Wed 22 Jul 2009
Undaunted by my trip to the ER, I continued with my travels by flying to Egypt three days later. Katie (my roommate) and I had been planning this trip for months and I was determined to go. We flew with Egypt Air from Berlin. I was pretty sure that the plane was going to crash upon take off; it wobbled and jerked and bobbed like crazy. It didn’t help that Katie is terribly scared of flying. But we made it to Cairo in four hours without any further problems. Two leaders from our tour group met us there, helped us get a visa, and drove us a luxurious hotel with expansive and beautiful gardens.
It was hard to believe that I was in Egypt! Our tour started the next day with a journey to the pyramids of Giza. I’d wanted to visit Egypt for my entire life, and now I was seeing the famous pyramids and Sphinx…it was unbelievable. And unbelievably hot, too…and it was only March! We went down inside one of the pyramids (dark, even hotter, no air, difficult and steep climb down broken wooden planks) and then rode camels. I guzzled water. Here’s a picture of me, looking like a super-tourist:
We did so much in the week we were there–after Cairo, we took an overnight train (which was absolutely disgusting and jolty and cold, but worth the experience) down to Luxor, where we saw the vast Luxor and Karnak temples and more pyramids and lots of ancient tombs in the Valleys of Kings and Queens. Everything was incredible. We got up before dawn one morning to take a hot air balloon ride (my first!) as the sun rose, then landed in a farmers’ sugar cane field, which did not make the locals happy.
We rode (and I got to steer) a felucca down the Nile, shopped in the massive markets of Cairo, bargained with the natives, ate fresh falafel and drank Egyptian beer, saw the famous sarcophagi and masks of Tutankhamun, lots of mummies, and made some friends with the people on our tour group. What was even better was that both Katie and I had studied Arabic at Dickinson (thanks, Professor Blosser!) and could interact with the country and the people in a way that most of the other hordes of tourists could not. It was hard to leave, but when I returned to Germany, I realized how fortunate I am. I’ve never seen poverty like I did in Egypt.