Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Solitude

When you hear the word solitude, what comes to mind? For me, I think of something along the lines of Thoreau's "Walden," one solitary person in the middle of nowhere all alone. But that's not easy to find in today's world.

And yet, I'm a person who needs solitude. Sometimes I just NEED to be alone. It recharges my batteries. Not that I'm anti-social or anything. I am actually very friendly, I swear!! It's just that I get overwhelmed when there is always someone there. Even if it's just someone in the same room, but not interacting with me, it drains me.

I guess I just feel freer when I'm alone. Free to just sit there and stare out the window. Free to talk to myself (which I do when I'm trying to work things out in my head). Free to read in peace and quiet. Free to do whatever I want without someone judging me or interrupting me.

I had one of those days today. I started work the other day and today was a particularly annoying day. Nothing huge, just annoying. So I got in the car, drove to the store, picked up a magazine and just pulled over on the side of the road and read. All alone.

Back in Miami, I had a multitude of options when I wanted to be alone. I would often go to the library and find a corner to retreat to. Other times, I'd go to the local park and read under a tree. But here in Doha, I don't really have many options. There are no libraries. Parks, when it's cool enough to be outside, are packed unbelievably full. So I have to be creative.

Being alone is different from being lonely. I think the ability to be comfortable with yourself when you are all alone is a mark of maturity. If you haven't tried it lately, give it a shot and see how it improves your mood.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back to Reality

And so vacation is over.

We returned to Doha late yesterday afternoon.  The return trip through Saudi Arabia was more pleasant, but still not something we want to repeat.  From here on out, we'll be flying any time we want to leave Qatar.

Once home, we discovered a thick layer of sand/dust covering everything in the house.  Apparently a week-long sandstorm struck while we were out of town, oozing in through vents and cracks around the doors.  Everything, and I mean everything needed to be wiped down, or changed, or washed.  

I've gotten about half-way through the laundry.  It's at times like this that I really miss having a dryer.  The whole procedure would take much, much less time and ironing wouldn't be necessary for every little thing.  Someday I'll get one.  Someday...

Then, of course, came the necessary re-stocking of the grocery pantry.  Ever since I (self)diagnosed myself with PCOS I've been studying up on the best way to deal with it and, lo and behold, it seems to be eating healthy and exercising.  (Darn it!!  Why couldn't, just once, the cure for some disease to be sitting in front of junk tv while scarfing down crunchy Cheetos??)  So, as we drove back home, I made up my shopping list.  I'm trying to focus on whole, natural foods and going to be phasing out processed foods.  I'm still promising myself that I'm going to kick my Pepsi habit, as I know that one of my biggest problems.  However, I can proudly report that I lost 5 pounds during my time in Jordan.   Whoo-hoo!!  Now if I can just maintain the habits I was following there - no  late night snacking, plenty of fruit and very little between meal snacking as well.

Tomorrow I want to finish up the laundry, mop the second floor to get rid of the final layer of grime, finish dusting (it's everything I tell you!!), take Daniel to the fish store to replace the fish which all died during our vacation (only the nasty ugly ones were left who were eating all the other ones though, so we aren't TOO heartbroken), and go brunette.  Yes, I want to dye my hair darker.  Hubby doesn't know it yet, and he likes it lighter, but I just can't stand looking at it anymore.  It's brassy and gold and I hate it.  Anyways summer is pretty much over once I start work on Sunday, and blond is for summertime, right? 
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Interesting Facts About Saudi Arabian Hotels

 - Much like American hotels have Gideon Bibles, Saudi hotels have copies of the Koran, along with a prayer rug

- Some Saudi hotels have signs on the ceiling pointing towards Mecca, so Muslims know which way to pray

- Toilets may not face Mecca

- Toilets have, in addition (hopefully!) to toilet paper, little sprayers to clean oneself with.  Kind of like the ones by your kitchen sink.

- Apparently the tv's are merely decorative because we have yet to figure out how to turn one on

- Beds are as hard as sleeping on a slab of concrete

- So are the sofas

- If you are sleeping on the sofa, don't be surprised if there are multiple bars poking into your back.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Photos from Our Trip

In backward order (because I stupidly loaded them that way and now I'm too lazy to re-arrange them), here are some photos from our trip so far:



This is Daniel with his cousin at the Treasury in Petra.  Daniel is in red.



Here they are after having climbed to the highest point of Petra, the Monastery.



