Looking back on my first year in Qatar

In all this was an amazing year. Despite all the hiccups and stress, I don’t regret anything.

A year ago, I was nervous about my new adventure.  I had received my flight information and reality was beginning to set in.  I was shopping and packing, preparing to fulfill a dream of mine.  I was fearful but wanted to feel free.  I quoted Nina Simone, “I’ll tell you what Freedom is to me. No fear.”  But I’ve learned that real freedom is not the absence of fear but the ability to not be enslaved by that fear, and the courage to keep it from holding you back!

Well I didn’t.  I conquered my fear and survived teaching abroad, in Qatar, as a black American. That sounds so stupid to me because I wouldn’t say survived or black or American, but these are some of the words people used when I first announced this as my plan.  I would reword it to say:   I fulfilled a dream, lived and worked abroad in Qatar and it was absolutely amazing!  The experience was like no other and totally liberating. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d be lying if I said it was easy.  It was hard and some days I asked myself, what was I thinking.  It was filled with happy and sad moments.  There were things that I loved and things that I hated just like in Philly.   But I feel so accomplished and so much wiser than I was almost 1 year ago.  A lot can happen in 1 year.  Here are some of those things…

Happiest moments:

Visits- The happiest moments I had there were when my husband and sister came to visit.  I felt like a giddy child every time and very sad once they left.  I felt like a tour guide when they would come, showing them around my hood.  They seemed so happy to see me and the boys.

Traveling- Who would have ever thought I was afraid of flying the way I traveled this year?  I’ve been to places I never even heard of, before I left.  Life outside the U.S. bubble is truly something to experience.

Conversations- Having conversations with people of different backgrounds than yourself is truly life changing.

Hardest things I had to deal with this year:

3: Moving to a new country is a big adjustment.  I always thought I was a person that easily dealt with change.  Guess what, dealing with change is not that easy.  I’m not going to lie, sometimes it was hard.  I really love living in Qatar, but it took me all year long to feel this way.  There has been so much change this year.  I’ve lived in two different accommodations, both with their own quirks but I had to accept that none of these quirks were earth shattering.  CHANGES! I’ve never worked with so many people with so many different backgrounds, and so many different views.  CHANGES!  I’ve never gone to a supermarket and been so overwhelmed in my life.  CHANGES!  I’ve never been surrounded by so many strangers without anyone I know.  CHANGES!  I’ve never felt so lost in my life. CHANGES!  Etc. Etc.

2: You will lose people along the way.  Nothing I read, before I moved overseas, and I read a lot, informed me about this.  And to be honest I don’t think, anything could have prepared me for that.  I have lost ‘friends’, and family not thru death (thank God) but in life.  I have learned the true meaning of ‘reason or season’.  I know that people have lives and sometimes life gets in the way but it can get lonely living abroad.  It is important for expats to feel missed and loved.  Be prepared as much as possible to lose people and to gain people along the way.  Know that you may have to take this journey alone.  Your dreams are your dreams and yours alone, do not expect others to embrace it so easy. APPRECIATE THE ONES THAT STAY!  Know that I appreciate you, you know who you are.

