Katherine and Miles

DITCH = Dual Income, Two-Cat Household

Layover in Jordan

We left the United States on Saturday and arrived in Jordan on Sunday afternoon, however, our flight to Baghdad wasn’t until Tuesday morning.  We used our free day in Jordan to start getting over jet lag and we also went to some tourism sites known as the “Desert Castles.”  They were located east of Amman about one to two hours outside of town.

The first one we went to was called Qasr al-Kharrana and was actually used as a caravan station during the day.  We were the only visitors at the site and it was strange to be walking up to a historic site that had so little protection.

The second site was Qasrr Amra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We were the only tourists here again, but there were people doing restoration work inside the building.  The walls are covered with frescoes.  The castle was built in the early 700s by the Umayyads and is considered to be one of the best examples of early Islamic art and architecture.  The building we saw was actually the hunting lodge of the castle complex, the foundation of the castle is all that remains of the rest.

Qasr Amra (it’s not very big)

Other parts of the ceiling were being restored.

Finally, we went to Qasr Azraq.  Azraq means black in Arabic and the building got its name from the black basalt stone used in its construction.  It was originally built during Roman times and later restored by Izz el Din Aybak in the 13th century when he wanted to use it as a fortress during the time of the Crusades.  Laurence of Arabia stayed there for a week in 1917 during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire.  Most of the fortress collapsed during an earthquake in 1927.

The small window above the archway in the center was supposedly Lawrence of Arabia’s bedroom.

Qasr Azraq was originally a Roman fort and was manned by 300-400 soldiers.

Overall, we have enjoyed our short stay in Jordan and hope to come back here in the future.  We especially want to visit Petra, but it was too far away for this brief trip.

Going to America

We had our farewell party last weekend and said goodbye to a lot of the people we’ve become close to during our tour in Cairo.

Cake from our farewell party.


In case you haven’t heard, we’re heading to Baghdad for our next tour.  We’re coming back to the United States next week and will be in Washington, DC until May 10.  Then we’re on home leave for the next 4 weeks.  We’ll be in Rochester, NY from May 10, then Boston starting May 17.  We’re going to drive to Olathe starting May 21 from Rochester and should arrive on the 22nd.  We’re hoping to see as many people as possible before leaving for Baghdad on June 9 so let us know if you’ll be able to meet up!

Nile Cruise

Karnak Pillar and Katie

Katie stands by a column in the Karnak Temple. Luxor, Egypt

Katie and I took a Nile cruise in late January.  I finally uploaded our pictures (mostly taken on our iPhone thanks to a dead camera battery) to SmugMug.

Garbage City

Cairo has a population of about 20 million people.  A lot of trash is generated every day and much of it ends up in an area of Cairo called Garbage City.  I went there last weekend with a friend from the Embassy who had been there before.

common sight on our way through garbage city

We went to visit an NGO that works with women to recycle and reuse materials found into items for sale.  Their operations focus on patchwork, rug making, and paper goods.

part of the weaving/patchwork showroom

Most of their items come with a tag that explains their origin and the mission of the organization.

could be yours for $125!

It was a really interesting place to visit as well as to support the women who make their living in Garbage City.  You can find their website and more about the organization here.