Monday, June 28, 2010

Troubles With Some Local Boys Back at Camp

     I can't say I was all that happy to get back to camp, but we had made some friends over the weeks and it was good to see them. We were still complaining up at Area A about all sorts of things, but we were having fun too! Second breakfast seemed to be getting worse. While we looked forward to the 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 break, our boiled eggs and bread were getting old in more ways than one.  Jordanian flat bread is delicious when it's fresh and soft, but miserly Dr. Mare would buy it old to start with, and then we'd have to eat it until it was gone. Some days we just couldn't, and on those days we'd take to "Frisbee" throwing the hardened round pieces off the Tell to see how far they'd fly. At least the bread made for some cheap entertainment! J and I regularly bought a brand of Austrian sandwich cookies that we'd have every day out on the Tell, and they'd be our little bit of sweet chocolate that we were missing so very much on this trip. We did eat a lot of fresh tomatoes, but like I said earlier, our "dig" salt was useless, though J did manage to find us our own supply and bring it out to the Tell for 2nd breakfast. We just wanted some decent salt on our tomatoes and cold hard boiled eggs. Still, the daily grind of getting up early, working until 1:00 when it was too hot to even breathe, and then returning to camp and more bad food, awful toilets and showers, and several more hours of camp work before finally getting an hour or two at night of quiet time before flopping down on our foam mattress beds to pass out for maybe 5 hours of sleep before starting it all over again was getting tiresome beyond belief. I felt like I was growing more and more selfish as the days slowly passed. I was beginning to hoard and hide (and read: Not SHARE) salt, cookies, peanut butter, cold water, or anything else that I perceived to be a luxury. If I had been back at home I wouldn't have even cared, but here it was different. Life was hard. These things were MINE, and if anyone else wanted what I had they could go into Irbid and get it themselves! But oh my god! I was acting like a two year old! Or better yet, an amoeba!  I thought I was a person who was perfectly easy to get along with, that everyone could like, no problem; but honestly, looking back, I'm thinking in retrospect that I'm probably not the kind of person you'd want to be with in a really bad situation. I can turn really ugly! I might not say anything, or even do anything, but I'd have a big black ugly spot right in the center of my heart! And heck, who knows? If those eight weeks had turned into eight months, I might have taken to actually committing acts of violence! I mean, how well do any of us really know ourselves? Try it. Just put yourself into a really hard situation for a given length of time and see what happens!

Thankfully, there were a couple of people that I felt kindly towards, and they made camp life (and life on the Tell) a little more bearable. However, there were a few people I was growing to hate. For example, there were these two teenage sisters (I think they were around 15 and 17 years old) at the camp whose mom supervised Area AA. She was busy that summer (and from what I gathered, for several summers) having an affair with the Director of Antiquities. While I know that he had two wives, I think he was allowed four, and so pursuing a woman while he was married was not breaking any laws for him (except for the small fact that she was not Muslim!). Several evenings each week he would come and pick her up at the camp in his oversized SUV (which made a statement all its own to the local "peons" that he was very wealthy and important). Who knows what all they'd do, but many a night he would bring her back late, or else he'd hang out himself for several hours before heading back home. And I'm pretty certain that he picked her up on many weekends too. She lived at our camp with all the women and married couples, so I got to witness their comings and goings first hand. Of course, she always looked very happy. He was from a very important, prestigious tribe, and so was "big" in many ways! Unfortunately, (because of this?) her two daughters seemed to think they could do anything they wanted, and so broke every camp rule we had concerning going off alone, and being "friends" with the local boys. It was dig camp policy to not in any way "encourage" the boys' attention, as they would eventually cause disruption of all sorts, which they did. Since these girls were such flirts, and since word spread pretty rapidly that they were "easy," about 20 guys at any given time came from all over the area to our camp to "play soccer" and ogle these American babes. This they would do during our afternoon nap time, which meant that while we needed to keep as much air as possible flowing through our rooms, and thus needed to keep our doors open, there was no way we were going to get any sleep. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh. Unfortunately for us, our room on the first floor overlooked the school yard, which became their playing field. And, to top it all off, they were thieves. Personal belongings and money began disappearing while we were away during the day. Warnings went out, precautions were taken, and those two girls were reminded of the rules of acceptable behavior, while their mother was informed of their misbehavior. All, seemingly, to no avail. Apparently, the three of them thrived on male attention!

       And if this weren't enough, these same two girls would again, without regards to the culture they were in, walk up and down the road between camps all by themselves without any chaperones. Then they'd get all upset when truckloads of boys would drive by and yell obscenities and throw rotten tomatoes at them! What did they expect? In that culture, especially where we were so far out in the country, teenage girls would NEVER be allowed to walk around without being escorted by an older woman or a male relative. Thus, the assumption was that these girls were "bad." Otherwise, someone would have been taking care to watch over them, and since no one obviously was, there could only be one explanation. Plus they weren't covered! Those shameless little hussies would walk around in short sleeved t-shirts, with no scarves on their heads, sometimes in shorts.  In Arab culture they were as good as whores, and so they were being treated as such! The only reason they weren't raped is because they were part of the American group digging at Abila, and as such, under government protection. Just like the story of the guy on leave from the Army who attacked one of the American women several years back, these boys would have been tried, convicted, and sentenced immediately if they would have laid even one finger on those girls, and it was that alone that saved their little butts. Personally, I wanted to wring their necks! Their own mother couldn't keep them under control. Of course, nuts don't fall far from the tree, if you know what I mean! Trouble followed them out to the dig, and while I don't remember exactly what area they were working in (it wasn't ours or their mother's), I do recall complaints being made that boys incessantly hung out too much where they didn't belong because of them. It's sometimes easy to fall back into the archaic thinking that if girls act or dress in a certain way then they are just asking for "it," and thus deserve whatever they get. That's the way it is in most Arab cultures. Males are not held accountable for their deviant behavior. They can't help themselves, after all. I knew that those two girls weren't asking for anything more than some attention, and that they might have wanted that more from their mother (or father). Who knows? But I was sick and tired of their self-centeredness. Their lack of regard for the larger group. And Dr. Mare didn't care because he didn't have to deal with it. So it was just one more thing that became J's problem, and mine. Sometimes I thought this whole dig thing majorly sucked, and that J must surely be insane! Why else would he keep coming back?