1: My youngest son said he wanted to go back to the U.S. to live with his dad: After all I had done to make the best life for my sons.  Traveled hundreds of miles and spent thousands of dollars to give them something I never had and afforded them an opportunity of a lifetime.  Took them to countries many children in the U.S.A never even heard of.  I raised him with the help of his step-father and minimal help from his biological father, put him in several charter schools and then struggled with tuition in private school for years because he actually liked it after only attending 1 year of public school, which was awful. Then he lied and said he wanted to go back because the school here was too hard and his brother was bullying him only to finally fess up and admit that he only wanted to go back because he missed playing his video games with his friends online.  Talk about a smack in the face.  No matter what I do, in his eyes, I could never compete with his love for gaming.  It was completely selfish and I was hurt, angry and sad. But I granted his wish. Why, for several reasons.  One: sometimes as parents, we have to make hard decisions and choices that we may not like. Two: Kids need to learn lessons, not just be told, the best lessons are those learned through experience.  Kids don’t believe that shit stink until it’s under their noses.  Third: My son was miserable and he did not care to hide it and I refuse to allow anyone to steal my joy, even my own kids.   I also believe that everyone deserves to be happy even if I don’t agree with their path to happiness.  I’m sure his dad felt like he had won.  Despite all my degrees and his lack of, despite all my money and his lack of, despite all the attention to school I gave my son, and his lack of, despite my desire for growth, and his lack of, despite all the opportunities my son had with me, and the lack of these with him, one of my sons, his boy, chose him.   This broke my heart.  I mean this was my baby, my 13 year old son, who was choosing to take a game over me and his brother, after everything I had done for him.  To me this was the ultimate betrayal and I didn’t know how to deal with the betrayal of my own child.  He is so much like his dad and it kills me that he would throw all of this away for what… I knew it wasn’t personal but it sure felt personal.  And it still hurts as you can probably hear the tone in my words.  I had lost friends, even some family members by taking this huge step but never in a million years, did I think I would lose my baby boy. It felt like someone broke up with me and never explained what I did wrong.  On top of that, once he went back, we only spoke three times and those times were within the first month.  It’s like out of sight out of mind.  Am I wrong for not calling him?  I mean he left me.  He chose to go back.  Does this make me a bad parent?  I literally went through four stages of emotions after he left: Hurt, Sadness, Anger, and finally acceptance.  Yes, I finally accepted that he chose to leave me to go back to America and live with his dad.  It is what he thought he wanted.  I accept my part in this whole thing.  I took away the one thing he loved the most in life, games.  But life is funny like this sometimes, no regrets. Now that I am temporarily back in America, he has not left my side, yet.  I love my son.  I will end this here.

Trips I’ve taken in order, You can read all about them in past posts by clicking them:




Muscat, Oman


Cairo/Luxor Egypt


Porto/Lisbon Portugal

Back to the U.S.A

Things I loved:

All the people I’ve met- I have met some very smart people this past year and made some friends.  It felt great being surrounded by like minded people with similar goals.   The expat community is a tight knit group of people because we are all we got.  People look out for each other.

My job- I love my job.  This teaching year has been one of my favorites.  It has indeed been the most un-stressful teaching year.  It wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t stressful either. My students were good and the workload was light.  When I was finished at work, I was finished working for a change.  The amount of work days with no days off were a bit much but I would take that over teaching in Philly any day.  In fact, after this year, I don’t know if I will ever teach primary school in Philly again.

My kids and parents- I had the sweetest group of students ever.  I would have looped with them, were I not the only first grade teacher staying at my school.  I was the newbie this year and everyone else that taught first grade had been there 3+ years, so they all moved on at the end of the school year.  Next year, I will be the only veteran.  I’m actually excited about that.  Anyway, my parents were great too.

The weather- No Snow period

The food-  OMG! Well you read all my blogs about my food experiences in Qatar, hopefully.  I’ll leave it at that.

The safety- I’ve never felt so safe in my life.  There were nights that we slept with the door unlocked.  There were no news reports of guns or violence.  Islam means Peace, did you know that?

Things I hated:

The weather- No Snow also meant no snow days.  Hot everyday and cover down to your knees and your shoulders, need I say more.

Dressing- I am a closet nudist, so being covered, is not really my thang.

Being in the middle east during a diplomatic crisis- which is still going on with no indication of an end in sight.  I hope they find peace and soon.

Things I’ve learned about life:

No matter where you are in this world, people are just people

There are shysters all over world, people trying to get over. People will try you, don’t underestimate them. Don’t think just because, you are in a safe country that someone won’t try to rob you, they may just be a little more slick about it.  Watch your back and don’t let your guard down!  On the contrary, be a good person, because I believe there are way more good people than not in this world.

Everyone is not your friend

Don’t allow everyone into your world.  Watch and then choose a few.  Everyone gossips. There will always be haters and people trying to drag you down and get you in trouble. There will always be people that feel threatened by you and try to steal your joy and shine, don’t let them.  And if they are successful, because we all are imperfect, let it only be for a short while, and don’t stoop to their levels, things always have a way of working out. Stay focused on your purpose!

To experience is to truly know

If you have never lived in another country than you haven’t lived.  If you haven’t traveled, you don’t know shit.  That may sound strong but anyone who has traveled will say the same thing.  You can never learn from a book what you will get from first hand experience.

