Living in Palestine: a year in review.

It’s a year, exactly tomorrow, since I moved away from home, the only home I have ever known. Montreal was pretty much my sanctuary; I was free to do what I wanted, whenever I wanted. I know that life isn’t about just that, but I felt free to express myself even though I was an outcast due to being part of a visible minority. I felt more myself in Montreal than I do here in Jericho to be completely honest. This post is to share my story and my transition into living in the Middle East…more precisely Palestine. First of all, whenever people ask me how it has been, I simply say that it was the hardest year of my life…not because I didn’t have all the goods or all the money or all the materials in the world, but mostly because of how easily I seem to have lost my true sense of self. It is probably hard to understand for many because I am an Arab, I should easily fit in…but on the contrary, I was and will continue to be an outsider and that people remind me of every day.

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One of the main issues that had me so depressed was the fact that due to political unrest and issues in this country, I ended up losing my Canadian citizenship here and was treated just as those poor stateless citizens, which is fine by me (now at least), but I will not lie and say that I took it with a grain of salt. I felt like I lost a big part of my identity. I was not used to be stopped and interrogated and watched and followed. I felt alone and hopeless. Being away from my family felt hard and not having much here made me depress even more. Nothing seemed to cheer me up and for the longest time, I buried myself at home and didn’t want to see anyone or go anywhere. I wasn’t interested in making friends or going out with my husband even. Besides, It wasn’t even easy making friends, girls can be so vicious and hurtful sometimes, it’s scary. I was considered an idiot because I didn’t spend all my waking time painting my nails or brushing my hair. There was no girl power to say the least…that made me realize how lucky I was back home to have my girl squad by my side. My girlfriends helped shape me and push me out of my comfort zone. They lifted me up when I was down and I did the same with them. That to me is pure gold! Therefore, I guess what I am trying to say is that my experience here in Palestine further pushed me to stay safe in my own house at all times. Months passed and losing myself seemed more easy; I let everyone use me, abuse me and step over me.

I couldn’t for the life of me find a job to keep myself occupied…like no one wanted to hire me!!! They all knew I had the qualifications, but for some reason everyone seemed threatened by my baggage. I never wanted to take anyone’s place, I just needed a job to keep me busy and occupied. Unfortunately, everything I tried but I failed, miserably. I felt ashamed, hurt and very much incompetent. I know it really wasn’t my fault, but I couldn’t help but think that I sucked at life pretty much. I couldn’t even get a volunteering gig because I seemed too nice and by that, I mean, I was probably hiding something (totes wasn’t). Adjusting to my new life was quite difficult, but I did it anyway because I was at least with the man I love. Then when light seemed to appear at the end of the tunnel, I worked in a tourist area for a good three weeks only to have the owner not pay me anything. It has been seven months now since stopping that job and still got no money from them…every time something bad happened to me, I kept saying I deserve it; it’s what happens when you’re nice; which ended up pushing me into my sinkhole further down. I think I ended up being harsher on myself than others were. I mean yes I was labeled as an outsider, but for some reason my will to keep fighting has faded and I was completely unhappy with the life I had. If it wasn’t for my husband being by my side, my depression would have been tremendous. I went to other touristic related jobs, here in Jericho, only to be told that I needed to remove my veil. Like why??? I never removed it in Canada and worked pretty much my entire life, why would I remove it now??? It was such a struggle for me to find any job that I gave up on that and that led me to feel like a failure to humanity.

I am not saying it was all bad, life is certainly difficult for many people here and I am thankful that what I went through wasn’t as hard as what others go through, but never in my life have I felt completely alone as I felt here in Jericho. I asked for help only to be rebuffed brutally. I tried to make my surrounding better but I was laughed at for caring for stupid things such as the environment, charity and kindness. People are so oppressed here that they lost all sense of care for others in their own community. No one has the time to be socially charitable, which is very sad because I know it’s not their fault but that doesn’t have to stop them from holding on to what’s right. I think this is what bothered me the most in my stay here, not finding someone with the same values as me made me sick to my core; so sick that I too wanted to be evil. Twisted, I know! I felt like everything I learned from my mother and family no longer had a meaning.

