Category Archives: Stories

Bedouin Whisky – the Reason I Moved to the Other Side of the World

I just have to share a quick story about something great that happened today.  We were in Petra for the second day today, and it was every bit as exhausting as the first.  Toward the end of our time there, most of our group wanted to go see one more set of tombs, but I decided to just wait and relax at the little tea shop at the bottom of the hill.  My friend, Trevor, decided to join me.

We had some tea there at the shop, and then we started getting surrounded by ginormous yellow-jackets or wasps or something.  Whatever it was, we agreed that our time at that cafe was finished.  We went over toward some large rocks with plans of relaxing there while we waited on the rest of the group.

As we were walking over, Trevor commented that there was a guy building a fire next to the rocks where we were going to sit.  As we approached the rocks, I greeted the man and asked him how he was (in Arabic).  He responded in Arabic, and then I told him that’s all the Arabic I knew.  We began to talk in English, and he asked us to sit and have tea.

Trevor and I sat with him talking for at least 10 minutes.  He is a Bedouin man that lives in a cave with his family in the Petra area.  He and his family sell Bedouin jewelry to the tourists that visit Petra.  He was extremely friendly, and his English was pretty good after all of his practice talking to the tourists.

The rest of the group showed up, and he offered tea to them.  He asked me if I wanted another glass, and of course, I said, “Yes.”  He laughed and said, “This is Bedouin whisky.”

We ended up buying several beautiful necklaces from him.

It was an amazing experience, and it’s the very reason I wanted to move to this area of the world.  I love just sitting and talking with new friends over a cup of tea.

This is the life!

Best Birthday Ever

Well, my birthday is coming to a close, and it did not disappoint.  We went to Madaba, Mt. Nebo, the Baptism site, and the Dead Sea.  I’ll have to write more about each of these later when I have more time and a better internet connection.  It was a spectacular day, though.  It ended with dinner at the Dead Sea Panorama center, which overlooked the sunset over the Dead Sea.  I had a really good steak with an oh so tasty mushroom sauce.  What a great way to top off the already wonderful day.

Again, I got lots of good pics, so look for those next week when we get back.

Tomorrow morning, we’re getting up bright and early to head to Petra for a couple of days.  I’m not sure if I’ll have internet access, but we’ll see.

Beautiful, Cool, Rainy Jordan

Well, we’ve just finished up our second day in Jordan.

Last night, we went went to a Turkish bath.  I had been to one when I went to Turkey several years ago, and so I was really looking forward to it again.  I definitely was not disappointed.  It was a relaxing time of sweating it out in the steam room, soaking in the sauna, being bathed by a large Jordanian man (we were both wearing swimsuits, so it wasn’t weird 🙂 ), and then getting a massage.  If you ever get the chance to have an authentic Turkish bath, go for it!

Today, we went to a couple of places to see some Roman ruins.  Have I mentioned that it’s so beautiful here?  It’s amazing.  Hills and trees everywhere.  The weather is a lot cooler than Doha, too.  It’s so refreshing.  I didn’t get to take as many pictures today as I would have liked, but since the reason was that it was raining, I won’t complain too much.  The nice drizzle was something that I have really been missing since moving to Doha.  It’s a nice change from the sizzling sauna that is the Doha summer.

Well, I’m off.  Alicia and Trey, sorry to disappoint about the pics.  We don’t have great internet access, and it would take FOR-EV-VER to get them all uploaded from here.

Oh, tomorrow is our day at the Dead Sea!  Best…. birthday…. ever!

The Hills Are Alive

Well, we made it to Jordan early this morning.  We took a small nap at the hotel (hostel), and have been touring Amman all day.  The weather is amazing here, and the city is beautiful.  I’m so used to the flatlands of Doha, and now we’re in a city full of hills and cliffs.  I liken it to going from College Station to visit Austin.

Tonight’s agenda is our visit to the Turkish Bath.  I’ve done it before, so I’m really excited.  It’ll be interesting to see what the others think.  I’ve been taking lots of pictures, but I probably won’t get them put up until we get back to Doha.

Ramadan Kareem!

Well, it’s here!  My first Ramadan in the Gulf.  In case you’re not sure what it is, Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting from sunrise to sunset (more information below).

I’m actually pretty excited, but I really don’t know what to expect.  I’ve heard stories on the extremes from different people.  As a Westerner here in the Gulf, Ramadan can be very imposing on your normal life.  You cannot eat, drink, or smoke in public during daylight hours.  Also, things will tend to move a lot slower, since working hours are cut back.

