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Israel – Coming Soon to a Blog Near You

23 Aug

Now, that I’m out… I will share my travel thoughts on Israel.

Just looking for time to edit my stuff.  And, willing David Brooks of the NY Times to call me. Would love to chat him up and listen to his perspective on ground zero of madness.  I probably won’t get to it until 2 weeks from now.  Currently, focused on building drainage ditches in Gliwice, Poland…  Some Israel pics below…

Dead Sea. Bikini Won.

22 Aug

Yes, boys and girls.  The big-bikini won. This “shocking white” gal sported a bikini in the Dead Sea.

Wearing a bikini was NOT a big deal but when you are sitting in Wild Winter Park decisions on what to wear seem monumental.  One would think — Muslin country equals cover up.

Not the case.  Tourons (Tourists + Morons) are exempt.  Though, I should have covered up b/c the sun was a bazillion and one degrees and hurt my pasty, white skin. Yes, I wore the anti-cancer cream.  But, it still hurt.

One more comment about my bikini.  The bottoms turned into soggy diapers because I bought a size too large at Wal-Mart.  I should have listened to my sister.  Yes, I looked like I was carrying a Dead Sea mud-load in my drawers.  Once again, this Tall Pasty Girl was a fashion STUNNER.

Everything you know about the Dead Sea is true.  It’s salty.  It’s salty.  You truly float.  You can only last about 10 mins.  Our group inhaled an All-You-Can-Eat buffet prior to squeezing into our small “swimmers” to float.

Our goal was to see if we gorge ourselves, would we really float.  Normally, the answer is NO.  We ate desserts, pastas, fish, beef, pita, hummus…everything.  And, guess what?  We floated.  Amazing stuff.

The mud was the interesting part.  There was an area off to the side where you took heeps of bacteria-filled mud and rub it all over your body.  “They” say it scrubs away your wrinkles and exfoliates skin rot.  I can only attest to the exfoliating b/c if you rub anything with sand on your body, it will take off skin.  I don’t care where you are.

We rubbed.  I turned a dark color.  And, for the first time since I can remember, felt FAB in a bikini.  I was tan! Hot baby…

This is probably the only time that I feel good about posting a bikini picture – ever.  All inspired by the Dead Sea.

The mud caked on – dried in seconds – and we all sprinted for the 100-degree SALT infested water to cool off.  The water was HOT too.  And, it is true.  You can only stand being in the water for 10 minutes and then every little scratch, knick or chapped particle on your body starts to sting.

We sprinted from the Dead Sea to the chlorinated pool, which was about 90 degrees instead.  Nice and cool for the desert-land.

It was an experience.  But, we opted to take a pass at it a second time in Israel.  Once you’ve done the Dead Sea, you don’t need to go back.  Been there.  Done that.  Exfoliated everything.

Jordanian Delight

21 Aug

On a bus heading going to see the “first” map of the holy land.  Everything is a “first” around here.  The bus driver is all over the road.  We bump, we sway.  We feel sick.

Today is a rough day – we are all spent – physically.  The traveling group of Australians, Brits, Americans, East Germans and New Zealand-ers are hung-over from the heat and hiking around  one of the Seven Wonders of the World – Petra, Jordan.  FYI: Indiana Jones and Terminator II were filmed in Petra for those of the more sophisticated set.

I’m operating in a fog trying to remember these last few days.  Ok.  Bear with me here. After camel trekking and desert dining in Wadi Rum, we heading North or South to Petra.  Our first afternoon in Petra, Natalie – my new East German  living in Dublin BFFer – and I cruised around the booming Muslim metropolis in search of food. That’s what good Germans and Americans do — consume food & drink. Yes, Cleopatra restaurant called our name.  We asked to be seated outside for the delightfully parched ambiance.  They reminded us it was prime-time Ramadan.  No food outside.

Quick not to loose a $, they ushered indoors, and propped us in a corner, behind a curtain.  No matter.  If they had anything edible, they could put us in a cave at this point. Of course East German girl and American girl inhaled  – white beans, white rice, random meats – possibly camel, veggies, pita, soups – the works.  A cold beer would go nice with the moistureless dust.

Damn, it’s that Ramadan thing again.  Sad to say, but we were itching for Israel at this point.  There’s beer in Israel – year round.  We kept our mouths shut.  You don’t say the “I” word in Jordan.

