Monthly Archives: November 2011

Brits learning Halloween, Bulford, UK

Yesterday started out well as Sonya made it possible for me to sleep in somehow getting Ben out of the room silently before he was able to get to me. Ben loves his Aunty so much that he wants to spend every waking moment playing with her…read: if he is awake, he thinks I should be awake and finds many interesting ways to make that happen. In any case, I more or less caught up on my sleep and the short afternoon nap I took sealed the deal.

Monday is Sonya’s day off which meant we also got to hang around all day hanging out together doing what best friends do best….everything and nothing. Sonya is my very favorite person to practice this fine skill with although now I must admit it is a bit of a challenge with the two babes crawling all over her. Still, we manage. It was rainy and chilly (typical, so they say) so it was the perfect day to sit in and drink tea and watch music videos and play on the computer. Soon it was time for Nicholas to go down for a nap so I followed suit while Son went to pick up Ben from school.

We fed the kidlettes before getting ready for Halloween night. Ben wore his Batman costume but insisted on wearing a somewhat large green camping lantern on his belt. Sonya protested loudly but I gently agreed with Ben that it didn’t matter that it didn’t “fit”. It made all the sense to me…infact, I explained, this was an improvement. Ben was a hybrid superhero – Batman crossed with the Green Lantern. Or the Green Lantern *disguised* as Batman, if you will. Sonya looked at me a bit exasperated as if to say “whose side are you on?” to which I shrugged as Ben beamed up at his Mum triumphantly while proceeded to tie on the shiny blue cape.

“There is a special way to this,” I explained to Ben matter-of-factly. “I own more than seven different capes and cloaks so I am a bit of a professional.”

To this Sonya chuckled and agreed that only Aunty Carmella would have such an arsenal of capes confirming that yes, she is most definitely the right one to have around for holidays such as Halloween. Once Ben was ready and Nicholas was poured into his little (almost too little…the boy is growing like a weed!) tigger outfit, we readied ourselves for the spooky night out.

Sonya started out as a she-devil but then decided she felt more piratey and changed. I agreed that the pirate was the right choice. I opted to be a “Police Dude” which meant a proper bobby hat complete with siren and light on the top as well as vest and handcuffs. There was a baton too but I lost that to a teething Nicholas who decided it was for chewing on. The best part of the ensemble was the bathrobe I wore and the pajama pants (which were actually hospital scrubs) ala. The Big Lebowski. Get it? Police Dude? I thought it was quite clever but I imagine I was the only one since Sonya doesn’t remember (gasp!) the cult classic.

I had just wiggled into the childsize Police vest when the first suspects rang the bell. Ben went ballistic and ran screaming wildly to the door, while I followed in steady pursuit armed with the candy bowl.
After handing out a few rounds of sweets, we had a photo shoot before heading out ourselves. I was impressed with the level of participation of some of the neighbors. Halloween is not well received here in the UK still being seen as a very American holiday. But those who have fun with it really do jump on board.

About a quarter of the houses dropped sweets in Bens happy little jack-o-lantern treat holder. It was pretty cute when we over heard the 5 year old asking the houses if the sweets they were giving him had egg in them. Sonya is deathly allergic to egg (as I discovered once many moons ago when we were teenagers doing homemade facemasks…not a happy story as her mom thought I was trying to kill her and has never really trusted me since) so her son is very wary of them.

The best house was when a 20-something man (who clearly had just come home from the gym) answered his door a little embarrassed but with a handful of coins. Ben didn’t quite know what to think when the burly young man repeatedly thrust his fist towards him, waiting for Ben to hold out his bucket. Finally the confused 4 year hold must have worked out that the gentleman was trying to give him a ganster greeting of sorts so he (naturally) gave him a fist pound right back. The whole thing was rather akward but made for the most hilarious moment of the night. Sonya and I were crying we were laughing so hard.

Another house had a dog the size of a small horse which wanted to participate too. And yet another home had a young boy who repeatedly invited us to come in to his house for a party. A few minutes later we learned it wasn’t his house at all but that he was inviting the whole neighbourhood anyway. I was quite impressed with how kind people were, nothing like the stuffy Brit stereotype.

