Friday, January 9, 2015

Maria's Yoga Studio


I began a yoga practice in Taiwan in 2004.  I was thinking, "what am I going to do with my life?  I can't stay teaching ESL in Taiwan forever!  I know, I'll become a yoga teacher!"  I had never practiced yoga before in my life, but the naive 20 something year old that I was believed that I could be a yoga teacher, live in Thailand and be a hippy for the rest of my days.  Thankfully, I became a school teacher!  I quit yoga in 2004 after I had an accident, but in 2009, I resumed my practice only to get sick in 2011.  I couldn't follow any of the asana's because I was unable to breathe correctly.  I struggled and I quit yoga again.

In November 2014, I found Maria's Yoga Studio in Amman.  A group of my girlfriends have been going for a long time, but I had a hard time bringing myself to go.  My past love and pursuit of yoga was often followed by some personal struggle.  However, in Maria's studio and with Maria herself, I found a great resurgence of energy, inspiration and happiness.  The studio with its warm, positive, clean environment and Maria who is strong, caring, kind and giving have enabled me to become reacquainted with that young, naive 20 year old who dreamt of a wholesome, green and healthy existence.

Becoming Ayla's mother has made me even more determined to be happy and healthy!  I want to be the best role model I can possible be for my daughter.  I find that yoga is challenging me to transform myself into a better, more healthier person.  It gives me clarity of thought and with a daily practice, helps strengthen my self discipline.

Going to Maria's allows me to build space for me in my life.  A place where I can be alone with my thoughts.  I have been going 3 times a week and it is an oasis in my busy, hectic life.  Here, I stop, meditate and stretch.  I am so very grateful for this place, for reigniting a dormant Michelle and for allowing me to breathe.

Unfortunately, Maria will be leaving soon!  However, the front room to our house is big enough to create a space similar to Maria's.  We tried it the other day and it worked. I lit candles, lit incense and played some shanti music.  It was just fine.  Who knows, maybe this is the start of me creating my own yoga space.  One day, I may just fulfil that 20 year old dream of becoming a yoga teacher.








Friday, November 21, 2014

Levant

Levant is a classy restaurant and we love it!  Located behind Le Royal at 3rd circle, Levant is a must for when family come to visit.  It is one of the best restaurants we have ever eaten at in Amman.



The food is very good.  We spent all our money on appetizers because they are so yummy.

 
You start with a delicious soup.  This time, we had broccoli and it was divine!

The hummus, metabul and vine leaves are excellent!



The lamb chops are incredibly tender and tasty.


The service is exceptional!



Friday, October 24, 2014

Autumn in Amman

The leaves are changing colour in this ever changing city.  The weather is getting cooler and the sun is setting at an earlier time.  Winter is on her way.




This week has been a busy week for us.  Robert and I have taken on new roles at our school where we are both leaders of a subject area.   I lead math and Roberts leads science.  Part of this new job requires some training and professional development.  On Tuesday, I travelled to Istanbul for a conference on assessment.  I flew in on Tuesday, had the conference on Wednesday and flew back on Wednesday night.  I could have stayed for 5 more days and attended more conferences, but I wanted to be at home for Ayla.  Her babyhood is too short and every minute is precious.


The hotel I stayed at was right next door to the famous rainbow steps if Istanbul.  Here is a nice article about them:  

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/10/turkey-rainbow-stairs_n_3895082.html

It is also Autumn in Istanbul.  Istanbul is much greener than Amman and it appears to have more evergreens than deciduous trees, but I spotted a few close to the Blue Mosque.


I really enjoyed returning to Istanbul.  Robert and I had such a wonderful time there in Spring 2013.  I even returned the hotel we stayed at and said hello to the manager who helped us find some fantastic rugs.  I told him that we named our daughter 'Ayla' and he was impressed because it is a Turkish name.  If you look at our Turkey page towards the end,  you will see these two guys playing backgammon.



The Blue Mosque looked as impressive as ever.  I love Istanbul!



 During our Friday morning walk, we found this little art shop selling local art.  The owner of the art shop is called, Michael.  He and his mother are the artists, but he also collects pieces from other artists in the community.  We are interested in buying some of his paintings of Amman.



I am always attracted by bright colours and the painting  above caught my eye.

Here are his contact details.  He speaks great English.


I like this one of Amman.

We both like this one of Downtown Amman.



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Auberge - Downtown Amman

It was a Tuesday night and we had been working like dogs all day!  Our beautiful friend, Lina, suggested we all go to this amazing fish restaurant downtown, Amman.  It sounded great and I read this review on BeAmman:

1. The Auberge
The Auberge is a traditional downtown café, here you can enjoy a truly authentic Jordanian experience. In busy hours, you will have to make your way through the tables in order to reach the balcony, which overlooks the main street and is a particularly good place to smoke a nargileh (JD2). The atmosphere is typical of the balad with old pictures on the wall and impressive ventilators on the ceiling. The food is good quality Jordanian fare but with more varieties than some of the simpler restaurants you find in the area.  The Menu is relatively varied within the cannon of Jordanian cuisine. You can enjoy an excellent mashewy (grilled meat) and a wide selection of traditional mezze. The restaurant is clean but not to international standards. The staff is really welcoming; however they only have a moderate command of English. Despite not being the cheapest restaurant of downtown, it is reasonably priced as there are no pretensions to luxury and wears a certain downmarket authenticity as a result.

