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Tim Boxer

Travel

Nina Boxer

Physical therapist Fuad exercises Aya, 7, whose legs are paralyzed
Physical therapist Fuad exercises Aya, 7, whose legs are paralyzed

Tim helps young girl with computer
Tim helps young girl with computer
Making clothes for the gift shop
Making clothes for the gift shop
Snack time
Snack time
Princess Majda Raad, Annie Medzhagopian Abu Hanna, Malia Aufour and mother Lauren Aufour
Princess Majda Raad, Annie Medzhagopian Abu Hanna, Malia Aufour and
mother Lauren Aufour
JORDAN
Volunteering On Vacation
Proves Very Gratifying

V
OLUNTOURISM is getting a big push in various parts of the world. My trip to Amman was a vacation that involved volunteer service. I assure you it was an extremely satisfying experience, affording me a deeper connection to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

I visited the Al-Hussein Society Habilitation/Rehabilitation of the Physically Challenged on Al Raydaneh St. where 97 children with physical disabilities are taught to become somewhat independent in order to enjoy a normal life.

I watched Aya,7, who has paralysis of the legs, as she learned to stand with the help of her trainer, Fuad.

Executive director Annie Medzhagopian Abu Hanna enlisted me to guide a 10-year-old in a wheelchair to the computer room. I assisted as she struggled to manipulate the keyboard to color some pictures. It was heartbreaking to see children in various stages of disability, but heartwarming to be able to help them cope with lifeís hardships.

Some of the older students are able to make various crafts. Their products are for sale in the Kenz shop where youíll see theater costumes, wooden furniture, toy boxes, book holders, table cloths and Ramadan and Christmas creations.

Princess Majda Raad, a member of the board, is enthusiastic about tourists coming to volunteer. Princess Majda is married to Prince Raad, a cousin of King Abdullah II.

"Tourists leave enriched by the experience," Princess Majda said. "And our children are exposed to different cultures and languages, so they donít live in a cocoon."

There are 500,000 people with disabilities in the country. Al-Hussein Society is making a difference. After the children leave this center, they go on to the public schools with renewed confidence, ultimately to take a productive place in society.

To volunteer at the Al-Hussein Society contact Annie at ahsrehab@wanadoo.jo, phone +962-6-5817598 or write her at P.O.Box 5102, Amman 11183, Jordan.

 

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Bridal shop
Bridal shop

Khaju Bridge
Khaju Bridge
IRAN
Isfahanís Historic Culture
Intrigues Every Visitor

I
SFAHAN is one of the most intriguing destinations on earth. On a weeklong trip to Iran last fall I explored Tehran, which has its own charm as a thriving metropolis; Kish Island, a very attractive resort playground; Shiraz, with its historic Persepolis ruins, and romantic Isfahan, rich with architecture, culture and beauty.

Wherever you walk in Isfahan, one of the oldest cities in the country, you take a step into history. Stroll across Khaju, reputedly the most beautiful bridge in the world. There used to be a temporary palace in the middle of the bridge, which allowed Shah Abbas II, who built the bridge in 1650, to sit outside and enjoy the view. No traffic allowed; itís strictly for people on foot who take the time to revel in natureís wonders. At times someone would lean against the stone walls of the promenade and vocalize a cappella, which always draws an appreciative audience.

Then thereís the Sio Se Bridge with its 33 arches, the longest bridge in town. Itís one of several bridges that span the waters of Zayandeh Rood ("life giving river") in the middle of town. Built in 1602 during the reign of Shah Abbas I.

"Tourism has forced many dictators to change their behavior."
Mayor of Isfahan
From the city center cross the Sio Se and enter Julfa, the Armenian Quarter. There are 10,000 Armenians in Isfahan, and 13 churches. Vank Cathedral, built between 1606 and 1655, looks pedestrian, but once you enter youíll be astonished at the beautiful artwork.

The cathedral is not used for worship as much as for ceremonial rites. Nearby is the library containing 20,000 books and the museum, which you should not miss. I was moved by the huge showcase of books, telegrams and cables testifying to the 1915 genocide by the Ottoman Turks when 1.5 million Armenians perished.

Sio Se Bridge
Sio Se Bridge
Look through the microscope at a strand of female hair and marvel at sentence written on it. In 1974 Vahram Hakopian took a filament of hair from a woman, 18-20 years old, and wrote a line of biblical verse on it using a diamond studded pen. Itís a remarkable achievement.

Chehel Sotun Palace (the Palace of Forty Columns) has 20 pillars which, reflected in the pool look like 40 columns. Located in the midst of a large garden, the palace has a large Throne Room where Shah Abbas I held receptions and entertained his guests on state occasions. Today itís a museum exhibiting carpets, coins, armor and porcelain plus magnificent Persian paintings on the walls.

In the environs of the city you may notice the imposing pigeon towers. Usually built of mud brick, no two towers are alike. They housed pigeons whose guano was used by the farmers as fertilizer to produce highly prized melons.

Lonely Planet IranResources
I attended a reception by the mayor of Isfahan, Dr. M. Saghaeian Nejad, at the utterly stunning Abbasi Hotel. If youíre not staying here, at least visit. Youíll find the buildings magnificent and the gardens exquisite.

