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Posts Tagged ‘“In Search of”’

“You must find yourself before you can know where you belong, yet to find yourself first you must know who you are. However, you will never really know who you are if you are always allowing other people to define who you should be, so be yourself and if you are still unsure of who you are then reinvent yourself.”
― Andrew James Pritchard, Smoke and Mirrors

It was difficult to settle to anything on the flight to Singapore. My last night had shown me what another lifestyle could be like. Gone were the onerous responsibilities of looking after everyone else. For a time I was treated like a Goddess and it had felt simply wonderful. I suddenly found myself reluctant to take up the reins of that heavy load of responsibility once more. I realised that there was something more to life and I had scant time to consider what I wanted from the rest of my life.

The stopover in Singapore was barely long enough to freshen up and have a coffee before it was time to catch the plane for the last and final leg of my journey. What had I been searching for? Had I found it and what did I want to do now? They felt like simple questions in one way and yet I also recognised that they were extremely important. Definitely not something to decide on a whim but to give careful thought to. Luckily, I had hours to do just that and after my sweet sleep in the lap of luxury in Athens I was wide awake.

#InSearchOf

Flying home. Image courtesy of http://www.customercentric.info

Singapore Airlines lived up to their reputation for making their passengers feel spoilt and very well looked after. There seemed to be an endless supply of food and drinks being offered. Drinking alcohol and flying didn’t appeal to me so the sensuous aroma of good coffee was a welcome distraction. The head steward, seeing me awake when everyone else slept, kept me company for a considerable time. Another friendly reminder that I was not alone.

As the time passed I realised that this was one of the things I had been searching for, some evidence that I was not alone. I had spent my entire adult life to this point being something for someone and had rarely had the luxury of spending time on myself. If my short stopover in Athens had shown me one thing it was that I deserved to be “spoilt” and the luxury of that one night epitomised the fact that I was worthy of good things and good times. I had no longer any need to put everyone before myself. I deserved to be spoilt too and now, I could do just that.

#InSearchOf

Four Seasons Hotel, Egypt, Luxury in every corner

I also realised that I had been thinking about the many pleasures I’d had as I travelled throughout the Middle East, Athens and Switzerland. These were no longer out of my reach. Ex-husband’s ‘away’ no longer had to rule the day. I could elect to travel in style and enjoy myself. I no longer had to deny myself these things. I deserved to enjoy my life and be spoilt too, if that’s what I wanted. I had asked the Universe to help me to find the reason for my life, where my life could go and what it would feel like to share my happiness and enjoyment with others. I had attracted to myself some of the wonders the world had to offer and my Guides, Angels, the Universe, were all willing to aide me in finding this happiness.

#InSearchOf

Surounded by Guides, Angels and Spirits.   Image courtesy of soulsanctuaryreiki.com

In my search for who I was and why I was here, I had come to realise that as a spirit in human form I could, with the help of the Universe, experience whatever I was able to manifest and the means to do it. I could even attract to me the happiness I had long been seeking and which had eluded me except in small ways. The many courses I had taken, subjects studied, my PhD in Metaphysics and all the healing courses, all were stepping stones to realising how wonderful life can be. It also made me realise that I could be helpful to others, both as a teacher and healer. Far from being “useless” as I had been told so many times, I was more than simply “useful”. I was able to see a life of helping others but also one where I was bringing happiness to myself and others, and being able to travel as I had wished to for so long.

I had, as my plane finally touched down in Brisbane, realised that my life was just beginning in many ways. A vast new array of possibilities was there for the choosing. I knew, inside my heart and soul that my life of service was just beginning. I still had much to learn, yet this time my work would be recognised and accepted. I would no longer have to feel unworthy or useless.

#InSearchOf

Bateman’s Bay, NSW

I also realised that being close to the ocean, or a body of water larger than a puddle was important to my wellbeing. I was already being assisted in finding my place in life. I was going to sell my home and move to the coast to live. Pursuing my teaching and healing would also come. How and why it would happen was not really important, knowing it would happen was. If I was to be alone or with others would also come to me as time passed.

Suddenly, I knew that my search, far from being over, was just beginning and the best part of it was still to come. A lightness I had not felt for such a long time fell over me like the caress of angel’s wings and I smiled with happiness at the thought of tomorrow and the next day and each one thereafter. As my son stepped through the gates to greet me I felt love welling up from deep inside. The pain and loneliness which had driven me on my trip had been replaced with such joy and contentment that I knew happiness would follow. How? That was part of the journey to unfold.

#InSearchOf

Susan, ready for the next phase of life

“Coming back is the thing that enables you to see how all the dots in your life are connected, how one decision leads you another, how one twist of fate, good or bad, brings you to a door that later takes you to another door, which aided by several detours–long hallways and unforeseen stairwells–eventually puts you in the place you are now.”
― Ann Patchett, What now?

I have not yet stopped searching because I also realised that to stop the search is to deny myself the excitement and happiness which is my birthright, my Spirit’s right to experience. The Spirit has an unquenchable desire to learn and to assist, both our own self and others. Until I am sure that the next step in my journey has been completed I will keep moving forward, knowing I will meet the teachers I need and those who are to be with me along the way.