Things I’ve learned about me:

Chill and be still

For the last 14 years of my life, I’ve been on a fast pace.  If I wasn’t in school, I was at work.  If I wasn’t at work, I was at home cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids or doing homework or work for work.  I was tired all the time and always moving.  It was difficult for me to just do nothing some days.  As much as I craved this for years, I didn’t know how to to do it.  I felt like I was cheating.  But I have now learned that it’s not cheating, I was cheating myself for years.  I believe that this year has added a few more years to my life because I have learned that it is okay to just chill and be still.


I’ve never been a very patient person.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in the city.  But there you don’t have a choice but to be patient, patient with people, patient in traffic, patient with paperwork.  Losing your patience won’t make things happen any faster.   I’ve learned how to stay calm in what could be stressful situations.  I’ve also learned that things are usually escalated because of our own lack of patience and agitation.  It goes along with learning to just chill and be still.


Along with being patient I’ve learned to be reflective of myself.  When a situation turns sour, I think of ways I could have handled it differently and what part I played.  I think of how to find silver linings amongst clouds.  I’ve learned that I am an impulsive reactor.   I react so quickly sometimes without thinking first, my blood goes up and I lash out. Acknowledging this fault of mine is the first step, I think, in changing it.

In all this was an amazing year.  Despite all the hiccups and stress, I don’t regret anything.  I am looking forward to year 2 in Qatar.  For now, I am enjoying my summer back home, meeting up with old friends, chillin and being still, being half naked outside, enjoying a drink outside of a hotel, spending time with my husband, son and few family members, shopping for next year, eating at my favorite restaurants, watching HGTV, cleaning, creating some DIY projects and making appointments and plans.

I will end this post with advice for anyone considering taking this journey:

“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?”      Soledad O’Brien


5 days in Egypt – How it changed the way I Look at Life and How I travel

Visiting my dream country was so much different than my dreams.

When I was a child, there was no place on Earth I wanted to go more then Egypt.  I was fascinated by it’s history and the Pyramids.  I wanted to be an archaeologist and discover a new mummy.  Every year around Easter, my mother and I would watch the 10 Commandments.  The Mummy is still one of my favorite movies.  Now that I live so close, there was no way I wasn’t going to travel there.  It was one of the first places I planned to visit after we moved here.  But then, there were reports of bombings and uprising in Egypt so I cancelled our trip there in December and we went to Bahrain and Oman instead.  One of the things I have learned here is that if you let media dictate how you travel, you will miss out on a lot.  So I planned our trip again, and wouldn’t you know, a week before we were scheduled to leave, more bombings took place.  Not to be easily deterred, I decided we were going anyway.

We arrived in Cairo airport and were met by our tour manager.  I used Memphis tour company and they took care of our hotels, flights between Luxor and Cairo, breakfast and lunch meals minus beverages, our tours and transportation.  I figured this was a safer way to navigate through Egypt.  (You can read my long drawn out review of my experience with them by clicking here on Trip advisor) Anyway we were taken to the Fairmont Heliopolis hotel where we spent out first night and ate overpriced Teppanyaki.

20170412_103658In the morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel buffet and went back to the airport so we could take a flight to Luxor.  We flew on a small EgyptAir plane, which was late.  It is not a very nice airline and the flight was full of turbulence.  Thank goodness it was only an hour flight. 20170412_123922Once in Luxor we were met by a tour guide and a new driver.  Our itinerary was slightly changed due to the late arrival of our plane and the heat.  Before beginning our tours, our tour guide (BT I will call him) gave us some advice for Egypt.  He said, “while out, keep walking, if people come up to you wanting to sell you things, keep walking.  Don’t talk to them, pay them no mind, just keep up with me, otherwise you will be hounded like crazy.  I will take you someplace to buy authentic stuff later ”  On the way to our first tour BT stopped to get us a snack and a drink at a local store, while we waited in the car.  Three young boys waved at my son and I in the car, my son waved back.  Then one of the boys put his hand out to ask for money.  My son and I looked at each other and the boys walked off.  We were a bit shocked but shrugged it off.  BT returned and we were off to tour the Karnak temples. As we drove to the temples, I noticed police officers everywhere.  Most had very large guns and blast shields.  There were check points in several places.  There were officers in small boxes at the top of buildings and in the streets.  Once we got to the temples, the driver said something to the officers stationed at the gates in Arabic, all I heard was (Americana’s), then the officers checked the trunk and around the car before waving us through.  We got out of the cars and walked into the sites.   We admired the gigantic statues and hieroglyphics.  I liked touching the hieroglyphics engraved in the stones. They were once all in color but only small remnants of color remain.  Our tour guide pointed out the god of fertility with his erect penis, and one leg and arm.  He told us that the majority of the temples were destroyed in a large earthquake.   The temple once had a ceiling but the earthquake caused it to cave in.  Check out these cool pictures in my slideshow below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After visiting the Karnak Temple, we drove to lunch.

