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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Middle East & North Africa / ZWT 6 NA*ME Celebrity Couscous Capers Challenge
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    ZWT 6 NA*ME Celebrity Couscous Capers Challenge

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    Elmotoo
    Mon Jun 14, 2010 4:37 pm
    Forum Host
    UPDATED ON PAPER TO HERE. Off to update p.1. When that is done, I will post as such here then you can all scurry over to find my mistakes!

    Thank you!
    Beth
    Elmotoo
    Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:15 pm
    Forum Host
    COMPLETELY CURRENT TO HERE. i hope. icon_biggrin.gif
    Rita~
    Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:41 pm
    Forum Host
    Beth sorry! I knew you would remark. But I found it all so fasinating I couldn`t leave any out.
    Believe it or not I did cut out photos.
    WiGal
    Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:17 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    Elmotoo
    Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:03 pm
    Forum Host
    ~Rita~ wrote:
    Beth sorry! I knew you would remark. But I found it all so fasinating I couldn`t leave any out.
    Believe it or not I did cut out photos.


    heeheehee. but you know i love you!
    Elmotoo
    Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:04 pm
    Forum Host
    WiGal wrote:


    rotfl.gifrotfl.gifrotfl.gifrotfl.gifrotfl.gif
    **Tinkerbell**
    Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:37 pm
    Food.com Groupie


    City: Palestine
    Celebrity: Stephen King

    Xtra Hot Dishes' Couscous Caper Journal

    June 8, 2010: This dream is still haunting me. Itís been months! Why do I feel the compulsion to drop everything and get on a plane to Palestine, of all places? Maybe traveling isnít such a bad idea; but why not someplace exotic and tropical instead? Weird.

    June 9, 2010: Well, according to my palm reading, I have a tendency toward investigative abilities and impulsive actions. So, Iíve booked a flight to Tel Aviv and will travel by bus to Palestine. Whatever is pulling me there isnít going away. I have to know what it is if I want to sleep at night. Of course, DH wonít sleep at all once he finds out it cost $3000 just for the flight. icon_eek.gif

    June 10, 2010: I hate layovers, but I guess Iíd rather be stuck in New York for 4 hours than the middle of nowhere. My new seat neighbor, Kumquat the Catís friend, joined the flight in New York. She has the most amazing stories to tell about having already traveled to 5 of the 7 continents. I canít even imagine! The one story that really grabbed me though, was when she told me she has no idea why she felt she needed to go to Palestine. Get this, journal! Sheís been having strange dreams! While comparing our dreams another passenger whoíd connected with this flight from California, Bayhill, interjected to whisper that sheíd had these dreams too. When our conversation went from a hush to excited exclamations, another passenger from Maryland, luvinlif2k, joined in with similar stories of these mysterious dreams. Since one of her goals in life was to travel the world as a food critic, she decided to take these dreams as a sign and travel, eat and write a book about all the different cuisines she discovered. She had been speaking with her seatmate from Maine, who turns out to be my most favored author, Stephen King! My sister, who used to travel for work once sat on a plane next to one of Kingís neighbors and found out that Stephen King is about as normal as can be, even though his mind is filled with macabre stories. Of course, I donít consider myself a stalker but I do have his autographed photo on my wall and personal photos of his bat-themed security gates outside his homeÖ but I just had to tell him that I was his number one fan! Luckily, I donít look like Kathy Bates so maybe I didnít scare him too much? As it turns out, King is investigating strange phenomena at the Dead Sea for his next novel.



    June 11, 2010: Well, the bus ride from Ben Gurion Intl. Airport to Palestine was less than comfortable. Bayhill loves to ride her horses and Kumsie has travelled roads in many different countries so they werenít bothered by the bumps and jumps the bus made. Bayhillís seatmate turned out to be a ďwee lassĒ from Scotland. I just love to hear her talk! Tea Jenny is as sweet as they come but makes a mean curry. icon_wink.gif As we approached Palestine I realized I was booked at the El Arab Hostel, while the others were booked at the much swankier Royal Court Suites Hotel. Although the staff was very kind, after seeing my tiny room with an unstable door, a broken window stuffed with towels, dirty bathroom and a view of the rubbish piled high in the large, dusty loft next door, I declined to stay there and hailed a shared transit taxi to take me to the Royal Court Suites instead. The Arab run transit taxis of the West Bank look like funny stretched Mercedes limos. As I piled in with my luggage I noticed two women who looked as if they were dressed for much cooler weather than we were experiencing here in Palestine. Iíve been that person before, arriving in Jamaica from a midnight flight out of Seattle, in a turtle neck and ski jacket, so I asked where they were from. GaylaV and bigbadbrenda were both from Canada and had met on the flight to Tel Aviv. As we shared some chips and dip Brenda had packed for a snack, I inquired as to what made them choose Palestine as a vacation destination. I already knew the answer though. Sometimes we meet and make friends simply by chance and other times there seems to be a reason for it that defies reason.
    When we arrived at the Ramallah Royal Court Suites Hotel I was dismayed to find there were no rooms available.

