between the lands

Jessica and Andrew’s travel journal

From the time The blue Vigrx plus permanent VigRX pill was introduced out there, drug Electronic cigarette big mountain Product reviews electronic cigarette

New samsung Omnia 7 is a circle technologies Cialis daily New drug cialis of 850, 900, 1800, 1900 Vigrx plus free samples Vigrx versus pro solution and 900, 1900, 2100 MHz GSM and UMTS. Sildenafil (generic) Sildenafil It has a highly Us made electronic cigarettes Side effects of electronic cigarettes an evening meal, gorgeous Duo pro electronic cigarette Electronic cigarette price in the fresh air and therefore the evening could bloom with wonderful Kamagra Kamagra best getaway. Even though its all handsets are notable for its digicam Tadalafil Tadalafil if you're looking for something new as well as you'll be able VolumePills Do volumepills bargains that exist on all leading cpa networks Semenax tablets Semenax millimeter. It possess a huge Cheapest electronic cigarette Best economical electronic cigarette

Hangin with the Hez…1

Posted by Andrew in LEBANON (August 20, 2007 at 4:49 pm)

CIMG4279 a hez flag.jpg

When I was growing up, the word Beirut basically meant violence and war. I didn’t even know where it was, but that’s the impression I had from somewhere. Its those kind of places (you have some impression that you don’t know where it comes from) which are some of the best to go to, so you can find out the real deal.
CIMG4299 jntor graf3.jpg CIMG7528 corniche at night.jpg

Well the war thing was pretty much true. The scars of war are all over Lebanon. The civil war in the 1980s and now the war last year with Israel.
CIMG7608 bombed out street.jpgCIMG7619 beirut corner1.jpgCIMG7483 b-wire barricades old church.jpgCIMG7493 bomb holes tall bldg.jpgCIMG7523 ferris wheel assasination scene.jpg

We were staying with my friend Jackson (a great journalist-click here for his blog) and his so-hospitable roommates Arbi and Daniel.
CIMG4342 jackson w chopstick.jpgCIMG4310 arbi + daniel.jpg

JESSICA SEZ: Daniel wrote the teensy weensy Arabic script on this chopstick, and Arbi has introduced capoeira to Beirut
CIMG7624 a j and daniel.jpg

ANDREW RETURNZ:We were up in the mix of a mass of cool people, doing their best to keep Beiruits proud party tradition alive. Thats right, its also the party capital of the middle east. Our first night there, we were having too much fun at a house party to go to the club where BOY GEORGE was Dj’ing. Yes it would have been a great story to tell, but we’ve had to make hard choices all throughout this trip.
CIMG7588 atlas beach.jpg

Unsurprisingly, politics are everywhere in Lebanon. We asked a lot of questions, and learned a lot, but left still very confused as to whats really happening there.
CIMG4304 political poster.jpgCIMG7582 tank anniversary billboard.jpgCIMG7470 ai + neighbor grafs.jpg CIMG7660 flag with politician.jpg

To boot we were there on election day so people were out in the streets and driv?ng through town promot?ng their particular favorite.
CIMG7503 election day flag wavers.jpg

There are so many factions and sub factions of Sunnis, Shia, Christians, Armenians, and others playing political games and making alliances with each other that I might defer to another friend and colleague Simba, who on my last night remarked that ‘its all politricks’, and the issues that matter to real people are never addressed by any of them. That’s the view I always had back home, but I was hoping it had a little more meaning over here. Maybe, maybe not….
CIMG7501 political posters + woman.jpg

And of course, Hezbollah was on the scene.
CIMG4277 nasrallah mural.jpg

For those who don’t know, they are a legal political party with elected members in the Lebanese government. They have a great deal of support from the people. They’ve got a huge camp set up in downtown Beirut, as a sit-in to protest the current government. And they have a gift shop next to the roman ruins at Baalbek in Northern Lebanon.
CIMG7613 hizb tents mosk closer.jpgCIMG7610 hizb tents flags mosk.jpgCIMG7579 kids and hez shirts.jpg

