Sunday, November 25, 2007

Local paper warns of "Iraq-like invasion of Pakistan"

On thursday this week I was at a friend's house when another American called to tell us about an alarming article in the local Dawn news. It was titled: "US plans invasion of Pakistan."
This local reporter, whose name was not given with the article, had just spent a week in the United States. Upon his observances that Pakistan's political situation was the top story on all the major news networks and in all the national papers, he concluded that the United States government was preparing the population to launch a full scale attack on Pakistan. The anonymous correspondant also claimed he had inside information about this upcoming military operation. He claimed that currently the US government is just looking for a general who wants to take on the task of "liberating" Pakistan.
Interesting how he could make such a bold claim after only one week in the US. The article was not on the front page of the paper, and the English could have used a thorough editing from the middle school English teacher, yours truly. Yesterday I had to chance to see this article myself and I proceded to read it aloud to a group of other ex-pats. We had a good laugh, but I was running out of breath due to all the run-on sentences. I couldn't even really make sense of some parts of it due to the poor writing and sentence structures. The mysterious author certainly did not note how the logistics of this attack would work out. Is the US going to pull troops from Iraq and Afghanistan to come over here? Who exactly would be the enemy? The US supplies training and supplies for the Pakistan army. Pakistan is thought to be a staunch ally in the region.
In my opinion, the author of that article could use some further study in politics and grammar.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Watching from the Sidelines

It's been a while since I've been blogging regulary. It seems that since this emergency rule thing started that the net here has become excruciatingly slow. It could just be our provider but you never know.
Many friends have been writing me asking how things are under the "emergency rule." Honestly, things haven't really been much different. Our school was cancelled for one day, but that was just because Benazir Bhutta was under house arrest in the same block. There were mutliple death threats out against her and the security forces had blocked most of the streets leading to the school. After they decided to keep her in house arrest for a while, we just got used to the road blocks and the riot police. I haven't felt any more or less safe than before the emergency was declared.
What I try to explain to people who aren't here in Pakistan is that the political scene here is a game where only the players are involved. Yes, politicians, lawyers, and some journalists were affected by the emergency, but the regular person in Lahore is not. Kids still go to school every day, and people still go to work. Most Pakistanis here amuse themselves by watching the political drama from the sidelines. I just read on that Nawaz Sharif will be flying into Lahore tomorrow. How does that affect me? Well I will be sure not to drive around near the airport, and I'll be sure to check BBC online to see if he's arrested or shipped off to another country again. Apparently Saudi Arabia isn't taking him back this time.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Northern Areas Trip

Sorry I haven't been posting recently, as internet connection is quite slow here. We just had a week long break from school where we travelled to the Northern Areas of Pakistan.

From Ultar Meadow

We took a day hike to the Ultar Glacier and Ultar Base Camp with Hunza Guides Pakistan,

From Karimabad

800 year old Baltit Fort in Karimabad, Hunza Valley

From Minapin

Minapin Village offers stunning views of 7000+meter peaks set in a flower-filled garden. We definitely recommend staying or eating at the Diran Guest House in Minapin.

From Karakoram Hig...

We drove for over 2100km, most of which was on the Karakoram Highway or the "KKH".

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Pakistan: A High Stress Country?

I was reading the BBC and found a quite accurate description of life in Pakistan.

Humour - Pakistan-style
The BBC Urdu service's Masud Alam in Islamabad tries to see the funny side of life in Pakistan, where humour allows a country in crisis to let off steam.

"Pakistan is a high-stress country.

Tensions rose in Islamabad after July's mosque siege.

Its population has to contend with long power cuts at home, various types of discrimination and injustice in the work place and routine humiliation at the hands of security officials on their own streets - and at airports all over the Western world.

There's always the possibility of a lunatic blowing himself up in a busy market, a park or a mosque. Or one can get caught in cross-fire between uniformed and civilian gunmen, and not know who to run away from.

Hot weather, pollution, rich and spicy food, an abundance of sexual desire - and no way of satisfying it - only add to the strain on already volatile tempers.