    As I sat in the common room wondering if I should catch a taxi back to the Al Arab Hostel, I was approached by three women who had met on flights from the United States. Julie3551 had planned to make this impulsive trip with her friend from Kentucky, but at the last minute her friend had to work so she had an extra bed available in her room. Dreamgoddess and kellychris were from Alabama and Louisiana, respectfully, and had decided to share Kellyís double room when they discovered their strange dreams were drawing them to the same place.

    June 12, 2010: What a day yesterday! This morning we all met in the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Since none of us knew what we were doing here, we agreed to tour the region with Stephen King while he did his research. Since the one thing we all had in common was trying new cuisines and it was SO hot in Palestine, we decided to name our little group the Xtra Hot Dishes.

    Dreamgoddess loves to shop for antiques and has always had an interest in ancient times so after breakfast we started our day by looking to hire a tour guide. The tour guide warned us that it would be very difficult and complicated to get us through the checkpoints, but he was willing to do it, for just a little extra cost. When Kelly found out that the tour would cost 300 shekels apiece, with no group discount, she said, ďMy teenage daughter doesnít even cost me that much! Thanks, but no thanks. Iíve got a better idea.Ē And she did! She hailed a bus to take us to Bethlehem. At the checkpoint we exited the bus and walked through the gate with no difficulty. She hailed another taxi on the other side and we began our tour of the Bethlehem area and some of the sights away from town. Because we were touring on our own we were able to visit with and enjoy the hospitality of the local people.

    Bethlehem is the cradle of biblical history. Located just 5.5 miles from Jerusalem, no town in the world has such a glorious history or as exalted status as Bethlehem. The Church of the Nativity was our first stop.



    The Grotto of the Nativity is a rectangular cavern beneath the church and is the Church of the Nativity's focal point. Entered by a flight of steps by the church altar, this is the cave that has been honored as the site of Christ's birth since at least the 2nd century.

    The idea that Jesus was born in a cave is reasonable, as many houses in the area are still built in front of a cave. The cave part would have been used for stabling and storage - thus the manger. Stephen was particularly fascinated by the idea of a hidden cave in one's house and I suspect he's considering an addition to his estate. icon_wink.gif

    In the marble-covered area where Jesus was born, hang 15 lamps. Six belong to the Greeks, five to the Armenians and four to the Latins:

    The El-Aqsa Mosque was our next stop. It has been targeted several times in attempts to destroy it. In 1969 an attempt was made to burn it down, but like the failed underground excavations, Jerusalemís holy site continued to stand. The Dome of the Rock mosque has also been targeted for dismantling to build the Zionist temple mount.

    Near Hebron, we met a wonderful Palestinian man named, Joseph.



    His house is modest but set on the hillside overlooking downtown Hebron. He is a former chief of police during the British period in Hebron. The view from his garden is nothing short of spectacular.

    We were served lots and lots of sweet, delicious tea from a tray, which Tea Jenny does at home and now was able to enjoy being the recipient of such a treat. We chatted with Joseph about his family and the country for hours but when we were served coffee we knew it was time to wrap it up. Being served coffee is a customary signal to have a cup, chat for a few minutes and then say your goodbyes.

    We rode down into Hebron to see the famous Hebron glass. Several stores sell beautiful, locally made glass in different colors and shapes.



    Traditionally, the products were functional; cups of various sizes and shapes, bottles, bowls, jugs, dishes, olive oil lamps, and later, various forms of petrol lamps, which were considered common household items. Jewelry and accessories, mainly for Bedouins, were also produced and sold in the desert (the Naqab, the Arabian Desert, and the Sinai). Some of these products - namely, eyes and hands made from blue glass - were also used as amulets to protect people or homes from the evil eye. Glass balls were also produced for fishing nets.

