Categories
Inspiration Travel

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.

1-20180110114915

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!

Categories
Style Travel

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.

IMG_1185

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

IMG_1263

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!

IMG_1275

 


 

SHOP THE LOOK

Categories
Style Travel

A trip to Haskell

My husband has been nagging over and over (for months!) on me to go to Stanstead (Quebec) so we can see the Haskell library as part of our honeymoon. We took the time to do so today! I was super glad to see my husband exploring and discovering the little town and the library. This library was founded in 1901 and is located on the US/Canadian border. So technically you’re like both in the US and in Canada at the same time. There’s loads of visitors that come in the library from both sides of the border. It’s quite fascinating. What I find so wonderful is that it’s like traveling to a different country but without really having to cross the border. We met an American family that never left the US, took a plane or traveled except to come see the Haskell library. They drove 6 hours to be able to just take 1 simple picture. People’s enthusiasm to discover this little jewel is adorable!

Inside the library, there’s a black tape on the floor to show the border’s division and we ended up abusing it and we snapped endless pictures in every angle possible.

We then spent the time to walk around and discover Stanstead a little better. It was pretty much an empty spot…we didn’t see many humans walking around..so we took loads of picture and we looked a little crazy.

IMG_8980

IMG_8979

IMG_9005

IMG_9007

We also visited the Stanstead Stone Circle , it’s basically a sanctuary and a place of reflection. All you can hear is the clear sound of nature helping you find inner peace. This place is special for in many ways and it was designed to honor many things…such as the Equinox, the close and peaceful relationships between Canada and the USA, and the English  and French cultures that together share and live in this unusual and symbolic community.

IMG_8997

IMG_9040

So….how can I not document this day?! My husband’s been dreaming about this day for ages! So I took the advantage to also document my outfit as I was feeling it (so much).

IMG_8940

WHAT I WORE:

JACKET: Danier leather ♥ TOP: Zara (thrifted) ♥ PANTS: Free People ♥ BOOTS: Aldo ♥ Turban: Silk scarf from Turkey ♥ BAG: Diesel ♥ EARRINGS: Vintage

IMG_8958

Can you tell I’m obsessing over this Danier leather jacket?!!!

IMG_8965

IMG_8936

The outfit was super not over thought…I just threw on some jeans and my favorite jacket….I have been getting a lot of wear out of this jacket and I can’t get enough…Also, I am super proud to be back to my vintage/thrifting affair. Everything is always much more interesting when you get unique items.

If you guys are ever around the Derby or Stanstead  region, this library is a must see. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Categories
Fashion Style Travel

A day in the capital!

My family and I spent the day in Ottawa…drove all the way from Montreal to have breakfast at Zak’s; the yummiest diner I’ve been to. They have pancakes to die for..super fluffy and just melts in your mouth. We walked around town and shopped a little. The weather was beautiful and it was amazing to walk around the Rideau canal.

Zak’s is a diner that has been in business for 30 years, they offer a wide variety of plates from Poutine, to crepes, to omelettes to pancakes to milkshakes to delicious juicy burgers. It’s great place for a family gathering. I like usually hate pancakes but when I tasted them at Zak’s 2 years ago, I fell in love and try to go back once in a while to be able to enjoy them again and again. The plates are huge and the prices are fairly decent; they run anywhere between 6$ t0 20$. We ate a massive bunch and were full for days.

After that we walked around the Rideau mall to shop for new bits and bobs. And I ended up buying a new Coach Willow clutch. It’s super adorable and I am super into smaller bags..I tend to abuse when bags are huge..I try to fit in elephants and giraffes X) I got the cutest burgundy floral clutch, which can be worn crossbody or as a wristlet. This baby cost me 290$ CAD and since I had a gift card, I was able to save a bit from my own pocket.

When we were done shopping and when our wallets started to weep, we went to walk around downtown Ottawa around the Rideau canal. There were loads of people and even 2 weddings. The weather was amazing and we enjoyed every bit of our time there. And we obviously had to visit a vintage shop just across the Byward Market. It’s a cute shop and the owner was such a doll. I ended up buying the coolest high waisted 80s trousers…which you will probs see in a post sometimes soon.