I guess what I am trying to say is that even though life hasn’t been easy for me here, I am thankful for having went through what I went through because it showed me to be even more grateful for what I have in my life; my family and friends are more important than any amount of money one can have. Living simply and modestly is even more of a mission to me than it was before; being around the people you love is enough to keep you happy abundantly. Life is too short for us to waste our time to fight for titles, positions and social/political status. It is all meaningless!! Just be content and satisfied with what you have in front of you, and then life is so much sweeter!!!! I would never have made it through without my loving, understanding, selfless husband. I have been hard on him many times through my stay and was probably my punching bag but never did he ever complain about my stinky attitude and for that I am truly and utterly indebted. So, even though this year was hard, I think I came out stronger and more focused to remain humble and happy.

See, no one pushed me to go through with this change or with this adventure, but taking the chance was worth it in the end, because the love I have for my husband is endless. I will treasure this year in my heart and use it as a guide to lead a life of yes! I will follow my dreams relentlessly and ensure that every moment goes by with a purpose; never wasted and never meaningless. I know that many might judge me for being somewhat open about my experience here in Jericho, but this is my side and I stand by it!

A day in the life: Deir Hajla.

On Easter weekend, we decided to go around town and discover new spots to hang out at (mostly, i do the discovering…since being new here and all). I was quite energetic and wanted to take advantage of every second of that day; didn’t want to waste it at home. We ended up going to Deir Hajla, a small town just 15 minutes outside of Jericho to visit the St Gerasimos Monastery; one of the oldest churches in Palestine (founded in the 5th century). It was super exciting to see, I love visiting churches (some creep me out, not gonna lie) and seeing people committed and concentrated on praying. There were a few sisters around that day that welcomed us warmly although they were occupied preparing for Easter Sunday. It’s a Greek Orthodox Church and it was so beautifully ornamented on the inside in gold and baby blue colors. The light was a little too dim for me to take loads of pictures, but I snapped what I could. The church ceiling was high and meticulously worked with metals and stones. The wooden benches were stacked perfectly one behind the other giving us enough space to walk around and enjoy the monuments placed carefully around the place. There were a couple of skulls in glass boxes around the church of martyred monks. The Monastery was destroyed and restored a couple of time and they still continue their work on it to this day. What’s interesting about the history of this particular Monastery is that apparently is was a refuge for Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus. They hid in a cave here during their flight from Herod. An underground chapel was built on the spot where tradition has it the Holy Family spent the night.

We ended up having a quick supper that day and by quick, I mean falafel sandwiches, not my favourite, but it worked…since I am not enjoying meat and poultry so much these days. The day was a bit grim and a little but windy, so I ended up dressing in something a little more colourful to brighten the grey of the day. So here are a few pictures of today’s adventures and outfit.

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Falafel has made me a little bit of a bloated mess..so I looked extra pregnant, but I still made it work. Plus, wearing a skirt helped a lot.

What I wore

SHIRT: Max ♠ SKIRT: Stradivarius ♠ NECK TIE: Vintage ♠ SHOES: Thrifted ♠ BAG: Aldo ♠ SUNGLASSES: Kate Spade

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For those planning to travel around this region, I suggest you strongly visit this church, it’s freaking amazing! Plus, I has a little coffee shop and playing area for children, so you get to enjoy it and have a picnic. I know that a lot of pilgrims add it to their list of places to visit while on their praying/religious journey to the Holy Land…but for those who don’t know about it (like me), then here you go! Take the time and plan it out!