When all was said and done, Ben had scored quite a pile of sugary snacks. Sonya ganked a candy watch and necklace and I noshed on some mini chocolate bars. Ben was more than happy to share…he is such a generous little boy. After the kids finally entered sugarcrash territory, we dropped them into bed and had a girls night. We watched StreetDance and ate yummy food while Facebooking each other from opposite sides of the couch. It was just like old times. I guess thats the best part of having a best friend…old times and new times are all the same. I guess what it comes down to is that time really just doesn’t exist in these rare connections.

Grateful for Happy Halloweens.

Posted in Europe, In Fun, In Travel | Leave a comment

Package Sharm – Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

Last time I came to Egypt I bypassed Sharm El-Sheikh completely only visiting Dahab and climbing the mountain before leaving the Sinai peninsula. This time since I landed here and thought I would take a few days checking things out. I am glad I did but I can admit that I am looking forward to leaving and hitting my beloved unpretentious Dahab once again.


Landing in the Sharm airport is a bit of a gong show as there is no need to get a visa if you are staying only on the Sinai peninsula or if you plan to dive in the National Park (which apprarently if you are going to dive, it’s an absolute must). The visa is $15 US or 100 Egyptian pounds but it is only single entry. This seems to be a much easier and cheaper option than going through all the trouble of getting a visa beforehand in Canada. In any case, I bought the visa sticker (yes thats really all it is) but didn’t use it yet. There is a good chance I will be visiting Jordan so I will use it on the way back from there.


The Renaissance Marriott Golden View Beach was beautiful and clean. In all honesty, it is much like any other package resort that you may see in Mexico except for a few differences. The food has a Mediterranean flair and the stereotypical loud Americans are replaced by whinging Brits. The staff are mostly men and there is definitely a slight air of aggressive male dominance throughout the resort. It is very subtle but as a woman, I am quite aware of the lingering stares from pool man even though I was dressed modestly in comparison to most of the other guests (save for the few women in full berkas) .


If I am to be completely honest, I can say for certain that I prefer the more respectful attitude towards the fairer sex in Mexico but here in Sharm there is slightly higher bang for your buck when it comes to quality of product. However, the concerns are the same in both…water quality, safety, and language barriers are all prevalent.


Yesterday I pretty much hung around the property all day wandering around smelling the flowers adorning the perfectly manicured lawns and tumbling waterfalls. I watched the tourists bobbing around in the ocean learning how to scuba dive or trying their hand at snorkeling. I did neither. I don’t know why but I am not drawn to diving here at all. I did however step my foot in the sea. It was not as warm as the Caribbean but most definitely suitable for swimming in.


I was able to meditate and get some writing done which was a nice bonus that I hadn’t actually planned on. I suppose I am getting my momentum back. In the late afternoon, I was pleased that they were offering free wifi (rather than the $8/hour normal rate) by the pool bar if you bought a drink. I used the opportunity to book my flight from Sharm to Hurghada ($58 US with Egypt Air) in a week rather than take the reportedly unreliable ferry.


There was a cultural show Friday evening that turned out to be quite uncomfortable to watch. It started out alright except for the fact that the music was turned up full blast. No matter where you were in the sprawling resort, you would have been forced to listen to the intrusive blaring scream. I shoved in my ear plugs and padded my way down to the pool area to watch for a while.

There was a man spinning around and around and around like a whirling dervish. He had on a long colorful patterned skirt which ballooned out below him. He would do several different tricks including lifting the top skirt over his head to reveal yet another skirt underneath. When he did this he looked like an alien spaceship and I couldn’t help but chuckle. The whole thing lasted about 30 mins which if you think about it, is a heck of a long time.


Now. Here is were it got interesting. He seemed to be done his show indicate by the fact that he had twirled off both long flowy floor ankle length skirts revealing a pure white puffy cotton jumpsuit underneath. And cowboy boots. Can’t forget the cowboy boots. Anyway, he got quite an appreciative applause from the audience as he waved to leave. But then he was instructed to keep going. And going. And going!

For at least another half hour he was forced to spin one of those skirts over his head non-stop. I felt so bad for him as the sweat just poured down his cheeks. Everytime he tried to leave he was blocked by the staff and corralled back to the stage. Aw. I began to feel real distain for the absent bellydancer who was causing this. In fact, when she finally casually sashayed on stage, I left in protest and did not stay for her very very sub par performance.


I enjoyed the breakfast and the fact the chef came out to greet the guests personally making sure they were enjoying their food. The grounds and rooms were kept to a high standard but most of all I was in love with the bed. Somehow they had imported clouds from heaven for me to sleep on. But in the end, I was glad to finally leave and make my way to the much more personable Dahab.

