Leaving Rome is always a hard task. A city as historic and classic like this makes you think twice. Leaving the center of the Roman Empire is an action usually ending with a heartbreak . Especially, if you love history, arts and food.
Even though my time in Rome was short-lived, there was a bright side. We would be doing an Italian road trip. So, we would see the countryside of Italy again. Something, I was excited to experience once more. For this country, I do not mind experiencing it twice and possibly a third time.
As we left to the outskirts of the city, our group got to see the nature usually overlooked by tourists. Our starting point was in a suburb of Rome. The part I love about going to the suburbs is the open space. It’s not too remote like the countryside; yet, not too congested like the city.
As the calm warm breeze hit my face, I felt so relaxed. This looks like California during the winter time. The hills mixed with green and gold, it’s hard not to enjoy the moment. Falling in love with Italy is not diffcult. The food, music, views and the people make it difficult to ever want to leave this country.
It was time to start the road trip. We all got on our tour bus. Expect me, of course. Got lost looking at this flower. Lost in my thoughts, all I could think about how different Italian honey would taste like compared to back home. Even at this time, I was thinking about food. Eventually got on the bus and my Italian adventures were just starting. If my face at that moment could be an emjoi, it would be the heart eyes smile one. Italy has a vibe that is hard to match.
So I found out the famous Grand mosque was not in Dubai. Kept searching for it online on a Dubai map but nothing was showing up. It wasn’t until I googled the Grand mosque, I found out it was in Abu Dhabi. UAE’s second largest city, which was a two hour drive. Didn’t not to drive in a forgien country due to fear of what could happen, I kept looking for taxis. Found out it would cost me about 100 USD to get there by taxi one way.
I’m sure you all know, I’m too frugal to spend 100 dollars for a taxi ride. Found out from a local friend, I could take a bus for about 16 us dollars roundtrip. To take the bus, I had to take the subway to the station shown in the picture above.
Once outside, it’s about a 3 block walk to the bus station. Got losted and started asking around. People in Dubai are very friendly and helpful. Most would love to help tourists without asking for anything in return. So do not be afraid to ask.
Eventually, I found the bus station. Went to buy the bus tickets and there were two lines. One for women and the other for men. The whole segregation of gender is still hard for me to understand. Women don’t have to take go to the women’s line. They can choose whatever line they want. However, the women’s line is quicker and less people hassling you. The men’s line you have to pay attention or they will cut you in line. Which is never fun. Luckily, there was not that many people there when I bought my tickets. Just one problematic person.
Once on the bus, you get to choose wherever you want to sit. It had air conditioning and the sits weren’t too bad. It was definitely worth the 16 dollars. Once the bus started driving off, I kept thinking how faraway from home I was. Dubai’s senerary was beautiful and exotic to me. The farther away we left Dubai and it’s metropolitan area, the more desert looking the senerary got. Lost in the moment, I didn’t even think about taking photos. So much sand, it made you feel like you were on a highway in the middle of a yellow ocean.
As the two hours passed, I could tell were getting close. The yellow ocean became green fields of dates. The excitement was building up. Couldn’t wait to see what adventures waited for me in Abu Dhabi. We eventually got to city and my wild experiences were just about to start.
Rome, a city that I enjoy visiting. With it’s classic charm and the city’s effort to maintain that classic look. This Italian city really gives you the feeling of being back in time; when you exclude, the ruins.
Walking the streets, the mediterranean architecture is shown brightly with the vibrant colors. The sound of music is heard throughout the walkways. People enjoying their pasta and wine. It felt good to be back.
The ruins remind you of the antiquity of the city. Hard to believe this place is over 2000 years old. The consistent reminder that Rome wants to remind you of it’s glory. Collections of Egyptian carvings occasionally placed in the middle of streets. Forcing you to think about the reach of the Roman Empire.
People enjoying themselves, in daily activity. Almost forgetting the historic impact that this city has made. Italian music playing in the background, gives you the urge to sit down and eat. Tourists losted in the moment, Rome leaves a mark on you.
Trevi fountian photo courtesy of Hugo Morel
My revisit of rome was already looking bright. I can not wait to see how many attractions I overlooked on my first go. I’m sure, it will leave a lasting impression.
Okay, for those who don’t know. Dubai, was once a small port in the middle of the desert. In fact, about 50 years ago Dubai looked no where near what it looks like today. In fact, nobody knew that they were sitting on a future global metropolitan.
As I wondered more through the Dubai Museum, I overheard some of the tour guides. Being cheap and didn’t want to pass my budget, I started following the tour groups. One of them was explaining the history of Dubai. Before oil, Dubai was just a small port in the desert.
The locals were fishermen and most of their trade came from what was found in the sea. It was a very simple and humble beginning. The ultimate rags to riches story. People lived uncomplicated lives with little to no worries. Expect the desert heat.