20170412_142758One of things I like about eating in Egypt is that you get bread, salad and a few other things with your meals at no extra cost.  While eating lunch, my son and I watched a kid around the age of 6, run up and down the block.  He was a cute child although in dirty, tattered clothing.  We watched him try to make a horse go and climb up onto the carriage.  We watched as the horse swayed slightly irritated.  We watched as the driver came out and waved the boy off.  We watched as the young boy asked a woman getting into a cab something, and the cab driver flagged him away.   As we got into our driver’s car, the boy approached the car.  He put his four fingers against his thumb and pointed his hand at his mouth.  He was begging for food and money.  Our driver gave him a coin, as he was very persistent and told him, “Khalas, yalla” (enough, go).  The boy didn’t move and when our tour guide got into the front seat and we started to leave, the young boy hung on the car door and chased the car until he could no longer keep up.  I was instantly saddened.  Beyond adult beggars panhandling, and children from neighborhood sports teams and bands asking for donations in the street, I had never first-hand seen anything like this in my life.   Is this Egypt, I thought to myself?  Where are all the Kings and Queens? Where is the beauty that I imagined?

We visited the Luxor temple next.  It’s smaller than the Karnak temple but in better condition.   Apparently some excavating of a stretch of street is occurring between the Karnak and Luxor temple because some smaller sphinx were discovered along a path which would connect the two temples.  There is so much history in Luxor uncovered beneath its earth.  I love that.  It’s like hidden clues to a treasure all over.  You will see several large obelisk, large, pointy columns at the Luxor temple.  At the entrance it is very noticeable that one is missing.  The missing obelisk is in Paris.  Zamir and I will look for it when we visit there in June.  There are several obelisk that have been taken from Egypt and stationed all over Europe.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are some additional pictures from the two temples.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our day came to a close with a drink by the pool at the Sonesta hotel.  The hotel decor reminds me of one from a mob movie, with lots of green and gold.  The bathrooms are of black and white marble.  The beds are tiny.  We had a view of the Nile from our room. We had to pay for internet which only worked on one device and request an iron which was broken.  The pool is beautiful but closed at 6pm but you could sign a letter at the front desk basically saying you would swim without a lifeguard at your own risk.  The back of the hotel is right on the Nile and you can watch the sun rise and set.  My son and I had a rather interesting conversation with one of the bartenders who told us it was okay for my son to have a drink or drugs.  I allowed him to enjoy a Rum and Coke before turning in for the night.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First thing in the morning, we checked out, grabbed a boxed breakfast prepared by the hotel and met BT for day 2 of our Luxor tours.  The box for breakfast was heavy so we were curious of its contents but not pleased once revealed.  It included a badly bruised banana, stale bread and croissant, a slice of pound cake, apple juice (I hate apple juice), and a warm bottle of water.  We ate the slice of cake and threw everything else away.  (I know it was wasteful but it also wasn’t good)  Bt surprised us with a boat ride across the Nile to the west side.  It’s much wider than it looks but we enjoyed the ride.


Within the mountains of sand in Luxor lies The Valley of the Kings.  Unfortunately, cameras are not allowed inside but here are some pictures from outside.

Hidden in these mountains are secrets of the dead Kings
Me and Zamir outside the Valley of the kings
This is actually a valley of the workers

I got this picture from google of what it looks like when you walk in the valley.

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 11.32.40 AM

And here is a picture of the entrances to two of the tombs we visited.

