Monday, July 27, 2009

Locals Found

What a strangely fun evening I had last night. I returned from work needing a little break so it was off to the hotel bar for a glass of red wine and some pleasure reading (The Shack recommended by Matt). It was so nice to enjoy the evening breeze and listen to the sounds of Jerusalem. Upon finishing my wine and snacking on olives - they are soooo good - I was engaged in conversation by two local gentleman. A little harmless conversation turned into an exciting evening. I stayed out way too late and drank too much wine - at least for me. There were a number of people who stopped by our table and I got to meet many interesting people from local business men to ex-pats working for different agencies from around the world. A very interesting evening which was thoroughly enjoyed.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Old City Take 2

So after putting in around 5 hours of work this morning it was off to the Old City to give it another shot. My driver arrived promptly at 1pm and we were off. We parked and on our walk up to the gate we ran into his cousin - perfect, two tour guides. Off we go! We entered where the Via Dolorosa starts and did all of the stations. Now I must say that there are some stations that I believe occurred in those locations but other stations I can't quite picture how after all of these years it was documents and marked where Veronica wipes the sweat from Jesus' face. I understand the significance of Jerusalem and Bethleham but it should be that Jesus walked these streets and this is where miracles occured. I just can't buy into some of the locations are the exact locations since Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written years after his death. I believe that being here you can feel his presense but wonder if he is looking down thinking that this place where so many people from different back grounds come to feel closer to him and there is so much fighting and hatred here between the Palistians and Israelis. It must bring such sadness for him to see.

site of Jesus' burial and resurrection inside - housed in it's own chapel
After the cliff notes version of Via Dolorosa (I'm teaching my driver some important words and concepts such as cliff notes and adventures) we went to this shop for shwarmi. He said that it is the most famous in Jerusalem. It was turkey in a pita with veggies. The turkey is cooked on a spit and shaved off. It was delicious.

my splurge necklace from yesterday

Now back to the hotel to work.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Amanda Needs a Local

I walked to the Old City from my hotel. The walk is not too far, just lots of hills. I arrived at the New Gate and entered into the market place. It is CRAZY! Tons of shops on either side of the little walkways and things are hanging up and the colors are vibrant. The shop owners are for the most part very nice - offering you to come and look and reminding you that looking is free :) I did have a few grab my arm which wasn't okay, but for the most part I had a great shopping day. I wanted to find my way into other parts of the city and happened to be walking where the muslims were going to pray and was stopped by a local alerting me to this was a mistake that I was about to make; so he took me to the side and said let me show you some great views. Oh boy. We start walking towards the higher levels to get a view of the Old City and he says I love you. I say I am married. He says that I am too young - ugh! So I decide that I have to ditch this guy and fast. Then walking back towards the gate as I had decided that I should not be there alone and I have more guys saying I love you can you come to dinner with me. Ugh! Enough! So I get to the gate and grab a cab back to my hotel.

Lunch with my co-worker and his family was fabulous. All of his children from around 7th grade to college knew english very well. It was fun talking with them. They are all such beautiful kids - especially the girls. The lunch was fabulous - rice with chicken and carrots. Yeah! Then it was tea and cookies before I headed back to the hotel to work.

Today wasn't a fabulous day - I guess that I should have learned to just call my driver as he had instructed. Oh well, day off for him - tomorrow though he will have to show me the Old City in four hours as we've got lots of work to do!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Celebration in the West Bank

Today was another site visit for the proposals that I am working on and there was much jubulation in the West Bank. There were tests today or test results were issued today to the school children and to celebrate the men where shooting off their guns into the air and setting off fireworks. Well, me being from Maine and only ever hearing a gun when at the firing range can't really tell the difference. We were safe, but it was a little scary at first since we were in the West Bank in a sort of convoy to look at pump stations and we all had Israeli plates and not Palestinian plates so it could have been a possibility - the Isreali's going to harrass or whatever the pump station operator. Thankfull it was just in celebration and we were able to carry on with the site visits. Now right now I am hearing fireworks from my hotel room as the people in Jerusalem are celebrating. It's beautiful to see them go off over the city.

I've attached a picture from lunch at the pool at our office for your enjoyment. I know that it looks like all fun and games, but International work has been hard work and LONG hours.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hard Days Work

Today was spent on our jobsite where there were pump tests to be performed. It was a grand adventure filled with many people including the mayor. Everyone was excited for the pumps to work properly and for water to go to the resevoir. Once the pumps were operating properly the mayor brought out some Kanafeh (which is cheese with bread mixed with honey) out to give to all the workers to show his appreciation. It was a very kind jesture. The rest of my day was spent working so no exciting adventures today - that is how we like it sometimes!