Grateful for slower tempos.

Posted in other | Leave a comment

Return to Dahab – Dahab, Egypt

Just in the 100 pound ($15) taxi from Sharm to Dahab watching the desert go by. We were lucky our driver would take us even though he was being threatened by the “mafia”20111108-004542.jpg which consisted off a young man with really bad teeth and his equally scary friend who sped up in a beaten up old hatchback on it’s last legs. I was only half joking when I asked if we were in danger of being hijacked and shot…these were those kinda people. 20111108-004157.jpg

This is rough land and I am talking about more than the razorlike jagged rocky mountains which seem to go on forever, layer upon layer. As we left the city limits I noticed several packs of camels wandering about. Wild camels! I thought it would be cool to jump on one and ride it to Dahab but I’d like to get there before Christmas. 20111108-004213.jpg

As we headed deeper into the desert there was nothing but rock, random cement box villages every so often and check points with a couple lazy (but smiling) Egyptians with big machine guns. They would peer in lackadaisically and nod us on. I fought off two determine flies that had hitched a free ride while I watched the trash strewn landscape dotted by rotting camel carcasses in various states of decomposition. The ones near the highway were clearly roadkill but what did the others die from? Anyway, it was creepy. That area only lasted for about five minutes then the last forty five minutes of the hour long ride was much more pleasant.

We arrived into Dahab and found our hotel right away unloading our stuff then setting off to explore. Lee was dead set on diving the whole time he was here but I wasn’t sure. After listening to the hard sell from one of the best dive shops I was actually completely turned off. Pressure doesn’t work well with me. I left Lee behind to plan his week in the water while I reacquainted myself with the charming hippy hangout/divers Mecca. I must have thrown off the don’t-mess-with-me vibe because the shop keepers and restauranteurs kept their distance for the most part as I sauntered up the promenade. Dahab has changed a bit in the last ten years but the unique flavor is still the same so a part of me felt confidently right at home.

Grateful for presence.


Posted in other | Leave a comment

Relaxing – Dahab, Egypt

Right now i am sitting in the bus on my way from Dahab to Taba, the northern tip of then Sinai penninsula. Today I will attempt Jordan through Israel which is said to be the more efficient way than the unreliable ferry from Neweiba. The bus is is full of backpackers like me and many of us are on the same route by the sounds of it.

I am really happy with my new setup which allows me to write on my iPhone with this handy dandy flexi-keyboard. The whole thing takes fits in one hand and weighs less than an apple. Soooo much better than having to cart around and worry about a laptop or netbook. Also in case you hadn’t noticed, my blog site is updated and I think much prettier now, not to mention more functional. If you have an iPhone (I promise this is not an Apple commercial…I am sure it must work on Andriods too, let me know), you can now view my blog in mobile form on your device. I’m now a regular futurista…welcome to 2011.20111113-110134.jpg

So I spent about three days in Dahab and in that time i did not dive once. infact i didn’t even step foot in the ocean. I did get a kick out of watching the hoards of young divers in full wetsuits waddle around the promenade either on their way in or out. Most of the dives around here are accessible from the shore save for some that you need to take a truck or camel…yes there is a camel dive. today Lee headed back down to Sharm to do the famous Thistlegorn wreck and Ras Mohammed national park. I am not sure if we will meet up again in Jordan or not but I have my doubts. Diving can take alot out of you and he may need some recovery time.

We are couchsurfing with Nader who lives in the center of everything and has turned out to be one of my favorite hosts. He is generous, kind and humble to a fault. He also has a sweet fat cat called Garfeild who doesn’t eat lasagna but apparently everything else under the sun. The first night we smoked the sheesha and had a beer, the second night I met up with some other friends who ate with me at Shark. The food was pretty good and the service was impressive. I have to admit I felt a bit strange when the guy came and washed my hands for me in this giant urn. They are very concerned with hygenine here or at least that is what they want you to think.20111113-110117.jpg