If this society is still functional then it's all down to "comic relief" which, thankfully, is in no short supply in the Islamic republic."
Just yesterday two women were found beheaded by tribesmen in NWFP. Notes were left with their bodies accusing them of prositution. Next week nobody is quite sure who will be in charge of the government. High stress is a good way to describe the situation! I have to read the news every day at least twice to see if anything dramatic has happened. At the same time, if I didn't read the news life would be going on just as it always does here. Wake up early, go to school, come home, visit with friends. Without the news we likely wouldn't even know about the chaos, political and otherwise, happening right here. It definitely makes our lives a little more exciting. School things happen in the same way as the government. We go there every day not knowing exactly what our schedule will be, what classes we will teach, or even if the students will be there or not. Last minute field trips and schedule changes don't seem to be out of the ordinary, and when we finally think we're almost getting some sort of a groove with the timetable, Ramadan is going to start. That means everything has to change again! There also might be elections coming up and formerly ousted political leaders might try to come back to our city. I'm wondering if this will affect school or transportation at all. As everyone seems to like saying here: "Let's see what happens."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sixty Years After Partition

This coming tuesday will be Pakistan's 60th anniversary of independence. If you're not familiar with the birth of Pakistan, the partition that led to the largest mass migration in history, or the sixty years of political turmoil that has followed - the BBC has some great news archives and articles.

Pakistan's and India's independence in 1947 is bittersweet. Despite ousting the colonial power of the British, one of the bloodiest episodes in the subcontinents history followed the drawing of the borders. Basically, a British man who had little knowledge of India just drew a line right down the middle of the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. Many Muslims were left on the 'wrong' side of the line in India, and many Hindus and Sikhs were left on the Pakistani side of the line. Families' farmlands were even cut in town between the two new countries. Mothers and fathers were separated from their children on the opposite side of the line. In the ensuing violence between 10 and 15 million people left all they had and fled for their lives to the other side of the line. Many lived in refugee camps along the way, where women were rounded up at night, gang raped and deposited back at the camp at morning. Entire trains of migrants were torched and many of those fleeing had their arms and legs chopped off by marauders. The blame lay not with only the Muslims in Pakistan against the Hindus and Sikhs, or with the Indian Hindus against the Muslims, but both sides seemed to be equally violent towards the other.

Personally, I am not sure whether August 14th should be a national day of celebration or of mourning and repentence.

See BBC News articles here:

Sixty bitter years after partition:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sao Jorge (Saint George) - Photos & Travel Info.

Click on any of the links below the photos to see the whole album

Natural lava arches with Pico Mountain/Island in the background
From Sao Jorge (Sa...

From Sao Jorge (Sa...

Places to Stay (Velas)

We would definitely recommened staying in Velas as it is the largest town on the island. The port is located directly next to the town and you have easy access to rental car facilities, the grocery store, and places to stay. Inquire at the tourist office for more information about lodging other than those mentioned here.

Apartamentos Rosa 35 euros
We stayed at these apartments which are conveniently located near the supermarket. We had a large fully furnished one bedroom apartment with a living room, kitchen, private laundry facility, and access to the central terrace. We wish we’d stayed there longer than two nights! Everything was neat and clean. The owner is a woman whose husband is a taxi driver, so you can easily arrange day trips by taxi from your doorstep. It is also located close to the “Rent-A-Car” office.

Hospedaria Australia 40 euros/44 euros breakfast inc.
Rua Teofilo Braga 25 Phone: 295-412-210
Located in the center of town and only a short walk from the port, this place seems to be popular with backpackers and tourists. They have rooms with private bath, Cable TV, breakfast for an extra 4 euros, a connected bar/pizzeria and scooter rental. The bar/pizzeria was hip, colorful and clean, and we can only imagine the rooms to be as such.

From Sao Jorge (Sa...

To see photos on FACEBOOK click here

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sete Cidades

I've finally managed to get our Azores pics on Picasa, so check 'em out!

Here are photos from "Sete Citades" - Seven Cities. There really aren't seven cities, but two lakes. The legend is that a princess and a pauper fell in love. There weren't allowed to get married, so their tears filled these two lakes. The princess had blue eyes, and the pauper had green eyes. Hence one lake was filled up with blue tears and the other with green tears.

From Sete Cidades

Check out the rest of the album by clicking the link below the photo.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Frankfurt to Karachi...

