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Reflections: Egypt

camera - link to photo gallery Photo Gallery (Egypt)

The desert. The Nile. Pyramids. Ancient, unpredictable, exotic, alive, overwhelmed, intrigued, astonished, intimidated, fatigue, wonder... As our plane began to descend over the crowded city of Cairo we peered eagerly out the tiny windows, some of us apprehensive, others excited, all of us still running off of the adrenaline of travel & leaving the familiar behind. I looked below to see the Nile winding through the city, relieved to see green in the midst of the expansive brown of the surrounding desert.

During our first few nights in Cairo we explored the streets, quickly becoming accustomed ot the fast pace of the city, the attention we receive as Americans, enormous amounts of pita bread, and learning to use what little Arabic we know. We are constantly welcomed everywhere we go by people wanting to be helpful, practice speaking English or to take us to meet their friends. I can't help but feel surprised by the kindness I have encountered here and guilty to think of how we might receive these people in one of our own citiies if our roles were reversed.

While we visited serene mosques, a lively bazaar and deeply peaceful monasteries, I had to remind myself of where I am. As we posed for a group picture overlooking the pramids just outside of Cairo, it finally hit me. I am in Egypt. We are here in a place where the centuries seem to run together. These people are proud of their history and eager to share it with us.

Spending a few days in the city of Luxor was a welcome break from the over-crowded streets of Cairo. I felt peace, staring up at the ruined pillars of the Karnak Temple against the night sky. We enjoyed the relaxation of a felluca (sailboat) ride on the Nile River during sunset and I can see that we are becoming more comfortable here. Despite some sickness and missing home, learning to interact within the culture is exciting. As we prepare to say farewell to Egypt, we find ourselves ready for the challenges of Israel. Our time here has been one of discovery, and we anticipate a semester of further exploration.

-Alethia Bailey