It has taken me the time I needed to learn that my search isn’t over, but also that it is not a sad thing but a continuing excitement if I but allow it to come to me. With this I am content and I am happy for my search to continue as I teach, heal and learn wherever I happen to be.

#InSearchOf

Image courtesy of http://www.josephinewallart.co.uk    Where will the journey take me?

 

“Reach deep within, and reconnect with the essence of your being.”
― Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason

 

Blessings, Susan

© Susan Jamieson, 2014

 

 

Related articles

In Search of, Part 24, Going Home

In Search Of, Part 23, Switzerland

In Search Of, Part 22, Athens and Geneva

In Search Of, Part 21, Back to Tel Aviv

 

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“If you want to find the trail, if you want to find yourself, you must explore your dreams alone. You must grow at a slow pace in a dark cocoon of loneliness so you can fly like wind, like wings, when you awaken.”
Francesca Lia Block, Dangerous Angels

 

After our leisurely start to the day “P” and I set off in glorious sunshine, with the top down and Sasha, the pooch ensconced in the back. The air was so crisp, the wind brisk, despite the breeze from our travel I didn’t feel in the least cold. It was invigorating and brought back memories of England.

I had absolutely no idea where we were or where we were going, apart from the promise that I would be dropped off at my hotel in Fribourg.  One stretch of our journey took us along a winding mountain road. There was a stream on my left, and I could hear the water rushing along over the sound of the wind in my hair. On my right was the mountain.

 

Suddenly, I saw the water rushing down the mountain, pure snowmelt, cascading over the ground towards the stream on my left. We pulled over to the side of the narrow road, just before a quaint wooden bridge where the water ran underneath. The roar of the water as it finally went under the bridge and joined the stream was louder than I expected. I could imagine the side of the mountain suddenly slipping down and washing everything away. The smell of ice crystals in the air was amazing.

Further along the snowmelt had made the road impassable and we carefully turned around and backtracked until we found another road to turn onto. Asked about lunch I realised the fresh air had made me hungry and we made our way to a small town in the mountains, Neuchâtel, and had a beautiful cheese fondue, for which the town is famous. Once again, gazing around at the scenery, it all seemed surreal, the backdrop to a movie. Everywhere I looked I saw either verdant green pasture or higher up, the snow-capped mountains. It felt like a peaceful interlude and I was truly grateful that “P” had brought me here.

It was a wonderful gesture, a gesture of true friendship. “P” had asked me what my plans were in Switzerland, especially Fribourg, which isn’t really on the main tourist route. I had made arrangements to meet up with friends there, however, just before I left Athens I received an email to let me know they had a family emergency and had to leave, an absence which they were unable to return from before I had to leave.

We finally arrived in Fribourg at day’s end and as “P” helped me get my bag out of the car he made me promise to return to Geneva early if I was lonely. Checking in to the hotel I found I was feeling tired, another first, which I put down to the bracing air and the car with the top down. After settling in and a light snack, once I curled up in bed to read I fell quickly asleep.

The next ten days past swiftly as I wandered around the ancient town.  Part of Fribourg is French whilst across the Sarine River is the German-speaking area of Switzerland. The Bern Bridge is completely covered and the only wooden bridge left today.

As I walked around I saw amazing examples of architecture from many different eras. The Cathedral of Saint Nicholas seemed to draw me almost every day.  It has been the Cathedral of the diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg since 1945.

The narrow cobbled streets and cafes made it a beautiful place to stop for coffee and watch the world roll by. The time seemed drawn out and at the same time condensed as I was swept away in daydreams. Each day I would end my trip with a walk to the Zaehringen Bridge, 165m long over the Sarine River. Gazing at it I was always drawn to the cliff face and the sight of the many buildings clinging precariously to the edge. It seemed to embody the tenacity to survive that you can sometimes see when there seems no logical reason for them to be able to survive the winters for those many hundreds of years.

Only a short train ride from Fribourg was Lausanne, a beautiful city with the towering Notre Dame and Lausanne Cathedral.  It is actually a city in Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. There are so many incredible buildings, historical buildings of note that I had a crick in my neck trying to take it all in. The gardens in the centre of town were full of spring flowers.

I saw “P” and his friend one day in Lausanne. He had called the hotel and asked if I would like to meet there for lunch, and even though I had been there only a few days before it was delightful to go back and have a relaxing lunch in one of the many cafes.  The trains are so quiet and fast in Switzerland that I was back in Fribourg in little time.  A quick trip to see the bridge and I was back at the hotel for the evening.

As agreed I left Fribourg early to stay in Geneva. The more metropolitan air was so different after Fribourg and as I walked around Lake Geneva I spent many hours pondering the differences we feel about certain places as we “travel through life”. I sat and watched the swans in their nest on the bank of Lake Geneva. Their regal bearing has always enchanted me and to see them so close, after such a long time was truly magical. I could see the Alps surrounding Geneva, felt the special quality in the air that only the Alpine air could provide and became lost in daydreams, or were they memories?

I saw ladies in ankle length gowns, men in tailored suits, walking leisurely around the lake. I heard the quietly spoken conversations, which must have been in French and yet I understood what they were saying. I felt as though I was walking along with someone, looking out of someone’s eyes, and seeing these things as though I was there.  I could see the old gaslights being lit along the walkway as the light began to fade.

