Faddah

We have all, upon visiting some places of history, walked away with a lasting impression. It  takes the form of a story, an object or even a person of that place and we carry it within. We conjure it affectionately when that time or place is mentioned or remembered.

My latest such hero of the day is Faddah.*

A month ago, I visited the oldest known built house in Jordan, la Yazal,  in  Um el Kundum area (or mother of grain in Aramaic) .

Amongst the beautiful artwork and old photos on its walls; I came to meet her. With very telling eyes and a rock solid matriarch figure, she's hard to miss. Faddah*, was the wife of the late owner; Ibrahim Bisharat. The house built on a vast piece of land was constructed in 1860 in stages. Upon the arrival of the Ottomans, rumors had spread that the Christians' well being is under threat. And so, the prominent Christian family decided to leave and take refuge elsewhere until things settle. They headed west until they reached the Abu Dis village in Jerusalem , Palestine. There they stayed as their guests for a year.

Not Faddah however, she stayed behind refusing to abandon her beloved house. She witnessed and bravely endured the hardships, looting for instance,  expected in these troubled times. 

The house and Faddah thankfully survived and the family came back.

Fast forward around 160 years ; the house , or more deservingly, the home, stands proud for all to enjoy . Faddah's grandson, Mamdouh,** true not only to his heritage but to art and history, made it a life mission and passion to preserve and enrich it with many salvaged additions.

I will leave you the pleasure of discovering a lot more about the house when you visit***, but I have to mention a couple.

The meter thick walls that reminded me of my grandfather's house in Palestine; an amazing feature that addressed the climate and fortitude of these houses. Their beauty transpires in the wide romantic window ledges they leave. The second would be the cross vaulted domes; our guide best described them as  arms embracing space and people.

In warm remembrance of la Yazal; I salute all the Faddahs of our world; the brave women who stand their ground in life and hold the fort .

* Faddah means silver in Arabic

** Also known as "the Duke", a title given to him by the late King Hussein of Jordan 

*** The Duke, in addition to this house, has acquired and opened old houses in Amman for all to enjoy. For further information visit their facebook page https://facebook.com/dukestour


African Family Safari to Tanzania Overview

Has an African Safari been on your dream list of vacations to do? Not sure how to go about it? Where to go? What to expect? Should you bring your children? The only thing I can recommend to you is...GO! We chose Tanzania and it was an experience like nothing we could have imagined. Honestly, your senses will be on overdrive the whole time. Imagine a herd of elephants walking right in front of you, a lion hunting down its dinner, walking through lush forests, eating things like banana soup, and meeting local tribe people that you have only read about in books. For us, Tanzania was an experience that we will never forget. Below is our trip broken up by location, Kilimanjaro, The Serengeti, The Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire National Park. Click on the location name, have a read and take a look at the photos. I'm sure you are going to be inspired to go yourself. Do it!

Kilimanjaro

Who Should you Book With?

There were many tour companies to choose from for Tanzania. I didn't have any referals to go from so I randomly chose a few I found through searching and sent emails off to them. From the responses I got back, the one that seemed to check all our boxes was Access to Tanzania. I did not regret the choice. I gave them a rough idea of what I wanted and they tailored a trip for us. I asked for a few activities they had not done before to which they worked into our schedule. Our guide, Danny, was top notch all the way. If you decide to go with Access to Tanzania please ask for Danny-he was great!

Our guide Danny

Where to Stay on Safari?

We stayed in a variety of accommodations throughout our stay in Tanzania. I wanted a mixture of tent camping - but luxury tent :-) to mid-level accommodations.  Access to Tanzania took this into account and booked us in with Tanganyika Wilderness Camps. At each location, something different, and well above our expectations, was waiting for us. These accommodations were one of the highlights of the trip! 

10 tips when going on Safari to Tanzania

  • try to prebook your VISA. Regretfully, we found out about this too late so were not able to do it. If your embassy or consulate to Tanzania allows you to do this, do it. It saves a lot of time on arrival. 
  • allow for the cost of anti-Malaria meds and vaccines into your trip budget. We did not do this and were quite shocked at the amount this came to for a family of five. Astonishingly, it was around $2000 USD! Not all medication is this expensive, we chose the pricier ones because they had minimum side effects. Make sure your yellow fever vaccine record is in your passport-they checked ours before we were even allowed to get into the immigration line on arrival.
  • don't wear dark blue or black! Tsetse flies are a real pain in parts of Africa and they are attracted to dark blue and black. In problem areas, large blue and black flags can be seen waving trying to attract the flies away from the people.
  • buy or rent a good camera with a good zoom lens. A smartphone camera is not going to do the trick. While you can get very close to the animals, you can't get close enough for good mobile phone photos. This is a trip of a lifetime, you are going to want the photos.
  • stay in a temporary luxury tent! This was so much fun for us. After a midday nap, we opened our tent flaps to see three giraffes in front of us. It was amazing!
  • make sure your tour company employs local Tanzanian people. You want your money to go towards the country you are visiting and you want an authentic experience with someone who really knows Tanzania.
  • bring headlamps. Thankfully we did and they came in handy. 
  • bring a medicine/first aid pack. There are no easily accessed pharmacies.
  • bring lots of one dollar US bills. You will need to be tipping along the way and there is not many places to change money. The people we met wanted USD more than the local currency.
  • learn a few words of Swahili. Its a fun icebreaker and Tanzanians are super friendly so you don't need to be nervous trying your words. Jambo (Hi) and Asante (thank you) are just for a start!

Go, you are going to love it!


Think Pink!

The colour pink has become a symbol for the fight against breastcancer, and awareness levels of the disease are now higher than ever before as a result! 

In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Dubai, you can take advantage of a series of events and activities accross the city. From multi-national companies who hold annual breakfast meetings to raise awareness,  yoga on the beach, fundraising sporting events such as Ignite Pink is Punk Swim Run, awareness luncheons, Reiki therapy sessions, numerous possibilities to have health related check ups done; the list is endless.

While no food can be solely blamed for the cause of breast cancer, and no food can prevent it, a balanced diet and regular excercise can keep you in optimal health. Last week I tried a recipe with a twist: Hot Pink Hummus. 

Not knowing if the beets would be too overpowering, I added lemon, garlic and olive oil to temper the flavour. Here's the recipe for this smooth, tasty spread, which is perfect with pita bread and colourful veggies:

Ingredients: 

- 400 grams of roasted beets

- 1 can of chickpeas

- 1 large lemon (zest and juice)

- 3 garlic cloves

- 1/2 cup of tahini

- 1/4 cup of olive oil

- salt and pepper

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Method: 

1. Wrap beets in foil, drizzle olive oil over beets, close and wrap tightly.

2. Roast beets in the oven for 1 hour (180 degrees).

3. Cool, peel, and quarter beets.

4. Place all ingredients in the blender. Blend until smooth.

5. Taste, season with salt and pepper. To give it a bit of a kick I sprinkle "Fleur de Sel Espelette" from our last holiday on I'île de Ré. 

6. Drizzle olive oil and pomegranate seeds over hummus.

7. The spread will keep in the fridge for one week. 

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Bon appetit!