One should never come to dahab if they do not like cats. this is a paradise for cat lovers and no doubt you will end up with several feline friends by the end of your stay. they seem to be smaller than the typical housecat which makes them extra cute mini cats…perpetual kittens, if you like. well you can imagine, i was in heaven. every where i went baby kitties darted about or set up shop beside you while you ate. I know you may think this begging would be annoying but these cats are smart. Most of them will just sit very very still and politely wait until you are overcome by their charms. Finally when you cant take their adorable pie wide eyes boring into your soul you will be hypnotized into throwing them a scrap. I have had a cat claim me and sit pretty beside me guarding her possible lunch for a full hour before i rewarded her strong determination. How could i not? After ten days of Vipassana meditation training some people couldn’t sit that stone cold still. impressive. Anyway, most of them (save for a very few sickly looking ones) are adorable and some are super cute…like you want to put them in your pocket (they would fit) and take them home kind of cute. They are fed well by suckers like me and their looks are their livelihood. you had better believe they know it.20111113-110029.jpg

SO now i am here making friends who are on the same path as I. We all don’t really know quite we are doing but have agreed to work together to get to the finish line. there are several different theories flying around right now. Some will take the ferry, others with go overland to Israel and a few more will continue to Jordan. I land in the last group which put me with the couple from Spain. Here goes nothing.

Grateful for traveler camaraderie.

Posted in In Travel, Middle East | 1 Comment

Three countries in eight hours – Eilat, Israel

Once we got to the Taba border, it was a gong show. There was no real order and several large tour groups tried to muscle their way to the front of the tightly packed mob. others began to get upset hollering angry threats and I realized I wanted out of this fray as quickly as possible. We finally got stamped an walked the 2 minutes to the Israel border control which was a bit more orderly with metal corrals and fans blowing cool air. This quelled tempers for the most part except for a few screaming kids and one very large old man whom I was sure would give himself a heart attack.

when I finally made it to the front, the official began questioning me about my name, my heritage and my travel plans. Then he started hitting on me! This went on for a good ten minutes and I became acutely aware of the hundreds of eyes boring into my back. After all, he was the only person on duty and the line was not getting any shorter. Finally he gave up and stamped my passport somewhat reluctantly. He tried to make me promise I would come back. I told him I would have to since I was traveling by boat from Egypt. This was not the answer he wanted to hear but he smiled and sent me on my way.

I was surprised to find a wifi connection while I waited for the others to catch up so we could catch a cab together. The ride was a short 10 minutes and 60 shekels in a cool sweet smelling taxi with a friendly driver. We all peered out the windows at the modern clean city of Eilat which was just experiencing sunset.

We experienced some real issues with currency and credit cards while trying to pay our fees. My Gods there were lots of fees this day! I guess that is what you get when you traverse three countries in 8 hours. My strong advice is to make sure you have sufficient pounds, shekels and dinars because they are not interchangeable and bank machines are rare at these crossings. You may try your credit card but that may not work, as my Spanish friends found out the hard way. finally we got through all the stamps, checkpoints, interrogations and queues.

We took a 10 dinar taxi ride to Aqaba where I was shocked to find Alena still waiting. She was meant to meet me early in the afternoon and it was now almost 8pm. What a trooper! I thanked her profusely and she assured me it was no problem. She even arranged for my hardy travel buddies to get to their destination.

happily we all shared a taxi out towards wadi rum. We munched on spring rolls and chocolates and sipped pop as we realized we hadn’t eaten most of the day. The almost full moon was beaming in the sky and my mood was much lighter than I would have expected after having endured such a gauntlet of red tape.

Grateful for patience.






Posted in In Travel, Middle East | Leave a comment

Hidden Wadi Ranch – Disi, Jordan

Alena dropped me off at her place to freshen up while she hurried off to talk to some people about a camel race. Yes, that is how they do it here in Jordan. I was a bit taken aback at her humble abode but after a short time, began to appreciate the simplicity. She came to retrieve me and we made our way with Salah, her Bedouin friend to his “kingdom”.

I admired the humongous rocks seemingly dropped smack in the middle of a vast sand desert. These are no little stones by the way. they tower like mountains but are less ranges than stand alone monuments of natures grandeur. We sped through the sandy dunes as I admired the way the moon lit up the landscape just enough to give me a taste. My mind naturally began to try to fill in the blanks but I resisted, allowing for the anticipation of the surprise tomorrow morning. I would for now just focus on the feeling of this place without the distraction of the eyes.