Depending on your attitude, though, it can be quite an experience.  Personally, I’m excited to be living here, because I think Ramadan will be the a great experience of Islamic culture that I have not seen before.

Here is some information from a recent US Embassy message that will give you some insight about life here during the next month:

• Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan.  As such, it is illegal in Qatar to eat, drink (even water), or smoke in public during fasting hours, i.e., approximately 5:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.  Approximate times for sunrise and sunset will be announced in local newspapers.  If Muslims are present in the work place, they expect non-Muslims to respect their fasting and not eat, drink, or smoke in front of them, even in motor vehicles, or to prepare food that they can smell or see.  As it is illegal to serve food or drink during fasting hours, restaurants will be closed during daylight hours, with the exception of a few hotel restaurants that serve non-Muslims only.  Restaurants will begin serving food at sundown, but expect them to be crowded, especially during Iftar, the first meal immediately after sunset.  If you are in a hotel, and they do not serve a meal at a time you require, you will find that room service is normally available or the dining room will have an isolated area where non-Muslims are served.

• While modest dress and respectful behavior between the sexes (even between married couples) are normal social customs in Qatar, this is particularly so during Ramadan.

• Shops and markets are open in the morning, often closed in the afternoon, but open again for a few hours after sunset.  Shops and stores will have extended hours into the late evening and early morning to accommodate Ramadan hours of operation.

• If possible, please avoid driving in the hour immediately before sunset.  One should be extra alert at this time, as many Muslims will be rushing to family member’s or friend’s home or a restaurant to break their fast.  Many accidents occur at this time, some very serious.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Wow, I had a really cool experience tonight.  Over the past couple of months, I’ve eaten dinner at a friend’s house with him and his family nearly every Thursday night.  Rob and his wife Heather have three girls, ages 3, 8, and 10, so it is always tons of fun.  I have really come to feel like a part of their family.

Well tonight, I had a friend’s birthday party to go to, so I couldn’t make it to the family dinner.  During their dinner time, I got a phone call from Rob, and their 3 year old, Rena, was on the phone asking if I was coming over tonight.  She said, “Will  you come have dinner with me?”  It was so sweet.  Rob told me that there was an empty spot at the table tonight, and Rena asked, “Where’s Justin?”

I love it!

My New Companion

Well, I finally did it.  I’ve been wanting to get a pet for a while, and I finally got a little kitten today.  He’s so cute.  He’s got this toupee-looking patch on the top of his head.

I think I’ll call him Pablo.

In other news, work is starting to get really busy, because we’re starting the time just before classes start back up.  I’ll be helping out with the IT portion of the orientation for new students.  I’m excited, because it will be a good opportunity for me to get some face time with the new students.

Undersea Adventures

I went scuba diving again today with some friends here in Qatar.  The place we went is pretty cool, but the visibility isn’t great at all.  It was still tons of fun.  I got an underwater enclosure for my Sony Cybershot point and shoot camera, so I now have pics and video of my own.  Check it out here.  The last few things in the gallery are short videos that I took.  Here’s a sample of the fish eating out of our hands:


More Desert Fun

dual-nissans.jpgWell, I did it.  I took my new Xterra out to the dunes of Qatar.  It was a blast, and the Xterra handled the sand extremely well.

I went with several friends yesterday out to the desert for a good time of relaxing, playing on the dunes, and eating lamb.  It was my second time to go out to the desert, and it was my first time to actually drive a car on the sand.  I drove a four-wheeler on sand dunes in Cabo San Lucas, so I had an idea of how to drive without the traction of a hard surface.  Obviously, a large vehicle is different than a four-wheeler, but the basics are the same:  keep moving, and give it gas if you start to slow down.

I’m really looking forward to more trips to the desert with current and future friends.  When the weather starts getting hotter, we’ll go later in the day and spend the night.  That will be tons of fun.

Check out pics of this trip here.  I’ve also made an album dedicated to Dwight and his travels.

Tomorrow is Easter, and I am taking the day off to celebrate Christ’s victory over death and the life He has given me.  What a great thing to celebrate!

Desert Trip!

crazy.jpgI got to take a trip to the desert this past weekend! It was so great. Going over the sand dunes is quite an exhilarating experience.  We didn’t quite get as crazy as the guy in the picture here, but we had some good fun.  My friend, Dave, drove us in the caravan of about 7 cars.  We went through the desert to a beach on the inland sea.  Just across the water from the beach, you could see Saudi Arabia.  It was very relaxing to hang out at the beach for several hours.  Go here to see my pics.

I think I’m going again this Friday with some other friends.  I’ll be taking my new Xterra out this time to see how it handles it.  I’m pretty pumped!