And of course here are some pictures of my ridiculous outfit…I was in a hurry but this is what I came up with:

What I wore: Forever 21 jacket – thrifted jeans – L’intervale leather sandals – Aldo sunglasses.

All in all it was a relaxing and much needed day after an extreme week of hustling at work. If any of you get to Ottawa, do forget to give Zak’s a try. Hope y’all enjoyed this post.

Cheers x

Categories
Fashion Inspiration Style Travel

What I wore: Palestine 2016

I took it upon myself to document what I wore everyday throughout my vacation. I wore everything I packed, which was pleasantly surprising…kinda means I am an efficient packer…

 

IMG_9219

IMG_9184
What I wore: Thrifted bodysuit – Beaded maxi skirt (purchased from a random store while vacationing in the Middle East) – Zara shoes – Calvin Klein bag – Betsey Johnson sunglasses – Vintage necklace from Jerusalem.

♣ ♣ ♣

IMG_8524
What I wore: Topshop graphic printed top – Rachel Zoe skinnies – David Jones bag – Thrifted sandals – Aldo sunglasses.

♣ ♣ ♣

 

IMG_8543

What I wore: Miss Me beaded top – Rachel Zoe skinnies – Thrifted sandals – David Jones bag – Aldo sunglasses.

♣ ♣ ♣

IMG_8885

What I wore: Forever 21 top – Rachel Zoe Jeans – Calvin Klein bag – Studded Italian slippers – Aldo sunglasses.

♣ ♣ ♣

IMG_9024
What I wore: Forever 21 floral top – True Religion skinnies – Italian slippers – Calvin Klein bag – Bulgari sunglasses.

♣ ♣ ♣

IMG_9146

What I wore: Long striped top (purchased for a local shop in Jordan) – True Religion skinnies – Charles and Keith sandals – Calvin Klein bag – Betsey Johnson sunglasses.

♣ ♣ ♣

IMG_9154

What I wore: Forever 21 top – Thrifted skinnies – Gifted slippers – Antique necklace from Jerusalem – Claire’s sunglasses.

♣ ♣ ♣

IMG_9165

What I wore: Zara checkered shirt – Thrifted skinnies – Italian studded slippers – Betsey Johnson sunglasses.

♣ ♣ ♣

IMG_9197

What I wore: VS Pink burnout top – Forever 21 jeans – Thrifted sandals – Calvin Klein bag – Betsey Johnson sunglasses – Antique necklace.

♣ ♣ ♣

IMG_9219

IMG_9230

What I wore: Forever 21 top – Zara culottes – Squid shoes – Betsey Johnson sunglasses – Calvin Klein bag – Vintage necklace from Jerusalem.

♣ ♣ ♣

IMG_9236

What I wore: Thrifted graphic print top – Forever 21 jeans – Thrifted sandals – Calvin Klein bag – Antique necklace.

♣ ♣ ♣

So which outfit is your fave?

 

 

 

Categories
Inspiration Travel

Behind the Western Wall: Palestine in 2 weeks.

So I am finally back from vacation..I am not going to lie, it feels so damn good to be sleeping in my bed after a 6 week hiatus. I love traveling because it is the best way to enrich the soul with culture, heritage and history. I love meeting new people, seeing new places and learning new things. Although I had gone to Jordan quite a few times this past few years, I always seem to discover something new. I was also able to pass through Palestine and this was magical. I got to spend time in my ancestors’ country. I spend 2 wonderful weeks there where I got to explore the deepest parts of Nablus, Nazareth, Jaffa and more….In this blog, I will be sharing with you some of Palestine’s highlights. I wish I could have had more pictures..but I was so immersed with my family, that I just kept forgetting to take snaps.

I was super blessed and luck to visit the following cities in Palestine: Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus, Nazareth, Haifa and Jerusalem.