Here is a picture of the mayor cutting the kanafeh with a putty knife!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

No Pain, No Gain

I was up working until 3:30am only to wake up at 7am to start my day. It was off to our office here in the West Bank. I don't know how more fabulous an office could be. There is a pool and there are four feeder lines that from the office makes the most serene noise - very zen. It is fabulous - hoping to take a lunch and sit by the pool. My day got eventful on my ride back from the West Bank into Jerusalem. Going through one of the checkpoints we were pulled to the side. My driver who I credit as being amazing and really took care of the situation swung into action. My passport is not stamped due to my future travels to other countries who may have problems with my having an Israeli stamp there, so there was no record that I had entered their country. Understandably they would have a problem, but I guess that it is fairly common for those working on aid projects to not have their passports stamped. Well after a half hour of my driver going through discussions with multiple ARMED soldiers we were able to proceed on our way.

Church in Shepards' Fields
Grotto of the Nativity

A little intense, but I told my driver that whenever I feel stressed at work I will think back to that situation and realize that it could be worse - those I am have intense discussions with could have loaded weapons!

From there it was a great afternoon in Bethlehem. I was able to visit the Church of the Nativity to see the Grotto of the Nativity (where Jesus was born) and also the Shepards' Fields where the shepards were watching their flocks when they saw the angels proclaiming the birth of Christ. We also went to a vineyard - what kind of trip would I go on without visiting a vineyard?! It was beautiful there - Gramisan. Dinner was fabulous and shared with two of our subcontractors. I had hummus - made me think of Adam Sandler as the Zohan.

Tomorrow will be a long work day and I don't anticipate any site seeing - but driving through here in the mountains and valleys is just breathtaking, especially at sunset and listening to the Call to prayer is a very soothing sound.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another Day in the Jerusalem

First off, I am safe and have not felt any harm. But on that note, last night I could quite clearly hear the sounds from the riots and see them from my hotel room.

Today was a fabulous day. Since it is a day off around here, I was able to get up this morning and work until 10:30am when it was off to the Dead Sea. We saw the St George Monastary which is built into the walls of the hills. It was breathtaking. We tried to go to the Jordan River but the Isreali Army was there and we could not continue down the road. This was the baptismal site of Jesus. There is a 8' tall fence along the river to seperate Jordan and Isreal. The Isrealis watch the border with soldiers and check points to make sure that they can control who comes in. Word is that there are mine fields there as well. USA take notice from the Isrealis about what to do about the border with Mexico. Anyway, from there we were off to the Dead Sea which was beautiful. The level has been lowering but it is so peaceful and there are not tides so the reflection of the mountains onto the sea is beautiful. I went in up to my knees. It is quite salty. There were people there getting mud baths from the mudd under the rocks. It was around 100 degrees and just so hot with no breeze.

There was also a tour bus and there were "camp counselors" walking around with semi automatics - umm - okay.

The drive home included a stop at Mt. Olive and a walk through the Garden of Gathsemane with very old olive trees and is beautiful. I viewed two churches - the Church of All Nations and another. We ended our night at the American Colony Hotel where we have been for dinner each night. Yup, after being out in the heat all day it is amazing to sit in their gardens and have a glass of wine over bbq and discuss business and unwind. Another fabulous day!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

In Jerusalem

I'm in Jerusalem and some of my web pages are reading in Hebrew. Slight problem, but we'll keep moving on. I spent the day on job sites - a job walk this morning in the West Bank then this afternoon looking at a 90% completed project also in another section of the West Bank. I was a little nervous about traveling to this area based on news reports, but it wasn't bad and is actually beautiful. The way back as the sun was setting I was able to take the following picture looking out at the Dead Sea. I'm hoping to make it a monestary that makes wine, a tile shop, pottery shop and of course the Old City. Lots of work to do but I'm loving it. Wouldn't have been tourist destination previously but it is truly beautiful here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sleeping on the Job

Even though today was fabulous - we had our fourth showing of the week and the sun was shining;I had some work to do before leaving for Jerusalem. So while Matt studied for the bar exam, I went into the office with the dogs - hoping that for once they would contribute to our family's bottom line. As you can tell after Thatcher put in some hard work in a neighboring cube, she joined Reagan because sleeping on the job is not a one dog project!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fitchburg Longsjo Classic & 4th of July

What a great weekend we had. Friday was cheering on the bikers during the Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic and walking at the park, Saturday was a fabulous motorcycle ride, and Sunday was spent on the lake - I've got the sunburned face to show for it - ouch!

Enjoy the pics!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Doggies in Fitchburg


Matt and Reagan on the Hog
Thatcher at Cogshell Park in June

Queen (s) for a day

So it was Queens for a day and it was great to excape the rainy weather that New England is currently enjoying. What a beautiful and warm day for an Amtrak ride. I love the Amtrak's convenience and recommend this for short trips. I was able to get a lot of work done which was a plus.

Not only was it Queens for a day, but our house was HOT yesterday. Who would have guessed?! There was a noon showing and an offer from our orignal low ballers. We countered with our lowest price. Now the waiting game - fingers and toes crossed.