Welcome

I guess you are here because you have discovered one of my books and enjoyed it enough to find out more about the author, me. Either that or you’re a potential employer who is investigating me to see if I would be a good fit for your organization. In which case, surprise, I write books as well as teach. Some might look at that as a bad thing, and if so, please explain to me how.

For whoever finds my site, I want to welcome you, and also allow you the opportunity to follow me on a regular basis. Anybody is welcome as long as you keep your posts appropriate, and respect the other followers to this site. As long as everybody follows those two simple rules, I won’t have to kick anybody off. Let the friendly banter begin.

I am hoping to create an interactive site that everybody can enjoy. Of course, I will keep you up to date on the latest writings coming out of my head, and I will also let you know when and where I will be in the world, so someday you might be able to meet me in person. Most people regret that decision, but who knows, maybe you’ll be in the minority.

I will also tell you about my world-wide travels as this is something I do on a regular basis. I’ll show you pictures from places I have been (this one is from Dubrovnik, better known to fans of The Song of Ice and Fire as King’s Landing), and tell you the exciting stories that happen to me along the way. You are also welcome to ask me any questions you may have about the place I have been, and I will try to answer them in a timely manner.

I know it all sounds amazing, and I can see you wondering why you haven’t been a part of this fantastic experience so far, but let me tell you about the most exciting part of following this site – the interactive part.  You were probably wondering when I would get to that part I had promised you earlier. Well, I plan to create a list every month, and I want you to participate in its formation. I do love countdowns, but I am always disappointed in them. So I have decided to take matters into my own hands. You will be able to post your top ten of each monthly list and at the end of each month, I will comprise the total list to give you the countdown for that subject. Look for each new subject on the first day of each month, and the final list of the previous month by the fifteenth.

Otherwise, it is very nice to have you a part of this experience, and I look forward to all of our future posts together.

Life of a Bedouin

It’s a long day’s journey through rock and sand
Before I can reach my intended goal.
Though the trials I face never go as planned,
A miracle’s in each moment I stole.
I will teach my children to hide behind
A boulder, so a weary traveler
Will find our game of Boo! the merry kind
That makes any hard hike less of a chore.
I will find my friend with a hot kettle,
Making a sweet tea with the herbs he has found.
In the west, when the sun starts to settle,
I will watch it on a soft patch of ground.
Everyday is a day that I win
When I live the life of a Bedouin.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Jordan is the hidden gem in the Middle East. Before I came out here to live, I did not know about many of the amazing features that were held in its small borders. I have visited a couple of them, and there are many more that I will visit while I am living here, but they will have to be pretty impressive to beat out the experience I had at Wadi Rum.

It is not a hard place to find. Wadi Rum is located three and a half hours south from Amman, and if you get up early in the morning you can squeeze in a whole day of excitement. But this is not something that I would do. The experience is so much better if you book a stay with the Bedouins who live on this UNESCO World Heritage sight because you can make the most out of a couple of days, and get to experience what it is like to live the lifestyle of a Bedouin, if only for a little while.

I had booked my stay with Nomad Tour Group, and they kept my group pretty busy while I was down there. Despite this fact, they also supplied me with everything I needed, transportation around the desert, a warm tent to stay in on the cold nights down there, and some of the best food I have ever eaten on a tour group. It made for a memorable trip to a unique location.

This sights I saw did not only consist of seeing incredible formations made out of sandstone, but also a bunch of examples of the other inhabitants of the desert. There were, of course, many lizards that I had come across, and a few birds, but it was a lot of fun when I came across random camels wandering around the desert. I was told by my tour guide that they were owned by another Bedouin which it made it easy to get out and feed them, but it was still fun to get close to one of these beasts for the first time in my life.

It is also amazing to see what survives out in this harsh environment. I went down in late November, and I would highly recommend trying to make it down in the fall or if not then, the spring. Both of them will give you temperate weather, but the fall is right before the rainy season, so you won’t be in danger of getting washed out. Despite the dry climate, I still was able to come across a couple of amazing trees, and saw some desert flowers poking out of the sand in a couple of spots where I never thought life would have existed in the first place.

