Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Day in the Life

I had a great weekend! Here are some things I did:

Friday, I had my usual 2 hour langauge lesson. Our lessons are devoted to telling stories and talking right now so all of the tenses can be ingrained in my brain. I LOVE my language teacher and my time with her is wonderful! After language, I went straight to my Egyptian family's house. Amy and I spent the afternoon with them. We drank fresh tangerine/strawberry juice and ate lunch.  From there, I met up with my Russian roommate Yulia at a Sudanese school where she volunteers. We spent the afternoon cleaning with the teachers. The work was fun and a great experience and we ate Sudanese food together. At one point, I looked around the table and realized I was the only American. I was sitting with 3 Sudanese refugees, one refugee form Sierra Leone, an Egyptian, a Brit, and a Russian. We talked and heard some of their stories and life experiences and I was astounded: I am so blessed to live here and have the experiences I do. When we were finished cleaning, we headed to a friend's house and watched an episode of last season's American Idol, which isn't quite as enjoyable when you know who wins! We eventually made it home and slept early.

Saturday, I had a 7-11am language lesson which I was afraid would be painfully exhausting, but was actually really, really enjoyable. Thanks to a great friend, I was able to bring some fresh Starbucks Christmas Blend. I tried to convince my teacher to love coffee, but all she had to say was, "ooh! you make strong coffee!" and added tons of milk and sugar. When that wasn't enough, she added it to half a cup of tea and said it was better because she couldn't taste the coffee anymore. I got home and went with friends to "Music and Lyrics" at the movie theater, which practically left me on the floor laughing and then spent the evening cooking and hanging out with my roommates.

It seems like life is settling into some sort of routine finally. It's made a world of difference having someone else in the house with me during the day as well.

I love my life!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Breath of Fresh Air

My dear friend Julie came to visit me on a whim two weeks ago. Little did I know that this would also be one of the most refreshing times I've had overseas. I was in a rut and in desperate need of a vacation, and her visit rekindled my love for my new home

I see my time in Africa as a sort of dating relationship with the country. In the beginning, everything is thrilling and it's easy to overlook the faults. But, as the newness wears off, things get challenging and I found my self asking the question, "is this really going to work?" Am I going to tough it out through the tough parts of the relationship or is it time to end it? My time with Julie brought me through the tough parts and I now feel my love for this place has grown even more. I have a much greater understanding, respect, and appreciation for the people here. Here's a brief overview of my last two weeks:

Our first day here, I took her to the Pyramids.
I rode Michael Jackson and she rode Mickey Mouse.

Do I resemble anything in the photo behind me???

Just pretending to be mummified Cleopatra.

The perks of being a foreigner is that everyone wants their picture with us, even random schoolgirls!

We also hit up a different set of Pyramids I'd never been to before. This is the oldest stone monument in the world, and we also got to see heiroglyphics carved into the walls of tombs.

I also took her to the mosque where Mohammad's grandson is buried. She says I'm a pro at wrapping scarves around my head and I told her it's because I've watched my Arab sister do it a million times. We didn't even use any safety pins!

A sunset boatride on the Nile:

Don't I live in a BEAUTIFUL place?

We rocked the market with our combined bargaining skills. She did the bargaining, and I did the Arabic speaking in order to get a better price. She actually got a guy down from 640L.E. to 240L.E. We were unbeatable!

Hanging out in our favorite Sheesha (coffee shop).

Some Saudi Arabian guys bought us these flowers for our hair, but I skillfully avoided any marriage proposals by pretending I didn't understand what they were saying.

And Dahab, my favorite place in the world quickly became Julie's as well. While Julie spent the days diving, I hung out with people and spoke all the Arabic I could.

We planned to be there for 3 days and ended up staying a week. Needless to say, by the end of the week we were in very dirty clothes. And, we also forgot shampoo and soap so not only our clothes were dirty...

The main place I hung out at had a bunch of kittens. This one was my favorite. She has wild blue eyes and was the runt of the litter. I named her Habibti (dear one/sweetheart in Arabic).

I met another girl at the hotel. She only spoke Arabic and was very patient with me! We rode bikes together and I almost ran over a small child because no one told me that my bike didn't have any brakes.

The Bedouin (a group of semi-nomadic Arabs) girls I played with for a couple of days.

Julie and I went to the same restaurant every night and then would play pool with the workers when the restaurant closed. One day, I "worked" for them, delivering food and trying to entice people to eat there. It was definitely an adventure! They were a blast.

Some fun pictures of life on the other side of the world:

Julie left yesterday unfortunately, but I'm feeling ready to being life here again. I love these people. A few weeks ago some people asked me what I like about this place more than America and I couldn't come up with more than to say than "I like walking to the store". (Seriously! Who says that?)

Today, I can say I love the hearts of the people here. They are relaxed, they smile with their eyes and love to laugh more than anything else. Their family ties are strong, they are fiercely loyal to those who they love, they are the most hospitible people I have ever met. They are full of passion and emotion in every part of their lives. I have so much to learn from them and wouldn't choose to be any other place than here.