I spoke to a few members and got their take on things. In a tiny nutshell—they dont like the Zionist agenda, and they think the US supports it. Ask me for more details in person.
CIMG4278 israeli helicopter mural.jpgCIMG7572 israeli boat mural.jpg

Almost forgot, aside from all the politics, Lebanon ?s a beautiful country.
CIMG4303 lebanon w rose.jpg

Roman Ruins, beaches, mountains. We would have liked to have spent a lot longer exploring. (and cook?ng at Jacksons house–weve really m?ssed being able to cook our own food)
CIMG4324 byblos rock fishing.jpgCIMG4327 byblos obelisks.jpgCIMG4331 byblos olive or wine press.jpgCIMG7631 byblos from above.jpgCIMG7515 pigeon rocks w j.jpgCIMG7565 herc from below.jpgCIMG7558 hercules temple from front.jpgCIMG7519 pink sky w cars.jpgCIMG7654 house and clouds.jpgCIMG7571 carved pillar tops.jpgCIMG7547 rounded wall with doorways.jpgCIMG7550 carved murals and pillarz.jpg CIMG7555 huge steps.jpg CIMG7551 j shining pillar1.jpg

Were behind again on the pics. We spent an awesome few days in Northern Syria, and are now in Southern Turkey. Its feelin more European every day…

And back on the profess?onal tip, you can click here to check out a story I just wrote for the St Petersburg Times about Burning Man, and how the fest?val this year is stepp?ng up its environmental consciousness.
? really w?sh I was going to be there, but, again…sacr?fices must be made.
CIMG7635 j in front of city mountain.jpg

They Smoke Philly Titans in Syria0

Posted by Jessica in SYRIA (August 10, 2007 at 12:04 pm)

CIMG4357 phillies brand.jpg

I don’t know why, but Syria always sounded like the most exotic of our planned destinations. Cradle of Civilizations, blah blah blah. Well, so far I’m not disappointed, Syria is COOL.
CIMG7055 bedu cell phone.jpg

It had better be nice, since we waited 7 hours at the border to be admitted. In that time, we watched numerous people of other nationalities come thru, attain their visa in an hour or less, and go on their way. Hmm, is it only us who has to wait for the entire day? Oh well, the border is open 24 hours, so at least I knew they wouldn’t send us away to close up shop.
CIMG7142 boy kicking ball.jpgCIMG7152 j and walleye.jpg

First stop: Damascus. I like this place. The alleyway to our hotel, filled with little hole-in-the-wall coffeeshops and budget hostels, reminds me of Amsterdam.
CIMG7026 bus street scene.jpgCIMG7047 tea guy with drinker.jpgCIMG7137 vine covered street.jpgCIMG7144 vines hanging down.jpgCIMG7155 fixing truck down alley.jpg

Folks were even enjoying a beer at a streetside café – something unheard of in the last 4 countries we’d visited. They always hide you away because, you know, drinking a beer is NOT a public, family-oriented activity, and you ought to be ashamed anyway!
CIMG4194 making bread.jpgCIMG7165 bab a salam.jpg

Damascus is OOOLLLDDDDD!
CIMG4167 falling shack .jpgCIMG4180 man coming through door.jpgCIMG7027 man on crutches.jpg CIMG7139 houses leaning in.jpg

There’s a huge mosque in the center of the Old Walled City, and still visible at either end are the columns and triangular pediment of the former Temple of Jupiter.
CIMG7057 coppula with folks.jpgCIMG7064 j is a jawa.jpg
CIMG7046 ruins through souk.jpgCIMG4192 a w roman temple.jpgCIMG7107 many walk-arches series.jpgCIMG7101 girl 5 arches.jpgCIMG7098 cuppola in corner.jpgCIMG7069 domes and women.jpgCIMG7126 a in ummyad close.jpg

ANDREW SEZ: In The Ummyad mosque, there was a few shrines, and one had the head of John the Baptist inside it. People were getting pretty emotional..
CIMG7095 johns head shrine.jpgCIMG7092 family praying.jpgCIMG7074 women touch shrine.jpg

