Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Back in Delhi !

Finally, after 2 years, I'm back!

Since I was in India in 2008, I've had many dreams about the children I worked with last time in India, I've imagined coming back, I've come up with a million ideas in my head. But now I'm finally here. I have a 10 year visa now and I hope I can come every couple of years.

So far we've had a totally NON Indian experience- right now we're staying at a nice hotel with a really comfortable blanket and a tv and we went out to eat with Jody at a nice place and I had pesto pasta and chocolate dessert. We're going to have to find a hotel that's less expensive, but for now this is nice to have!

I saw some of the CCS staff today. In 2008, they were really like my brothers and I've missed them so much since then. It was great to finally see them again and know that I'll be seeing them during these weeks!

Can't wait to go shopping. Last time, I only bought what I could fit into my suitcase. Not this time! In each country, we've been shipping home all of the things we buy- we're only traveling with backpacks so we don't have room to carry any souvenirs with us. So, we've been having day long searches in each country so that we can ship home big boxes of things. I plan to buy a lot here!!

This will be interesting- it will be totally different from last time, when I was totally consumed in my volunteer work and spent every minute thinking about the kids. We hope to volunteer some this time around, but with a shorter period of time, it will be so different.
Also, check out this link! It's a blog written by one of my best friends, Jody, who has been here in India for several months. She's volunteering right now at Mother Teresa's and her blog is really amazing- great stories about the people she's met and worked with. If you are interested in truly learning about Indian culture and people, read this- it's really amazing!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gobble, gobble... lol..

The constant harassment from men is beyond annoying at this point! Even telling them we're married doesn't work. And the lack of personal space baffles us!

We've been throughout Istanbul several times over the past few days. 97% of the country is in Asia, but it really feels like a 'typical' European country (not that I would actually know). The Blue Mosque and Agias Sofia were def the highlights of the sights. The insides of these places were beautiful. Actually, I think the prettiest place we saw here was the inside of an area of the Topaki Palace.

Tomorrow, we'll be spending a fortnight in the Dubai airport. We have a 13 hour layover starting just after midnight on Monday/Tuesday. We'll be entertaining ourselves by buying new books, magazines, junk food, trying to exchange all our random money built up throughout this trip, and hopefully finding a spot to set up camp and sleep a little.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Picture Preview

Not posting our pics and videos until we're home because our tiny computers will crap out on us, but here are some highlights!!


Washing our clothes out back in Tanzania.

The place we stayed in Tanzania. The dirt road sums it up!


The boys at the Center in Tanzania. They taught us so much about Bagamoyo culture!


Me with Hicham's wonderful sisters, Nadia and Latifa!

2nd largest Mosque in the world, Casablanca.

Sar & Anj

Um... the Pyramids.


Blue Mosque

Agias Sofia

Egypt hotel tip!

Hotel tip for Cairo! We have a definite recommendation for anyone going to Cairo: American Hotel. They are amazing!! Not only was it a nice hotel, but they booked everything for us in the country! The manager at the hotel was so nice and booked a ton of things for us that came to $350 USD. Here's what it included: one night in a 2 star hotel, one night in a 3 star hotel, a day tour of Giza and Cairo, a tour guide in Aswan all day, a tour guide in Luxor all day, guides to pick us up at our trains, all taxi transfers, and two nights on overnight trains. And, on top of this, they were reliable and always there. Oh, anddd they let us sleep in the rooms and shower in Cairo even when we weren't staying there that night- for free.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Caged Lions

Wow, everyone in Egypt is awkward with us! Every where we go, we feel like caged lions on display for all to stare at. Men are constantly watching us, yelling things at us, asking what country we're from, or pretending they want to help us. Everyone is also trying to get a buck- they jump out to try to help you, you tell them you don't want help, you tell them to go away, but they still want money. Anyone you do accept service from then has no problem asking for a tip from your heart. Also, in most conversations we've had a lot of awkward blank staring contests back and forth with whoever we're talking with.

