Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Weekend Warrior

The Weekend Warrior!

It's been too long since I've posted.  I'm "behind" now.  No use catching up.  The Weekend Warrior has been at it again!

Definition of the Weekend Warrior;
"The middle-aged athlete that thinks she can go out and play as hard as she used to. The unconditioned athlete that thinks she can go out just every once in a while and push it to the limit."
It was one week before our departure from Jordan, two days before Kirk's return to Jordan from the US, and the last Saturday in Amman for the students to play football. 

I had no intention of playing this time. I had nearly learned my lesson the week before. I had been mistaken for a hefty linesman and was thrown to the ground. These are some tough boys. I was going this time only because I wanted to play with Locke and talk to Tasha. What could I do though, when Tasha needed a sub? I would just go in for one series.  I lined up as a receiver and went long.  Surprisingly my defender was nowhere in sight. Either I had totally outmaneuvered him, or he didn't think I was worth the effort and was taking a personal time-out. Quarter-back Tom (better than Steve Young) saw that I was open and threw deep into the end zone. Perfect pass. Perfect timing. Right into my outstretched arms.  One second I was catching the ball, seriously, had my hands on the pigskin, and the next thing I knew I was flat on my back. How embarrassing. No one was around to blame it on. No one pushed me or got in the way. No pass interference,  I just fell. Hard. Trying to avoid the spotlight I hurriedly got up but knew my tailbone was not okay.

I'll spare you the rest of the sordid details. But it's too late to spare Tasha those. She's not only the mother of Locke, my grandson away from grandsons, she's the Program Nurse. Even more than the program nurse, she's my friend and confidant. She kept me as sane as I am on those long days Kirk was back home.  She was by my side the next four days visiting ERs, supporting me as I refused admission, left the hospital with me "AMA" (against medical advice), and journeyed with me to labs, radiologists, urologists, and a rheumatologist, (and him only 'cuz he's a friend of a friend).  After test results came back,  I was given the go ahead to travel. We packed the next morning and hobbled to the border.

Back in January I tore my calf muscle. Actually, the term is a rupture of gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
Both muscles in my calf tore pretty bad while I was playing tennis.
I’d like to say I was jumping over the net or leaping to save an impossible hit. But I was really just minding my own business when out of nowhere it felt like someone with a bat came and knocked me upside the back of my leg. I tripped and turned to see who it was, and no one was there.
I couldn’t put weight on it, at all….
I was in a boot cast for 6 weeks, the first four were non weight bearing. Miserable and depressing.

This injury is dubbed “Tennis Leg”. Here it is again...
"It’s most often seen in the “middle aged” athlete. The Weekend Warrior. The older athlete that thinks she can go out and play as hard as she used to. The unconditioned athlete that thinks she can go out just every once in a while and push it to the limit."

When I think about the weekend warrior, it scares me. If I compare my physical muscles, my strength and condition, with those that are spiritual, how do I measure up?
I wondered about my spiritual strength. Am I a weekend warrior? Thinking I will have the strength and endurance when I don’t put the effort into the daily conditioning?
It didn’t matter how hard I tried that day to stand on my leg, I couldn’t. It wasn’t possible.  I think, “oh I’m just gonna buck up here. Sheer willpower can keep me on my leg”…but there was no way. If our spiritual muscles are that weak, we won’t be able to stand up to the battles we have to face everyday. 
I’m learning, slowly, that you can’t run faster than you have strength.

These past two weeks have been amazing. We have traveled from Jordan to Israel. We've climbed Masada (well, we rode a tram up the mountain),  had lunch in Jericho, and went to bed in a convent in Nazareth. 

 We went to Akko, saw new Excavations and walked through a prison.

We visited Haifa where the Bahai Promenande Gardens are, and went to the beach. 
We have sung amazingly beautiful hymns in churches all over Nazareth and Galilee. We hiked  Banyas to a waterfall, ate lunch in a Druze restaurant and saw the Golan Heights. Ceasaria, Megiddo, and ate falafils at a Kibbutz. 

We watched the Jewish Sabbath arrive as the sun set at the Western Wall. 

We've seen the roads in the Old City that show the Via Dolorosa, we've walked those streets. Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden Tomb of course. And sacrament meeting in the chapel at the Jerusalem Center. A group of students and faculty loaded with musical talent singing together is probably my favorite thing of all. We have gathered nearly nightly to sing Christmas songs by candle light.

I have stories to tell from so many of these experiences, and even more pictures than stories. We have been on the road a lot, and not a whole lot of Internet access. But I am gathering photos and thoughts and will post them as soon as I can.  

The other injuries and setbacks I've had since January are numerous, and  I'm just gonna say that this weekend warrior is waning. In fact, she's becoming the 
                                                              "Weakened Wuss."

the weather has been awful cold in Jordan, we've tried everything we could think of to warm up. From water bottles, hot chocolate, space heaters, scarves, blow dryers and yes, even irons....

 Kirk's hot!

I'm Not!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Turkish Bath

Blame it on the weather, or the lack of oxygen, or maybe just the fact that I'm 50 years old and these kinds of opportunities don't come around every day.

