Browsing Category: Travels

Colombia – Pictures and More Pictures

Most of our time in Colombia was spent with our tour group. It was our first time doing a vacation like this and overall, I think I would do it again. A tour group will indefinitely have a variety of personalities who all bring their own level of entertainment to the experience.

I’ve been meaning to write a great post about all our adventures and my feelings throughout the trip but if I keep waiting to do that, this post will never go up so instead, here is a photo dump with commentary thrown in.

As you may be able to guess, the next two pictures are from the Gold Museum. Although I found this museum generally boring, there were some really beautiful displays.




There was a Turkish guy in our group who was just going for it with the different street food. It was inspiring to see him wanting to try everything. His thought was, “When else are you going to get the chance to try this particular thing? Go for it!” We were wise to follow his lead.


Make your own candy waffles (no idea on the real name) on the side of the road.


The Botero Museum- I liked this a lot more than the Gold Museum. Beautiful architecture and some very fun pieces.




No trip is complete without some good reading. I found the Martian a bit technical but still good. Career Evil was so gruesome! Definitely my least favorite in this detective series.


Bogota by night. We were a few blocks from a really swanky area. It was fun walking around but these shops were wayy out of our price range. We found a great little Food Truck lot and then… we went and watched Star Wars! We were exhausted after a long day and nothing sounded better than sitting back and watching a movie. Since I’m not a big Star Wars fanatic, I just watched the movie for basic entertainment value and it delivered on that front.


The next day we had a very early morning as we made our way to Cartagena. We stayed at the Hotel Caribe where some Obama staffers also notoriously stayed. Despite its sordid history, the hotel was beautiful.


We had lunch in this charming Middle Eastern restaurant (with very subpar food).


Fort in the old city.




When I saw all the trinkets while we were there, I thought they were a bit gaudy and didn’t end up getting any. Now that I’m looking at the pictures, I really wish I had!


And how did I pass up these kicks?!


There were beautiful lights all over the city.


We kept seeing lots of local people eating this dish and finally found a courtyard where there were endless tables selling it. We pulled a chair up to a plastic table and ate as some people danced in the middle of the courtyard.


A breakfast guest.


An early morning canoe trip through the mangroves.





Followed by fresh coconut water.


And some fresh coconut meat.


Our guide asked us if we wanted to have lunch on the beach. Fresh lobsters and crabs from the sea? Um, yes!


The feast was worth the wait.



Even the food courts had stunning views.


Got to spend some quality time on the beach. We lounged, avoided getting massages and read until it started to get chilly in the evening. Then we took a walk and welcomed the sunset.




We finished our stay with a cab back to the old city to have dinner in a courtyard across a beautiful church. We watched a couple get married, musicians playing instruments and children running around. The sunset and the romantic dinner were such a perfect cap to our quick but wonderful stay in Colombia.


Colombia! – The Colors

How was your New Year’s Eve? I went over to a neighbor’s house for a fun party and it was awesome to have a two minute commute walking home when it was all said and done. If this weekend was any indication of things to come, it is going to be an awesome year! On Friday, we went to a birthday party for our dear friends’ daughters and later we met up with my cousins who were in town from New Jersey and Michigan. It was such great day of spending time with great people and watching Nouri have fun discovering new houses and people. Saturday we had a family day filled with pancake breakfast, shopping and hanging out at and on Sunday we had some more friends over. It was a perfect weekend full of people we care about. Hoping there is much more of that in 2016!

Now, back to Colombia! I wanted to share some pictures and will do that over a few posts.

Our trip was just five days and was in and out. It’s hard to know what we would do in the future, but five days is too short for a good holiday! But the idea of being away from Nouri longer than that is also hard to swallow. Maybe the best compromise is to take a nanny (er, Khala) with you on vacation? Then you can do the things that aren’t as kid friendly but still get to cuddle them at night?

When I was looking at our pictures, a few broad categories jumped out to me- one of them being COLOR. There were so many beautiful pictures of the vibrant buildings that were all over Bogota and Cartagena, the two cities that we visited.

A walk through Bogota quickly reveals the rich graffiti culture in the city. Artists have actually relocated to Bogota from all over the world to share their craft on the building walls. Police do not fine or remove the artist’s work and the artists have a code among each other not to paint over someone else’s work. The result is stunning political, comedic and historic pieces throughout the city.

Cartagena’s caribbean vibe is very different from Bogota but it too pops with color and architectural treasures. The Colonial era old town is full of narrow streets and beautiful structures with integrate balconies and doors in beautifully preserved or restored buildings.

Here are some pictures of the buildings in the two cities. Can you tell which city you are looking at?














Nowhere Boy

The bus tour stopped for many awesome photo opportunities, such as this one.

Some things I wish I hadn’t seen, like Strawberry Field which took some of the charm of the song away.