Other than that, Egypt has been great. We've been very busy! The Pyramids were amazing!!!!!  We also traveled down to Aswan and Luxor and had great tours there. The overnight train was an experience for sure, and then we came back to Cairo.

Tonight, we're headed to Turkey.

Our flights are officially changed now and we'll be home November 1st. We miss you all!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Into Egypt

Tonight, we landed in Cairo, Egypt. The streets are so busy and crowded- its like Times Square but more people. Apparently this is the 2nd most populated city in the world? Who knows if that's true.

After a couple of hours at the airport, we finally got to our hotel and got some food recommended by a teenager working at the hotel. It was $1 and really good- some type of pasta with daal and rice and I'm not sure what else.

Our hotel also helped us to book out the rest of the time in Egypt. Tomorrow, we're taking a day tour of Giza to see all the famous things like the Pyramids. One of my best friends, Jeff, asked if I've seen the Mummy yet lol - maybe. Saturday night, we'll be taking an overnight train to the southern part of the country, seeing one town there, taking a midnight train to another town for the day, and then taking yet another overnight train. We're happy the hotel could book this for us! It's nice to not have to wing it ourselves and figure out everything. The $350 price we're paying for even includes transfers, tour guides, 2 overnight trains, 2 nights in hotels, and taxi's so it will be nice to have things planned out for us.

For those of you Skyping and contacting us, we're now 7 hours ahead of Jersey. We hear it's cooling down there, but it's still pretty hot here!
On another note, I won't be posting pictures until I'm back in Jersey, so sorry! You'll have to wait, but there are a million good ones and I promise to share them once I'm home.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

More Morocco Memories

If you're lucky, you can find a temporary home anywhere. Last night, shortly after I fell asleep, I awoke to the sound of Latifa laughing in the other room. I just smiled to myself and fell back asleep, with the comfort of knowing a 'loved one' was near. Early this morning, it got a little cooler, and while I was asleep, I felt Nadia cover me in a blanket. I will miss them so much when we leave Marrakech.

Being away from friends and family can make you appreciate them even more. I want to thank everyone who has been keeping in touch with me often, letting me know of their updates, and supporting me through my travels. It really means a lot to me and shows me how important our friendships are.

Tonight, we crashed a wedding! We heard it going on down the street, so we thought we'd try to get a peak of it. Before we knew it, we had seats right inside with the rest of the guests. It was cool!

Tomorrow, we'll be getting on a train for 9 hours or so and then traveling through northern Morocco this week. Monday and Tuesday we'll be in Tangier; Wednesday we'll be in Chefchaouen. Then, we'll be back in Casablanca at the end of the week for our flight out of Morocco.

Leave us comments if you're reading!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Eid Mubarak & Ch-ch-ch-changes

Eid Mubarak!

Our big update here, is that we are changing flights around. Here are some reasons: 1. I'm homesick and can't wait until the very end of 2010 to be with everyone. 2. We're not volunteering like we planned to. Volunteering consumes much more time and requires more time in a location to truly bond with the people you work with. Without volunteering now, we don't need that time.  3. We didn't plan as well as we should have and we realize now that you can really see a city in one day. Once you see the sites, you're kind of done. We don't want oodles of idle time. 4. We can't get our China visas, so we won't be going there.
     So, in short, we will be back in November, instead of the end of December. Not all of the flights are changed just yet, so we don't have an exact date, but that's our big update.

This week, we took day trips to Agadir and Ouarzazate, where we saw the studios that they filmed Gladiator and Cleopatra at. It's always nice to come home to Marrakesh though, and be with the family, have a place to lounge and people to laugh with!

Today is Eid, the end of Ramadan. Last night, the streets were bustling with excitement. Everyone had the Eid prayers this morning at 7:30 and then came back home to eat. Then, it's common for them to go visit other family members if possible and go to Friday prayers. Today, Hicham's sisters are dressed up and we were given tons of pastries, cookies, breads, and cakes to eat. We're sure tonight will be a great experience too!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Random thoughts in Morocco

- We're learning a lot about Islam. It's such a way of life here; not only a religion. We are surrounded by people praying all day, we can hear prayer calls, the Quran is always being read on TV and on the radio, everything is truly practiced here.
It's interesting to think about the contents of the Bible and the Quran; the stories within are the same. If you're interested, here's a website that breaks down some of the differences:

- Eating dinner at 1 am can make you feel really fat, yet so hungry in the morning.

