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Journey to Jordan
Multi-Sport Costa Rica
Global Travel, the Path to Real Change ...
by Billie J. Ruff, CTC, ACC, CTE, President of Travel Café
hough many Americans travel, very few travel far from
our shores. Foreign travel gives us a ﬁrsthand look at
the complexity, struggles, and mystery of other cultures.
It helps us celebrate diversity, rather than fear it. Such cultural
snapshots, the essential joy of travel, have made me both thankful
to be an American and an enthusiastic citizen of the planet.
My ﬁrst trip to the Middle East and Holy Land was a welcome
eye-opener to many misconceptions I had about life and people
there. Let me begin by emphasizing that the most rewarding part
of my journey to Jordan was experiencing the warmth and passion
of the people. They are so welcoming and have great pride in
their country and its rich heritage. It is that pride and passion that
compels me to encourage others to travel to this exotic region and
experience this rich, vibrant society.
I headed to Amman, Jordan on Royal Jordanian Airlines.
Having not visited this area of the world, my expectations were
limited. Set on the ancient crossroads between Arabia and the
Mediterranean Sea, Jordan is full of historic sites. Crusaders’
forts along old trade routes and ancient cities carved from stone
will captivate anyone in search of the past. And although the land
is ancient, Jordan’s cities offer the modern conveniences that help
make your trip to the past a little less demanding. Although it’s
mostly covered by desert, Jordan also has mountains, canyons,
gorges, forests, marshes, beaches, plains, rolling hills, and fertile
river valleys. The Jordan Valley, including the Dead Sea, is
actually an extension of the Great Rift Valley, which runs through
Kenya and Tanzania in Africa.
Continued on Page 4
Welcome to the Summer Issue of Fresh Brewed
As we in Montana enjoy the warmth after a long
core, are pretty much the same. And with all the unrest
snowy winter, the people of Jordan (in the Middle East)
in the world today, I was happy and comforted to learn
are probably wishing they could enjoy cool days in the
that it mostly rests with governments…the people we
eighties. You’ll notice that a large part of this issue is
met welcomed us into their lives with open arms.
dedicated to my trip to Jordan, from my article on page
one that continues on page 4, the many photos I took,
and even a recipe on page 3.
Owning a travel agency has given me the opportunity
to go to places many of us only dream of. But this trip
opened my eyes to another world that amazed me
with the striking fact that world cultures are incredibly
different, unique, and interesting…but people, at their
Women and Wine of
Join us for an evening of Bavarian brats, beer, and
great reislings. More
information to come
When: September 18
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Recipes of the Middle
2 pounds of eggplant
1 green pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon mint
1 large tomato
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
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approx. one hour until the skin is charred and begins to
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Global Travel, the Path to Real Change ...
Continued from Page 1
nown during antiquity as Philadelphia (the city of
brotherly love), Amman, Jordan’s capital and largest
city, is just a short drive from the country’s border
with Syria and Israel. Amman is an excellent departure
point for visiting some of Jordan’s most impressive ancient
structures and places. Many of Jordan’s towns are mentioned
in the Bible. Deir Alla, where the Bible says that Jacob rested
after wrestling with the angel from God, is near the Jordan
River. Our group passed this spot on the way to a baptism we
On February 10, 2008, I arrived at 1:00 a.m. at Jordan Valley
Marriott at the Dead Sea. Straddling the border between
Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea is the lowest spot on the
Earth’s surface. The mineral content of this 45-mile-long
and 6-mile-wide saltwater lake tops out at 33%. The Dead
Sea should be seen (and stepped into!) at least once in every
person’s life – it’s impossible to sink.
Our special group was met by His Excellence Senator Akel
Biltaji, who was instrumental in the excavation of the site of
the baptism of Jesus Christ. I met Biltaji last year in Orlando,
at which time he invited the group with whom I was meeting
to have our next meeting in Jordan. In fact, we shared a
chuckle about the fact that he is aware of the place called
Jordan, Montana and I explained to him the story of the
Freeman and their quest for their own version of “autonomy.”
When Jordan signed a peace agreement with Israel it was
decided that the area, formerly known as the Judean Desert,
be cleared of troops and tanks. In doing so, 11 sites closely
related to the baptism of Christ were found in places like
former bunkers, etc. which lead Akel and others to begin
investigations. As the group followed the New Testament it
became clear that this sight (where the Spring of John the
Baptist meets the River Jordon) was the place where John the
Baptist baptized Christ. That is where our friend arranged to
have his granddaughter baptized.
