I had always wanted to visit Jordan. Maybe it started as a kid in elementary school when I found out there was a country with the same name as a girl in my class. Then when I worked in Qatar I had the pleasure of working with some incredible guys from Jordan, one being my boss. I didn’t get a chance to visit then, but as the Happy Nomad I knew I had no choice but to come and visit.

The Jordanian Flag With Amman

The Jordanian Flag With Amman

I was lucky to be welcomed into the home of a friend from business school. Lara invited me to stay with her family and her wonderful dog Saki and I was powerless to refuse such wonderful Arab hospitality. Her dad is a man of few words, but I learned so much from our conversations and he seemed to know everything about Jordan and the Middle East.

King Abdullah I Mosque

King Abdullah I Mosque

My exploration of Jordan started in a funny way. My friend dropped me off in front of the country’s most important mosque. It was on her way to work, there was a bank across the street where I could exchange money, and it was a good place to start exploration from. I went to the bank and exchanged some money. I asked the teller if I could enter the mosque across the street since there was a lot of police surrounding it. He said I couldn’t right now since the king was currently inside.

Not deterred by royalty, I went across the street to the mosque. I saw many police and asked one if I could go in and he said “now, very difficult..” He didn’t speak much English. I walked around to the other side and then saw two busloads of men with machine guns get out. I asked another one and he politely told me to come back in an hour. I never did go back there, actually. The king was there to pray on what was New Year’s Day in the Islamic calendar.

I did visit the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches across the street though. Yes, there are Christians in Jordan. Apparently they made up 30% of the population in 1950. Now they make up a much smaller percentage at 6%, though I presume it’s hard to measure. Recent geopolitical events (1990 Gulf War, 2003 Iraq War, Syrian Civil War) have pushed millions of refugees into Jordan and completely changed the demographics of the country. Early on, however, Palestinian refugees probably changed the demographics in the period immediately after 1948.





Jordan was far richer in culture and historical places than I ever could have imagined. I’ll share some the places I visited in future posts. But having just heard of Petra and Wadi Rum before coming, I realized how ignorant I was about this amazing country. Moses saw the “promised land” from Jordan. Jesus was baptized here, in the Jordan River no less. There are Islamic and crusader castles, Roman ruins, and the Dead Sea. Yes, it’s the lowest point on earth, a sea so salty you can’t help but float unnaturally. And the vegetation in the Dead Sea area is so different from the rest of desert-like Jordan (though the north of the country is somewhat green). The constant water supply from the river combined with a much warmer climate (since it’s so far below sea level) gives it a semi-tropical climate able to grow fruits like bananas, papayas, and more. I was amazed to see this!

Jordan was an incredible experience. Stay tuned to read more about it..


Going To A Huge Sinkhole With MTV Lebanon

April 14, 2014

Shooting A Scene

My last full day in Lebanon was an amazing one. Though my friends were busy, they arranged for me to join one of their friends to visit Lebanon’s beautiful countryside. My friends are very involved with the caving community in Lebanon. On weekends they often go to caves and explore where few have explored before. […]

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Photo Friday – Looking For Spring – Cleveland, Ohio, USA

April 11, 2014

Looking For Spring - Taken 8-Apr-2014 - Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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How To Make Olive Oil

April 9, 2014


While staying with George and Teresa in Lebanon I got to take part in an annual event for them, a very important day: taking the garden’s olives and pressing them into oil. Nothing is wasted in the process. The seeds are ground and sold to be used as an accelerant when starting barbecues or fires. […]

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Lebanese Hospitality: Extending My Family

April 7, 2014

With George And Teresa

I have kept in touch with one of my professors from business school pretty well. He invites me to Skype with his class in Madrid when he teaches a course on corporate social responsibility as I have had many experiences on this journey that tie in nicely with what they study. One student in the […]

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The Beautiful Country Of Lebanon

April 2, 2014

Beautiful Lebanon

Going to Lebanon was a difficult decision. Since it borders Syria and Israel, my only option for visiting and leaving was to fly. I try and avoid flying for environmental and cost reasons, but in the end I couldn’t help but visit. I have met too many wonderful people from Lebanon and I love their […]

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My Biggest Screw Up As A Couchsurfer

March 31, 2014


I’ve couchsurfed extensively on The Happy Nomad Tour. It’s a way to meet locals everywhere I go, not stay in sterile, boring hostels, and save money. So far I’ve had tons of positive experiences, making friends for life along the way. In Ecuador I accidentally broke a pot’s lid and I had to replace it. […]

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A Toy Library And English Conversation Club

March 26, 2014

A Toy Library In Ankara, Turkey

While in Ankara I had the opportunity to experience two cool things in one location – a toy library. I was brought to the library by my Turkish couchsurfing host. I had never heard of a toy library before, but was told it actually started in the U.S. It immediately made sense to me. Kids […]

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Ankara – Turkey’s Capital City

March 24, 2014

Anıtkabir - Flowered Flag

I went to Ankara the first time because I found a cheap flight from there to Lebanon and it was close to Capadoccia. As the bus got closer to the city I felt like I was riding through the suburbs of an American town in the Midwest. So strange! Ankara has seen lots of growth […]

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My First Hot Air Balloon Ride – Capadoccia, Turkey

March 19, 2014


It all kind of came together by chance. I hadn’t planned on doing a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia, but when presented the opportunity I was powerless to say no. I was picked up from where I was staying before sunrise. The company I went with, Turkiye Balloons, fashions themselves as the most professional […]

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Cappadocia, Turkey – Caves, Hot Air Balloons, And Serene Beauty

March 17, 2014

Hot Air Balloon Over Cappadocia

Cappadocia. I didn’t know much about it before I went to Turkey, but I knew it was a beautiful place I had to visit. Little did I know what an amazing place it would be. Getting there wasn’t easy. I didn’t buy my bus ticket ahead of time and the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr […]

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Photo Friday – Beautiful Pier – Cleveland, OH, USA

March 14, 2014

Beautiful Pier - Taken 8-Mar-2014 - Cleveland, OH USA

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Sulaymaniyah, Iraq

March 12, 2014

Desert At The Doorstep

Sulaymaniyah is a town in northeast Iraq not too far from the Iranian border. Apparently there is a bit of a rivalry between Erbil and Sulaymaniyah as both are big cities and both wanted to be capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. In the end Erbil is the capital, but you may want to answer carefully when […]

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Change Your Paradigm – Acceptance

March 10, 2014


There’s more to life than the American Dream we’ve been sold. In this series I present an alternative way to view the world and your surroundings. There is so much out there to experience, enjoy, and incorporate into our lives. It’s all there for the taking, but getting there is the hard part. In this […]

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Photo Friday – Hanging Out – Serengeti, Tanzania

March 7, 2014

Hanging Out - Taken 17-Jan-2014 - Serengeti, Tanzania

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Erbil, Iraq

March 6, 2014

Erbil Citadel And Fountain

I arrived in Erbil not knowing what to expect. I knew there weren’t many tourist attractions, but I wasn’t here to be a tourist. I wanted to learn more about Iraq and Kurdistan. I caught a taxi from the bus company’s office to the center of Erbil (also written Arbil in English and in Kurdish […]

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How The Happy Nomad Tour Rolls – Asking “Why Not?”

March 3, 2014

Body Painting? Why Not?

Many people have asked me how I could just leave my job and seemingly travel perpetually. How can I afford it? How do you find places to stay for free all the time? How do you find places to volunteer? All questions I’ve received by email, and now I’m sharing the secrets in a series […]

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