Jordanië 2018-2019

Tweeduizendachttien was een goed jaar. Is dit weer een jaarlijkse nieuwjaarsbrief? Misschien. Ik denk dat de meesten onder ons op het einde van een jaar de balans opmaken, snel of heel bewust. Om dan een nieuwe start te nemen, al dan niet met goede voornemens. Ikzelf heb er maar één: precies zo verder doen als afgelopen jaar, maar wel proberen om bij dezelfde werkgever te blijven. Ik zit goed, nu. En wat goed is, moet je bijhouden, toch? 

Ik vertoef in het Midden-Oosten. Mijn gezelschap is internationaal: de Jordaanse chauffeur, en een Indische, Amerikaanse en Japanse toerist (uit Kobe, Stefanie!). We zijn op weg naar een paar Romeinse sites rond Amman. Een druk programma, maar we zijn niet anders gewend. 

Amman katapulteert me terug naar Caïro, 1993. Ik was toen een jonkie van net geen 20 jaar oud. 6 weken op reis door Egypte, zo goedkoop mogelijk. Wie met weinig geld reist, heeft een andere blik. Heeft die ervaring mij zo gevormd dat ik nu, 25 jaar later, nog steeds min of meer op dezelfde manier reis? Ok, een duur daguitstapje met een gedeelde taxi kan er nu wel al eens van af, maar de essentie blijft hetzelfde. Geen luxueuze bubbel, maar eenvoud. Belangrijk: praatjes slaan. Noem het een illusie, ik denk graag dat ik daarmee door de bubbel breek. 

Amman, dat is precies één grote autosnelweg. Wie al over Brussel klaagt, mag hier eens komen kijken (en ruiken). Zonder taxi geraak je niet door de stad, die op 8 heuvels is gebouwd. Uber is misschien niet legaal, de prijzen zijn laag en de app is uitstekend. Bonus: de praatjes zijn authentieker, want iedereen ubert in bijberoep. Tip: een plaatselijke simkaart met voldoende data en belkrediet kost 16 JD en koop je bij Zain op de luchthaven. 

Duurzaamheid geldt hier enkel voor meubels. Net zoals dat vroeger in België gedaan werd, zijn kasten vanbinnen met krantenpapier beplakt. Hoewel ik een Ikea gespot heb, is alles hier meestal oud. En vuil. Voor wie in de bubbel reist, moeten de toiletten op de site in Jerash een nachtmerrie zijn. Wie smetvrees heeft, blijft beter thuis. 

Ecologie is hier de laatste zorg. Overal enkele beglazing, airco in de zomer, terrasverwarmers in de winter. Stinkende, oude auto’s, ook al hebben we hier net een Tesla gespot. Een witte. Mijn avondeten gisteren was niet bepaald plasticvrij. verse sapjes komen in plastic bekertje, met deksel en rietje. Plastic bestek bij de falafel en de foul, natuurlijk. En een gedekte tafel bij Hashem is er eentje met een nieuw laagje ultradunne plasticfolie.

Wie schoonheid zoekt, moet het in het dagdagelijkse proberen vinden. De soeks, steegjes, winkeltjes. De beste verkopers werken hier. Een plezier om vanaf een veilige afstand te kijken hoe ze er in slagen om toeristen die alles al hebben toch nog dat leuke olielampje te verkopen.

Ondertussen is het halféén en hebben we al twee historische sites achter de kiezen. Een foto met Romeinse karrensporen in Jarash en het kasteel van Adjlun, nog gebouwd tegen de invasie van de kruisvaarders.

De zuilen bewegen als je er tegen duwt, zoals dit truukje met een lepeltje toont. Schijnt dat de Romeinen lood in de zuil goten om de stukken bijeen te houden. Daar heb ik niks over kunnen terugvinden, wel over de ondergang van het Romeinse rijk door loodvergiftiging. Interessante hypothese, maar ze zou niet kloppen.