One of the main exports of Dubai, were Pearls. Back then Dubai was known more for it’s precious pearls. People from all over the world would want to buy these beautiful gems. This was Dubai’s main source of income before oil was found.
The way people used to get the pearls was through free diving. They would had drivers dive all day looking for these hidden gems. I’m sure the constant diving was not too healthy. In case for those who don’t know, free diving is diving without any equipment. You would just hold your breath underwater. This can make easier for divers to get decompression sickness. Which forms bubbles inside your body. Either way, people did what was needed to survive.
Eventually, the Japanese found out how to make pearls artificially. The demand for pearls slowly declined. More jobs in the oil industry started to prosper. Naturally, the need for jobs in the pearl industry declined. All these events lead to the Dubai we know now. It’s mind blowing to think how 50 years can change a small port into an economical powerhouse metropolis. I wonder what other cities will form in the next decades to come.
Next week, we go to United Arab Emirates’ second largest City!
After a long flight, I was back in the country of pizza and pasta. Home to one of the most influential civilizations in world history. Italy, I could not wait to see you again. Now, I had the chance to explore what I missed.
Constantly reminded how beautiful this country is. The hills bring back childhood memories. The colors of the grass looked like it came from the paintings of the geniuses this country has produced. Confused and lost, could not help but adore. Something about this country was different.
Maybe it was the greenish glow the flowers had? Or probably, the exotic combination of plants. All this has become foreign to me. A sure sign, I have lived in New York City too long.
Either way, I can’t stop seeing the missions of California. I was truly in a Mediterranean country again. Something about the Mediterranean always connects with me. Maybe it’s the fact that I have roots from all parts of this region. Or possibly, the beautiful climate. Mixed with all the foreign, but familiar, scenery.
All I know for certain is, I’m back in Italy. I could not wait to see what I missed on my first trip. I know most countries look different the second time around. I’m sure, my appreciation for Italy will increase.
To escape the heat, I decided to go and see what the Dubai museum was about. Took the metro to get there. It was a little bit of a walk away from the nearest station. So much for escaping the heat.
When I got there, I was surprised to see the price of the tickets. It was about 3 USA dollars to go around. I’m not much of a museum person. However over my travels, I’m slowly becoming one. Plus my local friend kept telling me to come here.
The entrance to the museum is very interesting. It’s made like a 1500’s fort. The entrance of the museum truly made me felt that I was in the Arabian Peninsula. I never seen this type of structure before in person. The fort is made out of coral rock. In fact, besides the Spanish forts in Florida and California. I never seen an actually fort before. Especially, not one made out of coral! Also, the fort is believed to be the oldest building in Dubai still active. The fort is called Al Fahidi.
Once inside the museum, you get to see the old fashion homes. They are called Arish and are made out of palm fronds. The homes are actually very small. Only really containing a place to sit, a kitchen and a bedroom. It’s crazy to think that the emiratis once lived so humbly. The large amounts of money a country gains, can really change its people’s culture.
Got to see an armoury right past the entrance. I heard the armours and weapons were collected from all over the world. I could only imagine how hot it would had been wearing mental armour in the Middle East during summer. I would rather choose 2nd degree burns over cuts caused by swords and arrows any day.
Funny thing about the homes, you get to see the old fashioned “air conditioning.” They were called wind towers. It was a gap in the ceiling of the Arish, as seen in the picture below. It was brutal for me to even walk around in this structure. The heat was still slightly unbearable. I couldn’t picture living in a place with no artificially-made cold air. Where the average temperatures in the summer is about 106 degrees to 86 degrees. For those who live outside of the usa, 41.1 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius. Not to mention the 70 percent humidity.
The further I got into the museum, I found a door that lead me inside a walkway. That walkway would eventually take me to the main attraction of the museum. I was about to learn how Dubai was before the discovery of oil. Couldn’t wait to see what was in store me.
Been to Jersey so many times. I had family members, friends and former girlfriends who once lived in the Garden State. New Jersey, the place where the New Yorkers and Philadelphians go to live when the city life gets too expensive. I have a lot great memories here. However, I always wondered about the origins of the New Jersey Devil. Well, this post is to spread some information about this mythological creature.
Now the origins of this creature is not something out of a fairy tale. This story is pretty dark and disturbing. So if you get scared easily, you might not want to continue reading.
So, it was all started with a family named Leeds. The Leeds family lived in South Jersey. In a place called the Pine Barrens, a wooded area outside of the Philadelphia metropolitan. A woman of the leeds family had twelve children. In time, she was pregnant with her 13th child. In an angered state, she put a curse on the child before it was born. When the child was born, it came out normal. However, it soon changed into a monster. It’s appearance changed into a creature with a horse like head and a lower half of a goat. The devil stood up straight like a human and it had two wings like a bat. It killed the midwife, then ran off into the wilderness.
