Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


So, blogging must not be my thing, cause I just keep forgetting about it. And I feel like a person shouldn't blog apologies, so I just going to skip ahead and we will instead just celebrate when I do post instead of judging me when I forget to keep you updated--sound fair enough? Ok, moving.

So life has been crazy busy since returning. The week before I returned I came down with the flu in America, and have since recovered 100% only to come down with a cold this week. Although, I would say that I was expecting it since last week when the baby I am living week came down with one. I mean it is only a matter of time then, cause who is going to stay away from a little cutie like Maya to avoid a few sniffles? Oh, yah, in case you didn't know-while I was gone the people who had generously allowed me to stay in their house while they were in America returned. I ran outta time before I left to find a new apt, so they again graciously let me stay here until I found a place again. So in the month that I have been back I have been trying to secure a new apartment--which is not easy when you have a tight budget (around $500 a month) in one of the arguably top 10 most expensive countries in the world, and top 3 in the Middle East! The furnished apts (cause I don't have any furniture anymore)in the area I have lived in the past two years range from $800-$2000 a month from what I have found so far. But I think I found another sweet-hookup with another American family who are also in the States but have left an empty apt. Well, it is not completely empty, they have a Sri Lankan househelper who stays there as well. So if all goes as planned, I will move into their place soon, for close to free! I just have to get used to a whole nother area of town and uh, living with a Sri Lankan househelper!

Anyways, so in the midst of trying to find a place to live, I have been working! Fe shugal kteer! There has been alot to catch up on. After spending 10 days here, readjusting to the country, reading the news daily after the "government collapsed" (which is actually normal), getting over jetlag, and revisiting some clients, I headed to a neighboring country for 7 days of business training! After 7 days there, my boss came back with me to my country and we visited more of my clients for another 5 days and entertained him. Then we sent him back on a plane to America and worked to follow-up with all those visits and get proposals to companies. Now, we are working on our public training offering for March and training to make plans for the Chick-fil-A SERVE team's week in May.

Oh, and in the midst of these travels, I did manage to read the news everyday to know what was going on in the region! Change is in the air! It is amazing how quickly things have been changing lately! In case you missed it: here is a brief synopsis:
- TUNISIA: On January 5 the death of a young man who set himself on fire in despair over unemployment and harassment by officials provided a focus for endemic revolt.

On January 14 President Ben Ali, who had ruled with an iron hand for 23 years, fled the country, which is now ruled by a provisional government. The Tunisian revolution set off shock waves throughout the Arab world and beyond.

- EGYPT: Ten days after the fall of the Tunisian dictatorship widespread unrest broke out in Egypt, which is both the most populous Arab state and a key link in US strategy for the region, notably in support of Israel.

After 18 days of nationwide revolt including strikes and a million-strong march, President Hosni Mubarak left Cairo and handed power to the army on Friday February 11. Mubarak had been in power for almost 30 years.

On Monday the military government called for an end to widespread strikes.

- IRAN: The revolution of 1979 turned Iran into an Islamic republic and made it a key enemy of the United States. In 2009, contested elections sparked a wave of revolts led by two defeated candidates who claimed the poll was rigged.

Although the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad officially welcomed the overthrow of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, security forces have cracked down on protests calling for a similar revolt in Iran. A bystander was reported shot dead during such protests on Monday.

- YEMEN: The fall of the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes have brought a wave of militancy by students against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years.

Protests and clashes were continuing on Tuesday on Yemen, the poorest of all the Arab states.

- ALGERIA: After winning independence from France in a bitter war in the 1950s, Algeria has been under a state of emergency since the military stepped in to halt elections in 1992.

Since the revolt in Tunisia, its immediate neighbor, the country has seen a wave of protests, partly motivated by unemployment and high food prices. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been in power since 1999.

- BAHRAIN: Protests in the small Gulf island state, which hosts major US naval facilities, have centered on discontent among its Shia Muslim population, who form a majority but have little representation among the predominantly Sunni elite. Two Shiites died in violence on Monday and Tuesday after calls for protests based on the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt.

- PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: The fall of the Mubarak regime brought scenes of jubilation in both the Gaza Strip -- which borders Egypt -- and in the West Bank. On Monday, the government of the Palestinian Authority resigned ahead of elections which are seen as a way of boosting its legitimacy in the light of the Arab revolt. However the Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip has refused to hold new elections.

- JORDAN: Since early February, several protests have been held in support of the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt and against high food prices. However King Abdullah II, who succeeded his father on the throne in 1999, has opened talks with Islamist opposition.

On Monday the situation in Jordan was complicated by a row with neighboring Israel, after a Jordanian minister described the killer of seven Israeli schoolchildren as a "hero".

- LIBYA: After initially expressing regret at the fall of the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, which borders Libya, leader Moamer Kadhafi has expressed support for the Arab revolts. On Sunday he called on Palestinian refugees to march on the Palestinian territories.

Meanwhile Libyan groups using the Internet were calling for a "day of rage" in the country on Thursday.(AFP)

And Lebanon, which is known as the most unstable country in the region, went through a PM change about the time of the Tunisia uprising and is still trying to set up a cabinet.

Anyways, so there has not been a dull moment since I returned!

After working so much for the first 2 weeks of February, I was determined to take the weekend off! (I have been known to keep working on projects on the weekends, since my work schedule is flex---but I NEEDED a break) At first I was depressed that all my friends were busy on Saturday, so I would just be spending the time doing nothing but having my own "Office" marathon from the comfort of my bed. (Thanks Tyler for 4 seasons of "The Office!") But then at the last minute everyone called me back! So I had lunch with Natalie, then spent the afternoon with T&B and Jade, then had dinner with Megan! Sunday, a new American friend invited me to an English speaking Anglican church, which I had heard of for the past 2 years, but now visited, cause I felt like I should try to be more like the locals and do Arabic church, but I really enjoyed it and then ended up spending the afternoon with this new friend.

So then, it was back to work on Monday, Valentine's Day--which is actually a national holiday here, for other reasons that have nothing to do with love and everything to do with politics. But on Tuesday, I took the day off for Mohammad's Birthday (the third national holiday in 7 days). A friend Tina, who went to Egypt with me in October (yep! I was there just 4 months ago--when there were no signs of political unrest!)invited me and another American to day-trip with her and then have a meal with her family!

Originally, we were supposed to go see one of the new 7 Wonders of the World with Tina, but not so surprisingly it was closed on the one day we wanted to visit, so we toured a couple of high mountain-top overlooks in the Christian areas of the country. One I had been to before but the other was new--and gorgeous! The second place we visited was actually a nunnery, I believe. Check out the view with this link: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2046144&id=79800981&l=1b40b48fa2 I also bought some fig jam! Figs-something I never really tried till I moved here. Fig Newtons-I never liked, but real figs are quite tasty.

Her mom made up tabbouleh, hummus and then 5 meats! We had kebbeh (traditional ground beef dish (most similar to meatloaf-maybe), jumbo baked shrimp, fried fish fillets, whole grilled fish--as in with the head & tail & all, and another whole fried fish just bigger than a man's finger. It was so nice to meet her family and be in their home.

Okay, so that brings us to today. Whew! Glad to finally get ya caught up! Today was a work day. I was thankful that I could stay home and work today, because it POURED outside all day! And now I gotta get to bed so I can wake up tomorrow to work---well, maybe I have time for one episode of the Office, first! :) night, night!