Ook prima om je afstuderen te vieren, zo’n Romeinse site. In Jordanië is 98% van de bevolking geletterd, het onderwijs deed er het afgelopen decennium een flinke inhaalbeweging. Deze juffrouw stond er met twee vriendinnen en een fotograaf met een degelijk toestel, ze liet zich de aandacht welgevallen.

Opmerkelijk: homoseksualiteit is hier legaal en mag vanaf je 16de. Is er een verband met de scholingsgraad? Ik ben geneigd te denken van wel.

Dit is het kasteel van Ajlun.

Dit is Umm Quais met zijn prachtig zicht op de Golan-vlakte. De akoestiek in het theater is van topkwaliteit. Je kan op normale toon spreken, de hele zaal hoort je. Slimme jongens, die Romeinen. Voor ze gek werden van het lood toch.

Ik sluit af met enkele foto’s van fashion uit de soeks.

Tip voor wie rustig bij een theetje over WiFi wil bloggen in Amman: neem een Uber naar Rainbow Street. Massa’s upmarket eettenten hier.

Museums that are open in Brussels on January 1st

Most museums are closed on 25/12 and 1/1, but not all of them! I’m pretty sure you’ll find something that will tickle your fancy. Museums open on legal holidays? The best invention since sliced bread.

For those who like cars: http://autoworld.be/home

aw

For those who like old toys:  http://www.museedujouet.eu/index.php/jouet/gestpages/pageenglish

jouet

For those who like chocolate: http://choco-story-brussels.be/en/Homepage-en

facade2

An art collection displayed in a beautiful Art Deco house – and it has a nice garden as well (my personal favourite in this list): http://www.museumvanbuuren.be/en/home.php

musee-david-et-alice

And for those of you who are still here on the 2nd of January: https://www.comicscenter.net/en/news-flash/opening-hours-during-christmas-break ==> famous Belgian comics in a wonderful Art Nouveau site by Victor Horta.

 

Enjoy you first day of the new year!

 

Kushari

kushari

I’ve just spooned away a nice portion of kushari, originally Egypt’s poor man’s dish, but now enjoyed by everyone. Real comfort food, with vermicelli, macaroni rice, lentils, chickpeas, crispy fried onions and a rich tomato sauce. I like to add some chili, to give it a nice bite. Tastes so good, especially while watching the boats pass on the river Nile. Kushari joints are everywhere in Egypt, it is the country’s street food.

As far as I know, there is only one spot in Brussels where you can get kushari. It’s at Mr Falafel, Bd. Lemonnier, a tiny restaurant which only sells 2 dishes. Fresh veggies are available, prices are low, service is friendly and – surprise! – in Dutch! It is so funny when people talk to the owner in French, and hear him answer “Wablief?”

According to an article in The Guardian, kushari was served to the protesters at the Tahrir Square in Cairo during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. Guess who was in the country a few months later? Yep. And it was absolutely my best Egypt trip ever. No busloads of tourists (literally), just a handful of individual travellers. During the day we all did our thing individually, but in the evening we would meet up at a restaurant to mingle with locals, mostly people in the tourist industry, to have a meal together, and to talk Egyptian politics. Not my favourite subject, but I must say that I enjoyed sharing a freshly cooked meal with others, it is one of the joys of travelling alone. The chef would make one single dish, a nice tagine or something typical Egyptian, beer and wine were plentiful. A unique experience.

I can assure you that it is the most wonderful thing to visit the Great Hypostyle Hall almost alone, or just be 2 people in a tomb. Pictures will follow.

Why this all of a sudden craving for kushari and Egypt in general? It is all Joann Fletcher’s fault. This driven and erudite Egyptologist has made a series for the BBC, Immortal Egypt. Her enthusiasm and passion for Egyptian history, her appreciation of things of beauty and her delightful red hair make this series a true feast for the eyes and ears.

All the episodes can be found on Youtube, I listed them here. Enjoy!

1/4 The Road to the Pyramids

2/4 Chaos

3/4 Zenith

4/4 Invasion

 

 

Amsterdammed!

