Monthly Archives: July 2014

Krazy Kid’s Krazy Jellyfish Story

Watch to hear my story of what happened to me in the mediterranean sea:

Part One

Part Two

 

Highlights of Jordan, By Random Roo

In Jordan there is a place called Petra.  It is a place where some Bedouins live and also a very ancient place.  So this is a story about what I did in Petra on the first day:

We arrived in Petra and drove to our hotel called Petra Moon Hotel and stayed in it for 5 to 10 minutes. Then we went to hike in the ancient mountains and rocks there.  They have awesome caves and stuff like that, and we got the through the first part by horse, past the ticket centre.  We walked through towering rocks that were like 50 to 100 feet tall.

_DSC8236When we got through the crack with towering rocks, we saw a place called the treasury.  Go on to google images and search up “Petra, Treasury” and you will see a variety of images of the treasury.

Later on we went to the part where you can ride mules or donkeys.  I rode on a donkey.  The experience of riding one was awesome.  The thing I didn’t like about it was the people riding them getting something to whip them with.  We rode up a bunch of stairs on the donkeys until we got to a high place.  We decided to walk up the rest of the mountain.  Eventually we reached a sign which said “Best View Ever”. We walked up that part of the mountain, which only took three minutes to walk up.  Then we saw a tent with people in it. Four of the people in it were Bedouins and one of them was_DSC7762 telling jokes and tons of riddles and he was really funny.  Another one made us tea from scratch.  It took him about about half an hour to make the tea but it turned out to be the BEST tea I have ever had in my life! It tasted minty and like they put honey in the tea.

When we were done our tea we took ten or fifteen minutes longer to talk a little bit more.  Then we walked back down the mountain part, past the sign, and walked to our donkeys, where we rode them out in the dark._DSC8185_2

 

Home Sweet Home

Home! Boys tucked in their own beds….and everything done that needs to be done tonight. Ahhhhhh! It is 4:30 am in Israel, so essentially we have been travelling for close to 24 hours. So tired! But the good kind of tired!

Night!

Xxxx

Homeward Bound….One Step Closer

Leaving Tel Aviv in less than an hour! All ready for catching up on sleep on the plane.

Sad to leave those we love…..happy to be heading home.

Thank you to everyone in Israel for your warmest of welcomes!

 

Five Days in Jordan

We woke up early on the morning of July 16th, ready for exploring Jordan, which borders Israel. This leg of our trip was eye opening, inspiring, and thought provoking.

Crossing the border was a five hour event that included a ride in a mini bus with the twelve of us (our family, Teta, Bassam’s sister Randa along with Maroun and Chris, and Bassam’s niece Mira, and her husband Khraish and their special little ones Alex and Maria, who are the boys’ best playmates!).  We loaded up, enjoyed a beautiful balcony breakfast send-off from relatives upstairs, enjoying a view of the Mediterranean, in the morning breeze, and then set off for the Jordanian border.

The border crossing involved several steps: security checks, passport checks, crossing fees, more passport checks, luggage checks, toilet breaks, duty free shops, the no-man’s-land two minute bus ride after an hour long wait (literally), passport checks, and then passport checks. _DSC7471

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The rest of our journey took us past the Jordan River and through the towns along the roadway, to the Dead Sea. _DSC7506The Dead Sea is 400 meters below sea level!  The air in the day is balmy and dry, and at night the wind is hot.  The Dead Sea itself is a unique experience – a calm sea that you cannot swim in because the salt content is so high that a drop in your eye burns, and one in your mouth is nasty!  But for the same reason, you can sit down in the water or lay on your back and just float.DCIM100GOPRO  No treading or flotation device necessary!  Random Roo enjoyed the adventure and risked the butt crack burn!  He even rubbed the salt water on his lips. Yuck!  Krazy Kid could not get past the initial tingling and burning….maybe he was still turned off because of his jellyfish incident.  So he spent his time giving himself multiple Dead Sea mud treatments and covering every inch of his body….which was all good until he created mud boobs!DCIM100GOPRO

The resort we stayed at was spectacular, with awesome food, beautiful pools, luxury rooms, and amazing views.  We swam, floated, ate, swam, floated, ate, swam, floated, ate…..a real unwind.  A perfect way to relax.DCIM100GOPRO_DSC7497

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After two nights, we parted ways, and the four of us ventured off to Petra – a place I have dreamed of visiting for many years….ever since Bassam told me about it when we met in 1997.  We spent two nights, and 3 days in the region, and every moment of our time there a dream coming true for me.  Absolutely incredible!!!