Many things happened this wacky Tuesday night.  We decided to travel in 2 cars.  One car had the GPS (the men), the other  car (the ladies) had Arabic speaking Lina who was the only person to have visited this restaurant.  The driver of the car of car #1 lost her wallet and then found it on the back of the car, on the trunk.  Driver realized this and pulled over to get it.  Meanwhile, the other car drove off, unaware of what wass going on.  We tried to contact the other car, but soon realized that no one in the other car had a phone!  Or, the only one that did have a phone, didn't have any battery life in the phone.  We lost car #2, but were hopeful that they would find the fish restaurant.

We were all thankful that driver found wallet and now we needed to find a parking space.  Hang on, first of all, we needed to find the restaurant!  Thankfully, Lina spoke Arabic so she asked for directions.  Great!  Now we could find the fish place.  But first, let's find a parking spot.  Bad idea to drive downtown at night!  The place is PACKED.  Thankfully, lady luck was shining down on us and we found a spot.  Now let's find the fish place.ed

As we meandered our way through downtown Amman and asked where the fish place was, I soon began to realize that we were on a wild goose chase to find this place, and Lord knows what had happened to car #2.  Arabic men told us to go this and back again that way.  Finally, we found a back street and a tiny shop that sold fish.  We were told that Auberge had closed down for a bit, but the fish would  be cooked and sent to another restaurant.  I can not tell you where we ended up or what the name of the restaurant is, all I know is that it didn't fit the description above.  The food and fish were great!  The shrimps were amazing and covered in the best lemony sauce.  I'm sorry, but I would not be able to find this place again.

As for car #2, they found a different fish restaurant.

Thankfully, I didn't get sick from the fish.  I thought I might have done because it looked pretty dodgy - back street alley fish!  But, it was all good.







Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Children's Museum

Now that we have a little one, my posts about Amman and Jordan will be slightly different.  I rarely have time to check out restaurants and it is a little harder to go anywhere in Amman with a baby.  Walking with the buggy is a complete nightmare due to the pavements.  I am walking along with Ayla and, oh look, there's a tree slap bang in the middle of the pavement, and there's another one and another one and another one!  It never bothered me before and I thought it was quite quirky, but now I find it very inconvenient.

Yesterday, I met a friend and we took our babes to The Children's Museum.  It was quite nice and will be great fun when Ayla is a little older to explore and appreciate it more.

It is located really close to where we live. It is just past City Mall.  In the same location is the Royal Jordanian Automobile Museum which is a museum that pays tribute to the late King Hussein.  We plan to go soon.





Monday, October 6, 2014

Jabbok Farms

Jabbok Farm is an organic farm close to Jerash.  The land has been farmed on for generations!  A new initiative has started where the farmer will give you a spreadsheet of vegetables and fruits that he can grow.  You then buy a plot. He will plant your veggies; no pesticides, no harsh chemicals, just pure organic veggies!  Robert and I have bought a plot that we will share with another couple.  The plot is 120JD so between us it is 60JD a month.  Each week, the farmer delivers fresh veggies to us.  We haven't started yet, but once we get our first round of veggies, I'll take photos and let you know how they are.

The farmer, Chaled, is a great guy and he just wants people to eat well and be happy. He has such a lovely energy about him.

Date like fruit.




Chaled and his son.

Pomegranates 



A river in Jordan that isn't the Jordan River - amazing!



3rd year in Amman

Being a full time mum and a full time teacher is incredibly demanding!  Hence why it has taken me four months to write a new post.  Shocking!  My last post was in June.  We left Amman for our summer holidays in Spain and England which was fantastic and full of family, fun and warmth.  We got back to Amman and straight back to work.  The beginning of the year is always tough, but this year has been the toughest and most stressful.  Mainly because I had so much time with baby girl over the summer and then, boom, no more!  It has been hard and I've had to adjust.  But thankfully, Jordanian law gives breastfeeding mothers an hour off each day to come home and feed the baby.

It's amazing how each year in Amman has been so different.  The first year was rich, new, fun and exciting.  The second, I felt like a bit of an expat pro.  Life was easy. This year, Amman is simply home.  I am happy to stay home each weekend with Ayla, Robert and hang out with close friends who are my family in Amman.  Robert is happy to potter around in our garden which is now a jungle and looks great.

Life continues for us here in Amman.  We are happy.  We are safe.