So this time around we flew from Ponta Delgada (Azores, Portugal) to Frankfurt, Germany, stayed a few days in Frankfurt and then flew on Emirates from Frankfurt to Karachia via Dubai. We arrived at the Frankfurt airport with over two and half hours til our flight, collected our baggage from the left luggage office and started making our way through the normal procedures. Security and everything else took so long that we made it to our departure gate just before boarding. The food and service on the flight were quite impressive, and we would definitely recommend Emirates Airlines. They even gave us a fancy menu card when we boarded so we could start thinking if we wanted the lamb or the chicken.

To make a long story short, we landed in Dubai just fine but then we had to ride in a tram all the way around the airport. I've never driven for more than five minutes in a tram, but we drove around for about half an hour on a crowded tram due to the massive construction taking place at the airport. When we finally got to security, as we had to go through it yet again, everything was chaos. The officers were barely checking the passengers as the crowds were just so big. There were people from everywhere in all kids of ethnic costumes. Africans in colorful dresses, Muslim women covered from head to toe in black burkas, Western women with skirts and men of all nationalities in suits. We ended up going through the "Employees Only" check in line because everyone else was going there again. Once again Duarte had to remove his belt and his shoes and run all the luggage through twice. After clearing security we speed walked to our deparature gate and again made it just before it was about to close its doors. Nobody was sure if we could bring our guitars on board or not, so we were the absolute last people to board the plan as we waited for somebody's manager or whoever to decide about our guitars. Finally we were onboard, guitars safely stored near the first class cabin.

All flights were running late from Dubai that day due to the backup in security. I was already starting to doubt it we would make our next flight from Karachi to Lahore or not. Then we heard a garbled announcement that sounded much too guttaral to be in English, we were right, it wasn't, it was in Arabic. A few minutes later we heard the English translation over the intercom. One of the checked in passengers for our flight was missing. In case he may have filled his bags with bombs, other explosives, contaminents for mad cow disease, chemical warfare or whatnot, we had to wait until they found his bag (he checked in early of course) and removed it from the plane. So we waited. As soon as his bag was successfully removed from the plane, the passenger managed to make his way to the our departure gate. So his bag was loaded BACK into the plane and finally, we were off.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Travel Guide: Pico Island

Pico Island as seen from the neighboring island of Faial

From Pico Island

Desert flowers flourish in the volcanic soil

Click below the photo to see entire album

While we were traveling in the Azores we found want for a good travel guide in English. We weren't able to get the normal Lonely Planet info like how to get there, where to stay, how much a taxi costs from Point A to Point B, where to find affordable food and if the water is safe to drink. So, we collected some info that we'd like to make available for anyone planning to travel to the Azores. Here's the first segment on Pico Island, the island of the volcano.

Getting there and away:

SATA offers daily flights from PDL (Ponta del Gada). Youth (age 25 and under) can get a 50% discount on fares. With the youth discount, we each paid 57 euros. See SATA for flight schedules and fares.

The airport is situated on the north western part of the island, between Madelena and Sao Roque do Pico. Madelena is the larger village of the two (there are no cities on this island), has more housing options, and offers easy access to Horta, Faial by boat. A taxi to either Madelena or Sao Roque should be about 10 euros.

TRANSMACOR offers boat passage daily from Madelena to Sao Roque, Horta (Faial), and Velas (Sao Jorge). They have two boats harbored at the Horta Marina, the Monocasco and the Catamaran. There are also boats from traveling the Horta (Faial) – Madelena (Pico) – Sao Roque (Pico) – Velas (S. Jorge) – Calheta (S. Jorge) – Angra do Heroismo (Terceira) circuit three or four days a week.

Madelena to Horta takes 30 minutes and costs 3.30 euros on the Monocasco.
Madelena to Sao Roque takes 40 minutes and costs 10.10 euros on the Catamaran.

Arrive at the port at least 15 minutes before departure. You can buy your tickets ahead of time to avoid the crowd, or you can buy them right before the boat leaves.