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SHOP THE LOOK

A date with nature <3

We were spontaneous! Actually hubs was; for the first time in a long time and it was delightful. I was a little bored from spending too much time at home lately and so this past weekend, hubs decided to take me on a little dinner date to Ramallah. Nothing fancy, just a quick trip/walk around the city. It was relaxing and actually super fun. We stopped a few places to look at the horizon and appreciate nature a little; the weather is usually super nice once you leave Jericho and the minute we started going up the hills, the breeze was to die for. Since we weren’t doing anything fancy, I dressed up super casual but with a little bit of sparkle, obviously, because why not? And also, I feel like dressing up lately has given me more energy than usual. Putting a little more makeup than usual too has given me more energy and a boost of confidence I have been lacking lately.

Anyhow, this is the outfit I chose to wear:

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I have had this silver sweater in my closet for 2 years now; I had bought it to wear to any event, and never actually got around to doing it. Instead, I kept it there, sitting and waiting for the right moment to take it out for a ride. Today was the day; it’s actually super comfortable and soft despite the fact that it looks a little bit stiff. It was quite expensive at the time when I bought it while on vacation in Saudi Arabia. Since I knew we were eating heart, heavy food, I knew I needed to wear looser fit pants, well because the belly is growing and tight pants and food/baby belly doesn’t go hand in hand. I got these maternity cargo pants donated to me by my sister in law and I thought it would be the perfect time to test them out. So glad they’re simple and just go with everything. The belly band is re-sizable and it’s prefect because I can wear them all the way to the end of my pregnancy.

Got these espadrille flats while on a little vacation in Jordan with the hubs a few weeks ago and the weather was just too prefect not to wear them. I am so scared to go up a shoe size, I so love my 6.5 feet and cannot imagine being a 7.5. I got used to having all the shoes available in my size at the stores and also, they’re small and they’re my favourite body part. Haha! Not a foot fetishist here, just love my petite frame.

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We walked around Ramallah city for about an hour and then ended up heading home, because the weather got a bit colder…good thing I carried my favourite trench with me in case. It came in very handy!

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My favorite part of this whole outfit, obviously, was to finally be able to hang out with husband without being sick or looking grim or feeling nauseous. We were able to enjoy each and giggle and laugh, walk around and just be completely content for a few hours. My other favorite part, was to soak up nature, which is something I miss doing. My sisters and I used to always make time, back home, to enjoy nature and connect with it. These are the moments that I truly miss. Spending time with my family, away from technology…arguing, fighting, then getting back to being friends again; these moments are irreplaceable and today brought me to that and I am forever grateful.

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To me, today was exceptional! We didn’t dress fancy, or have fancy food, we were simply unorganized and spontaneous and that make me happier than anything else in the world. To top it off, we were one with nature, we couldn’t have asked for anything better!

A visit to Temptation Mountain in heels!

This is my last post of 2017! Can’t believe it’s over already! It’s been quite an emotional ride; filled with great and not so great moments, but I know that I am coming stronger out of this one and I cannot wait to take on 208 by the horns. 2017 brought me closer to the love of my life but tore me a little bit away from home. Emotional I tell ya! Anyway, what a better way to end the year than with a huge outfit bang! This is a little bit of a tiny DIY, a very simple one; a super simple one that you can easily do with anything bling-y you have! I was simply too tired of wearing my black culottes all the time, and I didn’t want to buy new ones, so I just pimped them up real good. I had a few knicks and knacks around and so I used them to turn my plain old black culottes into a cultural piece.

Hubbs has been telling me about Temptation Mountain for a while and has been wanting to take me there for a little walk around, but we never got a chance until today. Temptation Mountain is like 5km out of Jericho and it is said to be the mountain where Jesus resided while the devil tempted him during his 40-day fast. There’s a beautiful monastery there and there’s loads of pilgrims from all over the world that pass by this monastery during their prayer and redemption journey. I met a few and it is quite interesting to see them so dedicate to renew their faith. The church is high and isolated and I am sure it is the perfect place to be in when you are in search of finding yourself and in search of inner peace. So, what better way to end the year than in a place of solitude and reflection to get the chance to reflect on your past actions and work on the future to better yourself as a citizen of the world.