According to the locals folklure, the origin story has few differentiating details. Some say, the mother of the Devil was a witch. Others say, it was born during a stormy night and during a demonic ritual. It’s even stated that the father of the child might had been the devil himself. All these things are very interesting. The most creepy thing about this that it could be true.
In state records, there was a family that lived in the Pine Barrens. In the state census, it does shows a family with the name Leeds that had twelve children.
After exploring around the neighborhood near where my airbnb apartment was, I saw this beautiful building from a far. I started walking towards it and I found out it was an Iranian hospital. Little did I knew, I stumbled around a Persian neighborhood.
For those who don’t know, Persian and Iranian are similar. Iran was once a part of the Persian empire. That is something, I did not know at the time of me stumbling across this beautiful piece of art. Found out later while doing research. Walked towards this interestingly patterned building. From outside looking in, I figured out it was a mosque. I could tell by the shoe cubby and chants of the Qur’an.
Saw someone come out of the mosque. Asked if it was okay for me to enter. I got the clearance to explore. Once inside the gates to the entrance, I was in awe towards the attention to detail. The colors made the building look so majestic. The patterns and the designs are so beautiful. Couldn’t wait to see how the inside looks like. Put my shoes in the cubby and I was off.
The inside of the mosque was truly foreign and new to me. The colors matched the outside with a touch more of green. To make sure it was okay, I asked one of the mosque’s operators if I could take photos. He gave me permission of course.
I got to see some of the followers pray. Similar to how it was during my time in Cairo, the mosque was sectioned by gender. I was not allowed to go on the women’s side. Still, I enjoyed the part I was given access to.
Sometimes, it’s hard to picture how close United Arab Emirates is to Iran. It’s literally less than a two hour flight from Dubai. Makes sense why there’s a strong Persian community here. Glad I got to see in person.
As I was looking at the Muslims praying, I started to think a little to myself. The differences between this mosque and the mosque in Cairo. They both practice different types of Islam. Egypt is Sunni majority and Iran is Shia majority. They are similar and very different at the same time. Similar to Catholics and Protestants, the houses of worship look very different. It’s almost the same here. Expect, Sunni is the majority branch of Islam at about 87% to 90% of the Muslim population. While, Shia Islam is about 13% to 10%. Here is the link for those who want to more read about this.
Also, I remember something funny at this time. I was wearing the cross my family gave to me for my travels. This whole time I was exploring this mosque, you can clearly tell I was a christian or came from a Christian family. Yet, not one person gave me a second look nor hostility. To think how, I was once so scared about going to a Muslim majority country. I can only laugh at myself now. I grew so much as a person throughout my travels. With every new country, I was becoming a person. Someone with more understanding to others who are different than me. Truly believe, we can stop more wars from happening, if we just understood each other better. We all have similarities despite our differences. Hopefully, we get to see that in our lifetime.
After about an hour of looking around, I saw pretty much all of the mosque. That was my sign to walk back into the heat. Thought about staying until the sun went down. However, I didn’t want to take advantage of the friendly welcome I was given.
Growing up in California, the Mexican influence is very strong. From having Mexican restaurants in nearly very city in the state, Mexican folklore is very familiar to Californians. One story that we are constantly told as kids is the one of this crying woman. Our Mexican friends usually told us about the story of La llorona.
There is a lot variants of this story’s origins. This is a horror story that has been passed down for about 500 years. So, there will always be some details that were changed. For the most commonly told, it’s starts with a beautiful woman named Maria. In reference, I will be sharing the version my friends told me as a kid.
Maria was said to be so beautiful. Her beauty attracted a wealthy rancher. Maria was a very vain woman. She loved attention and being the center of it. This flaw would come back and haunt her.
Eventually, the wealthy rancher and Maria had three children. She loved those kids. After some time, her husband stop paying Maria attention. His focus was more on the ranch and his three children. Maria slowly grew to envy her children.
One day, Maria saw her husband with his mistress. Lost in rage, she went to her children. Seeing her husband in her children, she took out her anger on them. With her kids, she went to a local river. Drowned each of them, slowly and with cruelty.
After killing her kids, she came back to reality. Maria started to regret what she just did. In guilt, she drowned herself. Now Legend states, her ghost walks rivers of the American Southwest and Mexico looking for children to kill.
This myth brings so much nostalgia to me. It reminds me of the times I spent camping with my friends as a kid. Their parents used to tell us the story of La Llorona so we wouldn’t wander too faraway. Of course, now I do not believe in this story. I just think it was a kid’s horror story. However, as a kid I was truly scared. With all that, still wanted to share this with you all. Next time you are in the southwest usa or mexico, you will be informed in case you hear a woman crying by the river.
Thank you so much for reading! Much love and safe travels! Since it’s October, I will be sharing some American and Latin American folklore.