I finally came back to myself, realising that I was going to be late meeting “P” if I didn’t hurry. It was strange, but hurry did not seem to be a word to use in Switzerland and I knew he wouldn’t mind if I was late.  None the less, this was my last night in Geneva and I had to leave the next morning to begin my journey home.

We once again talked late into the night, but this time I asked to be woken early so that we could make our way to the airport without worrying about traffic problems, which he said were common in peak hours. Just like any big city!

Leaving was smooth and effortless and as the cloudbank hid the land beneath me I caught one last majestic sight of the mountains, as their snow-capped heads rose above even the clouds.

 

Next week – Going Home

 

Blessings, Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson 2014

 

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“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” Aldous Huxley

The departure from Israel was much smoother than anything to date. So smooth that I thought I was dreaming, or perhaps it simply didn’t worry me any longer. I was catching a plane to Athens, so perhaps that made the difference?  Whatever the reason, I was ensconced in a delightful business class seat and the trip was relaxing and I zoned out fairly quickly.

On my arrival in Athens I stowed my “extra’ baggage in short-term storage. The guys there were so helpful and it was quickly done. It was certainly easier moving around with just one bag!

Athens was a brief stop. A few days to catch my breath and reacquaint myself with the Acropolis and the sites around town. I was still very much in my introspective state and was aware of the energies as I wandered around. I was still in this wonderful place of accepting whatever happened and the expanded feel of energy as I wandered around was magical.

Even though I had only a small amount of time I felt no urging to run around trying to see everything. It was more important to capture the feel of the places I visited. I saw the Acropolis and Parthenon again, the National Gardens, and Syntagma Square. It was a peaceful bubble amidst the hustle and bustle of the frenetic pace of Athens.

I was leaving Athens for another unknown experience, Geneva and eventually Fribourg, Switzerland.

I was meeting a friend in Geneva, someone I met through an overseas Pen Pal site a few years earlier. Still it was a little nerve-wracking as I asked him how I would pick him out of the crowd. “Just look for the pink shirt” I was advised, and I must admit it didn’t really help with the nervous anticipation. At least I only had one bag to “man handle” and I went through the airport so quickly I wondered what was happening. The Swiss seemed so “laid back” after the high tension of the Middle East.

#InSearchof

The BMW 6 series fast and hot!

As I left the airport proper, not having seen my friend, I saw this very tall person who looked exactly like his photos, dressed in a pink shirt next to his hot car. His two door BMW had the top down and I could see the beautiful face of a Sky Terrier peering over the seat. Oh – heaven and sadness all at once. I realised I must have looked a fright in my very casual but comfortable travel wear. However, that’s how I was and it made me, in my joggers, look like a dwarf next to my six-foot six tailored friend. Suitcase stowed away we set off – WITHOUT SEATBELTS FASTENED!

I was horrified and bemused as he explained that they weren’t used, unless the police were around. (But there was one, at least an ex-police officer, in the car!).   The drive was exhilarating as we sped (yes sped) along the main road through the byways of Geneva to reach his home.  As the car stopped outside this innocuous home, where I had agreed to spend the night, I was feeling a little apprehensive but so relaxed at the brisk temperature and the beautiful sight of spring bulbs in flower.  Memories on England sped through my mind.

 

Through the front door I was given my next breath-taking surprise. The entrance was so deceptive and inside I found a veritable mansion. I felt so under dressed, and in need of a shower and an elegant dress. Well the shower was easy, but the dress not so easy. All my good clothes which I had carried around needlessly were now in storage at the airport!  So I settled for a good change of clothes and some reasonable shoes and made myself ready to find my way through this enormous house to the computer room.

Since he was in the computer business, in a large way I should add, there were computers on computers and at least six working machines. By that I mean all going on different programs. It was an enormous array and he could follow all of them. (Feeling very below par as I struggle to get my computer to do basic things for me.)

I had my next surprise over freshly brewed coffee. I had totally lost track of days and dates and arrived there expecting just another Friday. Yes it was, but it was also Good Friday, and everything was closed. (Great timing Susan). After a few phone calls we were faced with the fact that dinner in Geneva was out of the question. Not a problem I was told, we will go to France for dinner! What?! France! How!  We drive over the border, just bring your passport.

So we set off for France. Now I admit I am geographically challenged and I had no idea where I was going. Of course France and Switzerland share the same border. A short drive in the twilight and we had crossed the border without any fuss. Drat! I had not been able to get my passport stamped in Geneva (not done due to their status) and because we weren’t stopped, no French stamp either.  Oh well. My next surprise was the number of dogs allowed inside the restaurant. It seemed almost every other table had a pooch sitting quietly under the table – or next to it.

 

#InSearchof

image from nickhardcastle.wordpress.com

It was a big day and due to my insomnia issue I was still wide awake when we returned to his home. We watched clips on the hoax or not of the Twin Towers and the plight of Palestinians and the harshness of the Israelis. It was an interesting evening to say the very least. After a final cup of coffee, very late in the morning I actually felt a little sleepy – jet lag I assumed. I was advised to take a glass of water with me as he would be setting all the house alarms and once in the bedroom wing, the door would be alarmed.