It was nearly five o'clock in the afternoon when Kirk and I walked into our hotel room and plopped down on our beds.
We had just returned from a full day of hiking the red dirt trails of Petra. Dinner was still several hours away. And the thing I wanted more than anything was a warm shower!  The hotel wasn't scheduled to turn the hot water on until 6:30pm. By then all the students would be back and we would all want the shower. As I thought about the logistics of it all, my hopes began to fade. We were on the third floor (the top floor). Water pressure was already piddly at best. And by shower time, I was guessing that we'd be lucky to see even a trickle of water, and the "warm" part?... extremely doubtful. 

Jokingly I turned to Kirk and said, "hey let's go to the Turkish bath."  The Turkish bath experience had been recommended by several local "experts".  20JD's (about $25) gets you a bath and a massage. And even though I had no idea what the Turkish bath was all about, the idea started to sound more and more inviting. As I reached up and felt the knots in my neck and looked down and saw red dirt on my ankles, I repeated the idea to Kirk.  He was more than willing after running ten miles that morning before we even started hiking. Part of the Petra hike is climbing about 300 steep steps up to the High Place. He was moaning as he tried to reach down and touch his shins.  He looked my way out of the corner of his eye knowing that going to a public bathhouse was not even on my list possibilities, and couldn't imagine I was serious. I wasn't. I sat on the edge of the bed shivering, dirty, fighting a headache, when suddenly I heard myself calling my own bluff!  In a flash we were standing at the consierge desk in the lobby as he called for a car to pick us up and take us to the bath.  I informed him that I only wanted to go look at the place. "No problem" he assured me as a taxi pulled up, loaded us in, and drove us to a small, hidden, stone building with a cold rock stairway that led to the Bathhouse. 

The place was empty. No one else was there! The manager gave us a “tour” at the very same time as he was handing us our bath clothes. Cotton shorts for Kirk, and a lava-lava thing for me. He said we could go together, "no problem".  Everything looked nice. It was clean, and there was no tub!  See, I was afraid it would be this huge communal bathtub everyone would climb in. Naked.  Silly me. We were covered, and no one else was there. The first room was this awesome steam room with mysterious red lighting glowing through the fog. It was like heaven. Kirk and I sat in this warm, very steamy room and started to relax. This was going to be amazing! The man said he would come and get us after ten minutes. After about twenty minutes we were too warm, inhaling too much steam, so Kirk went looking for the guy. "Okay, no problem. I take you to the next room".  (I have never been in a country where they have so few problems. Except maybe Egypt, Morocco, or Israel.)

The next room was the Hot Stone room. The same ethereal mist hung all around and we were instructed to sit on the marble stone. He handed us each a large pitcher with warm water in it, and pointed to the tap right next to us. Warm water miraculously, endlessly poured out of the spigot. We were to lay down on the hot, wet stone and let the heat penetrate our back, legs, and arms. Seriously, I could have stayed in there all night. Every other minute I was filling my pitcher with warm water and pouring it over my head. We were in there about twenty minutes as well.

He next led us into the Sauna room. Not my favorite. Breathing that hot, dry air has never appealed much to me. But I had to laugh, as we sat in that room breathing in the hot air I was reminded of a scene from Everybody Loves Raymond. The men in that sauna room suddenly didn't seem so far fetched. 

Kirk sportin' his shorts, and me still clinging to the wet lava-lava thing, found ourselves being escorted into two different, private rooms. I sat there on this long marble table and waited. For what I had no idea. In fact as I sat there and started to get cold again, I started wondering what in the world I was doing, and quickly started mapping out a foolproof escape plan. I became more and more anxious and wasn't sure if I was shivering out of fear, or the cold. Where was Kirk? What were they doing to him? Who was going to come in this room? What was I thinking?  This was a bad idea. I needed to get out of here. Where do I go? Where are my clothes?  Just as I was about to open the door and holler out that I was so done with this, an Arab woman veiled and covered from head to toe came in the room. In her gentle, soft-spoken voice she told me to lay back down on the table. She began dumping more of that warm water on me as I lay there clinging to the sheet. She proceeded to scrub, exfoliate and pour warm water from that magic tap. I said her voice was soft and gentle, but I have never been exfoliated with such vim and vigor before. Who am I kidding? I've never been exfoliated before. The massage with those essential oils from the Dead Sea, was a very good thing for my aching back. 

After all of that she showed me to the shower, I washed my hair, found my clothes and even found Kirk. 

We returned to the hotel just in time for dinner with a pact between the two of us that we wouldn't tell a soul where we had been. But as soon as I saw my good, good friend I immediately leaned over and quietly exclaimed to her that we'd just returned from the Turkish Bath! "You're kidding!" "Hey you guys, guess what? Kirk and Linn went to the Turkish Bath!" "No way! You guys really did?" The word spread quickly and one of the couples at our dinner table left for the bath before they’d even finished eating.  

I wasn't going to write about this experience, but the strangest thing happened yesterday. I've been a little nervous here venturing out on my own, but I was going stir crazy yesterday and decided I didn't care any more. I was going to the chocolate shop no matter what. I have this theory that if you keep your eyes either down or straight ahead, walk briskly with a purpose, confidently knowing where you are going (I don't know how many times I have confidently walked up and back and around in circles trying to find my way somewhere), then you won't be harassed. I blew that theory all to heck yesterday as I marched toward the candy shop. No grinning, no eye contact, just focused on that dark chocolate in the corner store. Imagine my surprise as I'm studying the assorted chocolates, when this burly, dark Arab man taps me on the shoulder and invites me to the Turkish Bath!