On the first day, we drove three hours through the Jordanian desert, checked into our hotel, and immediately left to go into Petra, with promises to the boys that we would check it out for a few hours and be back in time for a relieving swim at the hotel.  Water bottles, snacks, camera, and four very excited people!_DSC8313

Only the photographs can tell the story….and even then do not do justice to the majesty of Petra.  Awe inspiring structures… If you are interested in learning more about the fascinating history of Petra and how this ancient city was created, watch this video by National Geographic.

The boys were in heaven, finding caves to peak into or explore and playing, parkour style, on the rocks.  They were real troupers and the adventurous spirit that we always fall in love with again and again, gave them the stamina to climb up to see interesting structures and keep going through the hours that slipped away unknowingly.  We decided, after hiking up and down all afternoon and reaching the end of the map, that before heading back we would “go all the way” and take the steps up to the monestary – but by donkey!!! With our Bedouin guides we took the donkeys up, who are sure-footed but walk on the edge!  Walking up would have been exhausting for the legs, but our upper bodies got a workout holding on._DSC8209 _DSC7578 _DSC7595 _DSC7599 _DSC8147_2

_DSC7551 _DSC7675 _DSC7646 _DSC7639_DSC7705 _DSC8128When we reached the top we continued on by foot and followed the sign:

Little did we know that we would be greeted by some very friendly young Bedouin guys who offered us tea (delicious and sweet!) and tell us jokes.  We were enjoying a well-needed break in their tent on the mats, and swapping stories with other travellers taking a similar rest so much that we stayed for sunset!

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Downhill on donkey is even more unnerving!  And the donkeys knew that had worked a long day, so they were rushing.  Our guides who walked alongside us, directing their donkeys, shared their teachings with us on our way, pointed out the cave they lived in, spoke seemingly telepathically with the animals (dogs, mules, donkeys, camels everywhere!), and led us out as the night slowly came upon us._DSC7697 _DSC7789

After dropping us off at the treasury we continued the three kilometer end to our adventure through the gorge at night, under the stars.  We were tired, sandy, sweaty and on top of the world!  Holding hands in the night and already reminiscing about our day, we realized that the pool had long closed and we didn’t even care.  (If you can imagine! Krazy Kid wasn’t even disappointed!) Almost through the gorge we heard loud steps approaching, and the beautiful sound of the flute echoing off the rocks.  Random Roo decided that he was meant to be on a donkey, wanted to live with the Bedouins, and was willing to give up all his modern pleasures to live in Petra, where “everyone and everything lives in harmony”.  That is the core of our Random Roo.

We arrived at our hotel, had showers in record time and took the elevator to the roof top to eat dinner on the terrace, surrounded by dry Jordanian air, sandstone mountains, and  canopied by the stars. Ahhhhhhhhhh…..a good day…..and Our Cosmic Core felt connected in a new way, through our united love for our surroundings and a new understanding of each other._DSC8298 _DSC8297

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day we took it easier, and chose some souvenirs from Petra and ate Bedouin food (mansaf).  We also swam, slept, were awakened by morning prayer being sung out from over a dozen surrounding mosques, and wandered around to new heights inside Petra.

On our final day, before heading back to join everyone back at the Dead Sea for one more night, we went into Wadi Rum to check out the Bedouin community and experience a desert trek by camel.  Super, super fun!!!!_DSC8432 _DSC8436 _DSC8363 _DSC8326 _DSC8334 _DSC8325

Bassam took as many photographs as he could – over 1000 – and over the three days we were there we planned for him to get the best shots he could, which simultaneously allowed us to see Petra in many different times of the day: midday, evening, sunset, sunrise, and even the dark, under the stars.

 

 

Protests in West Bank and Jerusalem

Protestors yesterday heading from West Bank to Jerusalem (which we crossed off our list of travel destinations after our arrival) shown in this video. Staying safe and well away from this area. Very sad and disappointed about this situation:

West Bank Clashes Protests for Gaza (CLICK HERE)

Highlights of Day Four to Day Seven

Swimming in the Mediterranean SeaDCIM100GOPRO

Eating seafood in Akko in a 100 year old seafood restaurant, in a city over 2000 years old! (We will spend a day visiting here again and post lots of pics we hope….neat place). An awesome meal on the water. (July 24th update: unfortunately we where not able to go back to Akko due to safety concerns. We are very disappointed.)