Moments later, Natalie whip out a cig.  They reminded us the third time – Ramadan.  I felt like the character in Scrooge where the Angel of Death was trying to show us our sins until we finally “get it.” We got it.  We settled for the legal drug, caffeine and polished off our meal with some Diet Pepsis. Coca-Cola is seen as “too” American.  Whatever…

Earlier in the week, Natalie had hiked Mount Sinai in Egypt in her Birkenstock sandals.  Not a good move.  Her precious feet welcomed a family of open sores.  For her to”do” Petra, finding closed-toe tennis shoes was a must.

That night, we ventured out after the last Mosque music-call summoning folks to prayer.   As we sauntered down the hill of kitty litter, I noticed shoes – mounds of them – organized on racks. 

“Look Natalie!  A shoe sale! I’m sure you can find something in your size over there.”

She looked at me like I was smokin’ crack.  “Have you gone mad?  That’s a Mosque, not a bloody shoe mart.” My word.  It was the shoes, not the little butts raised to the ceiling, that caught my eye.  Natalie did score some black and white pleather SkyWalker sporties at a Muslim men’s shop.  They don’t carry large sizes in women’s…. Talk about discrimination.  NO BGs (Big Girls)  in Jordan.  Julia?  Kate?

Before going into Petra stories, let me tell you something about this Jordan.  She’s a dusty, barren, parched country with little resources, little water and little crime, yet reeks with respect and royalty.  You get a sense she is managed via a benevolent king instead of a dick-weed dictator.

Sandstone buildings rise up in what appears to be miles and miles of untouched kitty litter.  I mean, this place put the D in dusty.  There appears to be distinct classes – the haves and the haves not – which are based on locale and religion.  Christians have been fleeing the country for years – probably just thirsty – so the majority of population is Muslim.  She houses hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.



And, thousands and thousands of Iraqis, who landed here during the war.  Both have formally set up shop.  And, from the “drive-by” it appears the Iraqis are fairing much better than their Palestinian brothers.  This is based on observation alone.  Oh, our Jordanian tour guide did say that everyone in Jordan lives in harmony and peace.  I did not want to dispute it but from my other drive-by – did TWO drive-bys people – I would aruge the statement was issued from Cinderella’s castle by Mickey Mouse himself.

I would like to relay an interesting conversation with our Jordanian tour guide, whose family fled from Chechnya in the 1920s, about his take on Lebanon, Jordan and the Middle East in general.  He agreed that the Lebanese do have the BEST cuisine but are completely off their rockers.  He sees Lebanon as a ticking time bomb. (You will later find out that every country is a ticking time bomb…)  So, his solution to Lebanon’s issues, which we still have not defined, included booting this democracy notion and allowing Syria to rule the country. I said, “didn’t they kick Syria to the curve a few years ago, why would they want them back?” I really, really willed my eyes not to bug out of my face as I tried to listen.

From where he sits, he sees having one ruler in charge is better than the three stooges – Lebanese Christians, Sunnis and Shiites.  Corruption, in his view, would cease and civility would emerge.  The Lebanese, he asserts, would know what they are getting with a Syrian dictator, unlike the nuts running the place now.  Has a point, but….

It flies in the face in what we – Americans – believe in.  Freedom to vote in or boot out political leaders based on performance, beliefs, sleeping arrangement or hair color.  Our system is far from perfect but at least we have repercussions for political dudes and dudettes not up to snuff.  With a king or dictator, you don’t have the freedom to boot. Instead, their friends are the ones with the freedom to boot you from your home – let’s sum it up by saying boot you from life – possibly in 30 mins or less.

But, to my tour guide’s credit his reasoning was based on two things –  at least you know what you are getting and years ago – like 500 – all of the Arabia (Middle East) was under one rule and seemed to be “just fine.”  It wasn’t until after a couple of world wars that the Brits & French – with input from yours truly – sliced up the region like a 2-year old trying to slice up a meringue pie.  So, I can empathize and see where he is coming from, though I completely disagree.

One other little “ahh haa” moment came when our Jordanian guide made a comment about how we have to pay to get into one of the orthodox Churches to see the “first” map of the holy land drafted by our fellow Bad-Ass Byzantines.  Of course, I could not let that slip by.  I asked innocently, “How do Mosque’s keep their doors open?”  His response,

the government funds all the mosques in the country.  We – the people – are not forced to give them any money.  If we give anything, we will pool our money together and buy a flat screen TV for the Mosque or give food to a family who is struggling.  But, it is the government who pays the salaries, funds Mosque expansions, installs Temples of Relief (bathrooms)….”