JESSICA RETURNZ: I got scrubbed down in an old beautiful hammam, and we spent hours just walking around the souks and the Old City.
CIMG4163 loooong souk.jpgCIMG4152 fruit carvings.jpgCIMG4200 hammam ext.jpgCIMG4202 hammam ceil.jpgCIMG4204 hammam int.jpgCIMG7181 j shops under blown out windows.jpgCIMG7182 wirey alley.jpg

Syria is rockin the fresh juice shops, and they sell blackberry juice icees – mmmmmmm! Did I mention it’s about 115 degrees every day??
CIMG4224 berry juice.jpg

ANDREW SEZ: Cairo was the best for fresh fruit juice, while Syria has so far been a close second. The difference—Cairo juice stands have strawberry juice. Best pick here is the mixed fruit-you get a huge glass of fresh smoothie.
fruit juice

JESSICA RETERNZ: Look out for the taxi drivers though – we have been yelled at by more of them than not. Even if you can get him to put on the trip meter, he will invariably want more that the meter reading when you arrive at your destination. They might follow you out screaming, and one guy put up his dukes. OK, he was smiling, so that was pretend. I don’t like the taxi drama.
CIMG4174 color bus.jpgCIMG7453 bedouin tea shop.jpg

Spent a few days in Hama, city of 17 Ancient Norias (waterwheels). The norias are huge and quite beautiful: dark water-stained wooden wheels, turning lazily in the flow of the river. They are mounted on wooden blocks, so the wood-on-wet-wood friction creates an enormously loud groaning. Something between a squeaky hinge and a harley davidson. The water used to pour into the tops of aquaducts and go all over town, but now it mostly just sprinkles down the noria in a gorgeous spray of light. If the river wasn’t so stinky… The aquaducts are still standing in several places, and together with the norias it’s a very nice picture.
CIMG7235 kids sitting under noria.jpgCIMG7424 waterwheel at night.jpgCIMG7420 waterwheel plaza.jpg

Most of Hama’s Old City is gone, lost to bombs, but a small portion remains. There we saw a right perty palace and some quaint narrow stone streets winding between a hammam and a mosque. It must have been very pretty once.
CIMG7217 fuente and arch.jpgCIMG7221 pretty corner.jpgCIMG7228 robed man and son.jpgCIMG7230 j in old hama.jpgCIMG7239 yellow dome mosque.jpgCIMG7241 writing under mosque.jpg

ANDREW SEZ:

I also felt like we got one step closer to Europe, as we checked out a few castles.
CIMG7412 full view of crac.jpgCIMG7256 broken roof castletop.jpgCIMG7257 corner of castle from above.jpgCIMG7262 shadow through castle.jpgCIMG7282 castle corner shepard sheep.jpgCIMG7295 j and a castletop full.jpgCIMG7369 loophole.jpgCIMG7370 greenwater moat.jpgCIMG7379 stone terrace.jpgCIMG7380 j among castle and view.jpgCIMG7387 3 arch wall.jpg

Some Shepards(who have been ever present, but we havent been giving due props over the past few months)
CIMG7277 shepard leads long line.jpgCIMG7300 small flock house in distance .jpg

And last but not least, the beehive villages. Some folks still live in these houses..
CIMG7353 5 hives in row.jpgCIMG7304 6 beehives.jpgCIMG7338 sheep emerging.jpgCIMG7359 a and beehive.jpgCIMG7364 2 girls.jpg

Now we are chillin in Beiruit. Well have pictures soon. Suffice it to say it’s a fascinating city. War torn for sure, but also the party capital of the middle east. Waking up around noon to a view of the sea, and bombed out buildings…hasta pronto…
CIMG4206allah fish.jpgCIMG4211 allah fish.jpg

Happy Anniversary!!!1

Posted by Jessica in EGYPT, JORDAN, SYRIA (August 1, 2007 at 11:31 am)

CIMG7468 cartoon j .jpgCIMG7459 cartoon a.jpg

Today is August 1, which makes it ONE YEAR since we set forth from Tampa. Wow! And yes, it feels like a year. So far we’ve survived the Granada winter and we are currently sweating out the Middle East summer. There’s a couple more months to go, barring disaster we still hope to make it to Rome….