I was alarmed – I am a night wanderer and I was being told I would be in one tiny wing of bedrooms and unable to leave. No! I trusted this gentleman and would have to content myself with iPod and book! The slate shower was much colder to enter so late in the morning as it had absorbed the chill from the air, but the hot water was magnificent. The bed was so soft and warm under the doona that I eventually fell asleep.

Unbelievable! I slept in! Not only did I sleep in, it was 9am when I woke up!  I was so embarrassed and hurried to get ready so I could leave my room and see my host, who had volunteered to drive me to Fribourg rather than catch the train.  Yet it was no trouble, I had a leisurely breakfast with more freshly brewed coffee, an entrancing walk through the grounds of his house, entranced by all the spring bulbs growing freely throughout his lawn before we decided to leave and head for Fribourg.

We drove with the top down all the way, but it’s what happened along the way that was so unexpected.

 

Next week…..Fribourg and Home.

 

Blessings, Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson 2014

 

If you would like to read more of the story, here ar a few of the earlier parts to the story….

In search of… Part 21

In Search of…Part 20

In Search of…Part 19

 

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“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”   Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
“The most adventurous journey to embark on; is the journey to yourself, the most exciting thing to discover; is who you really are, the most treasured pieces that you can find; are all the pieces of you, the most special portrait you can recognize; is the portrait of your soul.”   C. JoyBell C.

It was much sadder than I had anticipated, saying goodbye to the people who had shared my journey of self-discovery as we toured the Middle East. I began my journey alone and fleeing from a situation I needed to put into perspective. I had learned so much as we travelled these ancient lands and found a friend when I least expected to do so.  Yet my journey was not yet done.

The trip back to Tel Aviv was not without dramas, but then, after so many airports I had no expectations that it would be any different. I was no longer part of a tour group. Yes, I had my trip planned to go back to Tel Aviv but I was a single traveller once more, with no guide to wend an easy path through the departure rigmarole, and no-one speaking English within sight or sound. So it was with relief that I finally emerged through Israeli customs and was met by my driver to take me back to my hotel.

For two weeks I spent my time wandering through Tel Aviv and Jaffa and reacquainting myself with those people I had met when I first arrived. I went back to Caesarea and sat gazing out to sea wondering what the many people who had lived there had thought when their time came to leave. (That is not discounting the many people who have remained in the area all this time and still call it home, but of the “invaders”, that is a different story.) Of them, not many had chosen to leave voluntarily.

At one point I found myself perched on one of the large column blocks, not thinking, mind just drifting along in a sudden period of silence. I suddenly felt held in place by some unseen force as I heard a “clanking” all around me – a sound I recognised as the sound chain mailed and armoured bodies make as they walk around.  There was the smell of the ocean strong in my nose, then overtaken by the coppery smell of blood. Ships were in the harbour, a forest of trees as the masts swayed in the ocean swell, waiting to take the remaining crusaders to safety. The fighting had been intense and the casualties too high.

As I sat there mesmerised, I saw a mailed hand descend on my shoulder.

The voice belonging to that mailed glove said, “Come now, Bertrand, there is nothing more to be done here. It is time to leave. We have been given our orders”.

From within the space where I sat another crusader rose to stand beside his lifelong friend. As I watched they hurriedly descended through the tunnels to the docks. I felt a pull from somewhere deep inside as if I was meant to go along too. Finally I saw them in the boats being shepherded out to the waiting ships. The relief that they both made it as far as the ships was overwhelming. As they left my sight the sounds and smells of the day seemed to suddenly crowd in again.

Was I day dreaming or did something just happen? Was I shown a glimpse of the past or was it a glimpse of another life? All I know for certain is there was an intense connection with Bertrand as he sat on the column, one which pulled me along with him as they left the garrison. One which allowed me to feel how heavy his heart was at leaving this place and the loss he felt with the death of a dear friend. 

I left later, still somewhat dazed by the revelations of the day. In some strange way I felt part of myself had been there on that day and my drive home I felt as if I was on the high seas. Incredible!

The often otherworldly experiences as I had walked these ancient lands had been making a profound change within me. After my return, instead of following the glam and glitter of the nightclub scene I was offered by my friends, I chose to remain alone much of the time.

#InSearchof

Tel Aviv Boulevard

We still met for coffee at the beautiful venues along the Tel Aviv esplanade when we could, always entranced by this incredible area. I wandered the Ha Carmel markets and visited the large shopping centres, seeing a life so similar to the everyday that one almost forgot the armed security guards at each entrance. I wandered Ben- Gurion Avenue and saw the home of David and Paula Ben Gurion. David Ben Gurion was the first Prime Minister of Israel. The somewhat unimpressive exterior hides their home which they lived in until 1970. The upstairs rooms, all four, were floor to ceiling books, 20,000 of them!

Oh for a library of that calibre. I often forgot to take photos on these meanderings and this is a picture of their kibbutz home I saw there which shows the vast difference between their old home and the place they spent the remainder of their days.

#InSearchof

Image from triptoisrael2006.blogspot.com Ben Gurion Boulevard

In the evenings I again resumed my walks to Jaffa and then sat on the esplanade enjoying the ocean breeze. The beautiful weather had been a tremendous gift whilst I had been there and the sunsets were something I would always remember. At those times it seemed as though a special light, a Spiritual light, was healing all the broken parts inside me and leaving me feeling at peace. There is no other way to describe the feeling of serenity with which I would leave after the sunset and head back to my hotel for a latte in the lounge. The girls there spoilt me with their generosity.