We went around 7am which was perfect timing because we were the only ones there. After a brief history lesson, we went in 3 of the 65 burials.  One of them was of Merenptah of the 19th dynasty.  At first site this burial looks scary.  When you first approach the gate, it looks like a deep, dark hole.  Then the burial keeper turns on the light and the walk way lights up.  You have to walk down a series of steep ramps and steps to reach where the burial was found.  On the way, you will see faded colored hieroglyphics on the walls and ceiling and chambers where the dead’s belongings were buried separate from the mummy.  It is something amazing to see.  These people from thousands of years ago dug deep into the Earth and worked hard to hide these mummies without modern technologies or machinery.  The burial places were sacred and beautiful, the ceilings adorned in blue (my favorite color), stained by flowers.  These tombs were raided and left barren, except, so far anyway, for King Tutankhamen’s, 18th dynasty, the first royal tomb to be discovered that was still largely intact.  His tomb was discovered in the early 1900’s.

After leaving this valley, I wanted to visit the valley of the Queens but it was not on the tour list, so we headed over to the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut.  The front of this temple was in unbelievable great shape.  I had to do some research to see if this was reconstructed because I couldn’t believe that this temple was found like this and yes it was reconstructed.  Here is a picture of it prior to reconstruction and now.

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 12.13.14 PM          20170413_084639Nonetheless, it is remarkable.  There isn’t much inside but we had fun taking pictures there.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Two strange incidents happened while at this Temple.  1) An armed officer starting following Zamir and I around while in this Temple. We were the only 2 people in this one outside room and here comes this officer out of no where, with his big gun, asking us where we are from and a heap of other questions.  Perhaps he was being cordial but Zamir must have read my mind because we quickly exited.  Maybe it was the American on high alert in us, or the media tales, or too much tv watching but we did not feel comfortable.  2) While waiting for our ride to put us closer to the Temple, we encountered a group of students on a field trip.  They pointed; they stared; they whispered; they giggled; they even took pictures and video of Zamir and I, so I whipped out my camera and started video taping them.  Imaginably they hadn’t seen people of darker skin or maybe they thought us to be celebrities.  They were friendly, not frightened of us but I would assume curious.  I believe I had my first encounter of traveling while Black.

Cute kid

Our final stop, before we headed to the airport to return to Cairo, was to the Colossi of Memnon, 2 massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III.  20170413_09343820170413_093534(0)

Before we left, our tour guide treated us to some sugar cane juice.  It was good but left me with a huge headache.  I shot these pictures of some homes in Luxor.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Unsurprisingly, our EgyptAir flight was delayed.  Our hearts were bursting with excitement but our stomachs were growling.  There was nothing to eat in this tiny airport for a pescatarian and by the time we boarded our plane, not even seats in the front could cure my ‘hangriness’.  We were happy that for the first time we were sitting in front of the curtain instead of behind it (thanks to Memphis tours) but they only had apple juice (what is it with apple juice in Egypt) and the sandwich they served reminded me of middle school cafeteria lunch. YUCK! (Not eating that, even if I am starving).

We were picked up at Cairo airport and driven to our new hotel, The Le Meridian. Driving in Cairo is ludicrous.  There are few traffic lights.  Brave pedestrians walk out in traffic and bob and weave. There are tuk tuks and bicycles and motorbikes, and trucks and cars and trucks with animals in them.  I saw a man driving a motorcycle with a kid sitting in front of him, one behind him, then a women behind that kid, holding 2 small children and another child seated behind her.  It blew my mind.  Totally safe, right? All the cars had scratches and bruises and I could see why.  I would not drive a new car in Cairo.  I would not drive in Cairo at all.  And the scenery well, imagine the most crowded, dirtiest streets of New York, now multiply that by 5.  Tall, occupied, apartment buildings that look like they could fall at any moment were everywhere you look.  Imagine floors of apartments with no windows and kids hanging out of them.  Piles of trash lined the streets.  Here is a slideshow of Cairo traffic.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And security everywhere.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Le Meridian’s location is great with good views of the Pyramids.  It’s right across the street from them.


A different tour manager met us at the hotel and checked us in.  He and I did not hit it off.  I think it was a case of personality clash and language barrier.  He bought me some medicine to take care of my headache though.  Pop this packet of dust in some water and drink up, were his instructions.  I told my son to keep the packet in case something happened to me.  It was one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted but it did the job.  He took us to lunch, more like dinner because it had gotten so late.  I was very clear about my eating preference but it was a disaster.  I won’t get into details, but what I will say is, they didn’t know how to grill fish, they tried to serve me fried fish, then ‘ground’ fried, cut up fish.  SMH! In the end they wound up giving me some frozen, fried vegetable rolls. On a positive note, the restaurant was right across the street from the pyramids and the Sphinx so I captured this stunning photo.


