Sunday, November 25, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
|From Ultar Meadow|
We took a day hike to the Ultar Glacier and Ultar Base Camp with Hunza Guides Pakistan, www.hunzaguidespakistan.com
800 year old Baltit Fort in Karimabad, Hunza Valley
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
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."
Sunday, August 12, 2007
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:
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
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 http://www.acores.com/australia
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
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
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.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
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).
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 www.joesplaceazores.com
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.
Jose M. Azevedo
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 – www.pocinhobay.com
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.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
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
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.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
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.
The fog was so thick it was hard to see ahead
Friday, June 08, 2007
For non-Facebook members click below-
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
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
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
Thursday, May 31, 2007
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. Hmmmm...how 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
Sunday, May 20, 2007
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
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
|From Wedding Slide...|
|From Wedding Slide...|
|From Wedding Slide...|
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
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
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
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
76,000 highway miles
Great gas mileage
Power door locks
Dual front air bags
Front side air bags
Single compact disc
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|
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!
"Can you believe we're getting married tomorrow?"
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!
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.