The tour gave us some insight into the childhoods and lives of the Beatles but it didn’t begin to compare to the movie we just saw. Last night we went to see Nowere Boy – a great film that gives fans a look into the young life of John Lennon. Whether you are a Beatles fan or not, this is a great film to check out.

From the perspective of a fan it was interesting to see what may have made Lennon the way he was. From the perspective of a normal person navigating life, it was amazing to see the challenges and hardships Lennon had as a young kid. From the death of his favorite uncle, who was like his father, on his birthday to finding out his mom who had abandoned him had lived just down the street his whole life, we witness the personal turmoil that Lennon was enduring at the same time that he first fell in love with music.

A young McCartney and Harrison also appear in the film and one of the most moving scenes in the film takes place at Lennon’s mom’s wake ceremony. Lennon is struggling to deal with the unexpected death of his mother who he was just getting to know and he has a violent outburst and storms out of the wake. Paul runs after him outside and John punches him, knocking him down. Immediately recognizing his wrongdoing he helps Paul up and they break down crying- Paul having also recently lost his mother to cancer. The camera zooms out showing them standing in the middle of the street holding each other and crying. 

During that scene I am struck by the magnitude of their relationship. It was born when they were both so young and through that tragedy and so many others they were in each others lives. They rose to the top together, they were amazing collaborators  and then their relationship crumbled. At one point Paul wrote Too Many People in which he says “Too many waiting for that lucky break, That was your first mistake, You took your lucky break and broke it in two.” John retaliated with How Do You Sleep in which he sings “The only thing you’ve done was Yesterday, and since you’ve gone you’re just another day.”

It’s quite heartbreaking to think that they never had a chance to reconcile after watching the birth of their relationship in Nowhere Boy. I hope you’ll go check it out and in the meantime, enjoy this video montage.


I can’t believe it has been one year since this picture was taken!!It has been an amazing birthday already and probably the best birthday week in history. I will update on that later this week but for now here are pictures from Kenya and Scotland.

But before today was gone I wanted to thank you friends for making life so beautiful and entertaining and thank you God for letting me see another year.

Kenya Pictures

Scotland Pictures

Lamu, Kenya


I think Lonely Planet describes it with words like “paradise” or “magical” and says something along the lines of “You haven’t been to Kenya until you have been to Lamu.”

Lies. Lies. Lies.

If someone said to me: “Here is a cage full of mosquitos that are probably carrying yellow fever. Stand in here or go to Lamu.” I would walk into the cage full of mosquitos.

Ok, fine. It wasn’t that bad but it was a huge let down from everything I had heard it would be. The place has no cars so donkeys are used all over the island. Sound great, doesn’t it? The only problem is that the town has a bunch of donkeys but no one to clean all the donkey crap. So, when you walk around you literally feel like you are swimming in donkey poo. But just in case I didn’t really feel like I was swimming in donkey poo, it rained and poured for almost the entire time we were there. So, donkey poo was literally running by in rivers. My feet will never recover from those three days.

So, the place was really stinky. There was not much to do. The food was sub par. But before somebody calls the waaahmbulance, I’ll talk about some of the good stuff there too.

A few magical things actually did happen during our few days there.

The first day we arrived, we walked around the town which actually does have some charm to it. There are lots of winding little alleys and the narrow roads give the place a very intimate feel. There were indeed women who floated by in full burqas and the little children everywhere were ridiculously cute. (Unfortunately, there is a three month residency requirement or I might have tried to adopt right then and there.) That night we hung out late at one of the cafes along the water. We were trying to wait out the rain but finally realized that we would have to head back to our hotel or we would be stuck there all night. When we first left, the rain was coming down pretty hard but not so hard that it would knock you over and soak you so thoroughly that water would end up in places you didn’t even know existed.

Just a few minutes into our walk, the rain came down in watermelon size drops. I have not laughed and screamed so much for long as I can remember. Before we knew it the small alleys were overflowing with water. We rolled up our pants but it didn’t matter, the rain had soaked us. Holding an umbrella was useless but we clung on anyways. Finally we ran under a small awning where a man was making kebabs. A small group of Kenyans were huddled underneath and they seemed to know that the rain wasn’t going to let up, but they waited in the shelter anyway. It was one of those moments that I should have written about right away because it is already running away from me. All I remember is laughing and laughing. The night was so dark and through the lights of the street lamps, we could make out the sheets of water as they came down.

So, for every bad thing about Lamu, it was more than worth it for that. This was a rain like the rains I remember from being a young girl in Pakistan. I remember looking to my mom to see if it would be ok to run outside and before she had finished nodding her head, I would be out in our courtyard screaming so hard I could hardly breathe- choking on the rain because I was staring up at the sky laughing. I would feel like I was part of the earth and the rain and the mud and me were all one and the same thing.

I have searched for that feeling ever since and in this poo filled island, I found that magic again.

Next up, Diani beach. Featuring camel rides on the beach, finding treasures in deserted stores along the ocean, and even an appearance by some troublesome baboons!

Click here for a few photos from Lamu.