Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Arabian Bling


Well, the title may be a little bit of hyperbole ... what I mean is that we are collecting a lot of "stuff" while we are here. Maybe it's not bling, but that's a nice word and I like onomatopia, so even though it isn't strictly bling, I'm gunna call it bling. Ok?

So what's this bling we're collecting? Well, during our latest trip to Jordan I acquired an Arabian art piece, which is shown here at the left. It's mounted on a wooden frame in the same way that Central Australian dot paintings are displayed. There were dozens to choose from and I chose this as a memento of my trip to Jordan.
Last time in Jordan we acquired a small pottery vessel with an interesting hatched glaze and a painted oryx ... at least I think it's an oryx as it has straight horns. Then there's the three Arabian style coffee pots, and the wall hung carpets, and the dancing dervishes that our friends Sharon and Serge gave us ... and the Canadian thermometer that goes to 50 degrees Celsius unlike the one made in Germany that bombs out at 40 degrees Celsius (fat lot of good in Central Australia!).
Bling is a bit like jewellery. You can rotate it. You don't have to wear the $4,000 TAG Heuer wrist watch every day, you can rotate it with the shitty Rolex Oyster from Thailand that you got for $15. Nobody knows the difference. You can still tell the time as well as ever and pretend you are a filthy rich bastard to boot.
We can rotate some of this stuff through our house to impress you when you visit. Hopefully you'll forget last year's bling and think we are blinged to the hilt.
At the end of the day, if we are down on the bones of our bums and our kids won't help us, we can have a Bling Fest ... not as much fun as some other fests that come to mind (get your mind out of the bedroom), like an October Fest, but helpful if you need that kilo of rice to keep you going until pension day.
Aaaah, it's truly a great life. We should all endeavour to gather as much bling as possible in our younger years so that when we are in need of a bite to eat or a carton of Fourex, we can flog off a bit of bling. And remember, if you bling up early in life, by the time you need your Fourex, the bling could qualify as an antique. Much greater value.
Now that we are close to packing our stuff to move back home, every bit of bling seems larger than life.
Here's to all that bling.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Our Visit to Jordan

G'day [Double click photo strip to enlarge]

We've just returned after a delightful and busy trip to Jordan with Canadian friends Michael and Linda Fairhart (neighbours at Al Ain).

When we arrived at Amman, Jordan had just experienced substantial snow falls and the temperature was -6 C which made us really pleased we had listened to advice and taken winter clothes. Chris and I saw the most snow we have ever seen ... for Michael and Linda it was just another walk in the park but they were pleased they didn't have to shovel it from their driveway.

We spent some time at Amman and then travelled to Petra where we walked kilometres in and around the place which is chock full of pathways, stairways and hand carved graves and ornate buildings. It's truly amazing, detracted only by the dozens of bedouins trying to sell this or that "bling", either necklaces, ancient coins (from Taiwan), head dress and other stuff. Also, there are donkey, horse and camel rides and one is hounded from start to finish to take one. We needed the exercise more than the animals, so we walked about 15 km.

We visited the Dead Sea (the water tastes lousy) and purchased some of the all preventing body salts, facial creams and so on that will help us remain youthful-looking and healthy forever. Next we went to the Jordan River and, among other things, saw the site where Jesus was baptised. The location is very close to Israel where the two countries are divided by the Jordan River, only a few metres wide. We stood on the Jordan side at the water's edge talking to people (also tourists) on the Israel side watched by the ever present Israeli and Jordanian soldiers. Both of us dipped our hands into the Jordan, perhaps with the hope that it might have some special affect on our lives ... one never knows.

Next, we visited a location called Jerash which has some spectacular Roman ruins. I'm very impressed with the engineering skills the Romans exhibited and would love to know how they created such magnificent structures without all the equipment and benefits of modern technology that we have; most of our buildings won't be hanging around a couple of thousand years after they are built and much of the Roman work will still be decaying.

All told, we had a wonderful visit. Jordan is a poor country. Most buildings look either in a state of near collapse, or partially completed, although occasionally there are nice, modern, well constructed buildings. The people were friendly and the standard of English spoken by children and some adults was far superior to that spoken by our Emirati students.

Now we have to wind down and focus on readying ourselves for our next big trip ... back to OZ via South Africa in June.

Stay well.

for Robin and Christina

PS: Double click to enlarge photo strip