Once determined to be authentic, the sight was ordained
by all religious leaders. In fact, in addition to many spiritual
leaders, including Pope John Paul II, Vladimir Putin made
4 FRESH BREWED TRAVEL NEWS / SUMMER 2008
the pilgrimage and was baptized at the spot in March
2000. Baptisms can be arranged in any faith. Already
under construction are a Catholic Church, a Greek
Orthodox, an Armenian, Coptic and Russian Pilgrim.
The Baptism Commission Site plans to have many
churches built in the next two years. The Commission
is creating the site with traditional foliage for an
authentic experience. For more information go to
www.baptismsite.com. As you can see, Jordan truly is
the world’s Interfaith Hub.
That evening our meetings began with a cocktail
reception hosted by HE Senator
Biltaji at the Movenpick Resort next door. A Swiss
hotel chain, the Movenpick is
designed to look like the streets
of Jerusalem and one of many
beautiful resorts and spas in
Jordan’s Dead Sea Valley. Our
dinner at the Marriott Dead Sea
was the kick off of the 1st Annual
Jordan Travel Mart, another event
we would attend in addition to our
board meetings that would last
until February 13.
Our group was invited to Jordan
by invitation of His Majesty King
Abdullah II and Queen Rania
and we were to have an audience
with the king. Unfortunately,
he was called away to Russia.
However, because of our special
relationship with HE Senator Biltaji, our Advisory Board
group was granted an audience with Jordan’s Prime Minister
and Minister of Defense, Nader Dahabi. His goal and wishes
for our group was to help grow tourism in Jordan and in turn
help the world understand the culture of this great country.
While board meetings are of no interest to anyone except
those in attendance, I would be remiss in not mentioning the
magnificent evening events hosted by the Kempinski, with
oysters and caviar, and the Movenpick with its traditional
Arabic dinner complete with Roman Legionnaires and belly
dancers. What an event! At Senator Biltaji’s reception at the
Movenpick on the first night our group met a professor from
a New Mexico University who has been studying archaeology
in Jordan for many years. The exciting news they announced
is that they are very close to determining the exact location
of Sodom and Gomorrah. At the Dead Sea Panorama event
we attended, it was interesting to note that the story of the
destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah coincided with seismic
activity in the area at that time.
Additionally, we took a break during our meetings to visit
Jerash. Jerash is a very large, well-preserved 2,000-yearold Greco-Roman ruin, the excavation of which began in
the 1920s. Its vast inventory of colonnaded streets, arches,
temples, churches, houses, baths, a theater and the Hadrian
Ancient Roman-Greco ruins, Jerash
Ottomans. The castle still posses an impressive view as
well as a moat, lookouts, a dungeon and a chapel, all in
good condition. Rent the movie “Kingdom of Heaven” to
enjoy this world wonder.
After traveling the King’s Highway, the road Moses used
to cross the desert, we arrived at Petra for dinner at Petra
Kitchen. After a long day of touring we were ready to relax
and enjoy a traditional Petra dinner. Lo and behold, upon
our arrival at the Petra Kitchen it became apparent that
we would be dining, but also preparing our dinner. Each
course had a station prepared for our teams to prepare a
course for our traditional Jordanian meal. I was assigned
to the tomato casserole table and our dish, along with all
others, ended up being outstanding.
Billie’s first time riding a camel
February 14, 2008
We made an early departure
from Marriott Petra to visit the
site of Petra. Words cannot even
begin to describe the sights I saw at
Petra. Until the 19th century, Petra
was a closely guarded Bedouin
secret. Over 800 carved tombs
can be viewed, and as many as
30,000 people have inhabited the
rose-colored city at one time. The
ancient rose-colored city is one of
the Middle East’s greatest historical
and architectural treasures. Carved
from solid, ruddy red sandstone
by the Nabateans more than 2,000
Arch as an entrance to a
years ago, it’s unlike anything you
the late King Hussein and or
hippodrome is worth at least
have ever seen, unless you’ve seen “Indiana Jones and the Last
the current King Abdullah II
a half-day exploration. There
Crusade,” in which case you will recognize it immediately.
hanging in prominent view.
