Archives for January 2011

Sister Blog: Burj Khalifa Video

Away we go!
My sister took a video on our way up the elevator to the observation deck. Check out that speed!

xo, jill

Sister Blog: Dubai

Just the highlights.

I expertly planned my sister’s itinerary to allow for maximum fun times. She arrived late Wednesday evening which allowed her to rest while I worked on Thursday. By Thursday afternoon we were ready to dash up to Dubai to check out all the highlights.

Our first stop was an ADNOC station to indulge in a little novelty snack fuel.

Novelty Snack: Nacho N Dip
Description:“Flavor of the cinema.”
Tastes Like: Stale chips and nacho cheese you ate while having a Jolly Rancher in your mouth
Verdict: Thumbs neutral for Jana, way down for me

With a novelty snack out of the way, we checked out Atlantis on Palm Jumeirah. It’s so fancy! And it’s built on a palm tree shaped island!

After Atlantis we zipped over to Madinat Jumeirah to view another famous hotel, the Burj Al Arab. My sister was completely taken with the faux traditional Arab souk (marketplace). I think a direct quote was, “Um, this is so weird. Everything’s fake!”

Two hotels down and it was time for the Dubai Mall. Never in my life did I think I’d take family/friends to the mall as a tourist destination… but, I also never thought I’d be living in the UAE.

The mall boasts an aquarium…

…a gigantic indoor fountain…

…light show… and much much more.

My sister treated me to dinner before we ascended the World’s Tallest Building, the Burj Khalifa. I’d describe the experience as a very expensive elevator ride. Of course it’s amazing to look out over the city, but there’s not much else to do At The Top. And oh yeah, you’re not “at the top!” You’re on the 124th floor of a 200+ story building. You couldn’t build the observation deck any higher???

After descending we made our way back to Abu Dhabi.

xo, jill

Kiva Loan: January

1 down, 11 to go!

photo from Maria’s Kiva listing

January’s Kiva loan goes to to Maria Sara Marroquin De Guardado, a 51 year old wife and mother living in El Salvador. Maria has requested $700 to buy fruit and vegetables in quantity to support her produce business. Shortly after I clicked my payment, her loan had been fulfilled. What an amazing Kiva community!

If you’re not quite sure how all this microbusiness works… watch this:

Cool, eh?

xo, jill

Half the Sky

I’ve been inspired.

I’m reading a fantastic book. I can’t stop talking about it. And I can’t stop thinking about my impact on the world as a citizen, traveler, and teacher.

Half the Sky: How to Change the World by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn [UK title] speaks of the terrible oppression women face in the world. But just when you can’t take the sadness, an amazing story of empowerment offers hope and inspiration. How do you talk about these things without sounding cheesy?

Half the Sky has me feeling angry one moment and super excited the next. I’m overwhelmed with everything I want to share. Maybe it will trickle out in the next few days. Maybe not.

What I can tell you now is that Kristof and WuDunn offer microfinance as one of many solutions to help empower women throughout the world. Microfinance and microcredit were largely developed by one of my heroes, Muhammad Yunus. I’ve been meaning to get involved for awhile… thank you Half the Sky for the kick in the pants.

And so, I’m happy to announce a new blog feature!

Every month I will invest in a different microcredit loan via I’ll feature the loan here with the intent of holding myself accountable and spreading the word on microcredit. Ideally, I’d like to loan to women in countries I’ve visited, but that’s not a requirement.

January’s loan will be up soon.

xo, jill

She arrived…


My sister’s arrival in Abu Dhabi came with a bit of an explosion. She was sweet enough to fulfill my request for items from the States… most notably the vital wheat gluten that didn’t quite make it past the custom officials.

Lots of sister blogging to come.
xo, jill

Novelty Snacks of Oman

An additional source of entertainment.

Novelty Snack: African Baobab
Description: A very pretty colored dried fruit snack
Tastes Like:Dried tamarind
Verdict: Thumbs up!

Novelty Snack: unnamed snack mix
Description: Lightly seasoned chinese style noodles with dried lentils
Tastes Like: Dried Top Ramen noodles
Verdict: Thumbs up!

Novelty Snack: Potato Sticks
Description: Tomato flavored potato chips cut into sticks
Tastes Like: The bottom of the chip bag.
Verdict: Thumbs up!

Novelty Snack: Fried Peas
Description: Spiced fried green peas from Thailand
Tastes Like: Crunchy green peas but a bit too spicy for me
Verdict: Thumbs neutral

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