ATLANTICO LINE offers more comfortable passage on a larger vessel, although you must book ahead and plan your travels well ahead of time. They have two boats, the Ilha Azul (blue island) and the Express Santorini. If you are 25 you can use the carao inter-jovem (inter-youth card) and each boat ride is only 1 euro. We traveled Horta (Faial) – Sao Roque (Pico) – Velas (S. Jorge) (three hours), and then from Velas (S. Jorge) - Praia da Victoria (Terceira) – Ponta Delgada (Sao Miguel) for two euros each! The ride from Velas to Ponta Delgada took all day. We arrived at the boat at 7am, departed Velas at 8am and arrived in Terceira at 12:15. We had a three hour stop in Terceira, although the port was too far away from Praia da Victoria to get our and explore. Then we departed at 3:15pm and arrived in Ponta Delgada at 9:00pm.

Food is available on the boat for the cost of a normal snack bar. We recommend that you bring your own snacks, drinks, and plenty of books to read. Arrive about an hour early if you want to get the most comfortable seats. Tickets can be bought from certain travel agencies on each island. Ask around in any major town to find out where you can buy them.

You can also bring a car along with your while you island hop, but this will be more expensive than one euro! Bringing a class A car (no more than five seats) from Ponta Delgada to Sao Roque (Pico) is 122 euros one way and 183 euros return. To buy the ticket for the car you must bring your registration documents and license with you to the travel agency.

You can purchase your cartao inter-jovem in Ponta Delgada without any wait. Just bring 48 euros in cash to pay for the card. They have an office near BCA (bank).

Getting Around:

Taxis are easily found at town taxi stands. You can hire a taxi for the day for about 70 euros. The fare from Madelena to the base of Pico Mountain is between 16 and 20 euros. It is best to arrange for the same taxi driver to pick you up after you descent, as it is a long walk to the nearest town from the base of the mountain. A taxi to or from the airport from Madelena is 10 euros. Taxi drivers usually have their rates posted inside their taxi windows. From our experience they give the honest fare right away and you probably won’t get it much lower by trying to bargain with them.

Buses travel within the three main towns (Lajes, Madelena, and Sao Roque) as well as around the island. There are two main circuits, a northern route and a southern route. Buses from town to town are not very frequent and planning must be done in advance to take advantage of them. You can get the current bus schedule from the Tourist Office, located at the port.

Rental cars are probably the best way to see the island. Two rental car agencies we saw in Madelena were Ilha Verde and Tropical. Tropical seemed to be the cheaper of the two, although with the SATA discount you can get a car from Ilha Verde for 46 euros/day, all insurance and tax included. You must be able to drive standard, as automatic cars are not usually available and come at a significantly higher price.

On foot – the Tourist Office has great maps of pedestrian walks on different parts of the island. The pedestrian walk through Cricao Velha can be walked to from Madelena without a taxi, although other walks would require taxi service to and from the starting and ending points. It is possible to catch a bus to the starting point of your walk and arrange for a taxi to pick you up at the end point. On major roads you can try to get a lift, but in more rural areas passing cars are few and far between.

Places to Stay (Madelena):
The cheapest places to stay are generally rooms in private homes (alojamentos particular).

Fernando Espirito Santo (2 Rooms) 25 euros/night
Rua do Valverde #36 Phone: 916-017-865

One of the two rooms at Fernando Espirito Santo

We were the first visitors of the season at this house about a 15-20 minute walk (1 km) from the city center. It’s a bit of a hike, but the price and hospitality is well worth it. The couple that owns the house lives downstairs and has a separate kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms upstairs which they rent out to tourists. Their bedroom is the only room they use upstairs. We had full use of the kitchen (stove, coffee maker, toaster, electric kettle, dishes) and were treated to pitchers of wine straight from their own vineyard. On clear days there is a great view of Pico Mountain from the terrace.

To get there, walk south from the port towards the Health Center (Centro de Saude -#7 on the Tourist Map) and Rua D. Jaime Goulart. You’ll see the Health Center on your left. Keep following the road at the fork and don’t bear left. Go up a hill and keep walking until you see a white sign on your left for “Valverde.” Take a left towards Valvarde and keep walking until you see #36 on your righ thand side. It’s a big white house with gardens and grape vines. Call ahead to make sure that she has room and so that she can wait outside the house for you.

