28 February 2007

where the olive green of life has turned to ash.

Last weekend, we took a painfully long trip to the eastern desert of Jordan (quite pretty, actually, but you all know how I feel about organized bus trips). We stopped at a couple of desert castles, but nothing to write home about. This, however, was exciting:

At a center for ecological education, I seriously contemplated joining the ranks of the left-wing American nutjobs who free animals from zoos. There was a terrified baby hyena in a cage smaller than my dorm room (approximately 8'x10') and a borderline psychotic wolf in the equivalent of your average suburban hallway. The center aims to teach Jordanians about the ecosystems of their country and how to preserve them. And I had lamented the lack of sound environmental policy in this country (oh Germany, where are you when I need you?) - the environmentalists don't even understand the concept. The man who gave us the tour was so proud of what they'd done with the nocturnal animals in a darkened room so people could see them active during the day, but I still wanted to cry.

We also stopped at the Azraq (Arabic for "blue") wetlands reserve, which almost killed my tree hugging little heart. Being from Florida, I generally define "wetlands" as, well, wet. Not so much over here. A small handful of fish hanging around the pipe delivering the water from Syria back into the wetlands, a scattering of lonely ducks, and tall, thick, brown, and dying grass along the shore, such as it were. It used to be a major bird migration stopping point, but since there's no water or plant life, the birds are gradually going elsewhere. They're trying so hard to revive the area, but it's simply too far gone.

Most exciting, we visited a preserve that's home to a herd of oryx, an animal thought extinct until recently. Only a few of you understand why an oryx is so exciting to me - if you don't get it, go read this book. I'll get a picture up soon.

PS. I think my Islam professor might be a Holocaust denier. I've never met one in the flesh before. My roommate's a kosher Jew. This is about to get interesting.

PPS. My friend James just got his Peace Corps invitation. He's going to Tanzania in health education, which is only my dream destination. I'm so jealous.

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