The camp (past Disi in the middle of nowhere) was nestled into a valley (wadi) and we were protected from any wind, though I am not sure there was any here or anywhere. It was like the earth ceased its rotation. The air was silent and still which almost made it seem like time had stopped. We noshed on a tasty rice, chicken and veggie mixture before feeding the rest to the two cats. We made a fire and drank some delightfully spiced (cardamom and cinnamon and ?) while we got to know each other. I taught Salah some cute word games like “see you later alligator – in a while crocodile” and “no way jose” then realized I had created a monster. He couldn’t get enough and implored me to teach him more. I wracked my brain then began to invent new ones…we created an Arabic response to Hello Jello…Merhaba Ali Baba.

We dragged some sleeping mats over to the fire and bundled ourselves up in piles of thick furry blankets. We chattered away until we all began to drift off. I watched the fire flicker as the cats gingerly tip toed around scouting out a nest for the night. I felt a great sense of peace while I basked in the serenity of the moment then I drifted off to sleep.

grateful for remoteness.





Posted in In Travel, Middle East | Leave a comment

Recognition and Inspiration – Disi, Jordan

I woke up and felt an intense dry chill in the air. I snuggled in deeper and tried to ignore the impending day. finally my curiosity got the better of me and I rose to greet the others who had woke long before I had. I stretched and took a short wander to survey my surroundings. Now that the day had come, I was able to fully grasp the magnitude of the beauty which surrounded me. Though it was chilly in the shade of the valley, the camp was perfectly placed. It was shielded and guarded from anything and everyone. I felt very safe indeed.

I was drinking some tea and having a chat with Alena when four women joined us near the fire. I introduced myself and cheerfully inquired as to their story. I had heard that there were some mysterious Jordanian women who had roughed it in the back country last night. I was fascinated to know them and what they were about.

Lana, Ruba, Ban and Fatimah turned out to be four dynamic adventurous godesses. They were a little shy at first but I turned on my charm and they opened up like precious roses drinking in the sun. We all sat in a circle and shared a scrumptious breakfast of pita, jam, tahini, cheese, lebneh, halwa, cucumbers and tomatoes. And tea..we mustn’t forget the tea. yummers!

The conversation had me spellbound and it didn’t take long to realize these were some outstanding specimens of humanity. The energy we were generating between us was tangible. Groups of tourists who were visiting the Bedouin camp came and went intermittently, but we were oblivious as we drank tiny cups of tea and chattered away excitedly. The longer we talked the more apparent it became that these were women of high stature. Not only were they extremely intelligent but their modesty was striking. We talked about womens rights and how it was to grow up in the middle east. Together we concocted a plan for an innovative retreat that would attract women from all over the world. I get shivers right now just thinking about it.

At one point the conversation came back to me and they began to inquire about my travels. As I shared my experience, Lana became very animated asking me some pretty pointed questions. Then somewhat stunned, she informed me that she had been reading my writing for years. At first, I didn’t really get it. Surely she was mistaken and there was some other whereshegoes out there who she had followed around the world. It actually took some time for me to realize that this was one of my loyal readers who had allowed me into her heart and soul. We were both flabbergasted and didn’t quite know what to do with this unique serendipitous moment. Lana admitted that I had helped inspire her and that it was her dream to travel like me. I felt overwhelmed and strangely self conscious. Here is a phenomenal woman who knows me, accepts me, and believes in me! After the shock wore off (well in all honesty it still hasn’t even as I write this), we did the obvious…traveled together 🙂

Grateful for serendipity.20111114-094030.jpg




Posted in In Travel, Middle East | 2 Comments

Jordanian Road Trip – Jordan

The ladies were heading up to Petra then Aqaba which was pretty handy because that was exactly my plan. I checked and double checked that I wasn’t intruding or crashing their road trip to which they unanimously assured me was nowhere near the truth. We five piled into the SUV and began our Jordanian Road Trip.

We stopped into Salahs house were we met his wise mother and had some tea, which is the custom in most of the places here. Everyone invites you for tea, all the time. Its the way it is and this is a part of their culture that I just love. I have to admit, it sure does differ from the hurry hurry lifestyle we are accustomed to in North America. They are tiny tea cups so it’s not a huge commitment…therefore you most always comply. But even just that small cup gives you enough time to catch your breath and recenter. It’s very valuable and can really make a difference in the quality of your state of mind. Connection with others and reconnection with yourself. The ladies took this time to pray (they do this five times a day!) and I did a bit of internet. After a short time, we bid adieu to Alena and continued on our way North.

