30 December 2010

Happy New Year!

 Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration.  --Kahlil Gibran

Another new year is upon us. How did it happen so quickly? I'm almost sure we were just doing this about six weeks ago! Time passes whether or not we notice it and if we aren't careful it will pass us by completely.

This year, 2010, was filled with joy tinged with sadness. There was great happiness with a stain of guilt. New friends came and brought warmth and acceptance, but family and old friends are missed. I have the sense of belonging at last, really belonging but I still miss the close proximity of the ones I left behind. No one is more missed than my sister. She has always been there for me and encouraged me at every step. Still I can't help feeling I abandoned her. My parents, thank God are still with us and I miss them more than I ever imagined.

The new year, 2011, is filled with hope and promise. I am traveling completely new roads, teaching English as a Second Language, building a fledgling tourist company that had just begun to show promise at the end of the high season. Inshallah, the new year will see it increase exponentially.

I have seen so many places. I've walked in the footsteps of history, and yet there is still so much to see and even more to learn.

I want to take this moment of reflection to thank everyone who has followed me on this blog. When I experience new adventures it is you I am thinking of. Each moment my mind is deciding how to tell you, Constant Reader, about it. Every picture is snapped with the perspective of showing you what I am seeing in the hope of kindling in you the same excitement I am feeling. I hope you will continue to follow our adventures and provide me with feedback by leaving comments. Feel free to use the comments section to ask questions, should you have any, or make suggestions.

I am exhilarated and bewildered...

Happy New Year to my Family and friends!

Stele at Baptism Site of Jesus Christ

Path to Baptism Site

Orthodox Church at Baptism Site

Same church, different view

Kebab and coffee, Ajlun

Kebab and chicken, Ajlun

Abood, Jim, Abu Yusef, Ajlun

Ajlun National Preserve

Souq in Damascus

Mosque entrance, Damascus

Mosque, Damascus

Interior of Mosque, Damascus

Interior of Mosque, Damascus

Tomb of St John the Baptist, Damascus

Your intrepid guides, Damascus

Jim, Zeek, Ayoub, dinner in Damascus

Amra castle, Jordan

Amra castle, Jordan

Mural on one ceiling, Amra

Mural in Amra



Tent near the castle

Books@Cafe, Rainbow Street, Amman

Reputed to be the best falafel in all of Jordan

Shara al Rainbow - Rainbow Street, Amman

Rainbow Cinema, for which the street was named

Souq Jara, flea market every Friday

Inside Souq Jara

Three wooden windows, Rainbow Street, Amman

Thanksgiving 2010

Snow, December 2010

Street view of snow 2010

Kitty at Petra

27 December 2010

al Wehdat - Christmas Day

On Christmas Day we made a trip to one of my favorite places in Amman... al-Wehdat! al-Wehdat is the second largest Palestinian refugee camp in Amman. It was set up in 1955 after the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Over the years it has evolved into a suburb of east Amman. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency operates twenty schools that run on two shifts to accommodate nearly 12,000 students as well as two health centers treating about 1,500 patients each day.

 I love the huge variety of things you can find there. I love the vitality of the area. From every direction come the booming voices of vendors hawking their products; basal!! (onions), sabanekh!! (spinach), jazar!! (carrots), zaytoon!! (olives) and every kind of vegetable or fruit you can imagine. You will find clothes, cosmetics, shoes, toys, bicycles... there's just no end to what can be found. Or so I thought. We went to the stall of a seller known to Mohammad to buy a couple of oil lamps to help us in our somewhat frequent power outages. Candles are a pain in the ass. He was sold out. He gave us the standard "maybe next week" with a generous smile and shrug of the shoulders.

I remember from childhood how my Dad extolled the virtues of the humble chestnut. The family roasted them in the fireplace and the taste was something from just this side of heaven. They were a special treat around Christmas-time. Nat King Cole and many others have sung the song that begins; "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." Chestnut trees were the victims of the "blight" back in the early 1900s and by 1940 they were completely extinct. They apparently are not extinct on this side of the globe, because I saw bin after bin with huge piles of chestnuts for sale.

Each time I have shopped at al-Wehdat the crowds were massive. It's impossible to progress through the labyrinthine maze of stalls without jostling and being jostled by the little kids, old women and people of every size, shape and description. It's exhilarating! With each step your senses are assaulted with a different aroma emanating from the bakeries and quick food shops that abound in the area. If you haven't been to al-Wehdat, or if you haven't been for a long time you are depriving yourself of a wonderful sensory experience!

Almost there! The anticipation grows!

Closer and closer we INCH!

Traffic was lighter than usual, thank God!

This poor cat has seen so many fights, his ears are almost gone!

Need a new rug for the living room or the salon?

You just might be able to find a rug here...

Young girl peruses the veggies

Almost inside, just looking for a place to park

A nice variety of goods

Lots of diapers and soap

DVDs and CDs are available for about 1 dinar or so

Tom (garlic) and jazar (carrots) 

The olive crop was beautiful this year