Category Archives: Photography

Dana Nature Reserve

[I’m headed back to the US for 2 weeks, so I am going to use that time to catchup on some old happenings]

Dana Nature Reserve in Southern Jordan is a pretty phenomenal place. Great hiking, cool places to stay, about a 3-hour drive from King’s – awesome way to have a relaxing weekend away from the stress of teaching. I’ve been there twice now, both with one of my new best friends here, Molly (who is currently taking a hiatus from Jordan in India). The place we stayed at the second time, in May, was this crazy, cave-like place with criss-crossing staircases and rooms improbably placed at all heights within the building (picture to the left). I just posted an album on the pictures page with lots of great pictures. One of my favorite things to do is to hike/climb to an improbable place while the other person stays far away to take a picture (like below), so there are a few of those. If these pictures aren’t enough, check out Molly’s Pictures, or my story from last time about the Bedouins we met – Hussein, who told dirty jokes, and Afaf, a 10 year old girl who became my new best friend.

Jordanian Sunsets

…are the best – evidence below. I enjoy these pretty much every night.

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

In the Dana Nature Reserve the weekend before last break, where I met Hussein with his wonderful Bedouin Jokes, my friend Molly (a recent Williams grad also starting her adventure in the Middle East, blog here) and I went on an epic 6 or 7 hour hike up through the Wadi there. On the way back, we encountered a little girl named Afaf, a Bedouin who lives in the reserve with her family. Afaf, who is 12, immediately offered us tea, so we sat down to partake, when she realized that she didn’t have a lighter. Then she invited us to follow her to her tent and we had a little adventure along the way collecting sticks, water and hanging out with her donkey. She spoke very little English, but we communicated well in Arabic, good practice for me. We eventually got to her “house,” which was actually just a half tent, where she made a fire and brewed us up some very sweet tea. As we waited we chatted and met her brothers and a slew of other fun little kids from the area. It was an incredible gesture, very touching, and a very fun end to a grueling hike.

Well, Molly was stealthily documenting the entire blossoming new friendship so she put some of the pictures to Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” in a funny little video called “Rami’s New Friend” – in case you forgot, I’m Rami. Check it out.

If the embedded video doesn’t work, here’s the link.

Meeting up with Friends where East meets up with West

As I mentioned previously, I spent Eid Al-Adha ’09 in Turkey with one of my best friends from college, Sam. We spent 4 days in Istanbul and then decided out of the blue to go to a place that we hadn’t heard of before we got there – Cappadocia. We took a 10-hour overnight bus to this very strange place which turned out to be this other-worldly landscape where early Christians carved all these churches into these weird structures that people kept calling Fairy Chimneys – what?

Overall, an extremely interesting country that is on the bridge between East and West in almost every sense. The geographic is obvious; religiously, 98% of the country is Muslim but there is a similar secular feel to it as a European country, though you can hear the call to prayer booming 5 times a day; ethnically, Turks are nearly exact middle ground between Arabs and honkeys (for lack of a better term); landscape-wise, the country was a strange middle ground between a desert and a more lush; linguistically, Turkish sounded very Eastern European but had many elements similar to Arabic (but was ultimately completely incomprehensible – see DUR sign above)… I could go on – but it was interesting as a Westerner living in an Eastern country to travel in this strange transition land. Check out my friend Napatra’s post about East/West and everything in between. Experiences like this, and insight from people like Napatra, make me really rethink our broad generalizations of the world around us. I think they are more dangerous than they are useful.

Anyway, in case you found this post boring, my favorite thing I saw in Turkey (of many, many things that I saw) was a guy selling Cialis and pirated copies of children’s movies, most prominently Turkish Ice Age 3, at his little street stand. That sounds like a sweet afternoon. Christmas is coming up, Mom…

If you would like to see some of the actually beautiful and cool things in Istanbul and see the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia, check out the Pictures page for my new album about Turkey (pictures taken by Sam though). I also added a photostich of the Hagia Sophia, one of the most prominent landmarks of Istanbul, which was just TOO TALL to capture with one image! Check it out, yo.