The feelings of a deep peace and a blossoming of my Spirit gave me a belief that there was so much more than this everyday existence we often become bogged down in. The majestic expansiveness of life, the mystery of past, present and future, all being available if we but allow it, was a blessing I had not imagined nor expected to find here. I realised that there was far more for me to do in this lifetime, and thoughts of leaving it behind became like dim memories.

#InSearchof

Glorious sunset over the Mediterranean.

The time came to leave Tel Aviv all too soon and it was with a very heavy heart that I packed my bags once more.

Leaving brought one unpleasant reality to the fore.  I had over packed before I left and with all the pieces I had acquired on my travels, for myself (of course), and my family, I had far too much luggage to take with me to Athens and then Switzerland. Pragmatism came to the fore and when I repacked, I did so with the intention of leaving one case in storage at the Athens airport.  It was far less expensive than paying excess baggage!

A HINT for anyone travelling overseas, Check ALL the countries/airlines baggage allowances before you leave and pack for the least amount allowed. It is not only easier on the back it is far less expensive on the pocket!

Whilst sad to be leaving, and feeling certain there was more I could learn, of a personal and spiritual nature, I was looking forward to my quick visit to Athens whilst I made my way to my friend in Geneva. There was a certainty that my time there would be as fruitful to my yearning to learn my spiritual reason for being here, and so with mixed feelings I left.

A snapshot of the wonders of these ancient lands.

Israel will always remain a special and wonderful time in my life, a time when uncertainty and pain were replaced with a belief and surety that life has more meaning than our everyday existence.

 

Next Week…….Geneva and Switzerland.

Blessings, Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson 2014

 

 

 

 

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“Finding oneself and one’s path is like waking up on a foggy day. Be patient, and presently the fog will clear and that which has always been there can be seen. The path is already there to follow”
Rasheed Ogunlaru, Soul Trader: Putting the Heart Back into Your Business

~

The next day we left Petra on the Kings Highway for our first stop at the ruins of the crusader fortress of Al Karak. It had the feel of a large open town, symmetrically laid out. It was almost possible to see crusaders marching around in full regalia. Situated at the edge of town there was a surreal feel to the place. More than ever history and modern day events lived side by side. Left to ramble over the ruins we wandered over what seemed like acres of ground. It would have been more than impressive in its day.

After the long exploration we drove to a lonely, windswept hill, Mount Nebo, which is believed to be the tomb of Moses and is where Moses looked out over the “promised land”, forbidden to enter by God. A mosaic floor still lies in the ruins of a 4th and 6th century church. This time we were the only people at the ruin and were able to spend quite a bit of time walking around and exploring the area. Looking out across the land it seemed desolate, nothing but sand and rock. It’s hard to imagine it as being “the Promised Land”, a “Land or Milk and Honey”, but seasons come and go and everything eventually changes. It really made you ask why there was so much blood shed over such a barren and desolate place. (It may not have been at the time).

Our next stop was at Madaba still driving along the 5000 year old King’s Highway. Madaba is known as the City of Mosaics. We were there to see the mosaic of the Holy Land which is part of a floor mosaic in the early Byzantine church of Saint George. The church is northwest of the city centre and was built in 1896 AD, over the remains of a much earlier 6th century Byzantine church. Madaba appeared to be a congested little town where every street was twisting one way or another. Of course we had no idea which way we were going and our guide gave a simple direction. “Make sure you can see the person in front of you. Don’t stop for any reason and don’t get lost. Do not stop to look in the shops or talk to the shop keepers. I will not be responsible if you stop. We may not be able to find you”. How much was for effect and how much real?

We did start to lose some of our party, those who were having trouble keeping up. The guide was not interested in moderating his pace and a few of the less fit, who would have enjoyed the excuse to stop and check out the local wares, began to fall behind. Soon it was obvious we were about to lose part of our party and all I could see was a sea of Arab faces, all  clamouring for us to stop and look at the things they had for sale along the street or enticing us to “Step inside and see our wares”.

To say I was annoyed would be putting it mildly. The people who had been the first to tattletale that we were being ‘kidnapped’, ‘arrested’ or grabbed by the Bedouin, made sure they remained hot on the heels of the guide and didn’t look back. The rest of us formed a relay of sorts, a string of white faces amongst the sea of Arab faces, ensuring we could see the person in front and behind. Eventually we made it to the Church and reformed our group again.  Words were spoken, both to the group who ignored the people falling behind and to the guide, who suddenly developed “English amnesia”.  There’s nothing like a goatherd when you need a guide in town!

The trek was worth it to see the mosaic, but the tension spoilt the journey. Strangely enough we managed to get back to the bus using a much more direct route and took much less time. The streets were also much wider and less congested. I wasn’t the only person pondering the strange behaviour of our guide; in fact I was convinced he had taken us through the seediest part of town. We were all relieved we had managed to keep a look out for each other and arrived safely back at the bus.