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This outfit I wore seems so fitting to the fact that it bring culture and history all together. I know I am wearing heels and all, but it really wasn’t bad to walk in them!

I decided to bedazzle my culottes with Palestinian embroidered pieces I had lying around and add some gold coins for extra oomph.

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WHAT I WORE:

SHIRT: Zara (thrifted) ♥ Pants: Zara ♥ SUNNIES: Claire’s ♥ SHOES: Charles & Keith Sandals ♥ JACKET: Vero Moda Trench ♥ EARRINGS: Aldo

 

I wanted to take time to wish you all the happiest of holidays and to have a wonderful new year!!! May 2018 be filled with amazing opportunities, endless happy memories and loads of peace and love!

You had me at Saint John!

After our little trip to Fredericton…we drove and headed to Saint John (New Brunswick). I’ve always wanted to go there but never actually made it until today with my favorite person in the world; my husband. Saint John was just beyond words. Describing it and writing about is just not enough, you have to see it! It’s gorgeous. The weather was a little bit colder for us and it was a little windy but it was worth it. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. We ended up sleeping there in a little Motel…I stopped there to go to the loo but my husband was touched by the owner’s kind gesture of letting me in one of the rooms to use her washroom that he decided we should sleep there. Total win and no regrets! Hillcrest Motel is literally 1 minute drive from downtown Saint John. We didn’t struggle to find anything and the sleep was super comfortable…to use it was just a wonderful place to sleep in and the view was phenomenal. For the price, we were pretty content.

Our first stop there was the Irving Nature Park and it was beyond words…just acres and acres of beautiful land and colorful trees…600 to be exact and this park had the most beautiful view of the shore and we had a chance to snap picture of the trees and the water since the water levels were lower the time we arrived. The sand was magical…the ripple marks were like a mesmerizing painted canvas and I couldn’t help but snap photos of that too!

We then headed off to the Reversing Falls and that’s where my husband just went bananas! He couldn’t believe the view and was laughing his head off in admiration (of course) and awe. I swear, it’s like watching a baby take his first steps or something…it’s super freaking adorable and super touching ❤

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So basically…there are 3 different types of tides and a series of rapids that meet to create the reversing effect. The waters go through a narrow gorge before emptying into the Bay of Fundy and so the “falls” are created. It’s quite fascinating actually and a little bit scary…when you seriously think about it and wonder how the hell you would ever get out of there if you’d ever fall! After walking around a bit and going up the bridge and over…we decided to head on over to our next little stop before the sun set. We had enough time to drive over to see a little bit of that sunset over at Fort Howe National Historic Site. I know there wasn’t much to do but enjoy the view…but this exactly what we did. The view of Saint John was magical and the harbour was super impressive…especially with the massive boats and all the yachts. It’s definitely a view to remember.

The fort was built in 1777 by the British to protect Saint John from American raids. There was a little block house but unfortunately it was closed…so we couldn’t get inside. Nonetheless, we got to touch and see a little bit of history.

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We got a little hungry after walking around the city and decided to finish off our days in a little bit of a walk around downtown Saint John. The houses were so colorful, little and just overall cute. It made me want to live there! Just so I can own a pink house (haha!).

Walking around the port was very romantic and cold..but we finished off our night on a high note and we made plans to come back to Saint John because it has a little special place in our hearts.

Next stop…Fredericton

…..our second stop in our little honeymoon was Fredericton! The capital of New Brunswick. We were thrilled to have finally crossed the little border from Quebec to NB and we could’t wait to discover what’s out there. Fredericton was a new for both him and I. We slept in Fredericton and so we took more time to walk around and although I don’t have many pictures to show its beauty…we still had loads of fun. It wasn’t the highlight of our trip but we for sure are super grateful to have discovered it!