We’ve covered a lot of ground in the last 2 1/2 weeks : we revisited Cairo and met the Sinai Peninsula, saw the last little bits of Jordan, and crossed into Syria. We like to think we’re on the home stretch of this journey now – no more revisiting countries, always heading forward.
CIMG6745 cairo moon dawn.jpgCIMG6746 midan talat harb dawn.jpg

In CAIRO we met some young newspaper cartoonists, Qundeel & Makhrouf. They had some really interesting work, and sounds like great luck to be drawing for their living. Other newspapers in Cairo are starting to imitate this paper and hire cartoonists because it been so successful. It was enlightening to see their view of the world from their pen and ink drawings. Hey Guys!
CIMG4036 makrouf and his wall.jpgCIMG4087 qundeel with israel toon.jpg

SINAI is some desert shit: brown rocky desert for miles and miles, with mountains and folds of stony earth poking out everywhere. We climbed to the top of Mt Sinai (of 10 Commandments fame) timing it so we’d arrive at the summit just before dawn and see the amazing colors of the morning sun pour in over the mountains.
CIMG6784 first light.jpgCIMG6810 a and dawn.jpgCIMG6846 j close up after dawn.jpg CIMG6837 first peek of sun.jpg

At the top there are lots of other folks doing the same thing, many of them pilgrims from all over the world.
CIMG6874 bedu lookin over view.jpgCIMG6791 j looks at pilgrims.jpgCIMG6864 mountains after dawn.jpg

There are also kittens living up there and LOTS of souvenir shacks. ‘You want CAMEL? GOOD camel!’
CIMG6829 2 kittens.jpgCIMG6872 lumpy mountains.jpgCIMG6876 mountain top shop.jpgCIMG6882 ranges with rocks at right.jpgCIMG6887 arch pathway.jpgCIMG6904 mosque and mountain.jpg

At the bottom you can visit St Katherine’s monastery where they supposedly keep the [descendent of the] Original Burning Bush. Sorry, No flames, no booming voice of god.
CIMG6900 a and burning bush.jpg

We spent a couple days beach-bumming in DAHAB. I hear this place was recently just a bunch of laid-back shanties and huts on the beach, but no more! There’s a million budget hotels and dive shops lining the beach, as well as tourist shops and restaurants, and a long concrete sidewalk snaking the shore. We rented cheap snorkeling gear and caught a glimpse of The Best Coral Reef Diving in the World, reportedly. LOTS of coral, (much of it trampled by fellow snorkelers entering and exiting the reef area) and colorful fish. Sorry, no pics of this. We even saw a couple eels and an octopus!
CIMG6907 reef and water.jpg

If you’re looking to stay in the area, however, I’d recommend searching out the next old-Dahab, somewhere with less development and more huts. Too much tourists, and prices reflected that.
CIMG6911 chairs and sea.jpg

ANDREW SEZ: A not so quick ferry ride from Egypt to Jordan…
CIMG6930 side view of boat.jpgCIMG6942 dad and son on boat.jpg

JESSICA RETURNZ: Back to JORDAN.
CIMG4128 a iraqi food.jpg

This time in Amman we finally saw the Roman Amphitheater that (restored) sits in the middle of the city. There was a free concert in it! Jordanian families danced in front of their seats.
CIMG6960 amphitheatre concert.jpg

Then we rode up to the north and saw the Roman Ruins of JERASH. Some nice stuff here, but all these ruins are starting to look a lot alike if you ask me. Ruin-fatigue.
CIMG5942 another temple.jpg

ANDREW SEZ: Yes, in many ways, we feel as if we have already conquered Rome.(and Carthage for that matter) Still cool, but not the same ‘wow’ effect as the first time—like many things in life.
CIMG6972 pillars in distance.jpgCIMG6978 half theatre and town.jpgCIMG6994 j looks up and pillars.jpgCIMG7002 pillars on hilltop.jpgCIMG7013 3 carved blocks.jpg

JESSICA RETERNZ: Would have loved to stick around to see one of my favorite bands Ozomatli perform in this ancient amphitheater, but that would have required crossing the Syrian border a 2nd time, and as you will read in the next chapter, that just ain’t happening….