We stopped at the gas station and discussed the role women have in this culture. This was spurred by the fact that there was a man filling the car. I asked if this was a man thing or a service thing. I asked if we were allowed to fill up to which they admitted “Yes, but why would you? It is his job.”

As the man finished filling up we pulled over to the garage to the mechanic. We sat for some time while the attendant ignored us, even serving other vehicles who had arrived after us. Finally, when I realized we were only waiting to get air in our tires, i jumped out proclaiming proudly that I know how to do this. I was excited to get my hands dirty when the man rushed over all of a sudden spoiling my fun. We talked about the relationship between service and disability. I expressed my desire to work towards interdependence and temper my “i-am-an-island” tendencies.

Grateful for rhythm.




Posted in In Travel, Middle East | 1 Comment

Petra by Night – Petra, Jordan

I surveyed the countryside as we sped towards Petra. The mountains were less like serrated knives cutting the sky and more gently rounded spoons. Just big rocky ones that went on forever. I have to say there was not much green at all. It was brown and reddish sand, stone and rock though not much else. But against the crystal blue sky the shades of earth matched in perfect harmony.

On my right, Ruba gazed dreamily out the window, completely in her own world. To my left Fatimah was sleeping peacefully, empty chocolate bar wrapper still gripped in her tiny hands. I listened to Ban and Lana speaking softly in Arabic up front, trying to guess the context of the conversation. I was piecing together the occasional English word and would ask them when I thought I was on the right track. They seemed to be impressed with my eagerness to understand.

I thought it was interesting when we stopped to ask for directions at the police station and they invited us in for lunch. We politely declined but I did wonder what they would have served us, at the police station. I commented on how chivalrous men can be and one of the girls made the accurate observation that many of the male persuasion just like to “seem” that way.

We rounded many twists and turns finally coming upon the city of Petra. It wasn’t a modern town by any stretch of the imagination. The buildings were mostly made of cement and were stacked along the mountain side. There were herds of goats being guided by a boy with a stick right down the middle of the highway. We also passed a donkey who had his head poked into a cornerstore. I realized after I looked closer that the child who held the end of the rope was perusing inside.

We did a bit of exploration and finally decided that I would come with the girls to the Bedouin camp they had prebooked. Seven Wonders Camp was out of the town in the open desert near Little Petra. We had to go through quite a rough road but that was no problem for Ban, our excellent driver, who I had fondly dubbed Auto-Bahn.

Once we arrived, I was immediately enchanted by the people, the location, and the facilities. We each got our own charming little tents which were lined up side by side into something of a village. Inside there were well made beds complete with a white mozzie net which was useless in this season but pretty all the same. There was a small electric lantern and some candles which cast a romantic warm glow within the heavy canvas shelter. It was a cozy little camp and it didn’t take long to realize that we were some of the only guests that night. The other two happened to be two other women who were also traveling alone.

The seven of us drank tea in the tent while we warmed ourselves in front of the fire. Stories flew around and books were recommended. I suggested that we could have a very interesting book club between the few of us, the bookworms were were. Several of us happened to be writers as well so we all had more in common than we realized.

We ate a satisfying dinner of BBQ chicken, salads, veggies and pitas. The whole staff serving us and taking care of us seemed to be male. I flirted shamelessly with the little 6 and 10 year old brothers that were in charge of manning the buffet table. They giggled shyly and practiced their English with me giving me permission to practice my very limited Arabic right back.

After we were sufficiently stuffed, we jumped back in the SUV and headed to back to town to experience Petra by Night. The tickets were $12 JDs (Jordanian Dinars on par with the Euro right now) and we were to be there by 830pm. We scampered along to the gates and hurried down the long pathway towards the main attraction.

Now I know many people know what Petra (means “rock” in Greek) is but for some reason I didn’t. I had some idea that it was some mountain or some structure. I didn’t know it was a lost city. I had no clue that it would make such an impact on me. This was certainly a unique way to experience such grandeur.

There were hundreds if not thousands of candles stuck in sand bottomed paper bags lining the path all the way to the Treasury. Must have been miles and the glowing orange flickers were set about a meter apart the whole way. It was nothing short of spectacular and I was drunk on the romanticism of it all. The moon was full in the sky casting a ring of light in a perfect circle around itself. I noticed a jet must have just flown by because a trail shot through the very center making it look like Saturn.

