A Travellerspoint blog

new site

Hi All. I've moved my blog to a new site... I wasn't feeling the love here on travellerspoint anymore, so I've migrated everything to wordpress. If you subscribed you should get an email subscribing to the new one over there.

Its much prettier! Plus, there is some new writing - although I'm just bragging about the weather so don't go and look if you're over the cold - and the earthquakes at home.

Posted by karicketts 05:40 Comments (0)

Home again, home again, jiggly jig

sunny 29 °C

I think it's only JUST becoming apparent to me how close I am to world changing politics living here. Ridiculous, I know. After all, I've been in Lebanon four months. I'm literally surrounded by countries in conflict. The point is that I knew where I was coming before I got here and thought I understood it. I didn't. Not at all. Politics in the Middle East is like nothing else, anywhere.

Traveling though Egypt I had some fascinating conversations with our guides about the revolution there, two of whom had spent time in Tahrir Square. Sadly, they won't get the change they wanted. Most of the revolutionaries had never voted before. They were too young to have been a part of the last time Egyptians got to vote for anything. They didn't understand that it would have been better having one or two candidates from the new regime, rather than ten, who split the vote, paving the way for the two - minority - 'old school' candidates who are now fighting it out in the ballot. None of the young people I spoke to were happy with the outcome of the first election, which means they are likely to be unhappy with the result of the run-off. All of them said they were prepared to go back to the square if things didn't change. Mind you, the position the Army seems to be maneuvering into may mean no one has a choice.

The politics in Egypt concern me because any kind of change there effects its neighbors. Which will effect us. We have six months left in Lebanon and it's fair to say that might be an ambitious timeline. We live in very interesting times.

It's not just the middle east. Europe appears to have got itself into a bit of a pickle too. Simple things like job security will become more of a problem for everyone, everywhere, as the knock-on effect takes a swipe at the furthest dominoes way down in the peaceful corner of the pacific I call home. Not really a good time to be part of the Euro. Does anyone else find no small irony in the fact that Germany is the country holding it all together?

I think we are finally starting to see the nasty side-effects of globalisation. It was always going to happen. Anyone with half a brain saw it coming - or at least, they will have you believe that they did. All those smarmy World Bank and IMF suits signing money over with a smirk must surely be starting to have a small worry line forming on their brows. Serves them right.

Won't it be interesting if China decides to call in it's debt too.

For me, I've always said I never really understood money. I'm starting to think I actually understand it quite well enough, thank you very much, and I actually understand way more than I want to know because it reveals too much about humankind. Being a mum, it all makes me feel a bit sick. The problems the greed of previous generations have created will be felt worst by the generations that follow. But I digress.

What I want to say is a bit simpler than all that. The reason I was blind to the politics of the middle east was really because I didn't care enough to find out. Sadly, most people live their lives the same way. If it doesn't directly concern them then why should they worry about it. At home we are so removed physically we fool ourselves that it can't hurt us. Living here, I'm learning how wrong I was.

Posted by karicketts 07:02 Archived in Lebanon Comments (0)

A star, a star, burning in the night…


The title for this blog is from one of my favorite christmas carols. Imagine my surprise to find that you can't actually see many stars in the night sky around Jerusalem at this time of year because the annual Festival of Light casts such a glow that it looks like permanent twilight in the Old City.

To be honest, Jerusalem really didn't 'do' it for me like I expected it to. Perhaps it was coming at the end of a long time traveling. Perhaps it was the fact that Jerusalem is built on a hill, has many steps and the heat made pushing the stroller up them harder than it needed to be. Perhaps it's the fact there is just so much to see that you need a month to do it all. Perhaps the desperation of the supplicants who had clearly travelled a long way to be there to see their Gods, and not bothered to see the rest of Israel, let alone the middle east that made me sad for them. Whatever the reason, the Holy City left me feeling hollow.

Something clings to the stones in Jerusalem. It feels like it just wants to be left alone. There has been too much fighting over it. It is restless and evasive and not a very peaceful place to be. You only need to stand at the wailing wall to feel the pain and the loss. To me I imagine it like a big memorial to human-kind's worst treatment of each other, rather than the literal ground zero around which some of the most influential religions in the world revolve.

