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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On God’s Turf

I really, really wanted to climb to the top of Mt. Sinai not just to know what it’s like from the top, or to breathe in the fresh mountain air - and get some much needed exercise - but I had a personal reason for making the trek; no, I actually had two reasons. My primary motivation was to carry out a tribute to a friend with whom I had lost contact with after my divorce. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a second chance to say goodbye and her passing 10 years after our last hug has had a more profound effect on me that I would have imagined. I still cry thinking of her.

We had lost touch years ago and family allegiances being what they are, I let go of far too many relationships that should have been nurtured. No one was choosing sides but me; at the time for some reason I felt that I had to. I met Diane through David’s Mother, so she was his half of the settlement and my loss. How wrong I was.

I had the privilege of working with Diane, so I got to see her often. She was a radiant beam of light during a rather dark period of my life. She touched me deeply. Diane was the kind of person whom exuded love; you could feel her goodness. She was good in the everyday kind of way that makes someone really, really beautiful. Radiantly beautiful. When you spoke to her, she heard you, I mean HEARD as in she completely took it all in and truly listened.  Losing someone who has touched you so dearly without so much as a good bye is not good. So I was hiking up to say goodbye to my cherished friend.

The second reason was personal. I wanted to have a chat with God. I know that I could do that from anywhere, but I wanted an occasion to really get down to the gristle. And since Sinai is kind of God’s turf, it was a pleasure to come to Him for a change. I had a couple of prayers to deliver, but mostly I just wanted to talk about my loved ones. This has been a tough year for my Nana. She isn’t doing so well and I wanted to make sure that he knows just how special she is and to be extra protective of her always…but if he doesn’t mind preserving her here in this life long enough so that I could make it back home to her, I would be extra grateful. I want to feel her sweet face and kiss her just one more time. But of course I am ok with him wanting the same, but you know, if he could spare her, I would appreciate it. Of course in a place as magical as this you can’t help but feel anything but gratitude so asking for anything seems a bit out of place. But asking God for anything usually seems out of place to me, so we just sat with one another for a while. I cried, but I always cry when I feel this deeply.

It was, how can I say it...


I could have stayed up there for days holed up in that tiny little church, but our Africa trip is coming to an end. From here we have 2 days in Alex to get our car cleaned, sorted and unloaded. We need to fill out the paperwork for its boat trip to South Africa (which could be a big, big deal…most business transactions in Egypt are) and one day to get ourselves to Cairo for our flight home. Wow, we are really coming HOME!

In just a few days I’ll really be kissing your cheeks! Well, many of your cheeks.

My love,

PS: While I’m doped out on gratitude I want to thank you all for joining us on our adventure. The letters and comments from home have kept us going and made the pain of slow internet connections totally worthwhile. Thank you for cheering us on. We loved every single word. And for those of you worried about our life after Africa, don’t. Our life is more or less always this exciting, I just don’t blog about it. There are fewer lions (we have Mountain Lions) in Oregon, but there are bears.

For more photos from Mt. Sinai click here

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Egypt's Baja

Sinai is Africa’s Baja. It’s warm, windy and packed with sun worshiping, water seeking, activity enthusiasts. The beaches along the Red Sea are stunningly outlined by the jagged Dahab Mountains, with miles of arid desert stretching uninterrupted to the Gulf of Suez. Halfway between Israel and Sharm El Sheik, Sinai’s southernmost point, is the small resort town of Dahab; in keeping with my Mexico theme, it is the Cabo of Sinai. Packed with seaside restaurants, trinket stalls, boardwalk artists and more dive shops than you can shake a fin at, Dahab is the perfect destination for some R’s: rest, recreation and relaxation. Unfortunately we have a lot of cleaning, sorting and packing to do and since none of these fit into our R theme, we decided to ignore them, for a while.