The weather worn sky-high rocks sandwiched the pathway which seemed to be on an ever so gentle downward slope. The sandstone swirled in a whimsical way even Dr. Seuss would have felt at home. The moon and candles worked together to create mysterious shadows in the curvaceous rock formations. I pointed that fact to Ruba and she just looked at me with eyes pie wide requesting that I not talk to her about scary things. I chuckled to myself noting never to ask her to accompany me to any kind of supernatural thriller or horror movie.

When we finally arrived to the Treasury there were a gathering of a couple hundred people sitting quietly in stillness. Lana and I found an empty space at the front. We claimed one of the carefully set out mats trying not to disturb those around us. There were hundreds of candles set in front of the awesome monolith towering above us. There was a man seated on a stool in the very center singing in a language that even Lana could not interpret. The beautifully haunting melody penetrated my soul as I gazed up at the humongous carved rock face. When that man had finished another came along and played a delightful flute type instrument while a small cat pattered out of the structure, through the candle maze finally disappearing into the crowd.

I didn’t actually get to see the whole area or explore it in its entirety but it was no matter. I felt the gravity of the place and was hella impressed by the way these people had married nature with their needs. The water system was quite genius and worked well for the Nabataeans until an earthquake in about 300 AD rendered it non functional. The Romans who didn’t comprehend the spiritual nature of the city of Petra destroyed it in their hostile take over.

When we finally found our way back to camp, I was more than ready to hit the sack. We were all dazzled by the lights the camp men had placed in all the little nooks and crannies of the rockface hovering over us. Hundreds of orbs adorning the mountain like a Christmas tree. I gave one last glance to the moon bidding it good night before ducking into my quarters. The air was chilly but I was protected from the wind as I layered the extra blankets before crawling in side. Needless to say, I slept very well.

Grateful for fire and rock.







Posted in In Travel, Middle East | 1 Comment

Priceless gifts – Wadi Musa, Jordan

The next morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before heading off to visit Little Petra. We climbed in and around the smaller version of the World Wonder. It was pint size, as my Dad would say. I actually found it quite charming much less crowded ( >10 tourists in total) than the larger than life size version situated miles away. I hear you can hike from one to the other but it is a bit of a trek.

We visited the souvenir tents afterwards where we were given Coca-Cola and rug weaving lessons. I got right in there and after a couple tries, I got the hang of it. I found it quite fun but I was no match for the master who zipped through one rug in no time flat. The girls took some time to pray and shopped around a bit.

Lana discovered a very rare metal compass from 1917 with an inscription of a Robert Frost poem she loved. What an incredible find! The antiques roadshow would have a hayday with this one. When she showed me I advised her (perhaps a little too) strongly to get it. She agreed and began the sales process asking for the pricec. She was heartbroken when the old shopkeeper refused to sell it to her suddenly stubbornly insisting it wasn’t for sale. I saw her heart sink and though she tried to hide her disappointment, I could feel it a mile away. If I didn’t know better, I would have worried that my enthusiasm sabotaged the sale. But these kind honorable people don’t work that way…I knew something else was to blame for the bizarre behaviour.

We all piled into the SUV and made our way South towards Aqaba. We were not five minutes into the journey when the compass mysteriously appeared on the armrest next to Lanas unsuspecting elbow. It was a painful 30 seconds watching her completely oblivious to the surprise waiting to be found. Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore so I constructed a solution. She turned to answer my very pointed question “What ever happened with that compass back there?” absentmindedly picking up the object in her way to move it she could face me in the backseat. The look on her face when it registered that in her hand she held the very treasure she was mourning was priceless. I think a tear or two escaped the corner of my eyes. I felt so honored to be included in such a loving circle of friends. Lana who loves trip planning (my soul sister) was the mastermind behind this trip and the girls wanted to thank her by surprising her with this gift. It really couldn’t have played out better.

We continued our drive stopping in a store where I found a couple beautiful handcrafted bags (one adorned with the tree of life and the other with camels), a flag for Naders collection, and five shiny souvenir bookmarks I would hide till later. We drove a little longer then stopped by the side of the highway to have a small picnic of pita, olives and eggplant dip. It really hit the spot though I had to complete the snack with ginger cookies I had found the day before.

Grateful for surprise gifts.


Posted in other | 1 Comment