Friday, December 28, 2007

Egypt Day One--Traveling

Since childhood I’ve had a list of places I wanted to travel, if I could go anywhere. Egypt always topped my world-travel list, and on my first trip overseas that’s exactly where I was going. I wasn’t so much excited as incredulous that I could possibly accomplish a life-long dream. My journey (as my mother’s travel companion) began at midnight on Monday, November 26, 2007, when we left the SLC airport.

Traveling when I should’ve been asleep didn’t help solidify the reality of this unbelievable situation for me. I only vaguely recall waiting at the SLC airport, and the only thing I remember of my layover in Detroit was an advertisement for a hotel within the airport itself. This seemed a clever thing to me at the time; if my layover had been any longer, I’d have seriously looked at checking-in.

Arriving at the JFK airport, I had my first opportunity to exit a plane the old-fashioned way, by stairs onto the tarmac; cold, spitting air ruined the novelty for me. Mom and I picked up our baggage shortly afterward. We promptly had guidance to the appropriate terminal for Egypt Air flights. This expediting was all nice but relatively pointless; our flight wasn’t leaving until the evening.

The huge and mostly empty terminal seemed unwelcoming at first. It apparently lacked benches, and a variety of international flights were represented at the long check-in counters but not Egypt Air. Still, our tickets said this was the place. After a bit of wandering, we noticed an empty Egypt Air kiosk with a sign. Check-in wouldn’t start until 3 PM. What to do until then?—we’d already ruled out sight-seeing in the city. With our kind of luck, we’d miss our flight.

Fortunately our inexperience with the JFK airport didn’t lead to more discomfort than necessary. We noticed after a little more wandering that the terminal had a waiting area, complete with shops, restaurants, and (cold, hard) benches. We began befriending other ‘People to People’ delegates who were waiting for the same flight and who were easily identified by their red, white, and blue lanyards (holding name badges) and their large, round luggage tags.

I read the introduction to The Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Writings by Oscar Wilde, while waiting. This summary of the author and his works left me unsympathetic towards the rest of the novel but I resolved to read it anyway—eventually. I mostly cat-napped then and was generally out-of-it. We checked in later, waited longer, and then finally boarded that evening.

On the literal threshold of my first international flight, I experienced a feeling of significance, I’m truly going. The ethereal threads of dreams had woven together to form something real. Of course, I didn’t yet know what I was looking at, what reality had in store.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

. . . and I'm back

Hello, long time—no write. Seriously, it’s the holidays and I’m procrastinating everything—because I can. Yet, guilt is starting to take its toll on me, so here I am, finally updating my blog. Why guilt? Well, Egypt wasn’t anything I expected or was told to expect. I’m afraid I previously shared bad information on this blog, and I need to make amends. I’d like to share my stories in chronological order, and since I wasn’t enlightened all at once, I must explain one thing up front; though Egypt is a predominantly Islamic country (and in many ways because Egypt is an Islamic country), the people are tolerant and very loving towards foreign visitors. Does this sound odd? Yet, to the best of my knowledge this is true.

And as long as I’m making categorical statements—I absolutely fell in love with everything Egypt. Coming home, I felt like I left my heart behind. After a month of being home, several days of Christmas shopping, and one too many Christmas cookies, I’m starting to feel ‘normal’ again. Last night, may have been the first night since I’ve been home that I dreamed of something besides Egypt—but I’m not sure. I usually don't remember most of my dreams.

By the way, this blog is now under renovations. I took a bunch of pictures on my trip, and, when I got home, I thought I should have taken more. However, since I’ve been downloading, uploading, and labeling them all, I’ve thought, I should have taken less pictures—oh well. I’m trying to enable the slideshow feature here, but I’m still in the process of labeling pictures on my Picasa Web Album