FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2007Well, we landed without any problems on Friday, July 13th, around 2 in the afternoon here in Warsaw, Poland. We were tired, but excited. I was traveling with my daughter, Sarah, who had returned home to Florida from her summer where she was working at a Christian camp as "OP STAFF", to accompany me, so I wouldn't be making this trip alone.
We landed and delivered our three suitcases of "gifts" to my sister's family and everyone enjoyed looking at all the stuff that we had gathered for them there in the States.
It was good to be back on land again after being in the air and/or airports for over a day.SATURDAY, July 14, 2007
Sarah and I, along with my sister, Becky, and her two daughters, Abby, 15, and Lydia, 12, headed to Hurghada, Egypt, to be treated to an excursion that we'll never forget on the beaches of the Red Sea.
Around here, (our ever bargain seeking roots won't let us do it any other way), the last minute trip deals don't leave until late at night and land in the middle of the morning into Egypt. So, we joined 200 other Polish people leaving from Warsaw, boarded a charter flight straight to Hurghada and landed at 2 in the morning.
WHAT A CULTURE SHOCK THAT WAS!
Most of the time, when you land at a place at 2 in the morning, you're greeted with relative QUIET and slower way of life, as most people seem to be sleeping. However, that was not the case when we landed in Egypt. We were convinced that we had walked in on some kind of odd day, because at 2:15 a.m., the dock was teeming with Egyptian men, just standing around. I thought, "Surely, there must be some reason for all this activity today." However, when we asked our Polish/Egyptian liason, she assured us that this was VERY normal, as Mecca was only a straight 220 km away across the Red Sea.
"It's too hot around here during the day to do things, so they take it easy during the day and do them during the night" was Eli's response. Well, that was a bit odd to me, since we were on a different schedule, and even in Florida, where it sometimes reaches unbearably hot temperatures, most of us tend to manage during the day and we sleep (or try) to sleep at night.
We later found out that there seems to be around the clock shifts of people, so that activities take place day and night around Egypt.SUNDAY, JULY 15, 2007Well, we got up, and we had already hunted everywhere for a church to attempt (via the internet) and after ascertaining that there were no Protestant churches of any type or variety in Hurghada, we gave up on that thought, (the only non-Islamic church--Coptic--had started their service shortly after we had arrives at our hotel) and met with our liason, to plan our outings and days there in Egypt.
So, after meeting with her, and talking about our trips, we ventured down by the Red Sea to see what we could see.
We wandered out, sat on the benches by the sea, let the breeze blow in our faces, stared at the water and of course, I had to wade in the Red Sea. I wasn't going to let the Mediterranean or the Dead Sea be the only Biblical waters that I'd just read about! So, I slipped off my shoes and let the others take some pictures of me. I was expecting really ugly, dirty waters. However, were pleasantly surprised with beautifully blue waters of the Red Sea. (The reason for the term Red Sea is because they said that sometimes the Red Sea Mountain Range,which is all sand and fossilized sand, cast a red shadow on the water.)Here Lydia, 12, and I were willing to stand in the Red Sea.
The Red Sea from a distance.
Becky and I sitting by the Red Sea, at the outdoors restaurant. It was breezy and just a gorgeous place to sit and relax.You can see the water off in the background.
Then we ventured on into town to see what the city of Hurghada, Egypt was all about. We had learned that it was a big hit with Divers. However, we didn't know what to expect. We were not expecting the shock of our lives by just climbing into our taxi.
They turned 4 lane roads into 3 going one direction and 1 going the other and just pushed each other all over the road, depending on who needed to go where. Lines were merely suggestions, most of the time to be completely ignored. Headlights on vehicles were optional, with most of the time, the option being "off" as a "consideration to the oncoming drivers, so we won't blind them" (they offered as a very weak explanation to me when I inquired as to why we didn't have our headlights one.)
We found an internet cafe for the equivalent of about $.88 an hour and I logged in to see what was happening with you all here. We found ONE store that actually had posted prices and eventually landed back in the hotel after checking out a travel agency, and meeting up with all kinds of cultural experiences.
I discovered that I needed "potty money" (small bills) to pay to go to the bathroom and when I had changed money, they had only given me "big bucks", so we ventured into the McDonald's there in Hurghada and we did the American thing and bought a McFlurry, to discover the difference between an Egyptian McFlurry and an American one. Mainly, however, it was to get change! (So we like to say, anyway)
Our cultural and educational experiences were just beginning. I was incredibly thankful that I wasn't "going this" alone.
We met again with our tour director at 10 that night, finalized our next 5 days' worth of adventures and then headed to bed for our only completely "normal" night of rest that we were to have the entire time in Egypt.