Palestine is basically the most important country in the world…I guess this is war never ends. It is the home of religion and history. The home to Jesus, Prophet Mohammed, the home to Christianity, Judaism, Islam…the beginning and the end of human life. Palestine is where we find the oldest city in the world…a city that was there for a little more than 10 000 year…which is quite fascinating for history buffs. It is also the hottest city in the world…gosh!!! so freaking hot because it has the lowest altitude…humidity level…1000000. I like almost died…but I gotta admit that when there’s a breeze at nighttime; it’s lovely. Oh and also, you’ll find the Dead Sea…the saltiest sea in the world…they call it dead sea because there aren’t any living creatures to be found in it.

Jerusalem of course is an important city for all 3 abrahamic religions. It is the home to faith, belief and conviction. The city is always full of devoted pilgrims that come from all over the world and gather to pray and find peace. I love it so much because it feels familiar and warming. I was able to visit the Church of Resurrection, the place where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and resurrected. I also visited a Roman Church where I learned so much about Russian Orthodox Tradition. I got to explore the old street of Jerusalem and bought so many souvenirs from the old souks. Something I was excited to see live was the Wailing Wall, a wall  where  Jews practice their faith; weeping at the site over the destruction of the Temples. Jerusalem is a must see city and if you ever think of traveling somewhere holy and full of rich history, then you need to put this on your bucket list.

Tel-Aviv, Jaffa and Haifa have beautiful beaches because they border the Mediterranean coast. There are many beautiful sites to see, places to visit and souvenir shops to rampage. So many cool places on the waterfront promenades..just magical. The smell of the cities when you near the ocean..is just inexplicable. It smells like salt, sand, seashells and summer air. It’s a sight to see. I could totes live there. I could totes wake up every morning and just swim in the ocean <3

Nablus is a little meh, although downtown Nablus is amazing, I didn’t quite enjoy it as much…I felt like it was a little boring. There wasn’t much to do except shop and eat (which is totally fine…but I would have wanted more sightseeing).

Ramallah is a beautiful city that kinda reminds me of Montreal. There are plenty of people and plenty of cars. There are loads of important government offices and companies. There are loads of beautiful condos and yummy restaurants. A great place to party at..I went to a graduation party there once and man!! Danced till I couldn’t anymore!

All in all, you get to see a bit of the Byzantine empire, a little bit of the Ottoman empire, a little of Palestine culture, a lot of Israeli touches, loads of Christian symbols and a whole lotta love. What’s wonderful about this country is that you see everything you need to see.

Enjoy the photos…here y’all go:

 

IMG_9138
IMG_9131

IMG_9130
IMG_9129

 

Hope you guys enjoyed the pictures…I truly wish I had more photos…but I was too busy falling in love with everything.

Cheers xx

Categories
Inspiration Travel

Jordan in 4 weeks

I was lucky enough to spend an entire month in Jordan this past summer. It was not only the most liberating experience ever, but it literally exchanged my life (that’s a major understatement p.s.)!!! I grew stronger, I became happier, I met loads of people, I made genuine friendships, I ate awesome food and most importantly I found myself.

I took endless pictures and I keep talking about it till now. Guilty! I am!!! I so full on take advantage of every opportunity to talk about how AH-MAZING my trip was.

For those who don’t know, Jordan is a monarchy in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. It is a country rich in culture, history and heritage. Jordan is filled with historical and architectural remains of the Roman/Ottoman/Byzantine empires. The country is mostly desert but every location has a story to tell.

 I am sharing with you the things I did in Jordan for 4 weeks and I am warning you that this is going to be picture heavy!!

~Jordan River~

This river has religious significance, but more importantly in Judaism and Christianity.  This site is considered holy and loads of pilgrims go to it every year to repent. This is the site where the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land and where Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist. In Arabic, the baptism location is called Al-Maghtas. There are only ruins that remain on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River. The River is divided by Israel and a part of it belongs to Jordan. In the Jordanian side, that’s where we find the site to Jesus’ baptism and the ministry of John the Baptist.