The mayor lamented the current atmosphere in which "the mass media has made many people afraid to travel to Iran." He extolled the virtues of tourism and held out hope that the future can be bright.

"Tourism has forced many dictators to change their behavior," he said.

 

Vank Cathedral ceiling
Vank Cathedral ceiling

Gift shop in Armenian Quarter 
Gift shop in Armenian Quarter
Memorial for Armenian massacre by Turks
Memorial for Armenian massacre by Turks
Throne Room at Chehel Sotun Palace
Throne Room at Chehel Sotun Palace
Fresco at Chehel Sotun Palace
Fresco at Chehel Sotun Palace
Women making book covers
Women making book covers

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Shadowy buttes and gullies
Shadowy buttes and gullies

Eroding spires of the wall
Eroding spires of the wall
 
SOUTH DAKOTA
Creepy Yet Enticing,
Welcome To The Badlands

T
HE Badlands, half a million years in the making and a national monument since 1939, erupts from the earth in jagged formation. Every year a million visitors come to South Dakota to marvel at the "fantastic pinnacles and tortuous gullies" as the National Geographic sees it.

The wall ó a barrenness of spikes and crevices ó casts an eerie feeling on us all, even the Indians who came upon this unforgiving landscape, which the Sioux called Mako Sika, "land bad."

The Badlands National Park, 75 miles east of Rapid City, is accessible all year. Your first stop should be the Ben Reifel Visitor Center where park rangers will orient you to the areaís history and geology with a very interesting film.

Nearby is the rustic Cedar Pass Lodge (605-433-5460), open April-October. The 24 cabins, with knotty pine interior and no TV or phone, guarantee a deeper affinity with the environment you came to enjoy. The restaurant is known for its signature Sioux Indian tacos with fry bread and seasoned buffalo meat.

Cruising along the wall
Cruising along the wall

Enjoying the awesome sight
Enjoying the awesome sight
Overwhelmed by the grandeur of it all
Overwhelmed by the grandeur of it all
Cedar Pass Lodge
Cedar Pass Lodge
 

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Travel GuidesThe National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States

The National Geographic Guide to the National Parks is a superb reference to Americaís wilderness, replete with outstanding color maps and beautiful illustrations as only the National Geographic can create. Before you go, check out your destination in this very informative guide. The book is divide the country into seven sections, covering the East with descriptions of the Everglades, Congaree, Great Smoky Mountains; The Southwest, covering Big Bend, Carlsbad Caverns; the Colorado Plateau with the Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, etc.; Pacific Southwest with Channel Islands, Death Valley among other sites; Pacific Northwest with Crater Lake and Redwood among others; Rocky Mountains with Grand Teton, Badlands, Great Sand Dunes, etc.; and Alaska with Denali, Glacier Bay and Kenai Fjords and more. We found this book indispensible. National Geographic Society, soft cover, 480 pages, $26 Amazon.com Price: $17.16

The National Geographic Guide to the National Parks East & MidwestThe National Geographic Guide to the National Parks East & Midwest focuses your scope to 13 destinations. If youíre headed to Acadia in Maine, Biscayne, Everglades or Dry Tortugas in Florida, Congaree in South Carolina, Cuyahoga Valley in Ohio, Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, Hot Springs in Arkansas, Isle Royale in Michigan, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, Shenandoah in Western Virginia, the Voyageurs in Minnesota or the Virgin Islands, take this book with you. Youíll be well prepared to encounter the majestic beauty of the American landscape. National Geographic Society, soft cover, 351 pages, $22 Amazon.com Price: $19.80

The National Parks is a stupendous coffee table edition brimming with spectacular photographs. Itís based on the 12-hour PBS history of our national parks, written and produced by Dayton Duncan and directed and co-produced by the multiple prizewinner Ken Burns. This magnificent volume serves as a great introduction to the parks system and the amazing treasures that await every visitor. It documents the beginnings of each national park and why itís of utmost importance to preserve its pristine beauty as a legacy to future generations. Alfred A. Knopf, 403 pages, 440 color and B&W illustrations, removable map, $50.

Travel + Photography Off the ChartsTravel + Photography will guide you how to travel with a camera. Boston-based fine art photographer Lou Jones, whose clients include National Geographic and IBM, solves unique problems that arise with lighting and language barriers. What kind of lenses should you take on the road, what kind of filters, do you need a tripod, how to use flash and bounce light, and many other questions are answered. You can learn much just by studying the beautiful images Jones exhibits in the book. Focal Press, softcover, 180 pages, Amazon.com Price: $29.95

The New York PassThe New York Pass guidebook contains a plastic card that authorizes you entry to more than 55 attractions free of charge. At some of the more popular places you can even skip the line and gain instant entry. The booklet consists of 171 very descriptive pages, with maps, of all the attractions, plus instructions to obtain discounts on sightseeing tours, restaurants, theaters and department stores. One day adult pass is $75, child pass is $55. Also available are passes for 2, 3 and 7 days. More information and to order, visit www.newyorkpass.com.


 
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