Enter into the ‘Rose City’

July 2017–Petra, Jordan


I have to be honest, I wasn’t overly excited for my visit to Petra while in Jordan.  Since everyone claimed it was a must-see destination, and since I had previously put the goal into place to visit ALL of the new seven World Wonders, it also became a must-see for me.  So here I was on a trip to Jordan, being escorted and shown around by my Jordanian friend I knew from Abu Dhabi.  The timing was perfect, as he was currently visiting his homeland for a few weeks.  He truly was the perfect guide around Jordan, spending most of his life there, and having the same excitement as me to visit all of the spots he use to frequent as a child.

Petra was the underestimation of the century!  From the moment we entered the gates the red sandstone landscape was breathtaking! The way the sandstone had taken shape looked like a piece of creative art. As we were walking the path, my eyes gazed wide-eyed, taking in the colorful ‘art’ surrounding me.  At the end of the sandstone guided pathway, there it was, the most famous part of Petra, the Treasury Building.  Stunning, beautiful, grand, delightful; all words that could describe this carved landmark, but none that would do it justice!

Under the impression Petra mainly consisted of the Treasury Building and beautiful sandstone, I had no idea there was so much to discover!  Every way my eyes looked, I encountered a new piece of carved architecture and design. Petra, also known as the ‘Rose City,’ is actually 102 square miles, half built and half carved into the rocks.  It is filled with elaborate tombs and temples, beautifully carved into the pink/red sandstone cliffs.  This architecture is truly a must see!  There are so many times when people state, ‘you need to see it with your own eyes,’ and this is most definitely one of those times.

The Rose City dates all the way back to 300 B.C., as the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom.  It is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most richest and largest archaeological sites. It is surrounded by mountains filled with passages and gorges.

We walked, we climbed, we picked the highest peaks, for the best views.  We spent around seven hours taking it all in, and let me tell you, seven hours in 100 degree heat is no joke!  We managed to laugh, explore, chat with the locals, and not kill each other in our times of exhaustion. Throughout the course of the day, we rode on a horse, a donkey and a camel, in between all of our long treks around the Rose City.

We had a lot of fun walking into the ‘houses’ built into the stone.  Eyad and I gave each other proper tours around the houses, showing off the glamorous kitchens, powder rooms, and wall art.  We mastered the art of real estate convincing each to purchase a few carved one and two bedroom properties.


Go see it, experience it for yourself!  Enjoy chatting with the local Jordanians.  Some of who actually dress and wear black eyeliner like a pirate.  They are there own culture and embrace the true Bedouin lifestyle.

Into the artistic side of Mexico City

November 2, 2017–Mexico City, Mexico


A walk into the streets of Mexico City, Mexico filled with artistic creations.

Enter into Mexico City’s fascinating street art culture, from vibrant paintings filing building walls, to Dia de los Muertos skull displays along the strip, Mexico city did NOT disappoint!  Flooded with art deco, I was lost in the in the streets of the city; my eyes enjoying the liveliness that is Mexico City!

 

First, a walk into the art that is graffiti; colorful, spray-painted street art.  We walked for blocks along the city streets taking in the beauty and dynamic colors each building held.

On a Uber ride home thru Paseo de la Reforma, we began passing large skull, after colorful skull.  It wasn’t even a second thought to get out of the car and view the beauty in the streets!  Not only did we peruse the decorated skulls, there were also ‘creatures’ created and designed for Dia de los Muertos made from paper mache.

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) A broken down bus and a gondola ride.

A broken down bus, a walk in the city in search of tequila, and a colorful gondola ride in Xochimilco.

November 1, 2017–Mexico City, Mexico


What started with the excitement of an organized group tour around Mexico City, including numerous Day of The Dead celebrations, turned into a broken down bus, getting left behind, and having an eye-opening experience with the locals into the traditions that are Dia de los Muertos.

Completely embraced by young and old, sharing stories, tequila and celebrations, I experienced something more wonderful than I could have ever expected.

But let me start from the beginning……

Standing in line waiting to board our tour bus, I began talking with others and sharing in the excitement that is TRAVEL!  Once boarded, we were moving slowly through the busy Mexico City traffic en route to Xochimilco (famous for its canals and water transport system built by the Aztecs).   A little shaky, and dying out at times, it was becoming quite clear this bus was NOT in it for the long haul.  After a few sputters, clanks, and flooding of the engine; we were STUCK, somewhere in the middle of Mexico City.

But…as TRAVELERS, what do we do?  We make the best out of every experience!  Best idea??  Find a bar, find a store, and get the party rolling! We did exactly that, nine adventurous women (mostly solo travelers) and one man (Vin Diesel look-a-like-ish) on a mission to bring the celebration to the broken down bus!  We walked the streets filled with painted faces and costumes, food vendors, and eventually one festive bar.  A tequila shot and margarita later, we danced our way to a convenience store for some ‘road’ tequila.  We really couldn’t be bothered about the bus, we were just enjoying being immersed in the cultures and meeting people from around the globe.  After over an hour of waiting for our new bus, myself and Vinny decided to make one last quick trip to the convenience store.

Ten minutes later…the new bus had come…and GONE! Vinny called it, totally. My constant optimism had my mind thinking they’d never leave without us!  Busy streets, busy city, already over an hour off schedule?  I would have left us to.

Stranded on the side of the road, bus-less, we did what any two Americans would do; call an Uber!

Thirty minutes later, and a few shots of tequila in, we found ourselves in one of the boroughs of Mexico City, Xochimilco. A city known for its canal transport system and artificial islands built by the Aztecs. The vibrant city of Xochimilco was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 to preserve the culture for many generations to come.

Color, color and MORE color!!  The gondola-like boats called ‘trajineras’ were absolutely stunning!  Each boat named bright and bold with an enticing Spanish lady name. The reflections of all the lively colors in the water was captivating to the eyes!

This night, the canal was filled with excitement.  The locals and tourists all took to the canals to view the lights of Xochimilco.  Each boat passing by was filled with people laughing, drinking, eating and enjoying the pleasures of life.  Our experience was no different.  Although we were there without the rest of our ‘tequila crew,’ the two of us made it a boat ride to remember.   We drank, we waved at the other passengers on boats, we snapped photos, and we took in all of the richness of the canal.  I struggled to capture the beauty of the midnight hour without my tripod. I even tried using ‘Vin Diesel’s’ bald head as a tripod, but the rocking of the boat prevailed.  Through it all, I felt blessed to be in that moment, at that time.

To be continued…