Jose M. Avila 30 euros/night
About 1 km from the city center
Phone : 292-622-873

Alojamento Mobilado 35 euros/night
Located near the city center
Phone : 917-767-386

Joe’s Place (3 rooms) 40-50 euros/night breakfast inc.
Phone: 292-623-586
Currently this is the most popular place with tourists, and if you arrive at the port you will most likely be greeted by Joe himself who will give you one of his cards. Don’t let the name fool you, he’s Portuguese but he speaks English well. He has three rooms for three different prices, 40, 45, and 50 euros.

Apartments: You can also stay in furnished tourist apartments. Rate info is unavailable here but the phone numbers are listed by the tourist office.
Alberto Oliveira
Phone: 919-590-975

Jose M. Azevedo
Phone: 917-537-910

Renato Ferreira
Phone: 919-589-124

Upscale –We weren’t really looking at anything over 40 euros/night, but we did see one poster for a nicer looking resort called Pocinho Bay –

Aftermath of Lal Masjid (Red Mosqe)

Every day in the newspaper now we're hearing about a wake of bombings following the seige of Lal Masjid (the Red Mosque) last week. During this time, we've been without internet access or TV, so I've just now started to piece together exactly what has happened.
Lal Masjid is a madrassa (religious school) that has a history of contact with Islamic militants and whose leaders openly oppose the current government.

A profile of the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) can be seen here:

Surprisingly, the women who study at the seminary there (Jamia Hafsa) are also known to pick up batons and Kalishnovs when they deem need be. Prior to the recent seige, the women, covered from head to toe in burkas, took over a nearby children's library and raided a hostel (dormitory). For six months the female students, along with the male militants, attempted to create somewhat of ther own autonomous area under the jurisprudence of Islamic shariah law.

Before the Government laid seige to the mosque on July 4, about 400 women walked out of the mosque complex. By July 10th the government was ready to break and root out the militants, doing whatever it would take to capture or kill the leaders. Over 1000 people left the mosque during the week long seige. Some were students, some hostages. Some were policemen who had been kidnapped by the militants.

The government troops broke in, and by the time they did so only one woman was left inside. She was the mother of the two major militant leaders. Over 100 died inside the mosque complex during the government raid. The deaths have consumed many other with anger all over the country, as many people believe that negociations could have gone on longer and that it is not right for Muslims to kill fellow Muslims.

The thing that I can't believe is, Lal Masjid is in the center of Islamabad, right near the center of Intelligence and Security.

You can see more about the raid on Lal Masjid here:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Connected Once Again

We are finally writing from Lahore, Pakistan. We arrived on July 4th but since then we have been busy getting settled in our new place. Just today we got our net connection hooked up in our room.

I feel like there’s so much to write, as I barely wrote about our trip to the Azores, our brief visit in Germany, and our arrival in Lahore. Don’t worry, we’ve not forgotten the blog!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Where in the world are we?

For mom and any others who want to know the details of where we currently are, here is a map of the Azores. We are headed from Sao Miguel to Pico tomorrow. We hope to spend a week visiting the Central Group of Islands, including Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge and possibly a stop in Terceira. To get an idea of how far away things are, it takes three and a half hours by boat to go from Santa Maria to Sao Miguel. We are flying to Faial from Sao Miguel, and then taking boats to the other islands. It takes about 8 hours to go from Sao Jorge to Sao Miguel. Hope we don´t get seasick!

We got youth cards (carte jovem) , for 48 euros each, which allow us to travel by boat (Atlantico Line) for one euro per journey. It´s so cheap! We also get a youth discount on our airline tickets from SATA, 50% off. If you´re under 25, the Azores is a great place to travel.

Check out flights:
More info on boats and youth cards to come.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Senhor Santo Cristo

In the center of PONTA DELGADA, the main city of Sao Miguel, there is a convent which houses the Senhor Santo Cristo. Decked out in gold embroidered robes, the Senhor is a wooden image of Jesus Christ. I was told that the legend behind the Santo Cristo is that it appeared miraculously at a convent in Caloura. Pirates allegedly stole the statue from Caloura and brought it to a convent in Ponta Delgada. I´ve read online that the statue was given to two nuns by the Pope and that it was moved by the nuns to the convent in the capital to keep it safe from raiders.

To this day there are festivals held to venerate the statue. Duarte was telling me that they parade the statue around the city in a huge procession. Older women, who are praying for their relatives to leave purgatory and ascend to heaven, will carry heavy candles. The heavier the candle, the greater the burden for their loved ones to reach paradise. Some women walk the procession on their knees as they see greater suffering as a way to make a stronger plea to God. Many people believe that the statue itself has power to do miracles.