Ahhh.. That makes sense.  So, I followed up, “So, Christian churches are on their own? They need to find resources to keep their doors open, right?” Response, “Yes.  Their people give money and they charge money for admission to see holy artifacts.”

I wanted to respond – Damn Straight baby.  State does not tell us what to do…. Don’t worry Dad, I kept my mouth shut and smiled like a lady.

That being said, it makes sense since religion and government are one in the same, unlike the US.  Can you imagine our tax dollars going to fund churches, mosques, synagogues, Scientology centers, temples, meditation retreats…the works?  Are we talking about unionizing priests? Long lines at the confessions?  Closed on govt holidays?  Solve issues by increasing taxes to spend more?  Hmmmmmmmmmmm

Just something to think about.  The more I travel, the more I love my country.  Thank you God!  God Bless America!

Israeli Sack Attack Update

21 Aug

Sack Attack Update.

Received the over-sized backpack posing as a suitcase late last night in Krakow, Poland.  The Israeli storm-trooping teens turned it inside out.  Looks like they snatched a packet of bill control, pair of wool socks and duct tape.  Interesting combo.  I don’t want to think about why.  Clearly they long-term borrowed it in the name of security.

There is something unnerving knowing someone one – or a whole group of randoms – has pilfered through your things.  I wonder how they analyzed me based on my stuff?  They could safely assume pregnancy is not an option b/c of the 7 month supply of BC.  And, I must be one for headaches or in pain with the 200+ IB Profin pills.

Hmmm…. I bet they had a field day believing I’m super type-A with the my fashions safely sealed and secured in vacuum packed, Ziplocks.  They may possibly believe I’m organized – but little do they know.  I’m sure they laughed when they came across Magic Jack adapater connected to a 1980’s phone.  Yes, I’m carrying a full size phone bought at Wal-Mart for $5.99.  If they open the green, meshed make-up bag, they would sigh and will me to invest in some clean brushes and even upgrade the Maybeline eyeliner.

By unsealing my clothes, they would see I stray from short-shorts, micro-minis, tanks or anything causing a farmer’s tan or skin cancer.  They might even assume I’m a Muslim or Jewish poser – certainly not a Britney Spears, no-clothes wearing Christian.    Oh, I could go on…

What matters is that I have clothes to wear and garden gloves to sport next week as I TRY my hand at building homes for the impoverish Polish with Habitat for Humanity.  That’s what matters.  And, I do want to note I have stripped away all stickers and anything that says Israel.

I’m over them.  And, I hope they OD on my BC.

Digesting Jordan & Israel

20 Aug

Made it to Poland.  Listening to drunk’en fools clapping to accordion playing outside my hotel window in Krakow.

Trying to digest jumping Jordan and irritating Israel. Major editing of observations is recommended if I ever want to step foot in the middle east….Hey, I may find out that I don’t want to go back after my ongoing security “incident” at the Tel Aviv airport…

Let’s say, I made it out but my over-sized backpack full of unnecessary items was deemed a security risk and is under observation. Maybe I should have kept the J&J first aid kit and the pound of prenatals and ditched the sulfate-free shampoo and over sized Ziplocs. I’m dreaming of clean undies and a toothbrush right about now.

I knew I had Israeli security risk written all over me. Let’s face it…The tall, sweaty blond shacking up at the catholic monastery now 4-star hotel… drinking ONLY Palestinian beer…channeling the THORNBIRDS as I oggled over tall, hunky priests… going undercover to photo AK47 totting teens… starring at ringlet- wearing Haredi Jews secretly smoking cigs…opting to flirt with dirty, Dutch boys in lieu of the wrathful natives…..and being forced to smuggle pastel yellow gardening gloves bought in Beirut for a Habitat for Humanity project in Poland.

You can see how the deck was stacked against me.  I was going dooooown….So,  when those tempestuous teens running airport security laid their eyes on the pretty pastels – BAM, they immediatly thought military contraband.  No joke. A kid actually said this to me.  D.O.N.E…

Yes.  Need to edit – a lot.  So, give me a day.  I plan to post Jazzercising in Jordan tomorrow and Israel thereafter.

Party onward.. Maybe I will go and see what my fellow Polish friends are cheering about outside my window first…Maybe not.  I’m super stinky.