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Arabic Wedding in Texas

Good evening, dear LJ friends. I have a working computer, after a long time. Please enjoy a scene from our wedding.



Neither of us has much dancing experience, but I had a big ole dress. So I shook shook shook it. Then Sameer's mother tied a jingly thing to me, and I shook that. Then they lifted me on a chair, but that's for another video.

Later, my new MIL told me she felt like she was back in Damascus. That felt kind of special to me.

How are you today?
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Babes in Berlin

I went to Berlin with some girlfriends. We rode bicycles and visited museums and generally acted like grown-ups. Most of the time.


Firstly, we flew in on four separate airlines, and managed to find one another. From left to right: Danielle, Aseya, Hind, Chu-Hi.


Then we figured out the public transportation. This brought us much happiness.


We got ourselves some bicycles.


All about cold war era Berlin, depicted in chalk.


Berlin has an island in the middle of it.


This is an immaculate Holocaust memorial that is meant to be experienced.


They made me do this.


Oh, the food, by the way. Every restaurant is either vegan, or has a vegan section of the menu. This is purple carrot juice from a vegan fine dining restaurant called Kopps. We brunched there.


We found an art market, full of fascinating original concepts. I loved these beautiful ceramic tiles by Santa Tosta.


We spent hours in the famous Pergamon Museum.


More food: this was a Thai/Vietnamese restaurant on our street. We also enjoyed Mexican, Japanese, and Indian food on this trip to Germany.


Masaman curry, Vietnamese/German style. So fresh!


We put our hands on an orb, because we heard that to do so was all the rage.


The last day, we had breakfast at House of Small Wonder.


Then we went to a flea market. By this time, I was used to seeing sights such as this.


Berlin is cheerful. I'll definitely go back.
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I was in Phuket today

I landed back this morning. The resort was pretty and the town was cute. Take my word for it.




For premkudva, restoman, et al.


Lots of this...


And of course, lots of this.


I was excited about this cat cafe.


Mango salad and morning glory, my favorite things.


That one night a few days ago, when the whole Abu Dhabi crew was in Phuket at the same time.


Actual view from our veranda.
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Oman Camping

Last weekend, I went to Oman for two nights of camping, in a group of seven people. I forgot to take a camera and mostly forgot to take pictures. Here is what I got!


We drove to Jebel Shams, the "Mountain of the Sun." Its two summits have elevations of over 9,800 feet.


We camped very near the top. I slept in that blue tent. If it looks barren and Mars like, you aren't seeing two key features: The mountain was covered in goats, which milled around our campsite and paraded past the door flap of my tent. And at night, billions and billions of stars were visible in crystal clear relief. I saw a couple of meteors, and the Milky Way streaked all the way across the sky.


In the morning, we drove to Wadi Shab.


There is a hike that takes about an hour, and several portions of it must be swum, as trails disappear and the water is too deep for standing.


It's pretty.


Finally, you swim under a narrow, rocky corridor to reach a cave with a waterfall inside.


I'm the one wearing a mask. The water was so clear!


A piece of turtle bone I found. This was our campsite on the second night. The ledge in front of that freshwater pond was where we put the campfire. Opposite that was the sea, and over us loomed mountains and a village.


The mountains and the village. The pond was just to the right of this scene, and the rocks on the left are the edge of the sea.


The next day, we stopped by the Bimmah Sinkhole.


The rest of this entry will show curiosities. Volcanic Chips were about to blow at 9,800 feet.









I brought along and cooked food for everyone, both nights. Some of you have gone camping with me, and you know that's my favorite part.
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Really Enjoyed Algiers

Yesterday, I grabbed some pics from facebook and made a post about a layover. Today is a lot like yesterday.

In May, I had a layover in Algiers. I thought, what on EARTH am I going to do to amuse myself in Algiers?

What I did was see a bit of the city, and then get out of town to enjoy the fresh air and scenic ruins. And I had a wonderful time doing so.

In no particular order...


Most of the buildings in the city looked like this.


We saw the Botanical Garden of Hamma, wandering through the trees and flowers.






What? It says not to step on the grass.


Drank tea here.


Then we drove up to the Martyrs' Memorial.


We went inside the breathtaking Notre Dame d'Afrique church.






We drove on. Our driver had a glorious selection of Algerian rai music that took us all the way to Tipasa and back home to our hotel in Algiers.


We went all the way to Tipasa, the beautiful spread of ruins of an ancient Roman city, and played along the shore.






Then we dined at the Restaurant Albert Camus.


I ate a fish. Sorry, fish.


Did I mention we were eleven people? And it was one of the most engaging groups I've seen to converge on a layover. The happy vibes wouldn't quit.
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Three Italian Towns, Part I

I fly around too much, and I take too many pictures. And then on my days off, I do too many activities, and take too many pictures of those, and then I don't have time to sit down at my computer and post them here. Too often, I throw them at facebook while I'm riding on a bus or passengering in a car.

Here are some pictures I think are pretty enough to share. In July, I had a 24 hour layover in Milan. There was just enough time to jaunt over to Bergamo, Sirmione, and Verona (with some expert coordination between the seven of us, who previously were total strangers).

Old, rural Italian towns have churches, ruins, and flowers. I found them restorative.

So here is Bergamo, in no particular order.




















"But I am free."

And here is Verona, setting of all those plays.




Juliet is supposed to have lived right here.





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Diving, But No Pictures

I said I would be filming my diving adventures on my birthday getaway last month, but when I got onto the boat, I discovered my camera hadn't charged. Here is what I posted to facebook from the resort:

April 15th. The sun is out! And I just went snorkeling and saw a tiny, color changing cuttlefish.

April 16th. Day 6 of leave. I saw a stingray. A big one, the size of a table, just a meter or two away. It swam away from us, then toward us, then away, then toward us again. Also three cuttlefish swimming together like they were family. And a scorpion fish, huge puffer fish, and the fish with a seahorse face that isn't a seahorse, just so many other fish. But the Go Pro was dead, even though I plugged it in last night.

So, sadly, I don't have a video of my partner singing "Happy Birthday To You" in its entirety, underwater. We did two dives, and the visibility was much better than Valentine's Day (my previous entry). You'll just have to imagine it.


Here's a picture of the resort, though, after the sun came out. Until late in the afternoon, it was a dark and rainy day.


And here's me! On this day, I turned 38.


This was the boat that took us to our two dive sites.
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I'm going diving! I'm going diving!

I'm going diving this weekend! Here are a few videos from the last time I went diving. Thanks for the awesome camera, Mom and Dad! Do you wish those existed when you took all those slides of the South Pacific?











I have several more equally fun videos from the same day, if you follow the videos to my youtube "channel."

Is the weekend here yet?

P.S. Sorry for the long delay in posting, Uncle John. My computer wasn't working for a couple of months, and I finally fixed it!