we saw the Temples of Zeus
Petra and its purpose remains a mystery today. It is in Petra
and Artemis. Visitors can also
where I rode my first camel. After a grueling hike at Petra
February 13, 2008
watch staged battle scenes
we were off on our next adventure, the amazing sight of the
With the meetings over, we
with actors dressed as Roman
desert of Wadi Rum, an unbelievable vast panorama like none
left Marriott Jordan Valley
Legionnaires, gladiator fights
I’ve ever witnessed in my life. The best way to view it is by
Dead Sea after a quick dip in
and a live chariot race in the
off-road vehicle. You can also camp at Wadi Rum should you
the famed Dead Sea. Having
no time prior to our departure
Side notes: driving back
But, what can I say about having a Bedouin dinner in the
date to experience that which
from Jerash to the Dead Sea
desert at Wadi Rum in Jordan, near Aqaba? Well, I can say
EVERYONE in their lifetime
we drove through a Palestinian
it is not something I expected would be added to my travel
must experience, we quickly
refugee camp, a sight that
journals. Just rent the movie “Lawrence of Arabia” and you
ran down to the beach at
reoccurred as we traveled
will witness the same grandeur. Wadi Rum was a trade
6:00 a.m., shortly after sunrise,
throughout the country.
shortcut used by various explorers and civilizations, the most
to experience the sensation
According to our guide, most
famous of which included Lawrence of Arabia. After two
Arch of Theacles Ancient City Jerash Hippodome
of floating on water on which
Palestinian refugee camps are
hours of touring the desert “off-road,” including Lawrence
one can never sink. To say the
in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Additionally, we drove past
Spring and the expanse of the desert at Wadi Rum, our jeep
least, it was freaky. What an exhilarating start to a long day
SNOW in western Amman.
drivers took us to a Bedouin tent to enjoy traditional Zarb –
of touring Mount Nebo, which offered an excellent view of
We asked our guide about crime and respect for authority
lamb cooked underground in the sand.
the Jordan River Valley, the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. Here
in Jordan. His response indicated that the people have so
Another side note: Bedouin is an adjective to describe the
a sixth-century church marks the spot where Moses at the
much respect for the royal family that crime and disrespect in
lifestyle of these people who choose to live mostly outdoors
end of his life is said to have seen the Land of Canaan. Then
that regard is minimal. I could see that regard for the family,
and subsist on lamb, goats, chickens and some gardening. It is
off it was to Kerak, a castle commanded through history by
as every town, rest stop, store and shop had a picture of
not a term to reflect race.
the Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Muslim conquerors and the
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Accompanied with traditional hummus, baba ghanoush,
potatoes and garnish, the evening was exquisitely finished
with sticky balls coated in honey. I have to admit the
Jordanian red and white wine from Mt. Nebo warmed us just
enough to make it through the evening. It had been a very
rainy day of touring Petra, and we were ready to go home, but
were not expecting to ride in the back of an uncovered pickup
back to our bus. A few “borrowed” blankets later and we were
on our way from one of the most unique travel experiences
I have had in my career. Before leaving, however, I did make
sure that if any of my clients wanted the same experience
I was sure to have the resources to make it happen. The
Bedouins could not have been more welcoming and warm to
our group of tired and hungry wanderers.
We ended our remarkable journey with two nights at the
Intercontinental in Aqaba, a Jordan resort city on the Red Sea
surrounded by breathtaking jagged mountains; highly sought
after as the only trade route out of the Middle East by water.
This resort is stunning, and Jordan has done an amazing
job of planning the future of Aqaba for tourism and culture.
From Aqaba, we could clearly see Eilat, Israel across the sea.
In 1948 Aqaba was primarily a Palestinian refugee camp.
When King Abdullah took over the throne in 1999, Senator
Biltaji was then Minister of Tourism and he and his group
were asked to do something with Aqaba to encourage growth
and expansion of tourism for the regions. Their plan was
well thought out and the Aqaba of today is the shining star
of that success. Some of that tourism improvement extended
all the way to the border between Jordan and Israel, which
we visited the night before we departed for our journeys
home. It was a unique feeling to be on the border between
two countries, especially in the Middle East. Before our final
“event” we visited a beautiful new resort area in Aqaba called
Tala Bay. While we viewed a gorgeous sunset over Egypt we
enjoyed Jordanian wine and the fine company of the people
of Jordan. Our last night’s dinner was hosted by the Chief
Commissioner of Aqaba, who joined us for our dinner cruise.