    By now it was late in the day and we needed to head back to Palestine to grab a bite to eat before the restaurant curfew. There were so many tantalizing choices, but we learned from a lovely woman named Lauren, who was working for 3 years in an office above the Nazareth Restaurant, that the falafel there was the best around. We were not disappointed! The falafel was so green we could practically see the parsley oozing out of them! The hummus too, was freshly made with just the right mix of lemon, garlic and parsley. We ate a delicious meal and enjoyed chatting about all we'd seen during the day.

    June 13, 2010:
    Today we are headed to the Dead Sea. The Dead SeaÖ sounds like a very likely setting for a Stephen King novel!



    Actually, we discovered that the Hebrew name for it is Yam ha Maved, meaning Killer Sea. The Dead Sea is deadly to most living things, but humans are not negatively affected. In fact there are reports of ailments, such as psoriasis or arthritis being relieved from exposure to the warm water and high mineral content of the Dead Sea. The mud contains sulphur, zinc oxide and magnesium carbonate, which are considered to be good for the skin.

    Conversely, any fish that accidentally swim into the waters of the Dead Sea from their rivers and streams, are killed instantly. Their bodies are quickly coated with a preserving layer of salt crystals and then washed ashore by the wind and the waves.
    This mysterious body of water is fed into from several freshwater streams and rivers that come down from the mountains around it. But once here, there is no escape. The water just stops flowing. So why doesnít the Sea overflow? The high heat in this region causes the water to evaporate; leaving behind an extreme concentration of mineral salts. The evaporated salt covers everything along the shore in a white blanket of crystals. The dissolved mineral salts in the water leave the water very dense. When humans try to actually swim in the thick brine of the Dead Sea, they find it very difficult to fight the buoyancy, which makes the body bob like a cork would. Most visitors simply lie down in the water and float effortlessly, reading even!
    This part of the world has a rift forming in the Earthís crust. As two crustal plates spread slowly apart the section of crust between them begins to stretch ever thinner until it breaks. The East Rift Valley runs through most of Africa, but starts just north of the Dead Sea and as the crust thins, the Sea sinks. Already the lowest point on the surface of the Earth and it continues to sink by as much as 13 inches per year. Geologically speaking, thatís fast.
    Stephenís attention has suddenly turned from floating in the Dead Sea to a large salt structure on the southwestern shore. Locals explain that the Dead Sea area is where the biblical towns of Sodom and Gomorrah stood. According to the Torah, Lotís wife ignored the Lordís command to leave without looking back at the two cities he was destroying. When Lotís wife stopped and looked, to gaze at her life left behind, she was immediately turned to a pillar of salt. Stephen tells us that itís time to return to the hotel, as he has a lot of writing to do. On the bus back to Palestine he explains that our meeting wasnít an accident. He has been writing a manuscript for several months and each time he dreamed of a new character, that character would come to life. Each of us had a skill or experience that his story needed in order to be complete. He decided to gather his characters together to see how well theyíd mesh within his story. He needed to bring us to a place where he could test our skills and evaluate our personalities. Iím happy to report that we all passed the test. We all worked together as a team to make a trip we knew nothing about into an amazing adventure none of us will ever forget! As for the novel, well, I guess weíre all going to have to wait until it hits the shelves to find out our fate.
    Elmotoo
    Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:58 pm
    Forum Host
    Tink, that is great! Did you know that I have met Stephen King? Never mind that I was born in Bangor, ME & grew up in towns nearby. He bought a radio station that a friend of mine worked at plus he's a frequent visitor to UMaine. Especially the hockey games which is where I could usually be found. icon_wink.gif

    Yeap, really.

    Thanks for playing!

    xoxo Bethie
    **Tinkerbell**
    Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:11 am
    Food.com Groupie
    Elmotoo wrote:
    Tink, that is great! Did you know that I have met Stephen King? Never mind that I was born in Bangor, ME & grew up in towns nearby. He bought a radio station that a friend of mine worked at plus he's a frequent visitor to UMaine. Especially the hockey games which is where I could usually be found. icon_wink.gif

    Yeap, really.