We went on a little bit of a hike in Odell Park, it was sunny and perfect. The air smelled like fall…you know that yummy leaves scent…ugh, I can’t get over it! There were loads of people hiking as well…so it wasn’t too Blair Witch-y. It’s obviously a huge park and so we wouldn’t have had the time to walk around it all, but we got it out of our system. It was a little weird for hubs at first, because he kept hearing the animal’s voices/sounds and so he kept asking what everything was..so cute! We then got a chance to see the Fredericton Botanic Garden. This garden was founded and created by the wonderful people of Fredericton as a community project and 50 years later it’s still going strong and it’s always open!

We then hopped in the car to get to downtown Fredericton the sightsee around the city and go see the lighthouse. Hubs was obviously excited because he saw the justice/court house (he’s a lawyer ps) and couldn’t help but take photos of everything related to his job around our trip.

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The lighthouse was super cute…the city was clean and the weather was amazing and so we enjoyed everything we saw. Canada is super filled with history and we both learned a lot during our visit to Fredericton. We can totes see how Canadians are very proud of their heritage.

We were on a schedule to get to Saint John and had spent too much time walking around town and checking out the mall a little…so we decided to hop to our last stop in Fredericton and get to our last stop there; the Mactaquac Dam. I know that there were loads of mixed reviews on Tripadvisor but I was super glad we took the time and detoured to see it. The sight is pretty scary and amazing all at once. I mean there’s only the dam that you can see but it was totes worth it. We got to sit for a little and enjoyed the view…then we headed to our next destination.

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I think Fredericton is beautiful and has nice spots to visit but…I mean you can skip it. I am glad we took the time to put it on our list nonetheless…it made the trip super exciting, because we got to compared cities and decide which one we loved most and which one we’d visit again.

So…thank you Fredericton for having us and for being nice to us!!!

 

A little visit to Quebec City

To start our tour of Atlantic Canada, we decided to hit up Quebec City first…one of the oldest cities in Canada, it’s 409 years old and it is filled with history. How can my husband come to Canada and not see Quebec. So, to start off our honeymoon, we passed a good 5ish hours strolling around the city and exploring the views.

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We started off our little Quebec journey at the Château Frontenac. This hotel was a former castle housing the British governors. It’s seriously massive and pictures don’t do it justice. It have 600 rooms and 18 floors! Can you believe it?!!! Annddd it’s an old building dating from 1893. So much history!

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We then walked along the boardwalk and enjoyed the view. The day we arrived, there were loads of tourists from all over the world. It was such an amazing sight to see…everyone was excited and curious to discover new things.

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After taking in the beautiful view of the Saint Lawrence River, we went about the old city and the views are magnificent…the building have been obviously maintained and reworked for the past years but the main design and division of the old city are both visible. Hubs fell in love with the history of the country and sitting on those little bench in the old city, you can almost feel its history and relive the past. It’s so fascinating to see how the city is modern but still maintains its heritage. Quebec city was founded by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain and you can definitely see the settlement regions everywhere. We unfortunately didn’t have too much time to see the Citadelle (fort and official military installation)….but we totes took the time to visit the Montmorency Falls and this is exactly what I wanted my husband to see..nature’s true beauty and force.

It got a little colder and gloomier getting to the falls but that didn’t stop us from walking around the park and going to the suspended bridge to see the falls up close….

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PS: I was super happy to catch this rainbow…look at how florescent it looks in the dark!

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Hubs was beyond touched and flabbergasted…he couldn’t have possibly imagine ever seeing something this magnificent in person. He always saw these things in picture and I guess he thought that he would never have the chance to see the “outside” world…past the borders of Palestine. But we he did finally arrive to this place, I could see how overwhelming it was for him and how touched he was to discover nature’s beauty. I was very proud at the moment to have take the time to show him these falls.

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I wish I could give a chance to every human out there to see what we see here everyday in Canada. Freedom is something I truly believe in and I wish that there weren’t boundaries for some people…because without freedom, there is no possibility of change.

And like the great Khalil Gibran said: “Life without freedom is like a body without a soul”. And it is so true..without it, you feel paralyzed. Seeing my husband’s eyes while discovering life is a truly touching experience because it taught me that I shouldn’t take anything I have for granted.