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Eating lamb shawarma in Haifa! Amazzzzziiiiiinggggg!photo

Eating falafel in the same spot that Bassam used to eat when he was a boy, followed by saying hello to a cousin in the neighbouring barber shop, followed by a peak into the shop where he bought his school books…….and then a short trek uphill to the school he attended in in grades 6, 7, and 8._DSC7340

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Visiting the Baha’i Gardens, and learning about the beauty of this peaceful religion._DSC7319

Krazy Kid gets stung by a jellyfish. (See his video sharing his experience) . Not fun! A bad day. Poor little munchkin and a very brave little boy!_DSC7297DCIM100GOPRO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A day in Nazareth! The newer Nazareth, (not so new) is built on top of the ancient city of Nazareth….the oldest city in the world. We saw the old streets, caves, and entrances to places we can only see in our imaginations. We visited the cave where it is believed Mary was visited by the angel Gabrielle, where Joseph lived, and where Mary collected her water, Bassam’s school until grade 5, his first home which is now in very poor repair, and all the cobblestone streets that Bassam wandered around. We didn’t leave of course untill we enjoyed the sweets that Nazareth is famous for. Yummy!!!

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Thank you Auntie Randa for driving us everywhere and showing us all the sites. We love you!

 

 

Day Three: The Wedding

The wedding day we left Tamer’s Guest House as our stay was complete. We prepared a quick breakfast to eat outside and were surprised with freshly baked pastries from the owners. We thanked them for their thoughtfulness and requested they call us a taxi to take us to Bassam’s sisters. George quickly set off to do so, only to return five minutes later to say the taxi was ready: his own car with our luggage loaded, and his personal service! He then stopped half way, and we had no idea why. photoHe called the boys to follow him out of the car and into a bakery, where he let them choose a box full of pastries! Their eyes lit up, and he enjoyed seeing their smiles so much that he hugged them, and pinched them, and told them to remember “Uncle George”. Beautiful!

The wedding day was full of tradition and activity. An incredible cultural experience for the _DSC7045_DSC7047boys. All three of my boys, I must say, were the “handsomest” boys at the party!

Our day started early with breakfast and hair appts, then many went to the brides home for a celebration there, and the tradition of having the groom’s family bring the bride from her home, complete with celebratory drinks, dancing, singing, and a band! Next was a beautiful (although very hot!) church ceremony, followed by an outdoor reception on the church grounds, with champagne, ENDLESS platters of sweets, and lots of kissing!

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Next the bride and groom are welcomed at the groom’s home with singing and clapping, and are followed through the entrance of the home after they symbolically stick dough above the door, to show how their marriage will also stick. Inside everyone cooled off a bit with cold drinks, and filled their stomachs a bit with a bit of food. And like a whirlwind, we all changed into our evening dresses and drove to Nazareth for the reception.

After fingerprinting on the tree Bassam painted, a live Arabic band welcomed us, and the _DSC7110Bride and Groom immediately started the all night dancing. Food and drink constantly flowed and the dancing never stopped. The boys embraced the evening fully, eating so proper in their wedding clothes, touring the dance floor all night, and milling freely around the party for 600. They are natural minglers who were not tired out until the last guests were leaving.

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Bassam and I had fun dancing with cousins and being silly on the dance floor. The music always inspires me to move and I love how lively the party always is at Arabic weddings. This party sure did not disappoint!

 

 

 

 

 

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A heartfelt congratulations to Wisam and his Bride, Ola. We wish you a wonderful life together and hope you will fill it with adventure and fulfillment of all your dreams. As the motto our family lives by: invent your dreams, and then live them. Xxxx

Day Two

Day Two

Because our party ended late, on Day Two we slept until noon local time – a great sleep by the sea. We took a hot and sticky walk through the residential area we were staying in – and visited the very place where Bassam’s Mom (and the boys’ Teta) grew up, the very spot where their house used to be and Bassam holds many memories of playing at HIS Teta’s. However, his catch phrase of the trip already is “this was sooooo different twenty years ago” (about how long it has been since he last visited).

We then had cousin Wisam (and the handsome groom) pick us up and drive us to beach – where the boys experienced their first time in salt water. Unfortunately they didn’t take our word for it, but learned quickly to keep their eyes and mouths closed! The four of us swam a little, but mostly jumped around, got slammed by some good waves, attempted body surfing, and did a whole lot of screaming and giggling. We are always on the watch for jellyfish – they are rolling in slowly and the eggs right now are invisibly present, their subtle sting reminding you about what is yet to come over the next days – likely a jellyfish invasion! We are getting as much beach time as possible until then and are LOVING the warm mediterranean sea.

Gorgeous! Watch Random Roo learning to body surf:

After being sun kissed and gloriously happy, we sat at the Camel on the beach (“this was so much smaller twenty years ago”) and sipped a very strong gin and tonic, while the boys indulged in milkshakes (Random Roo) and 7-Up (Krazy Kid, because he is seven).