In any museum in Amsterdam, for 59,90€ you buy a Museumkaart, which gives you free access to 400 museums in the Netherlands. Valid for 1 year.

My favs:

Here you’ll find the list of museums with free entrance with the Museumkaart.

FOAM, a jewel specialised in photography.

Eye, the filmmuseum in an upcoing area in the city. Take the boat just behind central station to get there.

Het Rijksmuseum, a must see.

Het Stedelijk Museum, another must see.

Hermitage, not to be missed.

Museum Van Loon, a beautiful house where the happy few organise their weddings 😉

The Royal Palais, a gem.

For those of you who really like Vincent. I think the colours changed too much over time, but they are restoring the works

Tropenmuseum, nice exhibitions.

 

As member of the Purple Army, I can only say: Prince, if only we had known

ou dearly

Prince death: Powerful drugs found in singer’s home ‘were mislabelled’

Oh my dear Prince. I would have loved to see you perform your minimalistic versions of your greatest hits (“more than Madonna has children”). Unfortunately, there were the Paris attacks, and you’ve decided to start your tour in Australia. Because you were afraid to die in the arms of Islamic State.

My sweet Prince, I always thought you had a clean life, no drugs, no alcohol, good food and all. Now I understand. You were a pain patient taking opioids, probably just trying to be as strong and healthy as possible. Just move on with life. That is what I always liked about you.

Are we gonna let the elevator
Bring us down
Oh, no let’s go!

Now I get the picture. But there are still many open questions. Where did you get the Fentanyl? A doctor? A street dealer? And most of all: why? You can get prescription drugs, painkillers, which are safe to use. My guess is that you didn’t know what was in those pills, and before you knew it was too late. It is just so sad that it happened the day before you were going to meet Dr Howard Kornfeld, specialized in opioid addiction. The Narcan shot – save shot – and the plane landing were serious signs of trouble.

You have always been an example to me. You brought life to my life. The eternal ups & downs, life, you knew about them, and you perfectly knew how to lift the spirits, reminding us that life is short and difficult and that we better make the best out of it while we’re still here.

You were on heavy drugs, while also living a super healthy lifestyle, food wise, sports wise. Holding an I don’t know many kilograms guitar and still doing the dance moves while being over fifty… Wow. If only I had known… If the audience had known… The doctor just came too late, you were looking for help, but then you had that fatal overdose.

Oh my dear Prince, I feel for you. Your suffering must have been hell. Every time I saw you in concert, I cried, and then – through your music and your messages – I was filled with joy, and lust for life. I’ll try to hold on to this feeling: the lust for life.

Your music will never die.

We love you, respect you, and if only we had known… we would have protected you.

x,
a.

All Prince concerts listed in one single website

Great videos below.



My Prince concerts:

10/7/2010: Werchter, Belgium

http://www.demorgen.be/muziek/de-weide-van-werchter-blijkt-een-maatje-te-groot-voor-vitale-prince-b958543a/

8/11/2010: Sportpaleis Antwerpen, Belgium

18/11/2010: GelroDome, Arnhem, Netherlands

6/7/2011: Sint-Pietersplein, Gent, Belgium

Review of the concert the day before, which I didn’t attend.

And a second one, in Dutch.

10/7/2011: North Sea Jazz, Rotterdam, Netherlands (3rd row when he was performing The Beautiful Ones)

The first time ever I got so close to the stage … He was dressed in red, and it struck me how petite he was. Not much taller than myself, and so fit. I know it takes a lot of work to look that good for someone in their fifties. The older you get, the fewer calories your body needs, so you have to be very selective in what you eat. A very attractive “quincado”  (definition here, in French: Les Quinquados).

The concert was different from his usual big shows, with his typical greatest hits-medleys. Much more intimate, more authentic, I’d say. One of the best I’ve seen.

Full concert here: North Sea Jazz 2011

13/7/2011 Rockhall, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxemburg (the only Prince show where I was disappointed. The musicians seemed to be low on energy, and the concert hall was filled with bankers. Not a funky crowd.)

