get a suite so Benjamin can be in a separate room from us.  Our 8 or 9 days at the Homewood Suites in Alexandria before we moved was really nice, we could put him in the bedroom for naps and then hang out in the living area.  I don't know if they do that here, but for next time we'll have to look into it.

Breakfast was nice, lots of choice (hummus, falafel, scrambled eggs, pastries, etc.) and I was able to make Ben his usual Nutella sandwich.  He also had some fruit and Thomas and I drank some hot tea to try and wake up before driving home.  Check-out was noon, but you can do a daytime rental of a room, so if we'd felt more energetic and the weather was cooler then maybe we would have stayed and floated more in the Dead Sea.  But we were totally tired and ready to head home.  The drive home just took about 35 minutes, it was super fast.  So we'll definitely go back sometime, hopefully in the fall.  And we may try a different hotel, just to see.

After getting home we ate lunch and Benjamin and I took naps.  It was a low-key day, Thomas went out grocery shopping and we just had mac and cheese for dinner.  After Benjamin went to bed I dealt with a growing fiasco concerning an eBay purchase.  I had the winning bid for some foam blocks that are the same as some we're borrowing now that Ben really likes.  I was so excited to get them, but PayPal has decided to act like idiots and won't let me confirm my account with a phone number, since I don't have a US number any more.  It's the most infuriating thing, I was literally seething with rage.  They're mailing me a confirmation number, which will have to be forwarded by the postal service.  And we have yet to receive any forwarded mail.  Just so irritating.  I emailed the seller to explain, I hope we can figure out another way for me to pay.  I just want some blocks for my kid, why does this have to be such an ordeal.  Gah.

Tuesday was good, Emy came in the morning and since I didn't have my class because of Eid, she was able to spend the whole time cleaning.  The house really needed it.  I got to have lunch with some of the ladies from the Anglican home church, it was great to socialize and get to know people better.  I'm looking forward to spending more time with them, they're really neat people.  Thomas made dinner, he's trying to get us into the habit of eating things other than spaghetti.  He made shrimp and linguine with wilted spinach and garlic butter sauce.  Pretty yummy.  I need to get in gear with cooking, I'm just not good at it and don't really want to spend the time and energy to become competent.

All in all, a really great 5 day weekend.  It was awesome having Thomas around so much and it'll be a sad transition back to "real life".  However with the work week only being two days long, it'll be the weekend before I know it.  And now that Ramadan's over, I can get fast food at the mall and start actually living like a normal person.  I really miss fast food.  At the doctor's visit last week I was weighed and lost a couple pounds from before we moved over, which I attribute to my home-based eating.  That may all change now, although I do want to slim down much more.  All in good time.  Oh and they have Pinkberry here.  I thought that was hysterical.  And I will definitely eat there this week.


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