Dec 31, 2016

"Amaze Your Eyes" he said.

Temple of Hercules, Amman

View of Marriot when we arrive in Petra

The Grand Mosque, Abu Dabai

We all take pictures and read the guide books. If you or anyone wants information about Dubai or Jordan, please go to the websites or books. I am not going to talk about the history or statistics. I am going to tell you about what will "amaze your eyes". 

We have been in the Middle East for over two weeks now. During that time we have visited the beautiful Burj Kalifa in Dubai and the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. We have been in Amman, Petra and the Dead Sea in Jordan. We have ridden in taxis', Uber cars and vans. Our children have two cars here so we have been transported in them shopping at the spice market. I love a ride in a car as well as the next guy but I am not going to talk about that either.

I need you to imagine the voices of people and visualize their story. 

We were standing in the lobby of the Marriot in Petra. A taxi would take us to the ancient and glorious Petra UNESCO World Heritage Site for a day of walking and marveling at what nature and man can create. A hotel lobby vender appeared inviting us into his shop where ceramic pieces adorned with gold and silver were displayed. 

"Come in," he said, "Amaze your eyes."

How could you not just love that. He was sincere and honestly pleased when I compliments his use of the English language. "Why don't I use my language is beautifully as you?" I asked. I looked directly at him for the first time and saw the pleasure he took from a few kind words. "Thank you. You have made my day." It was a phrase I heard over and over. 

Jordan is a very poor place on the face of this earth. Not blessed by an abundance of oil nor even given soil that is not rocky, the people continue to live as they alway have.They plants crops in that soil and harvest salt and potash from the Dead Sea.  Sheep and goat herders camp beside the paved roads. A man that owns a camel is very wealthy. (Their income is supplemented by the government so they can maintain their culture.) ,The temperature hovers at 3 degrees centigrade at night in the deserts and we could see the glow of lights from within the tents they called home.

In this country you travel alone with a taxi driver if you are not with a tour group. Ours drove us from Amman to Petra taking the long way. We drove past the Dead Sea over the mountains as the winds blew so hard we hung on to rocks in order to take the photos we wanted. 

How did we happen to meet him. Well...we were leaving the Citadel in Amman when we gathered up two taxis that would take us back to our hotel. Our driver showed us a Lonely Planet guide book that mentioned his name. 

"If you need a driver for tomorrow I will make you a deal". My son and daughter-in-law handle the details of these trips and they were the ones that made the deal. We travel on a wing and a prayer. What can I say?

We talked with our driver of his family of 7 children and his three girls that destroyed remote controls for the TV and two small boys, one that wanders the neighborhood and another that stays close to his mamma day and night. He said visiting his house was very like visiting the zoo. Shawki Dahier (079-5818993)) was his name and we grew to love his outgoing charm. 

We stopped on a mountainside to use the water closet and have a cup of Turkish coffee. A Jordanian man made Turkish coffee inside his small dwelling and we were invited in so gather up what warmth there was. We laughed as we sipped our very hot sweet drink. Mosha Kanan, (079-9966621), the other driver, smiled at my grandchildren and we all were at peace. (Please, remember where I am.)

We were stopped at check points where Jordanian soldier leaned into our taxi to thank us for coming to his country. 

As we walked through Petra, the children that were suppose to be in school approached us with postcards. If we declined they simply gave them to us. We did not have to give them money but of course, like everyone else, we did. They played on the rocks and round corners while they waited for the next group to pass. Petra was their school and playground.

There were rules when visiting this place. I laughed as I read the illustrated instructions:
  1. Do not buy things from the children. They are suppose to be in school. 
  2. Do not ride the little donkeys if you are fat. The donkeys are just little creatures and we need to be kind to them.
  3. Do not pick up the rocks.
I asked the children why they were not in school. "Tomorrow" they said. The little creatures had all the right answers. Survival was their life.

We then spent two nights at the Dead Sea in what I was consider luxurious digs. My family swam in the Dead Sea and rubbed the black mud all over their bodies and then swam in the sea again. I was treated to a Salt and Aromatic Oils treatment. 

All the while I was there, I could not stop thinking about the Bedoins that chose to live in their caves and the herders that were given a supplemental income by the government so that they would continue to work as they always had. Cultures around the world are like this but I am always amazed at how it works.

We returned to Amman yesterday. The road we traveled gave us a very good view of Mt. Nebo, the place where Moses stood to look over the promised land. On the other side of that mountain the lay the place that King Solomon called home. This was where he chose to marry his niece Salome. Our taxi driver told us the story of the Prophet John, King Solomon and the woman he want to marry but was forbidden to do so. It was "haram".

His Jordanian accent gave the very old tale a wonderful new meaning for me. I loved his story telling skill. He was very humble saying that his English was not good. I could only think that his words were like hearing a song and I told him so. His face reflected his joy back to me.

I have hundreds of pictures I must sort through when I return to Tucson, Az. In the meantime I will let you create pictures of your own in your mind. 

Have a wonderful day.


Please forgive typing errors. I am working on a very old iPad.

Dec 20, 2016

That Day I Was Ignorant

I see that word flying around on the biosphere all of the time. We  are ignorant if we don't vote right or use the wrong word or even look the wrong way. After all, we should know better shouldn't we?

Pia Savage wrote on Facebook yesterday about the phrase "Jewing them down". It is phrase used to explain a business deal where the seller is bullied enough to sell for a lower price than ask in the first place. We all know it is offensive. I agree with Pia that people really do need to quit saying that if they still do.

But when I was growing up in a very small community where we never saw the outside world and had no idea what it like that meant, I am sure I heard the phrase many times. I may have used it myself because I did not know any better.

The only thing I did know was that I should not take the Lord's name in vane. 