Israel itself is a beacon of cleanliness and order that the chaos of the rest of the middle east could only dream of. The highways are straight, painted, policed, and un-potholled. The public transport system is regular and regulated. There are pedestrian malls containing Gap and Abercrombie and Fitch. It is an ironic western oasis in the desert. The whole time I was driving through it all I could think was "I wonder how long it will last".

Posted by karicketts 03:28 Archived in Israel Comments (2)

Crossing the Jordan

sunny 29 °C

For the first time in my life I've travelled like a grown up. The trip we're on is the kind where you are met at the airport by a guy with your name on a clipboard. You have a driver and a car constantly at your disposal. You stay in flash five star hotels with ritzy omelette chefs at breakfast. You do site visits with a guide. I imagine it's a bit like how a rock star travels. My usual travel involves budget youth hostels and lots of public transport. It is fair to say the two are not even in the same universe, and to be honest, I'm not sure which I enjoy more. It's certainly a lot easier to do this kind of travel when you have babies to cart around.

You know the thing that gets me most? I'm not sure that it's actually all that much more expensive doing it this way. I know for a fact the hotel we stayed in last night would be so far out of my price range if it wasn't part of a package deal that I would probably not even have known it existed. Needless to say, it was super flash, and so big you needed a little golf cart to take you from your swanky room down to float in the Dead Sea with the other hoi poloi. It has been my favorite place to stay so far. Perhaps I am a snob after all.

Or perhaps that really says that I'm getting old. Which is ironic, given that most of the guides we've had so far have been under the impression that I'm L and P's teenage daughter and the lads are their "late in life extras". Either that or I'm the second wife. Funnily enough, the explanation that they are actually my husband's parents is not even blinked at in the middle east. At home we would be such a novelty traveling together. Here, it's just what families do.

Today we travelled from the Dead Sea up to Jerash and had a tour of the best preserved roman citadel we've seen. In the Hippodrome, we saw a re-enactment of a Roman Legion doing their thing, Gladiators and a Chariot race which made me cry. It was so awesome watching the horses racing in a place that was built for them 2000 years ago. Dust flew everywhere. Ben Hur bought to life.

As I type this, my children are fed, bathed and fast asleep and it's only just 7pm. The perfect end to a perfect day. Thanks Jordan.

Posted by karicketts 10:06 Archived in Jordan Comments (0)


Jordan rocks my world. Plastic Bags are the scourge of it.

These two statements are related. Although it may not seem so. Let me explain.

Jordan is a bit like Egypt, but the people are nice. There is a bit less to see, not having the same kind of crazy ancestry that required constant monument building to aid in the eternal afterlife, but the landscape looks pretty similar. Desert, big rocks, scrubby tress. A few more olives here, a brighter sun - and by that I mean that the quality of the light is just that much more lovely. Possibly due to the fact Egypt is covered in dirty yellow smog and Jordan isn't. But both places are covered in plastic bags. In fact, so is Lebanon and just about all of the places in this part of the world that I've seen so far. Including Afghanistan.

All kinds of plastic bags. All colours, all ages, all states of disrepair and all blown like tumbleweed to catch on trees and scrub across the desert. It adds a certain kind of carnival feel to the view - but more the empty lot after the tents have left town than the fun part. The road sides and city outskirts are the worst. It's sad because you know this rubbish is never going to go anywhere apart from possibly into the ocean. No one is going to come along with a big broom and sweep this mess clean. In many places in the middle east they have far more pressing things to attend to. Like war. It reminds me of the beaches in East Timor, which would be stunning were it not for the million empty plastic bottles lining them.

Anyway. Enough of the doom and gloom observations. Today I floated in the Dead Sea and it was a singularly uplifting and very strange feeling to bob about like a cork. Note to self; next time take a slightly smaller gulp when tasting the water.

Posted by karicketts 20:28 Archived in Jordan Comments (0)

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