Wadi Mujib (وادي الموجب) – Climbing up waterfalls

PA030028Last weekend, I got together with a group of fellow teachers to hike up a riverbed with flowing water, up and over waterfalls, in and out of chest-high deep water up to a huge waterfall. Truly an amazing experience. I was skeptical that the place wasn’t just a ridiculously fun water park disguised into the amazing rock laden environment around it. We slid down rocks, jumped off some into water below, stood under a powerful waterfall and generally frolicked in some of the best nature that Jordan has to offer.

Who would have thought that a desert country with 16 kilometers of coastline would have such amazing water experience like this?

The safety precautions and liability protections from the park were laughable compared to what would have happened in the states. It was actually really nice – our society is too uptight and cautious, and not cautious to keep people safe, but to keep our money safe from lawsuits. Then again, someone died there this summer (eeeeeeh). Up at the top, we tried out some worst case scenarios (pictured) to teach the parks service a lesson.

A friend brought a waterproof digital camera. Check out the photos on the “Pictures” page.

Ancient City of Wonders, Modern City of Characters

I just got back from my wonderful week long vacation to celebrate the end of Ramadan, and I have many stories to share. The next few posts will be all about that. In the meantime, if you want to check out pictures from some of the cool places around Jordan, I posted a ton on my pictures page.

8523_154781831802_778196802_3553378_5743334_nBartering in Petra

We spent two days exploring Petra, which is absolutely amazing. It was built by the Nabateans and absorbed into the Roman Empire around 100. It is an entire city carved into this beautiful red rock. There are hundreds huge tombs and monuments carved out of rock instead of free-standing. You could easily spend a full week exploring all it has to offer.

Again, here, there really aren’t many rules (see older post on the Rules at Jordanian Historic Sites). I liked climbing around inside the tombs (see left), even though some of them were filled with modern trash (unless the ancients drank Coke too, entirely plausible) and smelled like pee.

My favorite moment though of the two days came when randomly passing by three little kids who were selling necklaces. They tried to heckle me into buying a necklace, and somehow we ended up getting into a conversation. They then started bartering with me for everything I had. I really didn’t want the crappy necklaces so I decided to have fun with them instead. I didn’t feel that bad because they told me their names were Sagr (صقر), Nimr(نمر) and Thubbah(ذباح) which translate to Eagle, Tiger and THE SLAUGHTERER, so they were obviously having fun with me too.

They tried to trade my sunglasses, my backpack, anything I had (except apples… they didn’t want that) for their necklaces. They eventually asked me for mp3 music, so I offered them the CDs that I had in my backpack. This was very appealing apparently, because I managed to get one crappy necklace for 5 CDs. I gave them a few mixed CDs, Ben Folds “Songs for Silverman” and Michael Jackson’s number ones. They were pretty pumped about the Michael Jackson. Eagle informed me that he is, in fact, dead, along with Stevie Wonder. After asking me if I know Jeff (who is American and used to teach in their village – no I don’t know Jeff), arm wrestling with me (Slaughterer was the strongest, no surprise there going by name), and explaining to me that my name means “two owls” in Arabic (pretty cool – how’d I not know that?), we all left pretty pleased with the deal we just made.

I’ve always been sure of this, but this confirmed again that kids are kids are kids, no matter where you find them. I don’t have much use for the necklace that I now own, so if you are interested, let me know – I will trade it to you for 5 CDs.

New Page – Photostitching

Inspired by the many pictures I just took on my week off, I just added a page for all of the panoramic pictures that I have stitched together with Photoshop. There are a bunch from the trip to Southern Jordan that I just got back from (which was wonderful!) and then a few from my trip to Europe this past summer.

Here’s one from Wadi Rum, the desert in Southern Jordan, click to see full size. Click here for more.

Wadi Rum Panorama