Egypt and Jordan
January 26, 2008
After only two weeks of traveling, so much has happened. I find it hard to put down exactly what feelings accompanied which events, but I will try my best. Egypt presented us with many new experiences, ranging from attempting to cross the street where traffic is anarchy, to men walking arm in arm together in public, to being bombarded with pleas for "baksheesh" (tips/money) for services such as using an elevator or a public restroom or merely for no apparent reason at all. The pyramids, museums, temples, and other sites fascinate me, but I find it incredibly difficult to fully comprehend how old this civilization really is! Over 3000 years old in comparison to our 200-something nation...wow. Egyptian hospitality (which began with our guide Osama and continued throughout our visit) is definitely something I was impressed with, something that we could use more of when encountering strangers in the United States. Again, so much has happened that it is hard to know what all to include! One day we ate lunch along the Nile, and our dinner was at Osama's apartment by the Mediterranean sea... so a lot of traveling occurred but was clearly worthwhile.
For a change of pace, we spent two days at Anafora retreat center in the middle of the desert, a peaceful setting where reflection and relaxation rule. While here, some of us played soccer with two of the Egyptians that work there, a highlight for me so far. It's good to take a break from the touristy activities and get to interact on a more personal level with people from another culture. When we left Cairo, we headed for Mount Sinai, another experience that words can hardly describe in a short amount of time. We climbed to the top, and did our fair share of mountain climbing the following days as well in Petra, Jordan. Now after our short stay in Jordan, we as a group are preparing for Israel, a transition that we look forward to with much excitment.