There is also some amazing rock formations that you will be taken to. If you get the right guide, they will get you to these places before the tours really start to pile in, so it will make you feel like you have the place to yourself.

And if the rock formations are not enough for you, there are also places where you can make your own in a crazy version of Jenga. At one time, we were taken to a field filled with a bunch of cairns that had been made over the years, and it was fun to find the right rocks to try and make your own creations. This is one that I spent a little time one, but I liked the way that I got everything to balance precariously on top of each other.

Overall, it is a must stop place if anyone ever travels out to Jordan. The sights are too many to count, and everywhere you look, you want to take another picture. I spent three days, and two nights down there, and I felt like I got a good feel for what it has to offer. If you make it here, you need to definitely mark this as one of the spots that you will want to stop at on your visit.

A Bedouin’s Lifestyle – Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum has been one of those places that people told me that I had to visit at least once in my lifetime, but I will be honest, I did not see how visiting a desert could be that exciting. To me, it looked like a beach without the water, so why would I want to go to some place where I would have to endure the heat, and bring nothing back from the experience but a bunch of sand. But there had to be a reason for me constantly hearing about how great this place is, and why so many movie came out here to film, so I needed to come out and see for myself. Plus, it was only a three-and-a-half hour drive from my house in Amman, so when I was presented with a three day weekend, it seemed like the perfect thing to do. And I am glad that I went because I learned something there that I had forgotten.

Wadi Rum is an adventure. I had not gone on an adventure for a long time. I had spent a lot of time over the last couple of years stuck in my home, making sure I did not get exposed to the deadly atmosphere that existed beyond my door. When I did leave my home, it was to find a beach to unwind on, and I would return back home feeling refreshed, but not as if I had experienced anything. I would still be connected to the outside world while I was relaxing on the beach, and I wasn’t able to let go of all of the responsibilities I piled up on my lap. I thought that I would be able to stay connected when I went out to Wadi Rum, but I ran into a group of people that saw life in a different way, the Bedouins.

The Bedouins roam around this huge desert landscape just like they have for centuries. They might have a couple of modern conveniences like trucks, and lights, but they like to get away from these distractions and find themselves among the rocks and sands of Wadi Rum. Because of this, they are completely off the grid, and anybody that comes out to visit them is forced to get off of the grid as well.

This means that the only distractions I had on this trip were the small wonders that could be found out in the desert. I couldn’t plug into social media to see what I was missing someplace else in the world. I couldn’t tackle the stacks of work that I had to accomplish to make sure my students were getting the education I think they need. And I had to let go of past frustrations that seemed to haunt me. I could only live in the moment and make the most of it.

It is amazing what comes out of the desert when you take on this kind of lifestyle of the Bedouins. At first, they are pretty obvious such as a camel looking for a piece of pita.

But then you start to notice the smaller things that you might have passed by because your mind was in a completely different place. It might seem obvious at first that you should have seen them because green like this just doesn’t happen in the desert. But when you stop to look at them, it makes you start to wonder why there is this kind of green out in the middle of the desert, and how does it end up on top of a mountain where the harsh conditions are made even harsher with the winds that blow over the sands.

And then you start to see the strange patterns that nature makes in the rock. It seems almost too perfect to have been created by nature, but then again there is too much of a randomness to it to be created by man. It makes you wonder if mankind is only a amateur artist compared to the crazy creations that nature can put together.

It takes you on journey that you know you should have been on a long time ago, and wonder why you didn’t push to get yourself on it sooner. It gave me an appreciation for the world around me that I had not experienced for a long time, and I have to thank the Bedouins for forcing me to disconnect so I could appreciate it the way that it was meant to be appreciated.

It gave those small moments that we pass over in life the importance that they deserve. It might not have been the relaxing break that I was looking for, but it was something better. It was the vacation I needed. I needed that adventure that only a Bedouin could give me, so I could regain that appreciation for life I had lost during the last couple of years. It makes me excited for the next adventure I get to have, and I won’t soon forget the one I just experienced.

