Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Walking the Straight Street

Last week I got back from a 4 day trip with some friends. We were able to be a part of some really great things happening in a Middle Eastern country. Here are some memories!

Our first day in, we went up the mountain the city is built on and saw the view. It made me miss Flagstaff mountain!!!

Here are my friends I travelled with.

After this, we went to the souq (market) and experienced life in this new place. The people were incredibly friendly and generous. It was a change from the crowds and dirt from where I live.

Here we are walking on A Street Called Straight. (Think harder if it's not ringing any bells yet...)

And the place where Paul met Ananias and the scales fell from his eyes.

We found a great fountian with birds everywhere.

You'll notice those guys looking at their camera. They started taking pictures of us (strange obessions with white skin and Asians), so we retaliated by taking their picture. Oooh, we're so threatening!

This building started out as a synagogue, then became a church, and is now a mosque. They do claim to have the head of John the Baptist and most Muslims believe Jesus will return to this pillar.

We spent the next two days outside of the city in the mountains. It was beautiful...and freezing. I wore 2 pairs of pants and all my shirts the entire time. We even slept with 3 blankets and hot water bottles in our bed. Here's the view from the monestary we stayed in.

And, of course, the token 300 year old mummy they found buried under the monestary when they were doing some construction.

When we returned, we had another 1 1/2 days in the city. We made to enjoy some Shwerma. (They shave the meat off of this ginormous hunk of meat and mix it with some sauce and pickeled veggies.) Yummy.

We also visited the National Museum. They had an art exhibit of painters from the 70s and 80s. During this time, all the people knew was war, and it was clearly portrayed in the artwork.

We couldn't resist!

A friendly shopkeeper, Mohammad, took us to the top of his building to see the view of the city. It was stunning.

All in all, the trip was wonderful. I continue to learn more about the diversity and culture of the Middle East, and it always inspires me. I am so thankful for these people.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Sandstorm

Yesterday morning began with me hanging my laundry on the line, wishing to myself it was a bit windier so my cothes would dry faster. Before I knew it the wind began to pick up (which is super abnormal for what I've experienced here so far). I had forgotten about my laundry and was just staring at the trash and bags flying through the air, when I remembered all my clothes dangling from my 5th story apartment. I had to peel the door open and went to grab my clothes. Clothespins were missing and clothes were swinging and dangling, but fortunately, they'd gotten so wrapped around the line, nothing blew away. I, very carefully, pulled them off the line and drug them inside just minutes before the sand hit. Before I knew it, the city was in a dirty, orangy fog. All of our windows and shutters were closed for the entire day. But, nevertheless, I can write my name on any surface in our house in dust. So this is what it's like living in the desert. Here's the view from my bedroom.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I know it's been a long time in coming, but here are some pictures from my much needed trip outside of the Middle East. It was a lovely time, though by the end, I was more than ready to return to the place that is feeling more and more like home to me every day.

I first flew into Frankfurt, Germany and met two of my dearest friends, Kylene and Mandi.

We stayed with a wonderful family in Gemersheim, which is in the Rhine Valley, about an hour outside of Frankfurt. (Unless you're us, who took around 2 hours to find our way home from the airport.)

It was wonderful to walk outside and enjoy the green parts of nature for the first time in months and months. I didn't know this until I arrived, but I have a slight obsession with the Rhine River. I think it's great!

We spent a day in Heidelburg, a nostalgic German city with cobblestone streets, a castle, and the beloved Starbucks.

A view of the city from the castle we climbed up to. (This was my first castle I've ever visited!)

Our favorite sign. We call it the "Do Not Exist" sign.

Since we were only an hour away (meaning 1 1/2 hours for us) from France,
we spent the day in Straussburg. It was exactly how I pictured France to be:
little cafes on the streets and accordians
playing in the background.

We had no idea what was actually in Straussburg, so we were left speechless when we turned a corner and found this Cathedral. We sat at a cafe and enjoyed the scenery for awhile. I even had a "conversation" in French, using all the words I remembered from the 5th grade. France was lovely.

French sunsets...or perhaps German sunrises. I can't quite remember...

After 5 days in Germany, we flew to London together. Ky and I had been before, but this was Mandi's first time.

Unfortunately, no more than 10 minutes into London, I took a spectacular spill and, among other injuries, sprained my ankle. This is the exact area where I fell. Apparently, that arrow was telling me to walk around the piece of sidewalk that led to my downfall.

Our hostel: the Victoria Astor. It was great...except for the day someone broke into our room and stole a bunch of stuff and then the police came and fingerprinted.
(Fortunately, we had nothing worth any value so none of our things were taken.)

Can you find me? Ky and Mandi had this joke that they could always find me wherever they were because I was always wearing the bright clothes (and the one limping). This was the day I "pulled an American" and went to the Serbian Embassy instead of the Syrian Embassy. I promise I know the difference between the two countries.

Trafalgar Square.

We came upon a movie premier, and apparently two of those really small heads are Tim Allen and William H. Macey (whoever that is!). We also saw John Travolta. They were at the premier for some movie about hogs or something.

My highlight was the Tate Museum of Modern Art.

Wesminster Abbey. We just saw the outside because everything in London was so expensive, we couldn't afford to go inside anywhere.

Buckingham Palace.

The British Museum had this great exposition (that I actually didn't see), but it's worth a comment. This tree is made out of guns becuse they did an anti-war project in Mozambique where they would have people turn in their weapons for tools to work with. As soon as the turned in the weapons, they would destroy them. They eventually made them into this tree and called it the "Tree of Life."

A little taste of home. Here's a mummy recovered from the Pyramids.

After Kylene left, Mandi and I spent the day and night in Beconsfield with a good family friend. She was a lovely hostess! She also came into London for my birthday and joined my mom and I in some games of Scrabble.

I spent the last week with my parents in a flat they were renting. It was great to see them. We went to Billy Elliot the Musical, but Evita was my favorite. I was very spoiled with them, and I got my Scrabble fix for the next couple of months at least.

I just returned late last night from a work trip to another Middle Eastern country. The trip was absolutely amazing. Pictures are coming soon!