Protests in Syria

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Summer Living (Video and Pictures)

On the occasion of first day of fall, I wanted to share a video and some pictures of the places that I have been this past summer.  Firstly, the interior of my house has gone through several changes since the last video of my house.  The primary impetus for these changes has been the fact that the room that I was living in has a nice sun window which is great for warming the room.  Having a warm room is wonderful in the winter, but in the summer in Jordan you want to keep things as cool as possible.  So, as you'll see in the video, I bought a ceiling fan and transformed an interior room without windows into my primary living and sleeping room for the summer time.  I do imagine, nonetheless, that I'll move back into my winter room sometime within the next couple of months.

The mattress you see on the floor in the video, however, is not the only place that I have slept in the last few months as I have taken several vacations throughout the summer.  My first vacation was across the River Jordan to visit my good friends Zach and Lindsay and other friends from my time in Charlotte.

At the beach with Old Jaffa in the background
While I hadn't seen Zach or Lindsay since their wedding a year ago, it was really great to reconnect to with these friends with whom I spent two years in Charlotte.

Dome of the Rock Mosque, Mount of Olives, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa Mosque, City of David

Staying across the river, I then met up with some Peace Corps friends in Jerusalem.  I've been to some pretty spectacular places in my lifetime, but I  must say that there is no other place on Earth quite like Jerusalem.
At the site of Jesus' Crucifixion, inside
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Regardless of your feelings on the veracity of any or all of the three monotheistic religions, one cannot deny the historical significance and the holiness of Jerusalem.  Never have I have been to place where so much history and so many cultures have been built right next to and right on top of each other like in Jerusalem.  The world's third holiest site for Muslims, Al-Aqsa Mosque where Mohammed ascended to Heaven, is literally built on top of the world's holiest site for Jews: the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.  Not to mention the fact that the northern border of the Temple Mount is the Via Dolorosa: the road on which Jesus Christ carried his cross from the Garden of Gethsemane to the site of his Crucifixion and Resurrection.  Built on top of this site now is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is the world's holiest site for Christians.
Dome of the Rock Mosque
What's amazing is that many of these holy historical events happened centuries apart in the exact same place and the different cultures and religions continue to intermingle and confront one another to this day.

Pictures from both these cities can be seen here.

Returning to the East Bank of the River Jordan, I immediately headed south towards Petra and Aqaba where I worked a one-day and a three-day English camp.  Information on these camps can be found at this link.  This post, however, is not about work, but rather about vacation and I definitely took advantage of my work in the South to take some vacation.  Petra is an absolutely spectacular place that I would definitely recommend to anyone.  I spent two full days hiking through the grounds; thirteen hours on day one and nine hours on day two, and I still couldn't get enough of it.  A recurring thought throughout my two days at Petra was how it is not quite as cool as the Grand Canyon in Arizona and not quite as cool as Machu Picchu in Peru.  What's shocking, however, is that I never would have thought to compare the Grand Canyon to Machu Picchu and that this place is almost as cool as both just makes it unbelievable.

To give you a taste of just how awesome it is, here are a few pictures:

The first glimpse of the Treasury from the Siq
The Treasury
Petra City Center
The Monastery
The Monastery and the End of the World
The Palace Tomb and the Corinthian Tomb
If you enjoyed those, more from Petra can be seen by clicking here.

While in Aqaba, I went SCUBA diving for the first time.

I stood on a sunken ship 11 meters below the surface
My next trip took me out of the Middle East for the first time since October of last year.  One of my best friends, Mark Hand, was living in Mumbai, India and I decided to go visit him and travel around India for a few days.  Unfortunately, by the time I got there, Mark was no longer there so I had to travel around on my own.  Nevertheless, I had a fabulous time on my own visiting the cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Agra, and Udaipur.

From Mumbai:

City Bus

From Delhi:

Red Fort
Tomb of Humayun

From Agra (Taj Mahal):

From Udaipur:

Saheliyon-ki-Bari Garden
Lake Fatehsagra and Udaipur City
Since returning from India, I haven't left Jordan again, but I have traveled within country a couple more times, including an amazing hike through the Wadi Dana Nature Reserve with a couple Peace Corps buddies.

Wadi Guweir
Wadi Hamra
Finally, I visited a Peace Corps friend at his site near the city of Madaba and took in some of the churches and spectacular Byzantine and Roman mosaics that has made Madaba famous.

The oldest surviving map of Jerusalem
Same mosaic map with the River Jordan, Jericho, and the Dead Sea

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