A Desert Feast – Wadi Rum, Jordan

To my American friends, I am sorry I am late, but I would like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope that you were able to spend it with good people, sharing good food with them, and making good memories. To all my friends who come from other places in the world, I hope that your adventures allow you to experience the same kind of joy that makes Thanksgiving one of my favorite American holidays.

Living away from the United States makes this holiday a little harder to celebrate. Many of the places I have worked for as I moved overseas has not seen this day as an important holiday, even though they celebrate holidays that are very similar to Thanksgiving. Luckily, I have found myself in a community that appreciates this day, and made sure that my coworkers and I were able to celebrate it in the best way we could find. I took advantage of this fact, and got up early on Thanksgiving morning to take a three and a half hour drive south to Wadi Rum, a Unesco World Herritage Sight, and the movie set for such famous films as Dune, The Martian, Prometheus, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Lawrence of Arabia.

This desolate landscape might not be the first choice for many people when they think of gathering together for a big feast, but there is much more to this location than the stark beauty. There is a whole community of people that live nomadic lifestyles among the sand, and rocky mountains, and they welcome people with open arms to take a couple of days and feel what it is like to live this way.

It might not have been what I was expecting for a Thanksgiving dinner, but the food and the way it was prepared made for a great Thanksgiving experience. The Bedouins having been preparing huge feasts for centuries out in this desert. It basically starts when they dig a hole in the ground and fill that hole up with burning coals. They then add vegetables, and chicken, cover that hole with a blankets and some sand, and let it cook for two hours.

After two hours, they dig away the sand, pull back the blanket, and pull the feast out of the hole.

And it is quite the feast that they pull out of this hole. Just like a great Thanksgiving meal, there is not a lot of spice added to the meal. For the most part, it is about the preparation of it. Simple ingredients cooked well and combined in the right way to make the perfect meal, and though it was not turkey and mashed potatoes, it was still the perfect meal for this day.

But it was the friends I got to share this meal, and all of the other meals this weekend, that made it a Thanksgiving. Though we may talk about the food, it is the company and the experiences we remember. I feel lucky this year to have spent it with a great group of people. It may not have been my family, and I do miss sharing this day with them, but if I can’t be with them, I am glad that I was still able to have an experience that I will soon not forget.

I hope your Thanksgiving was just as good, and that continues on through the whole holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Insurrection

Are you ready for our revolution?
‘Cuz we are comin’ with our wife-beaters,
And flags bearing forgotten solutions.
Look at our ideology’s features,
And accept them as what should be believed.
We’ll open your eyes to hypocrisy,
And in the end, you all will be relieved
That we have shown you what you could not see.
Do not talk to me about what is true
Because all those facts cover up the lies.
It is more about what you wish you knew
As you sit back and watch how the truth dies.
Peace is over. It is time for combat,
So I will yell, “Where are my soldiers at?”

Puppy Love

We found you among the garbage and trash,
But your big eyes instantly stole our heart.
We will never think our decision rash.
To find within our busy lives, a part
Where you could stumble and pounce and grow up.
We would play with your younger energy,
Cuddle when you tired of being a pup,
And create a life that was struggle free.
Into our home, you brought your innocence,
And left us with joy swelling in our chest,
While lingering was a distemperence
That we could not save, though we try our best.
While you look down on us from up above,
Please understand, we did it out of love.

The Mud Dance

It is time to go and play in the mud,
Lathering it all over your body.
It will help you pump out all the bad blood,
And take your living, that has been shoddy,
To allow for it to feel young again.
Getting sloppy is not only for kids,
So do not allow pretention to win,
And do as the wallowing custom bids.
If it’s too much, look to the salty sea,
And let the warm waters wash away clean
The grime of the day, leaving you pretty,
Ready to return to the adult scene.
You don’t know when you’ll get another chance
To lose yourself in another mud dance.

Salt

If I were living in the Dark Ages,
Where my feet tread would be worth a fortune.
The spice that’s collected here in stages
Would have been mined from the base of this dune.
What could be carried away in a sack
Would be stored away in someone’s attic,
And when a little flavor they did lack,
A tiny pinch from their stash, they would pick.
But it did not work well for currency
Because it would diminish when they ate,
Then they would have to go back to the sea,
So they could buy more morsels for their plate.
You cannot give them grief for this small fault,
For life is better with a little salt.