It was an astonishing ending to an amazing adventure.
And even though our time limited our ability to enjoy
some of the adventure that Jordan has to offer, don’t forget
that there are fabulous treks, bird watching and more in
Jordan’s reserves such as Dana, Azraq and Mujib for active
adventure travel. In other words, Jordan offers something
for any traveler – history, culture, adventure, beach, spa, and
When we asked our guide about the conflict in the Middle
East, he helped us understand the difference between the
Shia and Sunni Muslims. Sunnis are followers of Muhammed
and Shia are followers of Ali, both considered messengers
of Allah. Sunnis and Shia have co-existed for centuries in
various different countries without incident. Unfortunately,
the same does not exist for Iraq.
Once again, this has been a trip I will not forget. If you
would like more information, please see www.seejordan.org.
Or, better yet, call me today and book your own trip of a
FRESH BREWED TRAVEL NEWS / SUMMER 2008 5
Red Oxx – To Carry On or Not to Carry On
Tree of Life
n our first two articles we delved into the how and what
works best for your particular style of travel. But the real
issue may be why do you want to travel strictly with a
carry on bag?
Experience is what commonly drives us to opt out of the
whole checked luggage scene. Being bumped off a flight
late in the evening due to a severe snowstorm and you’re
heading off to the hotel without a fresh change of clothes
or your toothbrush. Or my all-time favorite of arriving at
your destination and your precious cargo was sent off to
the other side of the planet. Try finding a new wardrobe in
Tajikistan or some other country where the fashion and fit is
somewhere from 1984!
Red Oxx has worked hard to communicate the correct
carry on luggage requirements so you don’t have to worry
about having an oversized bag. Another hang-up is taking
too much stuff! So when you finally
do decide to cut the cord and go
without a checked bag, you’re
taking enough clothing for a small
village. The fear of not having
enough “stuff ” must be imprinted
in our DNA; what else explains
taking five pairs of shoes on a
Back in my military unit we
had a saying” travel light, freeze at
night; speed and mobility are the
cornerstone of a reconnaissance
unit.” So we learned to cut
weight anyway possible. Cut your
toothbrush in half if need be
and take only what is necessary. Versatile clothing made
of natural fibers like wool still work very well and have
classic appeal. Leaving behind the items that don’t fit the
mission and taking only what you need. Planning the right
combination of layers prepares you for a broad range of
A short but well-thought-out packing list is a must for
getting organized. So traveling light these days has a whole
new meaning, especially if your destination is a cushy hotel
room instead of an observation post in the desert! Leaving
your one bag less than full is sometimes a hard thing to
do and the temptation to keep packing until it is stuffed is
always weighing on your mind. So taking along a personal
item carry on is a great way to alleviate this obsession.
Having a Gator bag along is a nice complement to your
travel light strategy. This little gem keeps you from over
Sunset over the Red Sea
packing your main carry on. But the real benefit is having
something you can explore with when you leave the hotel.
It is also a good way to limit your purchases to small items.
Sometimes you have to ask yourself is it really worth the
hassle of dragging something home from the other side
of the world? If the answer is yes, then you’re secure in the
knowledge that your items are always with you instead of
being entrusted to the baggage handlers.
Can one bag do it all? That really depends on your personal
travel style. For some, the Air Boss is the end all, be all; for
others it is more casual like a PR5 Safari Beano. Somewhere
in between is the Sky Train, a hybrid carry on that combines
both sides of the spectrum. After a little experimentation
and some sage advice you will learn your own style of carry
on travel. What it really boils down to is self-reliance. We
all have the ability to take care of ourselves and sometimes
it requires a little bit of planning and effort, but the reward
is well worth it. So if you’re ready to cut out past the herd
hoping to claim their checked baggage, take a moment to
pity them and then mercilessly grab the first taxi in the line
and bid them adieu.
– Jim Markel
Join Austin Lehman
Costa Rica: Volcanoes & Jungles Multisport
ou float the canals of Costa Rica’s Tortuguero
National Park to a soundtrack of exotic birdsong,
7 days/6 nights
looking for manatees, caimans, crocodiles and
tropical gar. Adrenaline pumps through your veins after
Nights 1 & 6: Hotel El Rodeo
Set in tropical gardens with views of the spectacular Poas and
Barva volcanoes, Hotel El Rodeo offers a swimming pool, Jacuzzi
and free wireless Internet connection.
tackling the class IV Pacuare River rapids. Your skin is silky
soft to the touch after a dip in the sulfur-rich waters of Dona
Mireya’s private hot spring. You watch in awe as glowing red
boulders tumble in slow motion from the smoldering mouth
Nights 2 & 3: Tilajari Resort Hotel
Tilajari Resort Hotel is perched on the banks of the San Carlos
River, elegantly landscaped with a large swimming pool, botanical
butterfly garden and riverside rooms.
of Arenal Volcano.