Once more on the bus we had one final stop, at a souvenir place. Once again, it seemed a place in the middle of nowhere and off the beaten track. They had the most amazing oil paintings done on canvas or velvet. Far too difficult to say no to something so beautiful when we knew this was the last opportunity we had to buy anything in Jordan. One of the salesmen decided to follow Mel and me around the store. It seemed that all the salesmen were determined to sell everyone something before we left.  Of course, this was the land of bartering and it had been fun in Egypt, which I totally forgot to mention. So, smiling sweetly we did the circuit of the store, once, twice, three times before finally getting down to choosing a few things we liked. Then it came time to start the haggling process.

Both Mel and I were travelling elsewhere after our stay in Jordan and the idea of trying to carry framed pictures with us, simply didn’t appeal. I had chosen a beautiful velvet oil of a Bedouin encampment amongst Roman ruins. It was beautiful and I did buy it for a very good price and persuaded him to remove the frame for me.  Then we smiled and asked him to remove the frames from Mel’s pictures.  Our friends were not impressed as they had pictures in frames whilst we had ours safely rolled to carry with us.

Once back in Amman I had the unequaled pleasure of trying to find a pharmacy which stocked the medication I needed. I had miscalculated somehow and I was fortunate to find a pharmacy with a pharmacist who understood English and had the right tablets. As luck would have it she was right around the corner about three hundred metres up the street. However I was pleased to get back inside.

The next day we had a guided tour of Amman. We ended up at the Citadel, the old Roman ruins in the centre of Amman. The Citadel is actually on a hill with the ruins of the Temple of Hercules. Below the Citadel’s southern rim is a stream known as Seil Amman. It is on the south bank that most of the Roman City of Philadelphia was situated. The ruins have a main Forum, Theatre, Odeon, and various shops. The Amphitheatre is the largest in Jordan, and could seat 6,000 spectators. The Theatre area is filled with stalls selling shish kebabs or ice creams as well as souvenir shops. There is also an exquisite example of a Byzantine mosaic from Madaba.

It was a great way to end our tour of Jordan and to end our time together. We had the afternoon to relax, compare notes of our tour together, exchange addresses with everyone and get our cases organised and repacked. Last minute laundry was essential for Mel and me.

The next day Mel was leaving for Mount Sinai, people were travelling home, to Brazil, Canada, the US and the UK whilst I was staying an extra day before going back to Israel. Everyone was leaving at different times so the whole day was spent saying ‘goodbyes’. It had been a wonderful trip and I was looking forward to going back to Israel.

#In Search of

The Siq, Petra

It had been a whirlwind trip, filled with so much history and scenery which at times took your breath away and at others left you wondering why there was so much fighting there. With so much history and so many different cultures all melting into a country and culture it was not surprising that there was the unique diversity amongst the people in the Middle East. From the Byzantine era, Crusaders, Moses and Romans, it was a land steeped in religious doctrines and wars. I felt awed and humbled but with a sense that I was gaining a clearer perspective of who I was, what I believed and where I was heading. It was going to be interesting going back to Israel again. I wondered if it would be as difficult to return as it had been to get in originally.

Next week…..Back to Tel Aviv.

Blessings,  Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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~

“The most beautiful people I’ve known are those who have known trials, have known struggles, have known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.” ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

~

Another early start saw us on our way to the Cairo airport. Once again Mel and I seemed to attract the security guards and we went through the mandatory luggage check and then the pat down by some fierce looking female guards. No arguments here but my cheeks were sore trying not to smile, I didn’t think they would appreciate it. So, with a great deal of eye rolling from the rest of the group we finally made our way to the check in counter. I was beginning to think that they thought we were doing something to attract this unwanted attention. With bulging suitcases we definitely didn’t want our bags rummaged through every time we went to the airports.

A short flight later we were landing at the Amman airport, Jordan. Our arrival was met by a tour official and we were shepherded to the Amman Marriott Hotel. It was a nice easy day after the hustle and bustle at the end of our Egyptian leg and we made the most of catching up in the Business centre and grabbing a little rest.

Breakfast was bright and early the next day and we met our guide for this part of the trip. He was as different as he possibly could be from our guides in Israel and Egypt. His English was, to say the least, a trial as we strained to understand what he was saying. From his attitude I wondered if he had just wandered into town from the hills. He appeared more at home with the bus driver than his passengers, in fact we appeared to be unwelcome cargo.

Our first stop was at the Roman ruins in Jerash. It was an amazing sight. The Colosseum was almost intact and mock gladiator fights and chariot races were held throughout the day. You simply had to pay extra to see them – after you had paid to get into the site of course. Yet the scope of the ruins was enormous. You could easily visualise an entire city, and walking through the almost immaculate streets you could feel the size of the place. Thus was no small village but a thriving metropolis. Our guide waxed lyrical about the aqueducts in the streets and the sewage system tunnels, still able to operate. The heat was oppressive and there was no shade. People began huddling in the slight shade from the tall columns along the colonnade.

Amazingly there was lush green grass on the hillsides all around. It was a luxuriant emerald green with wildflowers sprinkled throughout. At the top of the nearby hill was a fenced enclosure with towers built along its length. Soldiers carrying weapons could be seen slowly patrolling the perimeter. It was another reminder that we were close to the border and as carefree as the ruins made you feel, real life was a heartbeat away with the torpid heat.