Here's me by the banks of the Jordan River.



And here's Emily at the Jordan River as well.  Can you tell how stinkin' hot it was?  About a billion and three degrees or so!  Still it was an amazing experience.




Here's a sign with the explanation of why they believe this is the true baptism site of Jesus.  I'm hoping if you click on it you will be able to read it.




This is where they say the baptism site is.  As I think I mentioned, it's now away from the Jordan River, which has changed course over time, but you can still see the remains of the ancient churches which were built to commemorate the site.



Here are Emily and Daniel at Mount Nebo, the place where Moses looked out over the Promised Land.



This staff with a serpent wrapped around it commemorates this spot where Moses saw the Promised Land.  You can't tell from the photo, but the entire sculpture is made up of small votive candle holders and, according to my father-in-law, you used to be able to see the sculpture lit up from the candles all the way from Jerusalem.  Air quality has diminished now to the point that it isn't possible, but it's neat to think about.



Here's Daniel at the Roman Amphitheater in downtown Amman.



Miss Emily during our very looooooong drive through Saudi Arabia. She occupied herself for a bit by taking silly shots of herself.    I like this one the best.


Driving through Saudi Arabia (yes, it looked that barren ALL the way!!) we passed a small pick-up truck carrying some unusual cargo - a camel!!

That's it for now.  I'll try to post some more pictures after we get home.  We head out tomorrow.  Even though we are all going to miss Amman and our family here, I think we are all ready to get home to our own place and normal life.  We'll drive into Doha on Thursday night and I'll start work again (grrrr...) on Sunday so I'll have a couple of days to unpack and restock the house before getting back into the grind.

Have a great day!!






















Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Quick Glimpses

Pictures will have to wait (sorry, Claire!) until I'm home and have time to get Hubby to help me find them and sort through them, but I thought I'll give you a long overdue update on our time here in Jordan.

We have been having a great time so far.  The temps, while still warm in the 90's, are so pleasant compared to the standard 115+ we were having in Doha.  As I mentioned before, the climate here is very different to Doha. As we drove through town this morning, the words "riot of color" came to mind.  Now, to many people, Amman would hardly be called a lush garden.  But to my sensory-deprived Doha brain, all the trees and flowers (many of which we had in our garden in Miami) are a sight to behold.  There are hibiscus and bougainvillea, geraniums and sunflowers, daisies and blue daze to gawk at.  There is an abundance of jasmine and honeysuckle to draw you in as you walk through the streets.  It's amazing.

We've been to some amazing places since we arrived.  One of the first places we visited was the baptism site of Jesus.  Even though it was about 1342 degrees it was still an incredible opportunity to be there.  The spot where they believe the baptism occurred is no longer on the banks of the Jordan River as it has changed course over time, but there are ruins of ancient churches built on the site which you can still see.  We did go onward to the banks of the Jordan River though.  It was surprisingly narrow, maybe about 20 feet.  Daniel collected some water from the river, but the maid (my sil's, not my imaginary, wished-for maid) threw it away because she thought was just a bottle of dirty water.  Grrr.....

We also visited an ancient Roman amphitheater right in the heart of Amman.  You may not know that Amman is the ancient city of Philadelphia, mentioned in the New Testament.  Anyways, there's an extremely well-preserved amphitheater downtown that is still used to this day for concerts and plays.  You can just feel the history as you walk through the place.

Tomorrow we are planning on going to the Dead Sea.  For those who may not know, it's the lowest place on earth and the water has such a high concentration of salt that you float effortlessly.  It's fairly difficult to go underwater, but you wouldn't want to if you could.  Just a splash of the water in your eyes can burn badly and a drop in your mouth would make you want to gag.  We've gone before, but not since Emily was a baby so this will be a nice treat.  Since that time, they've built an amazing water park there too so we'll be hitting that tomorrow as well.  Should be a welcome change from the city and heat.

Tonight, though, we will say goodbye to one of my sisters-in-law and her family.  They are relocating to Canada for a year or two.  They all seem to be excited about the move, even the three kids.  We wish them well and hope that they settle in quickly and make new friends easily.  We know, all too well, how difficult it can be to move to a new culture, especially with kids.  

Well, I'm off now to listen to the sounds of family laughing, Arabic cooking shows on tv (think Food Network, but you don't recognize any of the ingredients!!), and heat rising off my brain.  Did I mention that Arabs are extremely resistant to air conditioning???

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