After complaining to my original tour manager, he promised us a better day tomorrow and a great tour guide.

After sleeping on the smallest, hardest, most uncomfortable bed I’ve ever slept on, at the Le Meridian, we woke up to what would be my favorite day in Egypt.  We enjoyed breakfast at the hotel buffet, despite the dirty dishes, and met up with ‘Amina’ (name changed), our last tour guide.

We paid $25 dollars and opted for the camel rides through the Giza plateau.  I was surprised that the Great Pyramids were located right in the city but once we started trekking through the plateau it became magical.  I felt like we were in ancient Egypt riding through the desert.  The pyramids are definitely WONDERFUL!  They are actually bigger than I imagined.  We were able to see the 3 largest ones up close and personal and I couldn’t help but to touch them and sit on one.  This was what I came to Egypt for and for awhile I forgot about all the negative aspects of my trip and I just enjoyed it.  Until we got gagged into drinking a bottle of soda that was handed to us and were hounded for a tip.  Nothing is free, even if it’s placed in your hand.  I forgot that Amina had warned us of this sort of thing.  Anyway, we had so much fun posing with the Great Pyramids of Giza…




…and with the Sphinx

My tour guide in Cairo


My favorite picture in Egypt!
I was looking forward to kissing the Sphinx

After our fun in Giza, we went to lunch.  Amina took us to a restaurant on a ship on the Nile River.  She ordered me a vegetarian meal.  They did their best to accommodate but I tasted crumbs of chicken in my pasta with vegetables.  The bread, tomato soup and salad was good.  Amina also took us to a place where we got Cartouches made.  A cartouche is a pendant with ancient Egyptian symbols which spell something. Ours spells our names.

The Egyptian Museum was our next stop.  If you are in Cairo, I highly recommend going there.  The exhibits are great.  I couldn’t help but think, what a great trip this could be for a class of students.  It would be a awesome inquiry-based provocation for further discussion and research.  I had so many questions when I left.  I’ve never had a better history lesson than this visit.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We also visited Coptic Cairo, including the Hanging Church.  We couldn’t really go in because it was a very holy week and service was going on at the time.  I could have passed on this part of the tour.  It was very nerve-wrecking, with security everywhere and since terrorist had threatened further church bombings.

We finished up our tour with some shopping in Khan Al Khalili, a souk of sorts.  I liked it. I was able to get some souvenirs and a leather handbag for next to nothing.  I wished I had purchased more.  I would definitely go back there to do some more shopping.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One more night of uncomfortable sleeping left me with a pained shoulder and hurt back but I got more out of this trip than I had expected.  The ride to the airport was filled with a necessary conversation about Egypt with my tour manager Eslam, actual name.  I told Eslam my feelings.  I expected different from Egypt.  I fantasized about glamour and Kings and Queens.  He helped me to see that most Egyptians daily goal is getting food home to feed their family.   There is the rich and there is the poor and not much in the middle.

At first, I wanted nothing more to do with Egypt.  I had had enough of dirty dishes, and non meat options, crazy traffic and hassleing, begging and hard beds, a cost for everything, 5 star advertised hotels with 3 star standards, delayed flights, tipping and everything else.  But then I wanted more.  I wanted to experience authentic Egypt, the real Egyptian food and to see how they really live without tourist blinders.  I was mad at myself for not doing my homework and researching this place before visiting, this place beyond the tourist sites, the recent history and government affairs.  But then I was happy I didn’t because I learned so much more first hand.  I know that when I travel from now I will have to decide what I want to know before hand and what I don’t and if I decide not to know, than I better be prepared for anything.  I better be prepared to lower my standards and come out my pockets more.  I better be prepared to live like a local however that may be for however long I plan to stay.  If I want to vacation like I live or better, I better book my own hotels, my own flights and find my own restaurants instead of relying on a travel company, and definitely not travel to a third-word country.  I had no idea Egypt was a third-world country or that it was so poor.  How idiotic of me.  My fantasy was not reality.  Visiting my dream country was so much different than my dreams.  But Egypt will forever hold a special place in my heart for it has changed the way I look at Life.


If you stuck in there with me and read to the end, thank you.  I know it was a long post. It took me along time to process this trip and to write about it.  I hope you enjoyed going through my adventure with me.  Please share your thoughts.