Leaving Jerash before we were all desiccated we retraced our ‘steps’ and headed for Petra, at the other end of Jordan. Why this strange route? We never found out, but a frantic rush ensued to reach Petra by nightfall. Once again we wondered why, until we were closer to our destination and the roads degenerated in quality. We definitely didn’t want to be broken down in the middle of ‘nowhere’. There was a collective sigh of relief as we finally pulled into the Hotel in Wadi Musa. It was time for a quick meal and an early night before the famous Petra Treasury tomorrow.

The next day dawned bright and hot. Sunscreen was applied by the truckload, although we were told it would be different once we reached the entrance to the treasury. Sand puffed up around our feet as we slowly walked across to the walk down to the mountain. Rejecting the pull of an easy donkey ride down we decided to leave that luxury for our exhausted return.  The heat was, for me, oppressive. We walked down the hill towards the Siq, the entrance through the mountain. It did nothing to prepare us for the sights once we entered Siq, the narrow cleft in the mountain.

The mountains seemed to flow like waves, with each rippled wave a different colour. The best times to see the mountains and Treasury are early morning and dusk as the sandstone picks up the sun’s rays and reflects these wonderful colours back at you. The Siq is 1.2km in length, formed by the mountain splitting and there really are only poet’s words to do justice to the magnificent sight, or photos!

Almost at the end of the Siq we could see the impressive Treasury, seen in Indiana Jones. It is a breathtaking sight. It towers over the surroundings and dwarfs mere humans with its presence. Apart from an almost unidentifiable muttering we had no introduction from our guide so we joined the crush of people entering the Treasury. Inside the Treasury, we could see the room built as the tomb of Nabataean King Aretas III.

We learned more from other guides as we wandered around than from our erstwhile goatherd. Yes, he told us he had come down from the country to guide tourists because there was no living to be made in the desert any longer. At least we understood why he was obsessed with the aqueducts! He did point out the lights and aqueducts along each side of the entry passage to the Treasury. The Romans were nothing if not thorough. It was blissfully cool inside the building, almost chilly in some places. The sandstone is so soft that apart from the external parts of the Treasury all the dwellings were carved from the rock.  The Arabic name for the Treasury is Al-Khazneh.

Another hot walk took us around to a lower part of the valley to the more traditional Roman ruins.  To the right of the valley was another smaller mountain, at the top, several caves. A purposeful climb later we stood at the top of the mountain overlooking the whole valley. It was only when we reached halfway to the top that Mel decided to let me know she didn’t like heights. Oops! It was a magnificent sight and balanced precariously on the edge I took some wonderful photos. On the way down we were stopped by several Bedouin girls. After chatting for a few minutes we were invited to have tea with them.

We were told explicitly NOT to go with any Bedouins, but…. Why spoil a good thing? The tea was very hot, very strong and VERY sweet. Of course, as we were sitting there our erstwhile spies walked past and seeing us under the overhang with our Bedouins, rushed off to tell everyone else we were probably being murdered or kidnapped. By this time we could laugh at the absurdity. It was with regret we said our goodbyes, but time was passing and we had to get back to the hotel. Succumbing to the lure of the donkeys, we had a slower trip back than if we had walked.

It had been many years since I had a donkey ride and it felt as though the years had fallen away. At one point I looked over my shoulder to see if Mum and Dad were still watching. It was a strange feeling as I knew, in my heart, that they were indeed watching. They had been watching over me the entire time I was wandering through Petra and I know Dad enjoyed the tea break with the Bedouins, that was his style.

Petra showed me that the present and the past have reflections of each other, if we are aware enough to see them. I had so much wanted my parents to enjoy parts of my trip and at the last moment in Petra they reminded me that they were there with me. After the sadness of losing Mum and Dad I was closer to them than I had been for quite some time. The heavy burden of grief lifted somewhat and I knew that in my heart they would always be with me. My spirit was soaring like the falcon I saw, happy that life follows its circle and allows us to make it complete again, when we are ready.

#In Seaarch of

Author unknown

Blessings, Susan ♥

Next week……. Madaba and Mount Nebo

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

~

Early the next morning we were taken to the Nile where we boarded our vessel for the cruise part of the trip. Once we had all been ensconced in our own cabins we wandered down for lunch. Fortunately they were only a few ways to get there so getting lost wasn’t too much of a problem.

The dining room was laid out with a buffet and waiters to keep everything replenished and also attend to our tea, coffee or fresh orange juice. I was reveling in the pleasure of being waited on. As a full-time wife (recently divorced) and mother (never ends) it was a real joy having someone to bring me whatever I needed.  Of course, one of the simple things which I never gave a thought to actually caused me a little problem.

I smile! I smile a lot when I am happy and when I am appreciative of something another person is doing for me. Simple things like a fresh juice and a hot coffee and I smiled my thanks to the waiter. I smiled my gratitude and never gave it another thought. Mel and I were given superb attention and service at lunch. When we asked one of the waiters coming out of the kitchen if a dish was being replenished and they said no, we must have looked disappointed. Before we had time to move around the buffet we were ushered quietly back to the other side of the buffet and there was a small bowl of the dish we asked after. Service! Impeccable and smiling service, yes, I was appreciative of being waited on.