27/5/2014: Sportpaleis Antwerpen, Belgium

30/5/2014: Botanique (front row), a concert for only 400 people, Brussels, Belgium

A beautiful memory, that I share with a couple of friends. There were rumors the night before that Prince was going to play at Botanique, so I walked up there, and met a friend who was also hoping to see Prince 🙂 The next day, it was concert day. My friend Ann came from Antwerp, we were so thrilled, so excited, we were going to be part of this unique experience! Botanique is a beautiful concert venue, with 3 concert halls. My favourite one is “La Rotonde”, Prince played at “L’Orangerie”. And it was smashing! When he played “The Beautiful Ones” at his piano, I was so close that I could almost touch him. I got goose bumps, such a magical song, what a voice range.

The concert halls at Botanique

Botanique on Tripadvisor

The Prince concert is national news in Belgium. Images of the audience, waiting impatiently, and Prince at his best, on stage!

7/6/2014: Wiener Stadhalle, Vienna (front row), on his birthday.

A first review in German.

A second review in German.

prince

It was a sheer coincidence that I saw Prince here, I had booked a trip to Vienna without knowing he was performing there during my stay. Of course, a few days before I left, I found out, booked a ticket (it wasn’t even sold out!), and upon my arrival, I dropped off my stuff at my hostel, jumped on the bike to get at the Stadhalle real early. There were already 88 people waiting, so they stamp your hand to guarantee fair play. I found a guy with good legs and running shoes, we chatted away about Prince and his music, and when the doors opened, he ran, made it to the front row and kept me a spot, as I had asked.

All these people you meet, fans who come from different countries to see the gig, the laid back atmosphere, the nice chats, … All part of the experience.

It still is strange, and not only for me, that we are never going to be able to see him perform anymore. As said, he was an example for me, a sort of therapy if you like, an artist who knew how to pull people through rough times. His shows were not only funky, they were philosophical as well. He knew very well that “we must bring our own light to the darkness”, that nobody else is going to do it for us. His message was: life is short, live a little before you die. Always positive, even if life is a b*tch. He has had his share as well. He was called “Princess” in high school, was bullied, because he was short and because he was gifted. High school kids don’t like people who stick out. His son Amiir died when he was only a few months old, his marriage with the beautiful Mayté Garcia didn’t survive. They were magic together, both on and off stage.

Here is the song “Peach” for you, Prince performing, Mayté dancing. The energy just splashes off the screen. Wow.

Prince and his lovely wife Mayté performing one of his best songs.

What is left, is his music. A majestic legacy, as impressive as what Mozart has created in his life. I put them on the same level; even if the music is very different, the quality is the same. And I am thankful for what he has created.

Crazy that the day after I saw Prince, I saw Mozart’s masterpiece from the second row. Yes, rows are important, especially when it comes to dance & music. Two magic flutes in one weekend, OMG, was I a lucky girl.

A few more songs:

Mountains, the original video. Song was written by Wendy & Lisa. Lyrics by Prince. My absolute favorite. Especially when played REAL LOUD)

Motherless Child (wow!)

This was weird: one of the group members, 3rd Eye Girl, liked my post. Or was is Prince himself? He was quite active on social media, loved his computer.

prince

Days of wild – the dawn experience – all is good)

Superstition (with Stevie Wonder)

Prince & Sheila E, ladies and gentlemen!

And his most talented protege, Sheila E.

His top performance. Look at the moves. Listen to the voice. Look at the crowd.

Feeling better, y’all? I am.

Funk therapy. Highly recommended.

mayte

 

Nobody is going to do it for us

we must bring
our own light
to the
darkness.nobody is going
to do it
for us.

as the young boys
ski
down the
slopes

as the fry cook
gets his last
paycheck

as dog chases
dog

as the chessmaster
loses more than
the game

we must bring
our own light
to the
darkness.

nobody is going
to do it
for us,

as the lonely
telephone
anybody
anywhere

as the great beast
trembles
in nightmare

as the final season
leaps into
focus

nobody is going
to do it
for us.