The Red Sea is renowned as one of the world’s best dive spots. The coral reef forms a near continuous shelf just a few flipper strokes off the beach, not to mention the narrow canyons, deep blue holes and caves that all need exploring. The underwater world is psychedelic forest of brilliant corals and crazy critters. It is magic. And I am not alone with these thoughts, Sinai attracts hoards of visitors each year. So it was surprising to be one of the only tourists here. Most places are more beautiful without people, but once in a while you come across a place that needs people…Dahab is one of those places. The beaches look sad without sandy bottomed babies running around sporting only a pair of water wings. The boardwalks need sun-burnt families. The pools look sad without swimmers.

We were beginning to wonder if the solitude was a product of the revolution. The owner of the hotel where we’re camping told us that season begins the 9th of April, but by the looks of things on the 6th we weren’t so sure that there would be a season this year. Boy, were ever wrong. It was like being in a port town when a cruise liner docks. Shops filled, restaurants were packed and the discotheques washed the salt rhyme off of their doors and thumped well into the wee hours. What a contrast. Gone are the days of snorkeling along enthralled by underwater world, now you need chameleon like skills to keep one eye on the fish and the other on traffic at the surface. I nearly had a head on with another snorkeler. Holy smokes. Maybe it didn’t look so lonely before.

With the poolside lounge chairs all covered in striped towels, dive trips sold out and the good bicycles all rented, it is a good time to start packing. Besides, you can only take so many man bikini sightings in one day. I’ve had my quota.

See you all soon!

My love,

For more photos of Sinai click here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

It’s Revolution Time

If you have ever visited a country in the midst of a revolution you understand the paradox of fearful hope; otherwise normal urban events seem less mundane, heightened. For the rest of you, just play along for now. Since Hosni Mubarack’s resignation on February 11th the people of Cairo seem to exist in a space somewhere between optimism and uncertainty. Understandably, young Egyptians are much more hopeful than previous generations - both groups embrace the change, but the youth are keeping the pressure on; they want more from their country than what their parents have known. After all, they were the force that rallied the hardest and brought forth the revolution and one can argue that they have the most at stake. They want the same opportunities that we in the developed world have. They see their cohorts around the world and don’t see why they can’t obtain the same. Technology has a way of dividing AND uniting.

Three weeks after the Military took power, Tahir square is still the gathering place for protesters. You can feel the energy in the air as young men and woman bustle in and out of the now infamous square. Our second night in Cairo we looked up a few restaurants and settled on Birdcage, tripadvisor’s top pick; the restaurant is in Tahir Square. It was Friday. Friday is the Islamic holy day. Fridays are when the revolutionaries gather in the square keeping pressure on the government while maintaining a sense of purpose in this evolving revolution. Of course, I wanted to go and check it out…especially over a plate of Thai noodles, but GP wanted no part of it, so we stayed in camp and ordered in watching the spectacle on Aljazeera. We did head into the square Saturday morning.
If you had been pent up in a cave for the past few months and suddenly woke in the middle of Tahir Square Saturday afternoon, you would have thought nothing of the scene around you; other than a curious glance at the burned out government building looming black and sinister to the north, or the profusion of armored tanks mounted prominently around the square, daily life pulsed on as usual: vendors were selling their wares, young people perfecting their struts walked from end to end occasionally glancing around for approval, shopkeepers stood-watch like smoking sentinels outside of their shops. If you were a well socialized caveman you might have tuned into the elevated pride exuding from everyone young and old alike. More than a few times we’ve heard that being Egyptian is now a good thing to be. The people of Egypt pulled off what millions of others one day hope to accomplish, to be heard. To be understood is to feel loved and these guys are feeling the love big time. ‘Welcome to Egypt’ has taken on a whole new meaning and it is remarkable to be here in the midst of it all.

Egyptians love to talk and think nothing of sharing their thoughts on just about anything you want to know, you can feel the pulse of a nation through its citizens and right now Egypt is pulsing with youthful vibrance.


For more good graffiti click here.
For shots of Cairo click here