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Journal 1

January 16, 2006 – Cairo, Egypt

We have only been traveling four days, but it feels as though I've been here several weeks. All around there are exciting sights and sounds--horns honking, people shouting, donkeys braying--late into the night. Arriving Saturday afternoon, we checked into the hotel just in time to witness a marvelous sunset falling down upon the Cairo skyline. Imagine the beauty of a huge flourescent sky suddenly beaming orange, sparks glinting off the windows of the largest 'scraper visible.

In Cairo the air is cool, dry, hazy. They say that breathing Egypt's air is the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Strange, but I have been too enthralled by my surroundings to notice.

Yesterday evening, after encountering the burial chamber inside Cheops, Egypt's largest pyramid, viewing the Sphinx, and eating beneath a clear blue sky in a garden of hanging flowers, I glimpsed the bright, yellow moon, round and full, reflecting on the Nile's dark water. Two perfect moons: one still and silent, the other fluid and ever-changing. An accurate depiction of my conflicting feelings since arrival. Interacting with the group is wonderful and rewarding, but also draining. Egypt is a mysterious, fascinating and beautiful place that seems to beckon a closer look.. I want to discover, to be silent, to time travel, to fight for a true glance at this people, this history. The richness of such a place is unwavering.

In a way, we'll be discovering that same richness for the next few days--experiencing ancient Egypt within the Egypt of today. Hearing ancient calls to prayer while walking in the market, glimpsing the unchanging power of the Nile covered in glitzy hotel boats, noting the layers of history through time as underground artifacts uncover a story we only half realize.

This story, the Egyptian story, will certainly change us. Already I am altered, different, awed by the vast impact Egypt can claims over the state of today's world. A new year is beginning... A year destined to be full of changes, lessons and novelties yet unexperienced; a year to be full of much needed pick-me-ups, everlasting hindsights, and stumbling mistakes. Yet, I look forward to seeing newness in the Middle East and embracing the growth that seems inherent in such extensive, intensive travels. It will be exciting to see how this experience changes me, my relationships, my life. It is certain that life passes quickly--Egypt itself is proof of that--and, covetous though it may be, I look forward to all the future holds.

Ma'as salame, Brenna