~Jerash~

Jerash is the site of the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa. This city is considered one of the most important and best preserved Roman cities in the Near East. There are many visible remains in the Greco-Roman Jerash which include, the Corinthium columns, Hadrian’s Arch, the circus/hippodrome, two large temples (dedicated to Zeus and Artemis), the oval Forum, which is surrounded by a fine colonnade, the long colonnaded street, two theatres (the Large South Theatre and smaller North Theatre), two communal baths, and a scattering of small temples and a lot more.

This is a very big tourist attraction in Jordan and in one of the theaters, every summer, there’s the Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts that takes place (an annual celebration of Arabic and international culture).

 

 

~Hot water springs & Dead Sea~

The Ma’in Hot Springs are a series of hot mineral springs and waterfalls located between Madaba and the Dead Sea. It;s therapeutic, it’s remarkable, it’s breathtakingly beautiful! The minute you get to the location, you can instantly smell the minerals in the air. There are degrees of heat open to the public from moderately hot to extremely hot. There are caves with natural sauna effects and pools to bathe in. For a day of relaxing, this is definitely a place to visit. These falls originate from winter rainfalls in the highland plains of Jordan and eventually feed the hot and cold springs in the valley. This water is heated to temperatures of up to 63° Celsius by underground lava fissures as it makes its way through the valley before emptying into the Zarqa River. 

The Dead Sea is of course famous for the extreme levels of salt in the water. The reason why they call it dead sea is due to the salt and that there are no living creatures there. It’s so salty that we can’t even drown, the body just floats! A lot of people in Jordan go there to seek remedies for skin issues such as eczema.

dead seaa

 ~Petra~

This was always ALWAYS on my bucket list. I think any Indiana Jones avid fan would want to see this city. Petra is one of the 7 wonders of the world because of many different reasons. The impossibly intricate mind boggling architectural detailing of this city is reason enough for this to be a wonder <3.

Petra was known as the capital city of the Arab Nabataeans. Reasearch and the remains show the ability of the Nabataeans to control the water supply that led to the rise of the desert city, creating an artificial oasis.

The impressive main entrance to the city leads steeply down through a dark, narrow gorge, a natural geological feature formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks and serving as a waterway flowing into Wadi Musa. At the end of the narrow gorge, we find Petra’s most elaborate ruin; the famous Khazneh (Treasury in arabic). This treasury remains in a remarkably preserved condition. A little farther from the treasury, at the foot of the mountain, there’s a massive theatre and a great of tombs. Tombs that are separated by class..those of the poor and those of the rich.  Past those tombs, there we find the valley which opens out into the plain and where the site of the city is revealed with striking effect.

~Wadi Rum~

Wadi Rum..oh Wadi Rum <3 If you ever want to experience camping at its best, then go to Wadi Rum. This place is also known as The Valley of the Moon because of its resemblance to Mars with its red sands. When the sun sets, this is when the magic happens; you see the constellations, the stars, feel the desert air and smell freedom. This is the largest wadi in Jordan. The Nabateans also inhabited this place as they left some of their marks in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples. This place is also known for its connection with British officer T. E. Lawrence, who passed through several times during the Arab Revolt. It is also a place where many climbers and trekkers find refuge.

I had the chance to sleep in a tent and experience the true Jordanian desert with good food, great company and music. Along with going on a 4 long hour ATV desert tours, you can choose to camp under the stars, ride Arab horses, hike and rock-climb among the massive rock formations.

~Aqaba~

Aqaba is the only coastal city of Jordan and it is Jordan’s main port site due to its strategic location at the northeastern tip of the Red Sea. But for those who really want to indulge in the full nine yards of awesome vacationing…well better go to Aqaba. The beach off the Mövenpick is just glorious. The smell alone is to die for (any beach avid would know what I am taking about)!!! Aqaba is a major tourist attraction and it is known as a liberal Arab city. Along with relaxing and tanning by the beach, you can go on boat rides, snorkel, jet-ski, and!! you can even go antiquing.