Friday, March 25, 2016


          In my last post, I was pretty harsh about my time in Egypt. It was true, that I did struggle with many things while in the county. However, I also had some amazing experiences and made some awesome memories! In this post I want to share a couple of stories, along with some pictures.
          First, my first full day in Egypt I celebrated my 25th birthday. This was especially exciting to me because I was in my 25th country! My group surprised me with a huge cake that night! It had tons of fruit on it and then they had me cut it into enough pieces for everyone in the group. I learned that I am not an expert cake cutter, but it was an incredible way to celebrate my birthday!
Our first few days were spent in Cairo where we met with a Christian service organization that does a lot of amazing work in Egypt, went to the Presbyterian seminary where my professor Safwat had gone to school, met with top Islamic scholars, and visited a huge Coptic church built into the rocks. At these places, we heard about some really great things happening in the country and people who were passionate about peace and trying to make Egypt a better place. I hope to write more about these specific experiences in later posts. But I just want to say that I was really inspired by the Egyptians I met and the work being done in this midst of difficult political and economic situations.
          My professor from AMBS Safwat was one of the leaders for the trip and since Egypt is his home country, he was a great person to have along on the trip. One of my fondest memories was going to a local cafe with him and four others from my group and just drinking tea and talking. We also had our own Egyptologist on the trip name Henry. Henry was really great and gave us so much information as well as told some really bad jokes. Having these two Egyptians really made the trip come alive.
          A trip to Egypt would not be complete without seeing the ancient sites. Going to the pyramids is an experience I will never forget! I got to climb on one (until security yelled at me), go in one, and then take a camel ride in front! Riding a camel had always been a dream and it was awesome being able to take a 30 minute ride on Michael Jackson (my camel's name). My mom also rode a camel and we both agree that it is better than horseback! My camel must have been quite old and well-trained because the boy leading gave me the reigns, while everyone else was led! Wow, I still cannot believe that I did that!
          After our time in Cairo, we took an overnight train to Luxor. I won't include much on the train ride, but I will say that I do NOT recommend taking trains in Egypt! I might be an adventurous person, but I think the whole group agreed that this is one experience that doesn't need repeating. In Luxor, we visited the Valley of the Kings, which once again was simply outstanding. We couldn't take pictures, but we could touch the walls with two thousand year old hieroglyphics! I have seen Egyptian artifacts in museums around the world, but experiencing it in person is completely different. I cannot describe in adequate words how awesome it was.
          After the Valley of the Kings, we boarded a four day Nile cruise. As we sailed from Luxor to Aswan, we visited a lot of ancient temples. Every one of them was unique and fun to explore. The cruise itself was also great! During the day, when the sun shone, it was so warm and I loved taking naps in the sun and while watching the banks of the Nile slowly drift by. Although at the time I was a little overwhelmed by all we saw in such a short time, looking back, I have such great memories of those explorations.

          After a day in Aswan, we took a train back to Cairo (this time the overnight train experience was even worse!) and then headed to Alexandria, stopping for lunch at a monastery. I really enjoyed hearing the history of the monastery and Coptic Christianity in Egypt. Alexandria was also a really neat city where I would love to spend more time! The new library there is magnificent and the Mediterranean Sea was beautiful, although it was kind of stormy while we were there.
          I have to say, though, that one of my favorite parts of the trip was spending it with my mom. I love my mom so much and to be able to see these ancient sites with her and have someone close to process everything with was just great. Who gets the opportunity to do something like this with their mom?!? I feel so blessed to have such an amazing woman in my life who loves me so much and is willing to put up with my travel crabbiness and go on such a crazy adventure! I wouldn't have wanted to do this trip with anyone else!

          There really are so many more stories to tell from this crazy journey, but I hope that this post displays just a little bit of how awesome Egypt was! One reason I like traveling is that things do not happen as you expect them to. Like in normal life, traveling life has its ups and downs and is not what you expect. But even in the midst of a changing identity and a structure of a tour group that I did not like, I saw some incredible things and met some amazing people and was able to do it with one of the most important people in my life.

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