    Thanks for playing!

    xoxo Bethie


    I had no idea! That's so cool! The story of my sis on the airplane was true & I do have his autographed photo & my MIL & BIL took photos of his front gate when they were traveling the east coast. But, alas. I've never been that close to him. icon_sad.gif icon_lol.gif
    katew
    Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:10 am
    Food.com Groupie


    For the couscous challlenge I have made, reviewed and loved Couscous Date Cake
    Elmotoo
    Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:24 am
    Forum Host
    **Tinkerbell** wrote:
    Elmotoo wrote:
    Tink, that is great! Did you know that I have met Stephen King? Never mind that I was born in Bangor, ME & grew up in towns nearby. He bought a radio station that a friend of mine worked at plus he's a frequent visitor to UMaine. Especially the hockey games which is where I could usually be found. icon_wink.gif

    Yeap, really.

    Thanks for playing!

    xoxo Bethie


    I had no idea! That's so cool! The story of my sis on the airplane was true & I do have his autographed photo & my MIL & BIL took photos of his front gate when they were traveling the east coast. But, alas. I've never been that close to him. icon_sad.gif icon_lol.gif


    yeah, the gate is pretty wild. did they take a pic of his house, too? Funny, I never thought much about it when I was little - "oh, that's just Stephen King's house."



    His wife is named 'Tabitha'.
    Elmotoo
    Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:25 am
    Forum Host
    katew wrote:


    For the couscous challlenge I have made, reviewed and loved Couscous Date Cake


    woowoowoowoo!!! Good morning, Kate & thank you!
    **Tinkerbell**
    Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:03 am
    Food.com Groupie
    Elmotoo wrote:
    **Tinkerbell** wrote:
    Elmotoo wrote:
    Tink, that is great! Did you know that I have met Stephen King? Never mind that I was born in Bangor, ME & grew up in towns nearby. He bought a radio station that a friend of mine worked at plus he's a frequent visitor to UMaine. Especially the hockey games which is where I could usually be found. icon_wink.gif

    Yeap, really.

    Thanks for playing!

    xoxo Bethie


    I had no idea! That's so cool! The story of my sis on the airplane was true & I do have his autographed photo & my MIL & BIL took photos of his front gate when they were traveling the east coast. But, alas. I've never been that close to him. icon_sad.gif icon_lol.gif


    yeah, the gate is pretty wild. did they take a pic of his house, too? Funny, I never thought much about it when I was little - "oh, that's just Stephen King's house."



    His wife is named 'Tabitha'.


    icon_lol.gif
    My photo is a little darker, as it was evening. In fact, I don't think you can really see the house much at all. I'll have to do some digging for those photos.
    When taking them my MIL & BIL were freaked out that someone was going to call the cops & they'd have to explain that DIL back home was the SK stalker, not them! Even though they stopped in Maine, looked him up & went there in the night to take pictures, as a surprise for me. rotfl.gif
    Elmotoo
    Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:19 am
    Forum Host
    **Tinkerbell** wrote:
    Elmotoo wrote:
    **Tinkerbell** wrote:
    Elmotoo wrote:
    Tink, that is great! Did you know that I have met Stephen King? Never mind that I was born in Bangor, ME & grew up in towns nearby. He bought a radio station that a friend of mine worked at plus he's a frequent visitor to UMaine. Especially the hockey games which is where I could usually be found. icon_wink.gif

    Yeap, really.

    Thanks for playing!

    xoxo Bethie


    I had no idea! That's so cool! The story of my sis on the airplane was true & I do have his autographed photo & my MIL & BIL took photos of his front gate when they were traveling the east coast. But, alas. I've never been that close to him. icon_sad.gif icon_lol.gif


    yeah, the gate is pretty wild. did they take a pic of his house, too? Funny, I never thought much about it when I was little - "oh, that's just Stephen King's house."



    His wife is named 'Tabitha'.


    icon_lol.gif
    My photo is a little darker, as it was evening. In fact, I don't think you can really see the house much at all. I'll have to do some digging for those photos.
    When taking them my MIL & BIL were freaked out that someone was going to call the cops & they'd have to explain that DIL back home was the SK stalker, not them! Even though they stopped in Maine, looked him up & went there in the night to take pictures, as a surprise for me. rotfl.gif


    that's funny - at night! he lives right on Main St! just walk on by & CLICK! visit me in Maine someday & we'll do a drive by then go get lunch. I know a place w/awesome blueberry beer right nearby!
    ~Leslie~
    Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:46 am
    Forum Host
    That looks like a house Stephen King would own!
    Gorgeous, yet kinda creepy icon_lol.gif

    Very Cool! For some reason I always thought he lived out in the country......and didn't he get hit by that car while picking up his mail from his mailbox? I guess that's why I pictured a country home.
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