Welcome to Costa Rica, where nearly a third of the land has
been designated national park or wildlife refuge. Smoking
volcanoes, rushing rivers, jungle rainforests and tropical
Nights 4 & 5: Tortuga Lodge
This award-winning jungle eco-lodge has spacious and airy rooms,
a spring-fed pool, open-air dining room and hammocks hung in
canyons are just a few of the untamed natural wonders
you’ll hike, bike, raft and explore on this exhilarating 7-day
6 FRESH BREWED TRAVEL NEWS / SUMMER 2008
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If you’re taking your laptop on an airplane, there are
some steps you should take to keep your computer safe.
Use a well-made, well-padded case to carry
your laptop in. Never check it as checked
baggage during air travel
Make sure security applications and software
updates are current anti-virus, firewall, antispyware
Limit confidential information transmission,
such as any credit purchases and reservations
or anything with a Social Security number.
Unfamiliar networks are always potentially
Thanks Peg! Our last trip was a great one! Thank you for all of your help.
Bill, Joan, Ramsey, Vonnie, Bob and Pat
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Bring an Ethernet (Cat. 5) cable with you
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connection available and you have to hook up
Fresh Brewed Travel News is now available online. Past and current issues with all of
the travel articles, opportunities, ideas and tips you’ve grown accustomed to will be
Set up a remote Web mail account to enable
in that little box next to the phone you’ll find in
most hotel rooms
Use a system password on your laptop to help
slow down the novice thief
Use file passwords when available on
Thanks from the Staff of Travel Cafe.
Do not set your computer down in airport
bathrooms or ever leave it out of your sight
If you must leave your laptop unattended in a
car, put it the trunk where it is out of sight. But
remember, extreme temperatures are not good
for electronic devices
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FRESH BREWED TRAVEL NEWS / SUMMER 2008 7
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RIU Palace Mexico . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$719
RIU Palace Riviera Maya . . . . . . . .$785
RIU Santa Fe Los Cabos . . . . . . . . .$515
RIU Palace Cabo San Lucas . . . . .$745
Jamaica - Save 25%
RIU Ocho Rios . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$459
RIU Negril . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$479
RIU Tropical Bay, Negril . . . . . . . . . .$629
Additional hotels and longer or shorter stays
available. Prices do not include airfare. Ask
about special air-inclusive rates from your city.
ALL-INCLUSIVE PACKAGES INCLUDE: Hotel accommodations and taxes
Roundtrip airport transfers • All meals, snacks, beverages, gratuities & activities!
For more information, call TRAVEL CAFÉ at 406-259-0999
SAVINGS ARE OFF OF ORIGINAL CONTRACTED RATES/PRICES AND ARE REFLECTED ABOVE. Caribbean
prices are per person, land only, and based on double occupancy accommodations. RIU Ocho Rios and RIU
Negril are valid for travel 8/22–10/2/08. RIU Tropical Bay is valid for travel 6/27–8/19/08. Jamaica resorts
must be booked by 5/29/08. Mexico prices are per person, based on double occupancy accommodations.
Valid for travel 9/1-10/31/08. Pricing based on September travel; other travel periods may
be higher. Surcharges apply for select activities. Effective dates may vary by resort.
Rates are subject to change without notice. Availability, holiday blackouts, peak period
surcharges, and other restrictions apply. GOGO Worldwide Vacations is not responsible
for errors or omissions in the content of this ad. CST#2007207-30 ADV#284 SS 4/08
The Panama Canal Experience
In 2009-2010, Princess Cruises will showcase eight thrilling Panama Canal
7- to 20-day itineraries. Get an up-close look at its mighty locks in action from
your own balcony stateroom on one of four ships custom-built to transit the Canal.
Dream Panama Today!
Call a Travel Café Princess Cruise Specialist
Linda Carlson, 406-259-0999
2008 cruise itineraries and dates still available!
Ships of Bermudan Registry