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.

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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!

Categories
Health Inspiration

A date with nature…take two!

I find myself spending an incredibly alarming long time on my phone and social media, perhaps because I am not as busy as I use to be or perhaps because I am simply just bored. I could easily stay on my phone for up to 7 or 8 hours a day looking through Instagram, watching Youtube or even just reading articles or blogs. Back home, I use to sit on my phone yes, but not nearly as close as I do now. It’s disgusting how much I have come depend of my phone these days and whenever I go somewhere, I have to have it with me and if I get bored with the people we’re with, I just take my phone out and start scrolling. Not to be disrespectful or anything…but I guess it’s normal for people here to do that. When I first moved here, I was shocked to see how much time people spend on their androids or iPhones. People of all ages on top of it! As early as 18 months!!! Seeing this made me realize I am damaging myself and possibly my child. Family time here is mostly phone time, each person has their phone in their hand and there you have it…that’s socializing! it’s sickening and not in the RuPaul awesome kind of way. You become obsessed and the minute you don’t have your phone in hand, you feel naked and unbalanced. I decided to step on the break and back up a little.

See, I grew up in a home where playing video games or watching TV wasn’t really a thing, we instead spent our weekends reading up books at the library and it was a time we genuinely all looked forward to! I remember reading up all the Noddy, Garfield and Baby-Sitters Club books I could get my hands on. Kinda miss those simple days. Whenever we felt super rebellious, my siblings and I used to watch ice skating for hours on Sundays, cheering up Kurt Browning. I think my sister even had a crush on him! So I thought to myself, why would I want to raise a child that juices up on social media and technology from a young age? Therefore, I have made it my mission, for hubs and I, to spend as much time as possible together outside in nature, especially on his weekend. No phones allowed! Which leads me to today’s post and I am so proud to say that we spent a good 4ish hours outside in nature soaking up some sun. It was absolutely fantastic and hubs and I felt completely re-energized and re-centered.

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We went to this town 10km north of Jericho with our lunch to have a picnic in nature. We wanted to spend a good amount of time outside, just enjoying the view and the water river/lake there. Little did we know the water was all dried up; nonetheless we had a bomb time.

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Water before it dried up a couple of years ago…

 

We didn’t really go into the city of Al-Auja; we went to the outskirts and sat close to the Bedouins, right under a tree and listen to the birds fly by and the music that was playing from other picnic-ers. I mean the place was pretty simple, but it was enough for us to sit together and enjoy each other’s company and talk about everything and anything. We giggled, we laughed, we relaxed and that to me meant everything! Nothing in the world can replace moments like this one.

I think, as humans, we get so caught up on technology and work and life’s tensions that we forget to take a moment to ourselves and connect with nature and it sucks and it’s sad because we take everything around us for granted. I mean even taking a little moment to smell flowers can change up your mood and bring up your spirits. So slow down, unwind and enjoy nature’s bounties!

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.

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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.

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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).

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WHAT I WORE:

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

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

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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
Travel

A canuck in the Middle East…

This canuck has moved…to a little country called Palestine…Jericho to be more precise. It has been a little less than 2 weeks, but it feels like ages ago. Life has been so freaking hectic. My days were pretty much filled with mishaps, ups, downs, tantrums, excitements and all those joys called feelings. I moved for many reasons and one of them being to be with my better half. I have never envisioned living in a place like Jericho, mainly because it is a small town (about 30 000 ppl). I mean, there is nothing wrong with that, but I feel like I am so used to being a city girl (huge place like Montreal cannot really be compared to Jericho). I will not lie that at first I was super overwhelmed with everything. I mean, yes I am Arabic, but I am more Canadian than I am that. I spent my entire life in Montreal in a multi-cultural melting pot. It taught me so many beautiful things such as cultural difference and social acceptance. I try to apply that concept wherever I go because it is important to integrate and assimilate. Since I am a little gypsy at heart, I knew that it wouldn’t be such a big problem for me to eventually find myself. I am a child of diaspora since I was born and so, I am very used to moving and being in different places…but since Montreal was the largest part of my life, it was very hard for me to let go a little bit (even though in my heart I wanted to leave a few years ago).

