Deep Thoughts and Random Observations from the Middle East

Middle East
August 5th 2009
Published: August 5th 2009
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Big Brother Big Sisters in JordanBig Brother Big Sisters in JordanBig Brother Big Sisters in Jordan

We could not believe our eyes when we saw the cleaning crew at a large, upscale mall in Amman, Jordan! The logo is the BBBS logo! It is a perfect copy. Don't worry our in-house attorney is on the trademark infringement case!
There are many random thoughts and observations that surfaced during our trip to the Middle East:

By the time our trip ends, we will have driven over 2,300 miles. This includes covering ground in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

Stop lights in Damascus, Syria has timers so the drivers know when the lights will change.

We spent some time at the Dead Sea, Red Sea, Mediterranean and Gulf of Aqaba, but still can't used to seeing women wearing Islamic swimsuits. The most conservative Muslim women wear lycra suits that cover them from the top of their heads to their ankles and then they cover it with a long gown. There are other versions depending on their level of conservatism. Many of them look like SCUBA diving suits and many wear head scarves even in the pool.

Price of gas: Lebanon $3.50/gallon; Syria $2.50/gallon (but only offer lower grades)

In every country we visited, dinner was rarely served earlier than 10 pm. Most places take a siesta where the shops and cafes close during the heat of the day and re-open at 6 pm. This means that a lot of action is going on until late at night.

We were warmly welcomed when we told people were from America, but rarely did they know where Kansas was located. No one knew Kansas City, St. Louis, etc. But, it was not uncommon for people know Chicago. There is one expection to the rule: In Ehden, Lebanon a young lady working at the hotel asked where we were from and when I said Kansas, she said witout missing a beat, "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!" Then she said that she knew Kansas was the setting for most Western movies. I was impressed.

When we were in Lebanon, we could not help but notice that EVERYONE drove a Mercedes or BMW. (Even the taxi drivers!)

During the camel trek in Wadi Rum, it became evident that everyone was aware that we owned camels. Even the little kids approached us and asked about them. After dinner at the campsite, some of the kids asked to see our photos of the camels. They passed the photos around to everyone at the camp. The camel herder said that he had never met anyone from America who owned camels! We were
Arabic Ice-cream with Fresh-made Waffle ConesArabic Ice-cream with Fresh-made Waffle ConesArabic Ice-cream with Fresh-made Waffle Cones

We could not make this up! This makes the fresh waffle cone and then serves up some seriously good ice-cream. The guys tried the most famous flavor: pistachio

Per our observation, the Lebanese people seem to be very attractive and the women seem to be mismatched with the men. (Meaning, the women could do better!)

We were surprised by the incredible military presence in Lebanon. There were armed tanks on most street corners and soldiers everywhere. The checkpoints were serious and armed soldiers did patrols in the evenings.

There is an incredible amount of large construction projects underway in Amman, Jordan--including massive residental projects, skyscrapers and huge public infrastructure projects. All of the constrction in Amman is attributible to heavy foreign investment and an influx of wealthy Iraqis.

In Jordan, all businesses are required to have a poster of the King posted. Although we did not know if it was a requirement in Syria, everywhere we looked, there were posters of Bashar Assad.

Additional photos below
Photos: 7, Displayed: 7


Coffee at the Commodore HotelCoffee at the Commodore Hotel
Coffee at the Commodore Hotel

The Commodore Hotel was the press hotel during the Lebanese Civil War. It was made famous in the book "From Beirut to Jerusalem" by Thomas Friedman. Dad had coffee and Kyle read a French newspaper.
Getting Kisses in the DesertGetting Kisses in the Desert
Getting Kisses in the Desert

We stopped along the side of the road to see a herd of camels being watched by two Bedoin boys. This baby was being weaned from his mom and needed some extra attention. The mom had a gunny-sack over her utter so the baby could be weaned.
Does this mud make my butt look big?Does this mud make my butt look big?
Does this mud make my butt look big?

When in Rome....if Jordanians believe that mud from the dead sea makes your skin soft, we had to check it out! It looked terrible, but was lots of fun!

5th August 2009

Stop light timers
Ah, yes...the stop lights in Hungary have timers as well. They tell you how many seconds until the light turns red and how many until it turns green again. I suppose it encourages people to "explode off the line," which could make for a dangerous situation when combined with people who like to try and squeeze through on a "pink" light. If I had to postulate, though, I would say that drivers are more likely to leave early than try to go through late when the light has a posted "schedule." Continued good travels to you all...
5th August 2009

Valeri, I just wanted to let you know that I'm getting in my truck right now to go tell Ciwa and Sarid that I saw you kissing another camel! Shame on you for cheating on them! Hope you continue to have a great trip! Meredyth

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