But I don't think I was ignorant. I think I was innocent of a lot of things back in those days.

I remember the first time I heard someone say "What in the Sam Hill?". It was the same as saying "What the hell?" accept they used an actual person's name. See Sam Hill was a man that built a castle on a dry cliff over looking the Columbia River in hopes that the Queen of Romania (or somewhere like it) would come and visit. It was so...I don't know...personal. I could only think that a real person  belonged to that name. 

Then it hit me. That is how real people feel when they hear epithets associated with their faith or people. 

So I do keep learning. That lesson I learned all those years ago has stayed with me. It is still true...words can hurt you. I have come to believe that innocence is not an excuse. No name should be used in vane. 

It is just a thought. 


Dec 17, 2016

Dubai: USA Elections and 19 Second Graders

We are here in Dubai visiting with our family. Our son and his wife are involved in education where my son is director of a proprietary American school. His wife is the assistant elementary school principal. While we are visiting here we hear and see "the other side of the coin" when it comes to how the world works. It is very interesting.

So you need to know that I have not been sick or mad or anything of the sort. We are here in the UAE visiting and it turns out the challenge of simply signing in to the VNP on our families internet can stop us in our tracks. I have been taken to tasks by ATT for using more data than I should. The habit of picking up my phone to have a small conversations with friends is so engrained is a problem. The "data cops" sort of shut me down. Thank heavens they didn't just let me go for the gold! Wow.

We talk non-stop for a couple of days getting ourselves reconnected. In this particular case, politics was on the table immediately. My family is Democratic and my daughter-in-law's is Republican. We all agree on everything because we work from a middle ground. The shock of the election resounded through the world in Dubai much like it did in America.

My daughter-in-law was still in a place of shock and dismay when we arrived last Monday. As she talked about the classrooms in her school the only emotion she could convey was the one we all felt on 9/11. The children of all ages simply were devastated and she found many hiding and crying. I could understand how she felt. I was in the classroom on the day that JFK was assassinated. 

I was confused. I simply had not thought about how those Muslim families of the 19 second graders she found weeping saw what had happened in our country. We live in our little world and really don't connect as much as we should with the normal world of others around the globe. And please trust me, this is a very normal modern Muslim country. These people do not support terrorism and block immigration of people from any Middle Eastern country that has even the remotest connections the extreme Islamic groups. Unlike the USA, they can block ultra conservative or terrorist groups with no problem. The Neo-anything would not be tolerated.

The little children were hiding under the stairs. When my daughter-in-law found them, they were sobbing. They told her that they feared for their families living in the United States. She said that they knew that their aunts and uncles would be treated badly. It scared them because they had listened to Donald Trumps words on their television just as we had. They knew and they saw and they cannot un-know it ever. I suppose they were as changed at that point just as my students were all those years ago when our President Kennedy was assassinated by a man that it turns out had connections with Russia.

Now time is passing, parents or the children here continue to watch and wait much the same as we are. Their world is so connected with ours that it is hard to see when one begins and another ends. 

Had you thought about this? Did you feels any connections with the children around the world that are not that much different than yours? I wonder if we will ever understand that our country is capable of destroying not only themselves but everyone around the globe as well. And please don't go to a place where two wrongs make a right. I can see how that would happen.

It is just a thought. My vacations continues. Of course I will share pictures and details of this adventure. We will journey into Jordan where we will visit Petra, the Jordan River, Mt. Nebo and the Dead Sea. Life goes on but it seems that, once again, it will never be quite the same. 

Merry Christmas everyone. 


Dec 5, 2016

"I am not buying you anymore clothes," he said.

Every time I pack to leave for a vacation I learn something about myself. How about you? Do you find that you really haven't taken a good look at what you like lately? Are you paying attention to how you shop and what you actually own?

My husband and I were entering our golf course restaurant doors when I said that I liked my friends clothes better than mine and I wanted new stuff. Guess what he said?

"I am not buying you anymore clothes!"

Now you need to know that my husband doesn't control my shopping because he knows we are a team. But he says things like that once in awhile. He is so cute when he gets all huffy.

And the truth is I forget that he is not in control totally sometimes.

"How dare he say that", I thought, "I need stuff...I know I do."

Then I began packing for a vacation to Dubai we will be starting next week. It turns out I like what I have and I like black a lot and I maybe should not shop clearance sales because there are things in drawers and hangers that I didn't remember owning and don't actually fit the real me. (I admit there is a "dream Barbara" and she is a size smaller than the real one.)

My husband was SOOOOOO right. I do not need any new clothes. Darn! The scary part is I might have gone shopping just because I was told I couldn't. Saved by vacation packing once again.

Have a wonderful day.


Dec 2, 2016

On Learning to Stand Upright

I really do feel for the first man that decided to walk upright on his hind legs. He probably looked foolish wobbling along and trying to get his balance. I suppose there was a certain amount of ridicule involved with that choice too. Tipping over for babies is cute but when a grown cave man did that there may have been hoots and boos.

Or maybe the first was a cave baby. Oh my goodness. I suppose they kept pushing the baby over because it was not what cave babies did. I think they probably thought the baby was possessed.

My husband tipped over in the kitchen several years ago. I stepped over him, plugged in the computer before I called 911. I am not as sympathetic as I could be. He was fine...just didn't like to drink water. He said it rusted his pipes. After a scary moment when he did not move, and a trip to the hospital, I learned to push water like a drug dealer.

I have been walking upright for a very long time. Imagine my surprise the very first time I experience vertigo and simply tipped over on the bed. As I remember it I was holding a baby at the time. No one was hurt but I have never really trusted gravity ever again.

So, have any of you ever tipped over in the kitchen or the living room or the bedroom? Maintain your sense of humor and tell me your story.

Be well.


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