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Planning a wedding on top of all that was a little stressful, but it makes me happy to kinda argue a little with my fiancé over little things like flowers and invitations. It makes me realize that being in a relationship is about compromise and work. Understanding the other’s person’s point of view without being judgemental…it is about accepting that person completely for being themselves and showing their true color. This and the fact that I have been uprooted make it a little hard for me not to be overly sensitive and tad bit dramatic. I mean, being stateless (for the moment) isn’t easy…especially the fact that I am Canadian but still cannot use my passport here for some political situations that are a little hard to explain. Nonetheless, despite all the challenges that I have faced so far in those 2 weeks, I am still very happy to be with the man I love.

I will blog more about Jericho in the next few weeks to show you guys how it truly is…I mean right now, I am looking at it with the point of view of a tourist and a local and this is a huge stepping stone for me. Taking risks has always been my forte, I was never able to sit quiet and be comfortable. I was always that girl that shied away from the easy roads; I always wanted a challenge to prove to myself that I am capable of surviving and of accomplishing.

What I went through these past couples of days had me thinking about how sad it is that in 2017, there still are people out there that have no identity and no status. It is sad to see that in some part of the world, there are barriers that cannot easily be broken. That in itself does not really stop me from pursuing my dreams. As Walt Disney said: “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them”. My dream is to leave my mark in this town, a positive one, to feel like I made a difference.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Fashion Style Vintage

The gypsy in me…

Round two of the Moroccan journey…this outfit is a good mix of east meets west. I wanted to show off my other pair of handmade Moroccan corset belt and today was the perfect opportunity! Yes, yet another self-promoting post…I’m so incorrigible. The weather in Montréal since the beginning of April has been yo-yoing with us; one day sun, and ten rain…and so on and so forth. I couldn’t wear any more boots or booties (even though I love them so much), I just needed to get my little shoes out.

So this outfit totes made me feel like a super gypsy. It’s free, it’s liberating, it’s ethnic, it’s amazing…and here it is:

This is honestly how my friends describe me…a gypsy, free-spirited chameleon.  My style is never really the same, day in day out; I usually love to experiment with different textures, styles, cuts and looks. For the most part, I push myself out of my comfort zone, because I always like a challenge. I don’t ever like to settle or keep feeling insecure; clothes and fashion give me the choice and power to work on my fears. I am a very anxious child…long story. Just like the choices I took to mix 2 different cultures in this outfit. I am not going to lie, the response of this outfit was mixed…some loved it and some truly hated it…but what mattered the most was that I felt super comfortable and daring!

What I wore:

SHIRT: Thrifted ♥ SKIRT: Zara ♥ BELT: Handmade ♥ SHOES: Aldo ♥ JACKET: Leather-Vintage

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I wanted to go with a turban style today, but it was chilly…so I went with veil instead; my engagement veil….that I ended up using as a turban then. Every time I wear it now, I feel nostalgic; in a good way though! I feel like I could potentially wear this forever, it really does feel so liberating for some reason.

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…

 

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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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:

 

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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.

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 ~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. 

 

~Umm Qais & The sea of Galilee (aka Lake Tiberias)~

This is small place in Irbid, in the northern part of Jordan that borders Israel and Syria. Umm Qias is a place principally known for its proximity to the ruins of the ancient Gadara. There are castle remains of the Roman/Byzantine area. Umm Qais overlooks the Sea of Tiberias, the Golan Heights, and the Yarmouk River gorge. The Sea of Galilee is the largest freshwater lake in Israel. The lake is fed partly by underground springs and the Jordan River (which flows through it from north to south). For those who have an infinite love of history and culture, they’ll definitely enjoy a visit to this city. It was touching, especially to my parents being close (but not close enough) to their homeland. I found it beautiful but quite eerie being this close to Syria, as you can hear the emptiness through the trees.


~Ajlun castle~

Last but not least (I know this post is like 99 years long), I visited Ajlun castle. A 12th-century Muslim building, situated in northwestern Jordan, this caslte is rich in history. It was built by the Ayyubids in the 12th century and enlarged by the Mamluks in the 13th. The name Ajlun goes back to a Christian monk who lived on this mountain in the Byzantine Period and the castle stands on the ruins of a monastery.

The fortress was built by Izz al-Din Usama, a commander and nephew of Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin). This fortress was primarily built in order to help the authorities in Damascus control the Bedouin tribes. What’s interesting is that Ajlun Castle is one of the very few Muslim fortresses built by the Ayyubids to protect their realm against Crusader incursions. From its location, the fortress dominated a wide stretch of the northern Jordan Valley. It certainly baffled me with the intricate detailing..it felt surreal to be there and see and the effort put into building a strong protective castle. It is a must see!!