A Short Love Story

My wife and I recently moved to Amman, Jordan and took new jobs at one of the international schools in this ancient city. It has been an exciting move, especially after a year of being forced to spend a year in a country and losing one of the aspects of this lifestyle that we enjoy the most, traveling. Though the opening of the world is still moving slowly, the change of scenery has been rejuvenating, and experiencing the change of seasons has been great. I never knew how much I loved this change in my life, and it is wonderful to experience the crisp, cool mornings of autumn again.

Despite all of these advantages, there was one we were really excited about. We had talked with the new school we were moving to, and made sure that they would supply us with a place that we would be able to have a pet in. It meant moving into a smaller apartment than the rest of the people starting with us, but after living the last six years in the big cities of Southeast Asia, we have learned a minimalistic lifestyle and didn’t really want a big place to begin with. It was more important that we ended up in place with a yard, so we could have a dog to share our time with. We were waiting until after we settled in, and our first big break before we talked with the rescue shelters and found the perfect companion for our place, but sometimes life moves quicker than you expect.

Enter into the narrative, a little puppy that was found wandering the streets of Amman as a stray. The city has a few of these running around the empty lots, but from my experience, they are still rare to see. It is not the like the soi dogs that could be found on the streets of Bangkok, but they are still here. Still, it is more common to run into stray cats scurrying throughout the neighborhood rather than a lone puppy looking for a companion.

Anyway, my co-worker had found this puppy running around her neighborhood. She took her in, and her daughter named her Socky for the white paws that she had. Her mom knew that they could not keep her because they already had a dog, and she knew many other people who were looking to adopt a dog. Of course, our name was top of the list. Within five days of them finding Socky, she was at our house running around, pulling shoes out of the closest, and cuddling up to us as we watched television later in the evening.

It was not exactly what I thought would have happened. My thoughts of adopting to a dog went to us finding an older dog that needed to be rescued and giving him or her a great life that they never experienced before. The older dogs are usually a little easier to bring in for the adjustment. You don’t have to house train them, and they don’t take the time that a puppy does. But when a cute little bundle of joy falls into your lap, it is hard to say no to her, so we ended up adopting her.

The first thing we did was change her name to Suji. We couldn’t keep it Socky because too many people thought she was named after the Japanese liquor, and the new name had a nice connection to the neighborhood we lived in Seoul. We also spent time puppy proofing the house, bought a few puppy comforts to make her feel at home, and took her out a regular basis to make sure she understood what it meant to go to the bathroom outside. It was a little bit of work, but it was worth it. She only had one accident in the house, and she was quickly becoming a part of the family. We were experiencing the love that can only come from a brand new puppy.

On the fourth day of being new dogs owners, we came home to find that Suji was exhausted. We did not think about it much because we had hired a dog sitter to come in for an hour a day to let her out and to play with her so she wouldn’t make a mess of the house while we were gone. The main worry we were having was a cough that she was developing and the fact that she wouldn’t eat or drink anything. Once again, we weren’t too worried about it because we had set up a vet appointment the next day so we could take her in to get a quick checkup and talk to them about eventually having her spayed. We could see if it was something serious then.

Well, the next day, we got a text from our dog sitter saying that Suji was running a little bit of a temperature, and she was having trouble walking. She still wasn’t eating or drinking, and our worry grew. This was beginning to look like something more serious than we originally thought. We rushed home after work, and took her to the vet where we were told that she had distemper. This is a disease that many stray dogs contract when they come in contact with wild animals. In older dogs, there is a slim chance of them surviving, but in puppies that chance is reduced significantly, and if they do recover, they will have extreme neurological damage for the rest of their lives. During the last stages of the disease, the brain and the brain stem swell causing loss of motor function, and severe seizures that are extremely painful. After some blood tests, it was shown that Suji was not responding well, and the disease had a great chance of progressing quickly. We had the tough choice to make, and we went with the advice of the vet and let Suji go in the thought that we were helping her overcome what would otherwise be a very painful ordeal that would have ended the same way.