[Lingering questions:

How could a country with so much history forsake it’s citizens?

How could a government be so corrupt to not take care of it’s peoples?

How could so many other surrounding, Middle-Eastern countries be so rich and this one be so poor?]


What to wear to Egypt in April

Imagine mounting a camel, legs spread apart on either side, riding through Giza Plateau in a little blue dress and walking through a crowded souk (Khan Al Khalili) with young women fully covered staring at you and whispering amongst themselves.

When you think of Middle Eastern countries you probably think of desert and heat, and you would be correct.  So when I decided to finally visit a country I’ve always wanted to go, I wondered what to wear.  Since I live in Qatar now, I figured like most middle eastern countries it had a majority Muslim population.  This is correct but what people may not know is that there are also many Christians that reside there.   You are not required to cover your head or your entire body in Egypt, but it is respectful to be modest.

I traveled mid April for Spring break, April 11-15.  The weather was hot during this time of the year but mostly not oppressive in Cairo.   Luxor, however, was very hot especially on the west side where the Valley of the Kings is located.

Here are my suggestions of what to pack to wear for 5 days in Egypt:

Long, thin, black, maxi skirt (versatile and stylish, great for the plane ride)

2-3 pairs of neutral, light colored linen or 100% cotton pants (cool and comfortable)

3 cami’s or tank tops, black, white, tan (cool, small and easy to pack)

2 scarf shawls that you can wrap around your upper body (thin, airy, modest)

1 pretty cotton dress (lightweight and stylish)

Rugged Open toe sandals (safe and comfortable for all the walking)

1 white cotton button down shirt (versatile and modest)

1 pair of comfy sneakers

optional- a few pretty scarves for style and headwrapping

Besides toiletries, a pair of pajamas and undergarments, swim suit, cash, and electronics, this is all I packed.  Everything fit in one Victoria’s secret duffle bag.  I was comfortable the whole trip.  The pants worked out best because there was a lot of flies bothering my son, but I didn’t feel them.

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 11.58.42 AMI don’t like the way Birkenstocks look but they are of good quality and are very comfortable. Open toe sandals are better so that you can get the sand easily out of your shoes, and your feet won’t sweat with the heat.  Here is a pictures of the Birkenstocks I wore.

I took a pair of khaki colored linen pants and a pair of white and blue ombre linen pants and one pair of lyocell blue slacks.  I paired these with my tank tops and threw my shawl scarves on top, that I purchased at Bershka.

A white button down is a staple for traveling.  It can be worn with any bottoms, alone as a dress, as a cover-up or over a tank top like I wore mine.

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 12.43.48 PMI saved my cotton dress for my tours in Cairo, which wasn’t the best idea.  Imagine mounting a camel, legs spread apart on either side, riding through Giza Plateau in a little blue dress and walking through a crowded souk (Khan Al Khalili) with young women fully covered staring at you and whispering amongst themselves.  I held my head high but inside I was saying, ugh, probably should have worn the pants today.  But it made for great pictures anyway.  I’m kissing the Sphinx in my dress.


The point is to travel light, especially if you’re going to travel between cities as I did. Pack cool material items that are ok to be worn wrinkled. Choose light or neutral colors and items that you can mix and match together.  Pack cover ups to respect the tradition of modesty.  Remember comfort over flashiness when packing for Egypt.

A Fun Filled Weekend in Qatar

We drove amongst the Arabs speeding, and dodging each other, going in and out of traffic, some honking at their camels (not allowed btw), kids heads popping out of the tops of sunroofs, handsome men smiling and dare I say flirting with us through open windows, yelling “Yalla!”, watching the foamed mouth camels running together with remote controlled jockeys on top, some whipping the camels.

Often I hear people say this country is boring, and it can be, if you let it.  Lately, I’ve been somewhat of a hermit, just eating, working and chilling.  But this weekend, I decided to change all of that.  I began to evaluate my situation:  the school year is just about 2/3 done, there are only 3 months left, I will be returning home for summer break, my son will be leaving me to finish his last year of high school in the states, my husband will be joining me next year.  I want to make the most out of the rest of this school year, my son’s last childhood year and my last few months of being a married/single mom.  There is always events happening here in Doha and a lot of them are free, especially for QF employees. Just last weekend, my son and I went to the CHI AL SHAQAB International Equestrian Competition.  We watched as horses pranced, danced and modeled, ran and jumped hurdles.  It’s actually pretty exciting to watch in person.