Every day the statue is available to the public for a short amount of time. Many people come to pray and to venerate the statue. People also make embroidered robes and golden accessories for the statue to wear during the feast which celebrates it.

For more history see here:

Lagoa do Fogo - The Lake of Fire!

Today we visited the Lake of Fire, but it doesn´t look quite like what is described in the book of Revelation. The Lagoa do Fogo is a beautiful lagoon that was formed in a crater of the volcano that formed the island of Sao Miguel. It was really cloudy today so we had trouble seeing views of the lake, but you can see a little bit of it here.

The fog was so thick it was hard to see ahead

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Western Circuit of Sao Miguel

Thursday we drove around the western part of Saint Michael with Duarte´s cousins. We saw some calderas, where the smoke comes out of the ground, and some beautiful views. All the islands in the archipelago were formed from volcanoes. More photos on Facebook.
Heather Carreiro's Facebook profile ~
For non-Facebook members click below- ~

The North West point of Sao Miguel

Duarte at the Calderas, see the smoke rising? The sulfur smell was SO strong.


Flight into Sao Miguel (Saint Michael)

Here´s a photo I took from the window as we were flying into Sao Miguel. This is the island where Duarte was born and spent his early years.

And finally, after years of trying to take pictures of clouds out the window of a plane, some that turned out nice!

See more photos on Facebook-~

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Arrival in Ponta Delgada, Portugal

We arrived this morning in the Azores to a beautiful blue sky and a great panoramic view of Saint Michael (San Miguel). I had horrible pain in my ears during the descent, but that didn´t stop me from snapping pics of the cliffside cities and the volcanic landscape. We´ll post pics soon! We won´t have net access all the time during the month of June, but I´ll be sure to journal and post when I can.

I´m studying my Beginner´s Portuguese but since I only got through greetings and introductions I´m still doing a lot of smiling and nodding. I keep having to stop myself from speaking in Urdu, since my foreign language mode is on but it´s definitely not in Portuguese yet.

Adeus! Ate a proxima.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

So I paid $32 for white out!

So I arrived at Duarte's parents house, where I'd had the passport sent, to see that the Consualte "fixed" my visa by whiting out "Visit" and putting "NGO" on top of it. Last time I applied for a visa, they also made a mistake in the amount of time I was allowed to stay in the country. They whited it out and changed it. I went through some trouble with security due to this change. I was thinking, if it was just going to be changed with white out, I could have done that at home!

To their credit, what they did was put a small stamp of the consulate next to the correction. Unfortunately in Pakistan none of the authorities I had to deal with were aware of this practice. Oh well, at least the stamps are there and I have a copy of my NGO visa permission letter. If anyone questions it, I'll just suggest that they call the Pakistani Consualte in NY to check my status.

In other news, Duare and I are leaving soon for the Azores. Apparently we are travelling on the same flight as the Azorean president. Duarte's dad is in charge of brining the president and his entourage to the airport. So I think we'll be travelling with them. Fun!

Friday, June 01, 2007

$32 later, my visa is fixed

Last week saturday when I received my visa back from the Pakistani Consulate it had been designated as a visit visa and not an NGO visa. This would mean that I would be unable to work in Pakistan. I had received special permission from the Ministry of Interior in Islamabad to get the NGO visa, so after waiting through the long weekend I called the consulate and express mailed it back to them. Since we were leaving the country in a few days, I had to pay $32 for express mail! Well, in this case it was worth it. My passport left Amherst, MA on Tuesday, arrived in New York on Wednesday, and made it back to Fall River, MA on thursday with the correct visa.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Packing and To Do Lists

While sitting here in the chaos that is packing, I thought I'd blog and let you know what's going through my mind. We've got random things we didn't even remember we had laying all over the floor, begging not to be filed, wrapped up in newspaper, shoved into boxes and put away in a dark corner for who knows how long. With a 20 kg (44 lbs) each weight limit, there's tons of things that we'd love to bring but we just can't. My worship music notebook alone weighbs 10 lbs! That would be about a quarter of the total weight I can bring, so that will have to get stored away. The coffee maker, heavy but a possibility. It's hard to find inexpensive quality coffee machines in Pakistan, as most people drink tea. I wanted to bring my riding boots and helmet, but that would have had to have been at the expense of my that will have to stay. I hope I can find a helmet over there if I ever take up riding again! Most times I've seen people ride they didn't have helmets on.

