What I did on my Summer Vacation

Hola my Bloody Good friends. It's been a while since I last showed up here and I thought I'd check in with you all and let you know what I've been up to. I've been (and still am) in Amman, Jordan for the last month, teaching English to all the little freedom-haters here. Unfortunately, here in the desert the internet is scarce and I usually only have enough to check my email and maybe look at the front page of BGH before it dries up and I have to send little Ahmad down the hill to fetch another jugful of internet. It's a holiday today so I thought I'd splurge and tell you all a little about what I've found here in Jordan.

First impressions:
Maybe it's sad that every real-life experience I have is filtered through a lifetime of watching movies, but when I first arrived here all I could think was "It looks like freakin' Tatooine." Everything is sandy white here and a moisture farm certainly wouldn't be out of place.

About the last thing I expected out of a Mid-Eastern country between Israel and Iraq was that it would be laid back, but that's exactly what life is like here. People are really easy-going and nice and just about every cab driver I've talked to has spent a year or two in the States. As far as the anti-American thing goes- it's mostly an invention of FOX News. In my experience you're far more likely to hear anti-American sentiments from Canadians or Brits (especially if the Brit you're talking to is my girlfriend). Oddly enough, Jordan reminds me more of home than any other country I've visited (of course I am from deep in the Bible Belt so I'm used to OTT religion and not being able to buy beer at the corner store). In most of Europe you'll have a harder time buying peanut butter and barbecue sauce. They even have Hardee's and Fuddruckers here. And Benihana- what's more American than that?

Most major movies are in the cinemas here, mostly unedited. I can't say for sure until I see it on DVD, but I'm pretty sure in Hancock there was a kiss between Will Smith and Charlize Theron that was cut out- presumably because they're unmarried as there was some Jason Bateman-Charlize action left in. It's a little strange how things even the staunchest conservatives would take for granted in the US are still haram (forbidden) here. I actually had a class of teenagers (boys included) giggling and turning their faces and demanding I fast-forward through a scene in Spider-Man 3 where Peter Parker and Mary Jane kiss. Elvis, the Middle East needs your help.

On the weekends I've headed out to a few notable spots in the area. There's the Dead Sea (you really do float more than you'd expect and also find hundreds of tiny cuts you never knew you had until they start stinging), the River Jordan (the guide let us hop the fence and go down to the water at the spot where Jesus was baptized, where I went the wrong way and ended up calf deep in mud and had to use the holy waters to clean my sandals), a 2,000 year old Roman amphitheater (where I got to see some super-cheesy Arabic pop star perform) and a few other assorted spots. The big daddy trip comes this weekend- the ancient city of Petra and the camping with the Bedouins in Wadi Rum. Petra is, of course, where Indiana Jones found the holy grail. It should be pretty cool but I'm not sure if I'll make it across that invisible bridge. That always freaked me out.

So that's all the boring, completely non-horror related blather for now. I've got two more weeks here and then, after six years of living abroad, I'm coming back to the USA for good. Maybe. At any rate I'll be back to posting here with some regularity. See you then.

John Shelton

Writer/Podcast Host/Professor

Born and raised in the back of a video store, Shelton went beyond the hills and crossed the seven seas as BGH's foreign correspondent before settling into a tenure hosting Sophisticult Cinema. He enjoys the finer things in life, including but not limited to breakfast tacos, vintage paperbacks and retired racing greyhounds.

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