Even though we had just gotten to know this little puppy, it was still an extremely difficult decision to make. It was a painful moment, but I do believe that we had done the right thing, but I don’t want to leave this story making you feel bad. That is not the purpose of this narrative. It is to talk about love, and how sometimes it is a long hug, and at other times it is just a short breath, but either way it is still a powerful emotion and one that I wouldn’t change for any other experience.

Suji’s life was short, and the time that she spent with us was even shorter. I could count the days that she was in our lives on one hand, and though I do not like the way that our relationship ended, I still loved the time we got to spend together. She brought a joy to our house for those five days. The way she smiled and wagged her tail when we got home will never be forgotten. The excitement she showed when I told her she was a good girl for peeing outside made me just as proud of these small accomplishments as she was. The greeting she gave every new person she encountered to spread the love that was inside of her was unforgettable. Those puppy moments where she would love to play and explore followed by those other puppy moments where she just wanted to cuddle were moments I will never forget. She brought love into our house, and I will be forever grateful for her for doing that. She had renewed a part of myself that had been missing for a long time, and I hate the hole she has left behind, but she has let me know that this kind of feeling is still out there waiting to be experienced again.

It might be a little while before we get another dog, but I now know that I need one of these furry friends roaming around my house. I know I will love the next dog just as much as I loved Suji, but I will always be grateful for her to bring this unconditional love back into my life. Even though it was a short love story, any moment that you get to experience love it is important, no matter how little amount of time they may be.

Thank you, Suji, and I hope that you rest in peace.

The Dead Sea, Jordan – The Kempinski Hotel

Very rarely do I talk about the hotels that I stay in while traveling, but that is mainly because, I do not go traveling for the hotel. My main goal while out in the world is to see and experience many different places. I do not believe that this can happen at a hotel because the real adventure is beyond the borders of these places. Of course, this philosophy has been tested during the Covid years. Places that would be out of my price range lowered their prices by quite a bit, and I had a hard time ignoring their attempts for me to stay with them. This was something that happened all the time during my years in Thailand, and I thought I would have to break myself of this habit when I moved to Jordan. I had built up my resolve and was getting ready to face the return to more modest accommodations when the school I have started working for had a raffle and I was the lucky winner of a night’s stay at the Kampinski Hotel at the Dead Sea. I could have run down for a quick night’s stay, but I decided to wait until my first big break, and add a couple of nights to really enjoy the place and what it had to offer. I do have to say that it was worth the extension, and it was nice to get to stay one more night at a resort before I switched over.

The resort is a sprawling complex located on the edge of the Dead Sea with its own little beach at the edge of the water where you can go down to float. There are six different restaurants, five different pools, a gym, a kid’s center, and a spa. The place, like so many other resorts, is designed to cater to your ever need so you will not want to ever leave.

And I will admit that it was hard to defy them in this attempt. The pools are comfortable and there is enough variety among them that you can find the one that is perfect for you, whether you like to hang at the lazy river designed for family fun, a long lap style pool, an infinity pool supplied with its own DJ and party vibe, or one at the bottom of the resort that gives you the best view of the Dead Sea and the land that stretches out on the other side of it.

The food options are also outstanding, but I will admit that, like most resorts, they were a little overpriced. Still the best one was the Lebanese restaurant, Code, that offered authentic Lebanese food. If you do decide to eat here, I do recommend that you make a reservation because it is impossible to get seated otherwise. If you are looking for something a little more affordable, you can find it at the mall a ten minute drive away where they have an English style pub, and an American style sports bar where the drinks and food are not as expensive.

There are also some nice day trips close by as well. There is Wadi Mujib, a biosphere reserve that offers a nice hike, the salt flats with the intricate salt formations, the panorama that offers outstanding views of the whole area, and the baptism sight for Jesus that can add a historic perspective if that is something you might be interested in. If you do decide to leave the resort to go on one of the adventures, I have found the Kampinski Resort is the perfect place to come back to so you can unwind with friendly staff and comfortable accommodations.