Each day followed the same pattern. We would all be up early and meet in the dining room. Breakfast and we would head off on a bus to a pyramid, or the Valley of the Kings, or simply cruise the Nile, go to the Aswan Dam and Nefertiti Perfumery, or catch the plane to Abu Simbel. It was a mixture of relaxed sailing on a busy river, and excursions to the pyramids and temples. The banks were more interesting and the history was on land not in the river.

But there were also some hilarious moments. I smiled. Mel and I both smiled, we were polite to the crew and waiters and talked to them. We thanked them for their service. Quite normal I believed. However, I quickly noticed something very amusing. After my accidents and the intervening period I had quite a bit of pain after each excursion. The mornings were difficult to get going and we rarely made it into the dining room first. Not far behind the first to enter, but rarely the first.

However, as soon as we arrived we had two waiters almost shadowing us.  As soon as we chose our seats we had a glass of fresh orange juice and the hot pot of fresh coffee being offered to us. It made no difference that someone else was already in the room, sitting and peremptorily holding coffee cup in the air to be filled. Everyone was ignored until we were served. Okay, in my opinion they were a tad surly and if they had to wait, so be it. Yet it didn’t end there. Throughout the meal our glasses and cups were refilled before we needed to look around for a waiter.  They would walk past our fellow diners and fill our glasses and cups first. Often it might empty the jug or pot and they would sail away into the kitchen. The same thing happened with the buffet, we were shadowed and if something looked ‘empty’ they would offer to get a fresh dish. We smiled and had excellent service at every meal.

It was hot and I was concerned about being sunburnt but somehow I managed to avoid that misery. We also avoided all the other miseries of travel we had been warned about. My medical supplies came home intact.

We had an enthralling day in the Valley of the Kings. Heat and sand and hundreds of people, but it was worth it. There was a special charge if you wanted to see the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Heavens – we were right there, we had to see it.  Lining up with the throng was an introduction to the human miasma we would get to know more intimately. The entrance to the tomb was down a steep and low walkway. In fact it was accessible only if you duck walked the entire way down to the burial room and back up to the surface. I was going to do it and it didn’t matter if it was difficult. The ‘tunnel’ was divided in two by a rope. One way down and one way back out. No stopping and no changing lanes. Overhead lights, (thank heavens for electricity), made sure we could see the snaking line of human ducks waddling down and out of the tomb.

The heat rose as we moved in and the air seemed very thin. We could hear the fans blowing air through the tunnel and I couldn’t help but wonder how they had managed this before electricity. One of our group, a somewhat large person, insisted on going down. He couldn’t see his feet when standing and was told he had to remain squatting for at least fifteen minutes down and then back, but insisted on going in. Approximately half way down we heard a commotion behind us. (Yes we selfishly made sure we were well ahead of him.) Our rotund friend couldn’t breathe, overheated and could no longer duck walk. We were told it took quite a bit of engineering to get the lines of people stopped and manoeuvre him from one side to the other and get him out. Everything has been stripped out of the tomb and it was a little disappointing but I made it into the tomb and out, under my own steam Yes! I was thrilled.

Another excursion took us to a pyramid where the external walks were undergoing renovation and preservation work. As we walked behind one wall we saw to our right some of the best reliefs in the complex. The ground was a little rough, okay, it was very uneven, and there was a small rope alongside the path, to warn people of the uneven surface. ( I wish I could draw an angelic face here). As we walked across to get our photos an armed ‘soldier’ dressed in black, big gun, came hurrying towards us. We were not supposed to be there. Smiling once more, we explained we only wanted to get some pictures. Smiling all the while, he relented and stood guard for us to get our pictures. How we were supposed to steal the cartouches is beyond me.  As we were moving back to the path some of our group appeared. Attempting to cross the rope our guard lifted his rifle. No admittance.

Of course as soon as Ayman, our guide, made an appearance he was told that we had been arrested and escorted away from the temple. Not bad, kidnapped by camel drivers and arrested by a guard. We were then admonished by members of our group for encouraging the locals and the waiters. It simply wasn’t right, smiling at them, making eye contact, it set a bad precedent. It would be misunderstood that we were leading them on!  Yes, we received our fair share of proposals or propositions but nothing we were unable to handle or deflect. Sorry, it sounds like sour grapes and cold coffee.

The flight to Abu Simbel was an education. I didn’t think aeroplanes like that could get in the air. Shake, rattle, clank and hold onto your hats. But the sights made it worthwhile. A group photo in front of the temple signaled the last of our land trip in Cairo. All that was left was the return to Cairo after Egyptian dancers in the lounge that night. Mel and I both shimmied on stage!

The next morning I wondered why I had done it but, it was a great way to end the trip. The next day we traveled back to the Cairo Marriott again for one night. Our final stop at the Papyrus Place. Too many choices but I had a wonderful time. After that it was on to Jordan.

Egypt was so full of adventure and it lived up to more than I anticipated. The history and majesty took my breath away and I wished my mother had been able to see it, as it was one of her loves. I managed to get into a little unexpected drama, innocently, but began to realise that I was simply a small part of a larger whole.  My search was beginning to put its pieces together and I had glimpses of who and what it might reveal.

~

Next week…..Jordan

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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