There's my winter coat, which I really want to bring, but it just takes up so much space and it doesn't get cold enough in Lahore to justify bringing it. There's Duarte's soccer ball, which doesn't seem to really let all the air out, and the pump for the soccer ball. There's a ton of CDs, that we won't bring with us and I'm trying to get imported into iTunes so we can still listen to them. There's things I borrowed from people that I need to return, some of which never got returned last year before I left for Pakistan. It got put int a box and there it stayed until I came back. I'm wondering if those things will only make their way to boxes yet again. Which microphone should we bring, and which wires? How many pairs of socks do you really need? Should I buy more shampoo because I can never find the right kind over there, or should I not bring the shampoo because it's so heavy? Really do you need that many sweaters or jackets? I guess I probably don't need that many pairs of pants either.

And besides the packing, there's the to-do lists. Have we called this company to cancel the phone? And how do they want us to prove that we've moved? A lease agreement or a utility bill, I lived in Pakistan for a year and I never had any of those things. will we prove that we've moved so we can get $175 back? Did we ever get the refund from the tango lessons which were cancelled? Who do we need to see? Dont' forget to change our address at the post office!

Now the fun part is all the things that we want to do before we go, not that we have to do. We wrote down our lists last week and we're working on them amidst the busyness.

In no particular order

1. Eat wings at the Hangar - honey mustard & honey barbecue flavor (check!)
2. Drink coffee coolattas
3. Eat Trader Joe's veggie tortilla chips (check!)
4. Go bowling with Duarte's bowling ball
5. Go waterskiing with Dad (Heather)
6. Enjoy an American BBQ (thanks Walts family & Veej!)

Ok, I've taken too much time on this, back to packing!

Monday, May 28, 2007

BBC: Pakistan Christians Demand Help

An article from BBC news describes the threat to the Christian minority in some areas of NWFP

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Why I Can't SEE my Blog

Many people find it surprising when I told them that I can not see my blog or any other blogspot sites while overseas. When I tell them it is because of censorship, most people assume I am being paranoid. Well, after living in two countries where I've had this problem, to varying degrees, I'm sure that certain websites are censored.

One day the New York Times had an article about the situation of homosexual Muslim men. I could not access this article at all! I could search for it and get the title, but I could not get to the article. I could access all the other NYTimes articles that day. This kind of thing happens all the time. I never know if it's a problem with the net or if it's censorship. Sometimes when I start using a new computer, I can access blogspot sites for a few days. I catch up on all my friends blogs. Then after that, those sites are blocked. They come up as if there is nothing there. When I come back to the US or to Europe I have no problem accessing blogs.

Read more about internet censorship here

Spring in Amherst

We've been enjoying spring in Amherst as we get ready to go back to Pakistan this summer. Our travel plans are coming together! We'll be spending the month of June in the Azores, where Duarte grew up. Then we're off to Germany for a few days so we can catch a flight to Karachi, and then on to Lahore. We'll be arriving in Punjab in the heat of summer, likely before the monsoon rains have set in to help cool things off. Needless to say that now we're enjoying life without AC, walking outside, not having to wear SPF 60 sunscreen, rain, cool fresh air,and spring flowers!

Time for us to start counting how many days are left, and to make our "Must Do Before Leaving America" list. I think I'd like to have one last french vanilla coffee coolatta with whip cream, go jogging, wear shorts, and go waterskiing.

Check out my latest pics by clicking on the link below any of the photos:
From Spring in Amh...

From Spring in Amh...

From Spring in Amh...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Through the Years

At our wedding we played a slide show with picture of Duarte and I from when we were born to when we were planning our wedding. You can see the slide show on Picasa.

From Wedding Slide...

From Wedding Slide...

From Wedding Slide...

Worship at the Beach

How I love the ocean! Praise the Lord that His glory will cover the whole earth as the waters cover the sea.

