Where do I start?


Lucia in hijab & abaya


all dressed up


photo of poster showing prayers during Ramadan


courtyard for outside prayers, which is as big as the inside

I have written about the Grand Mosque tour a little in emails and on Facebook, but haven’t put it here. This was quite an experience as all the women in the group had to have a scarf over their hair and around their face (hijab) and wear a long cloak (abaya) before we were allowed to enter.  We walked around the enormous place and were amazed at the grandness of it all. Mosaic tiles in beautiful patterns adorn all the walls inside. During Ramadan many thousands come to pray at the Grand Mosque and they accommodate them even out on the sidewalk and in the streets.  It’s hard to tell from the photo of the poster, but it looks pretty amazing. There is a huge outer courtyard area that is tiled with slabs of marble and has a misting system hung above it so when people are praying and it is still 150°F at midnight there is a way to cool them.  Inside the Grand Mosque we had to take off our shoes and were amazed at the ornate decorations! We were able to view an exact replica of the original Quran.  Prayers are recitations in song chant of portions of the Quran. Sometimes they have a speaker and there is a chair and pulpit for that purpose. The chandeliers are all German crystal. There are 4 hanging chandeliers and they each weigh a ton!


one-ton German crystal chandelier

After an interesting and lengthy visit at the Grand Mosque we decided to go to the Heritage Souk. It was a massive maze of tiny little shops selling everything from shoes to fish to toys to produce. It was a fascinating place and we had a delicious lunch in one of the shops.

My birthday was fun in that the students in almost every class sang Happy Birthday to me in both English and Arabic. Then Kelly, Gabe, Daniel, and I went to the Marina Mall. It was a bit smaller than the Avenues, and had a gorgeous view of the marina.


pedestrian walkway over road to Marina Mall


Inside center of mall


view of marina from the mall

Then we went to a favorite Lebanese restaurant for dinner. It was a great day! My birthday twin, Lucia gave me a Romanian birthday blessing that involved pinching my ears and a kiss on the forehead. I found it quite moving.


Lucia, my birthday twin

That weekend was the cruise to Kubbar Island. This island is basically a big sandbar with a cell tower and trash on it. It was mostly for the younger crowd to mingle. There were people from several schools as well as local business people. The water was warm and wonderful. Fish swam around our feet and we had to watch out not to step on sea urchins! I expected to get rather sunburned, but apparently the layer of dust in the atmosphere filters the sun. We grilled out on the beach and then headed back.


Kubbar Island (sandbar really)


The folks from the cruise


sunset on Kubbar Island (don’t mind the trash)


the yacht

Yesterday was a teacher in-service day, so no students. It was rather nice. We got a lot done too. Then last night I went with another couple of people to see live theater. A group, again made up of locals and teachers, sang  songs from various Broadway, West End, and movie musicals.  It was good fun, but a late night.

I’m taking it easy the rest of the weekend. I have felt very run down,  and off again-on again queasy, with head and body aches. It hasn’t been severe enough to really take me down, but I hope to nip it in the bud by taking it easy