See us! Sipping at the Camel (Click to watch)

After a quick rinse (to avoid salt water chaffing), we headed over to help out. Being the eve of the wedding, many wedding preparations ensued:

Bassam’s painting for the reception re-stretched

Flower bouquets for the little girls

Seating Arrangement for 600 people (!!)

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Travel and Day One

Day One

It was with great excitement and anticipation that we awoke on the morning of July 7th.  Our two little boys thought that they were excited, but the unknown ahead left them very nervous and very grumpy! So we were glad that we had planned for our vacation to officially begin upon awakening on the 7th…..this meant that we had completely finished all of our packing and our tasks to get ready to leave our home for a few weeks, and were all ready for the airport.  It also meant that our two boys could see US being calm and confident, and that we were able to spend time doing things together (rather than being so preoccupied with packing and preparing, as the days leading up to our departure).  That does not mean that it all went smoothly, but it meant that we had the patience to deal with it all calmly and with empathy.  On our list of pre-trip activities:
-practising our Arabic dance moves for the wedding, in our living room
-going out for brunch at our neighbourhood diner and sharing our upcoming adventure
-buying ties for the boys for the wedding
-visiting Uncle Alex and Auntie Laila on the way to the airport for a relaxed meal and a glass of wine
-playing outside with the boys’ favourite neighbourhood friend and saying good-bye a million times, planning activities they will do together when we return
-writing a blog post together about heading out
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It wasn’t until we were in the car on the way to the airport that a sense of calm came over them, and it was all I could do to stay contain myself – I love airplanes and wanted to hoot and holler.
They were adorable with their little Canada bags filled with activities for the plane, and their travel pillows, along with their luggage from Nonna.
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And since it was their first airplane ride ever it was so much fun to watch their eyes light up during take off, and when they were discovering how to choose endless movies and games on their personal televisions.  Random Roo very quickly found a movie and settled in to watch, gratefully undisturbed.  Krazy Kid explored every button on his remote, along with every gadget on his chair, and took great pride in ordering himself a good drink, leaning back, and having a nap.
And we slept!  As our flight was through the night, and the deal was that if we slept decently we would escape the airport during our stopover in Warsaw to explore the Old Town. Town.  So after being ripped off by our taxi driver (who gave us his card, saying he was the best price and that others would take advantage of us, and then charged us 50% more upon arrival) we were in Warsaw’s Old Town.  It was hot, our bags felt heavy, and we were tired.  _DSC6648_DSC6660_DSC6699
_DSC6646Warsaw was quiet on a Tuesday afternoon.  But we saw some incredible old architecture, had to ward off a mother and child who were stalking us, searched for “treasures” from Poland for each of the boys, and of course settled in for perogies, sour cream soup, and Polish sausage – delish!
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_DSC6772The boys also indulged in Polish ice cream, swirled high on cones, and melting quickly all over their hands and faces.
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_DSC6682We crossed over from the Old Town to the New Town (which historically had a separate mayor and council, and had a wall to separate their towns).
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We wandered a bit, agreed we were tired, dipped our feet in the dancing fountains to cool down, and grabbed a taxi back to the airport._DSC6793
Warsaw, Poland – check!
Our three and a half hour flight to Tel-Aviv Israel was dark and quiet, and we had six seats for the four of us – so we sprawled out and caught up on some sleep.  Arrival in Israel was smooth, and getting through customs was quick! Our family in Israel arranged a taxi for us, which we found quickly, took to Tamer’s Guest House for our two night stay, and found fresh breakfast waiting for us – meniche, cucumbers, tomatoes, lebane (yogurt cheese), pastries, figs, cold water, and Arabic coffee.  Thank you Auntie Randa!! The grounds surrounding our hotel room were beautiful, and the boys enjoyed going around and identifying every type of tree – olive, orange, lime, almond, and fig, along with berries and rosemary.  Bassam and I inhaled a deep breath of humid Haifa air while looking at the sea from our breakfast table.
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After well needed showers and some luggage organization, we closed the blinds, and laid quietly on our beds, not really wanting to sleep, but hoping to get some rest so that we could enjoy our official arrival at Bassam’s sisters later that day, along with the groom’s party, sure to continue well into the late hours of the night……..And we slept 8 hours!!!!!!!!  Go team!
And what a party it was!  Complete with a feast of Arabic dishes, plenty of drink, kids running around playing, dancing, crowd surfing, and partying on the terrace even after the police requested we quiet down.  One hundred and eighty people celebrating  – aunts, uncles, cousins, and best friends of the groom.  Random Roo charmed the crowd with head stands and flips, and Krazy Kid made new friends, breaking the language barrier with his witty humour and a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
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Day One was a good one!  Thank you to everyone for such a warm welcome!
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