Thursday night I went to happy hour at Zengo.  It was a goodbye get together for Dee, who started the Come Dine with Dee Facebook page; she is returning to Ireland.  I went alone, had good conversation with strangers and it was a good start to the weekend.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.07.27 PM

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.06.29 PM

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.15.38 PMOn Friday, I pampered myself with a manicure and pedicure.  Yes, you can get nice nail treatments here, gel on my fingers and regular polish on my toes.  It’s a little more expensive, usually ranging from $68 USD (250 QAR) and up for these services.

Then, Zamir and I went to brunch.  We tried Nozomi at the Pearl (335 QAR).  There is a small salad and sushi buffet. The sushi was good.  You can order 2 main dishes from the menu and a dessert as well as mocktails.  Our stomachs did not make it to dessert.  Afterwards we walked around the Pearl and made our way back home.

Check out my first slideshow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The highlight of our fun filled weekend was Saturday.   We got up early and met up with my friend Sue and her son.  She was nice enough to go on this adventure with us and drive. We headed to the Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack.  Camel racing is a traditional sport of Qatar.  It was a cloudy day and we were praying that it wouldn’t rain.  Rain here means everything gets canceled.  Sue had read that the camel race at 6:30am then again at 9:30am until 1pm.  It was about an hour drive.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.25.22 PM
You don’t see this in the U.S., Camel crossing. lol
Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.25.09 PM
Camel underpass

We were shooting to be there by 9:30.  When we got there, after getting slightly lost, we saw trucks in the parking lots and camels walking across the lots.  Then out of no where, the trucks all headed toward a large screen on the outside of the track.  We followed the crowd, as there aren’t any instructions on what to do.  Then all of sudden everyone starting pulling off and the camels began trotting past.  I yelled for Sue to “GO!” and we got in line.  We drove amongst the Arabs speeding, and dodging each other, going in and out of traffic, some honking at their camels (not allowed btw), kids heads popping out of the tops of sunroofs, handsome men smiling and dare I say flirting with us through open windows, yelling “Yalla!”, watching the foamed mouthed camels running together with remote controlled jockeys on top, some whipping the camels.  It was such a rush and so much fun.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.25.57 PM

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.25.45 PM

DSC_0043DSC_0049Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.26.10 PM

But just as fast as it started, it was over and many of the trucks disappeared.  We were left wondering, what next?  We waited awhile and even checked out the bedouins nearby. Women fully covered were selling stuff out of tents.


Then we left and hit the road.  It was still early so we decided to take a road trip to Zekreet. We were already pretty far West so Zekreet was within a 30 min drive.  Zekreet is a village in north-western Qatar near Dukhan and about 90 km northwest of Doha.  Here you can visit the beach and some other interesting sites.  Here is a list of things we did and saw along the way.

  • Murwab Fort- or what’s left of it
  • Zekreet Peninsula– Art in the Desert- East-West-West-East, 4 large, plates of iron, sticking out of the sand in the middle of no where

DSC_0091DSC_0108DSC_0092 (1)

  • Zekreet beach– we stopped here and enjoyed a picnic on the beach
  • Bir Zekreet– large, interesting, geological, rock formations, climb up and take pictures

DSC_0113DSC_0156Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.27.53 PMDSC_0163Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.28.03 PM

Me and Sue in the Desert
Sue and I


  • Film City– replica of an antique Arabic village.  Some say it was built as a set for a movie.

After an 1.5 hour drive back to the city, we ordered Thai food.  My son and I ended our night by attending a Paint the Night event at Misk restaurant in the City Center Rotana hotel.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 1.23.53 PMScreen Shot 2017-03-14 at 1.23.40 PM

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 1.24.05 PM
The decor at this restaurant is very Moroccan and blue. Love it.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 1.24.18 PM

We were exhausted by the time we reached home, but happy at all we had done.  Other expats have lived here for years and have never taken the journey to Zekreet.  This was one of my favorite weekends in Qatar, full and tiring.

Spring break is around the corner and I can’t wait.  Hubby is coming to visit, then Zamir and I are off to see more of the world.   We are going to EGYPT!  I am so excited, words can’t even explain!  Stay tuned…


%d bloggers like this: