Thursday, April 19, 2007

Where in the world is Syd?

Happy Spring to All:
Life is blooming here in Armenia! Well, actually, as I type this I am in Dahab Egypt, where I have decided to take some "vacation time" with some other PCV's. We tried to conquer Egypt in two weeks on a PCV budget and faired well. Of course, we had our challenges of being tourists. My favorite is the taxi driver in Cairo who insisted to take us to the pyramids, but he dropped us off at the horse stables in Giza, without a Pyramid in sight! We were upset, as he clearly spoke and understood English. So we walked away from him. Five minutes later, the same taxi driver promised, "for free", to take us to the pyramids. "Okay", we all thought. Yet again, he took us to another stable, this time a stable full of camels! "No, No, No!" we shouted! Finally, after slightly arguing with the driver, we told him that this was not our first time in Egypt and that we knew where the entrance of the Pyramids were. We told him we were students and we were late in meeting other students and our professor. With that said, we were at the entrance of the Pyramids within minutes!

At the Pyramids, we ran into some other Americans taking a picture of the Sphinx. I asked them if they would like a picture with everyone in it, so I offered to take the picture. And guess who it was? Michael Dukakis! Yes, we met the almost US President! We chatted with him as well as his wonderful wife, Kitty, and their friends for quite some time. It turns out that Kitty has done some work with the Armenia Disapora and has even visited Armenia. This conversation was loved by all! The world is such a small place!

We visited the Pyramids and rode the camels (an adventure everyone must do!!!) It is amazing to be around and see something that dates back to 2500 BC!!! But that is just the crazy thing about Egypt, everything is so old and nicely preserved! We ventured out into Cairo, seeing many mosques, walked around Islamic Cairo, visited the Citadel, Egyptian Musuem, and Coptic Cairo, which houses a small Christian Church. Of course, we had dinner on the longest river in the world, the NILE!!!! From Cairo, we went by night train (10 hours) to Luxor and visited the Valley Of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, numerous tombs, temples, etc. It is very warm in Luxor and quite busy! The tombs are in the desert, which is VERY warm. The tombs are quite fasinating, as they depict so much history that has been preserved since the days before Christ! The best part, I believe were the temples of Karnack, Luxor, and Ramesseum. These were giants fortresses that just blew my mind. The delicitity it took to build these massive structures is/was unbelievable! It is like the tombs and the ancient artifacts we all saw. The paintings in tombs and the hieroglyphics are so neatly painted with a wonderful stories being told! We also did a sunset felucca ride (sailboat) on the Nile. So beautiful!!!From Luxor, we headed to the Sinai island via a speed ferry. We took an overnight bus from Luxor to Hurghada, which was interesting as the bus was full of roaches. We stayed up all night at the a place in Hurghada by the loading docks, which was interesting as we played cards for eight hours!
From Hurghada, as I stated, we went on a speed ferry to Sharm El Sheikh, and there to where I am now Dahab! Dahab has been my favorite part of Egypt as it is full of carefree people with a hippie attitude. Here, we have stayed in bamboo huts, met some incredible people, (Hi Jason, Errol, Lyn and Jeannie!!!) and relaxed along the Rea Sea coast, eyeing the beautiful mountains of Sinai, the blue clear water and its life, and the land of Saudi Arabia just in the distance. Dahab is touristy, but in the backpacker type of way. I will definitely come back here!!!
Yesterday evening, a couple of us did a night hike to Mt. Sinai to watch the sunrise. It was interesting to hike in the dark, but man, when the sunrise came, and light touched the outlined moutains (see pic) it was fabulous! So much biblical history in a rugged terrain! It was quite inspirational. I did not burn any bushes nor did I part the sea, but I was in area!
The Red Sea is so awesome! I snorkled for the first time, after discovering that scuba diving is not my thing! During my attempt to scuba dive, I totally FREAK out once we got in the water with all the gear on. I totally trusted the gear, but not myself. Everything was so rushed, the training that is. I was devasted not to go explore the sea bottom, but my gut was telling me to stay as my body was trembeling as an anxocity attack was setting in. But after snorkeling, I have redeemed myself and will try the scuba diving thing again. Another thing I learned about myself in Egypt is that I need to see the end of a destination. I backed out of going into one of the Pyramids because it was a cramped space leading into darkness. Again, walking down the tunnel, and being squeezed by other people coming out of the pyramid did wanders for me, so another little panic attack happened. How nuts, eh? Oh well, learning is life long! I am just glad I tried the things and know my limits.
So now, we are waiting for the night bus to Alexandria where we will fly out and head back to Armenia via Sharjah UAB. Alexandria, (i forgot) is a wicked town as well, glamoring the beautiful Med. Sea, and displaying catacombs and the wonderful LIBRARY!
This vacation was great and low cost, but I am eager to get back to Armenia and see my students, colleagues and friends!
The last month in Armenia, the weather has been crazy! We had a major blizzard that left the school and our homes FREEZING for days. I just hope everything has warmed up now! In the school, we had our first Spelling Bee Competition as well as a Creative Writing Contest for our English students. It was a great success and I have a good feeling things will continue to be better next year! Also at school, the girls' basketball team won their first game in school history, playing the big city of Gavar and winning (we are a village and it was like the movie HOOSIERS) and we will play another big city soon in this national competion. (We only have this competition; there is not a regular sports season like in the US). I was so excited for these girls!
As for me, I am in the final stages of wrapping up the Summer Camp pre-camp activities and working on making my English teaching skills a bit better. Many things are going quite well, and I am happy to report that I am enjoying teaching! There has been many things going on in my village, but I think it has been overshadowed by this trip...I am sorry! Sorry for the sloppiness of this letter too. :( There is just so much I want to tell you all!
Well, special BDAY wishes to my sister Whitney, a big 50 for Danny Davis, Cliff, Jan Gentry, Lindy Roberts. Wedding shout outs to Laurel and Joey and Katie McGinnis. Last but not least, congrats to all my OK friends who completed their comprehensive exams in the beginning of April!
Think of you all often,