From Horseneck Beach

From Horseneck Beach

From Horseneck Beach

Visiting Jen

Duarte and I went to visit Jen a few weeks ago to see her receive an award for being an "Outstanding Freshman"

Congrats Jen - Miss President of the Class of 2010 :)


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Faith helps power injured cyclist's recovery

My friend Mike Cimini was in an accident on March 12th where his spinal cord was severed just below the rib cage. He's in rehab right now learning how to use a wheelchair, as he says, the doctors don't the final word on whether he walks again or not, God does!

Yesterday the story of Mike and his wife Karen's faith was on the front page of the Hampshire Gazette. Today he's featured in the online version, although in order to read the article you must subscribe to the Gazette. If you click on this link today (Wednesday), you can see a short part of the article.

Next week there will be a corporate time of fasting and prayer to pray for Mike's complete healing. Talk to Christina Stauber for detials.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stowe, Vermont

We went to Stowe, Vermont for our honeymoon. Duarte surprised me with a stay at the Stone Hill Inn, the most luxurious and expensive place we will probably EVER stay!

more pics and area review coming soon
Posted by Picasa

2002 Hyundai Elantra - 5 speed manual - $4,499

Here's a pic of the car we're selling
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wanna buy a 2002 Hyundai Elantra?

We're selling Duarte's car before we leave for's a 2002 and in great condition. We just had it checked over at Walts Bros Auto (413-736-1878) in West Springfield last week and had some work done it to make it perfect for its new owner.

2 of the tires are brand NEW and the other 2 are only a year old
NEW oil change
2 NEW front wheel bearings
1 NEW front tie rod

It's got:
76,000 highway miles
Great gas mileage
Air conditioning
Power door locks
Dual front air bags
Power steering
Tilt wheel
Front side air bags
Power windows
AM/FM stereo
Single compact disc
Cruise control

We're selling for under the book value - Contact me if you're interested and I'll give you Duarte's number.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal & Dinner

Here are the pictures from the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Click on the first photo to see the entire album. Most photos by Ann Marie Walts, a few are from relatives. Sanjoy, our pastor, did a great job of organizing everyone and taking the stress off of us! From the time the rehearsal started til the end of reception the next day the only thing I had to focus on was smiling and looking great for my husband. :) After months of planning, everything finally came together. Thanks to everyone who helped out, we couldn't have done it without you!

So how long are we gonna have to stand up here for tomorrow?

The worship team practices

Joe-Joe, Jen & Heather

"Can you believe we're getting married tomorrow?"

Wedding Pics from Ann Marie Walts

Wedding Favorites

Here's our favorite pics from our photographer, Ann Marie Walts, as well as several taken by family and friends. We had over 1000 pics to go through just from Ann Marie! She was everywhere. Click on the top picture to see the whole album. Hope you enjoy!

Wedding Vows

Here are our wedding vows. They were inspired by the Bible, in particular the Song of Songs and Ephesians Chapter 5.

Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful!

You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have ravished my heart with one glance of your eyes,

It is in the presence of God and these witnesses that I, Duarte, in Love, bind myself to you, Heather, in all circumstances. For better, for worse. For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.
Yes, I vow my life to you. I vow to serve you, protect you, support you and carry you all the days of my life..

I vow to value and nurture all facets of our love. Our friendship, our intimacy, and our undying devotion.

You are my new Jerusalem in human form. You are my precious inheritance.

You are mine and my desire is for you ( SOS 7:10)

Set me therefore, as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death.
I am jealous for your love with jealousy as relentless as the grave.
My love burns like a blazing fire, yes it burns, It is the very flame of the Lord.


You are fairest among ten thousand. You are the one my heart desires.

It is in the presence of God and these witnesses that I, Heather, in Love, bind myself to you, Duarte, in all circumstances. For better, for worse. For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.

Yes, I vow my life to you. I vow to serve you, respect you, support you and honor you all the days of my life.

I vow to value and nurture all facets of our love. Our friendship, our intimacy, and our undying devotion.

You are my lover, my leader, and my friend.
I am yours and I know that your desire is for me( SOS 7:10)

I will set you as a seal upon my heart, as a seal upon my arm,
for love is as strong as death.
Many waters cannot quench this love, floods cannot drown it.
I will go with you to the ends of the earth.
I am ready to arise, for I am yours and you are mine.