- One might think that you need sneakers to climb to the highest point in Morocco; but sometimes you just gotta go with only your flip flops and two Moroccans.

- Bus trip to Agadir: 100dh, McDonalds in Agadir: 50dh each, Bus back to Marrakech: 100dh, Spending less than 2 hours in Agadir = priceless.

- Don't be surprised if it takes up to 2 hours to get a taxi.

- Sometimes in order to learn how to put on a head scarf, you just have to video record someone else doing it for ya!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Out of East Africa, onto Morocco!

This week we flew to Morocco from Tanzania. We had a layover in Qatar, which had a great airport! I bought a book, a magazine, and ice cream to keep myself entertained the American way lol. Then, we had no idea, but we also had a layover in Libya. That was weird since we didn't know!!

In Casablanca, we visited the Hassan Mosque. It's so beautiful. It is the 2nd largest mosque in the world, after the mosque in Mecca. We stayed at a nice hotel, which we left this morning. We took the train to Marrakesh where we are now. We are staying with Hicham's family here. They are so nice! They don't speak English and we don't speak Arabic, but it's nice to be in a home. It's so hot- 45 degrees C!

Since it is Ramadan, most businesses are closed all day. In Casablanca, the only place we could eat lunch was McDonald's because everything else was closed. It was funny because at night, everyone finally comes out. During the day, it's quiet and no one is out. Two nights ago at 11 pm, the town was crowded with people out on the street, which is typical for the month of Ramadan. People walked along the beach, families sat outside by the mosque, people at popcorn and ice cream, restaurants were bustling.

Here in Marrakesh, we will be breaking fast with Hicham's family around 7:30 tonight. Then, they eat their real dinner around 11:30 pm. They will also wake up in the middle of the night to eat, as our friends and boyfriends do at home, but we don't eat then since we're not fasting during the day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Are you ok? Are you sure?"

The questions we got asked every three seconds in Tanzania! Are you ok? Five minutes later- are you ok?

East Africa was interesting! In Tanzania, we spent most of our time in a town called Bagamoyo. We couldn't update posts because of the internet situation, but soon we'll post pictures and videos. Bagamoyo is an artsy beach town. Most people there do not work and instead spend their time hanging out, painting, making bracelets, playing drums, singing, being high. The town itself has mostly dirt roads and no street lamps.

The highlight of our time there was def spending time at a center called Mtoto Mchorajil Center.  If you want to send them art supplies, check out their mailing address here on their blog:  There, we made friends with young men who live in town and wanted to practice their English skills. We spent time exchanging information about our cultures. They thought it was hilarious that we drive everywhere at home instead of walking, they told us they didn't know what a subway was, and they were shocked that the man in a relationship doesn't have to pay for our weddings. We also were able to learn a lot about them and their culture. It was so interesting to hear what they had learned about America- mostly through rap songs and they'd refer to those songs and ask questions about 'black america' and could not believe that we have black friends at home who we live peacefully with.I asked them to clarify that and one of them said "when white and black people see each other in the United States, don't they shoot at each other?"  One time they asked "What's a chick?" I asked where they heard that, and they said "You know that Ludacris song, my chick bad my chick hood."

Despite the boys not knowing the movie The Lion King, I'm guessing that "Simba" means lion because they always said that to us about our hair! Another cool experience was watching them cook at the center. We got to eat with them and had to use our hands which we were not good at.

When we left, they all gave us bracelets that they made for us and thanked us for helping them with their English. We are so lucky that we met them all! Without them, we would not have really learned what it was like to grow up and live in Bagamoyo. They were special people and we hope that they can achieve great things through their artwork!

Videos coming soon!