Friday, January 29, 2016

A Pleasure Full Grown IV~Wadi Dana

If you've read along for awhile, you may remember that Wadi Dana, and particularly the Dana Nature Reserve, is our family's favorite spot it Jordan. We share many memories of fellowship, adventure, and beauty in this place, and our annual springtime camping trip with friends is one of the things my children miss most about Jordan. Even though it was cold, and even though the reserve where we camp is closed for the winter, we decided to visit Wadi Dana for the day, soak in the beauty of the scenery, and check out one of those local hotels in the partially revitalized old Dana village. But first, a look into the reserve and a gaze at the campground. I'm so glad that Active Son was able to share some of the Wadi Dana experience and the family lore surrounding our adventures there with Bride-To-Be.

After a very short hike around the perimeter of the camp--it was cold and drizzly--we headed over Dana village to settle into our rooms at the Dana Tower Hotel. It's business card boasts, "Our Hotel Not 5 Star, But 1 Million Star 1 Moon Hotel". No, it certainly wasn't a five star hotel, but it did receive the best rating of any Dana hotel on Trip Advisor and we were encouraged to see a number of well-heeled European tourists hanging around.

The outer door of our suite:
"Gate To Paradise of Love"

Here is the sitting room for our suite. Fancy. We never actually sat in there as the temperature was about 45 degrees F/8 degrees C. We had one gas heater to share so we all hung out in the large bedroom when we weren't actually sleeping. 

Thankfully the skies cleared and the WARM sun came out for awhile before dinner, so we sauntered in and around the village, soaking up the winter beauty.

Artist Son with his sketchbook

Dear Husband and I discovered the most beautiful lone olive tree, perched on the edge of the valley. 

As we headed back to the hotel we were treated to a sunset which filled the sky and valley with layers of color.

So vibrant was the color of the sun that it cast this red reflection onto his west-facing mountainside opposite the sunset. And when something is this beautiful, you run around the village calling out to your loved ones, making sure they see it too. It was a two theatre production.

The cold and drizzle returned as we headed back to the hotel for dinner, which was a delicious buffet. After dinner we huddled around the heater for awhile and then headed to bed early. I didn't get cold dressing for bed because I didn't. I went to bed fully clothed and used my down coat as an extra blanket. Wadi Dana in winter: Cold and beautiful. Always beautiful.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Pleasure Full Grown III~Amman

A few days after Christmas we headed to Amman to visit a few favorite  places and so that Active Son could introduce Bride-To-Be to his hometown, the city in which he was born and raised. It was a beautifully clear afternoon and we enjoyed great views of the city from atop the ancient citadel.

We all enjoyed exploring and re-exploring the ruins. Some went this way and some went that. 

Active Son with the hand of Hercules

Meanwhile, I was enjoying some Jordan flora in its winter glory

We made a stop at our beloved Amman museum; there are always new things to discover and familiar artifacts to revisit.


Tayta posing with  an ancient Roman

Statues of Ain Ghazal
Discovered in 1985 at Ain Ghazal in Amman, made from plaster and dated from the Early Neolithic period, 8000-6000 B.C., is the earliest known statue. You may have seen it featured in a history book--it was in our high school Western Civilization text.

A few more poses before leaving the citadel

Photo credits to Tayta for this iconic engagement shot

Heading down into the heart of the city for some food, we stopped to do a little shopping. It was fun to watch Active Son enjoy the friendly repartee of bargaining as he showed off his skills to Bride-To-Be.

We stopped in at the Duke's Diwan, the oldest apartment in Amman, now turned into a little museum of sorts. Very old, vintagy, and artsy.

We ended our brief Amman tour at the famous Hashem Restaurant where we shared some hummus, fatah, falafel, mutabbel and of course, tea with fresh mint. Cheers from the beautiful city of Amman!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Pleasure Full Grown II~ #amafraqychristmas

The college students arrived first, about a week before Active Son and his Bride-To-Be--just enough time for the students to kick-back and debrief after their full semesters at school. Tayta began hash-tagging  all her photos #amafraqychristmas, and so we had our theme.

Our Mafraqy Christmas included temperate, sunny weather this year which allowed us to enjoy lots of outdoor activity, some in Mafraq and some touring around our beloved Jordan.  This is a familiar scene to us: the view of edge of town, seen as we leave the hospital compound.

Happy Birthday, Tayta!

The day after Active Son and Bride-To-Be arrived, we celebrated Tayta's 19th birthday with our traditional birthday brunch. The fare was altered to accommodate Tayta and my sugar and gluten-free diet. Good bye cinnamon rolls, hello pumpkin coffee cake with crumb topping and crustless quiche. And lots of coffee.

 Tatya invited some favorite little people to join us for brunch--and their dear mother, who was taking the picture.

Our new artificial tree (finally threw out the tree that was 23 years old!) needed a tree-topper, so I improvised this star.

Christmas break is a good time to rest...under the Christmas tree...under Mom's cashmere blanket.

It's also a good time get started on The Complete Works of C.S. Lewis

Reading aloud Mere Christianity

Our traditional Christmas Eve snacky-supper: Turkey Soup with rice, made from the carcass of our Thanksgiving turkey and frozen ahead, special cheeses, homemade crackers, Dear Husband's awesome olives, stuffed pickled eggplants, artisan bread, and vegetables and feta garlic dip--sprinkled with pomegranates.

On Christmas morning we all participated in the Christmas Day program and reception at the hospital. Stockings wouldn't be filled for another five days or so as we waited that long for Active Son and Bride-To-Be's luggage to arrive!

The celebrations continued. After church on Sunday, Dear Husband bought two large trays of the the celebratory sweet, kanafeh, to serve to our community in honor of Active Son and Bride-To-Be's engagement.

A dessert specialty of the Levant, including Jordan, kanafeh is a cheese pastry soaked in a sugary syrup, topped with nuts. And, it's Active Son's favorite.

 A Mafraq view from the second floor of out church

A Very Merry Mafraqy Christmas
(taken in early January when Oldest Daughter arrived and before others departed)