Amidst the ever approaching holidays and all the seasonal frivolity that comes with that, we’ve managed to keep our heads above water, barely. We’ve really packed a lot into the last few weeks and are looking forward to 3 weeks off more than ever! A couple of big highlights from December include sandboarding in the Sahara, Christmas concerts and get togethers, and at last, a trip to the pyramids.
Sandboarding was really fun. I (Caleb) went solo as Becca had her own party with her fellow 2nd grade teachers from the school. I was a little anxious about the trip since I had only been snow boarding once and, well, I switched to skis halfway through that day. The trip out to the desert took nearly 3 hours but the setting was perfect! Massive dunes alongside a waveless lake. Our group spent the majority of the day alone as we scaled the dune over and over trying to master the descent. I’m proud to say that I only fell once and it was on my first attempt down the hill while trying to brake at the bottom. The best part of the day wasn’t the sandboarding or even the beautiful scenery, it was getting to know the people I was with. The trip consisted of 5 South Africans from my church that I got to know better as well as a larger group of Egyptians that I plan on seeing more of in the future. It was just a fun day of bonding.
Our day at the pyramids was picture perfect. We went with our two good friends, Matt and Layla, and got to trek through some of the most amazing feats of architecture ever built! We were first dropped off at a small shop where you could rent camels and horses for the day. Having never rode camels before, duh—we HAD to. Let me tell you…riding a camel is NOTHING like riding a horse. It’s twice as high, and you always feel like you’re on the brink of falling off. And you know that if you do, you’re pretty much dead (Okay, maybe that’s being a bit dramatic, but STILL). However, after 10 or 15 minutes, Moses the camel and I (Becca) started becoming good buddies.
The setting was like something out of a book. As our caravan began the trek, we approached the pyramids from the backside. It was just us, our guide, the pyramids, and wide open Saharan desert expanse. Our guide let us stop at certain points and take pictures. “Stand up on the camel!” he would say. Stand up? I can’t even sit on this thing! What if it moves and I fall to my death?! So reluctantly, with Caleb holding me and my legs shaking, I stood up on the camel. And now we have a picture to remember the time when I look absolutely terrified halfway standing up on the back of a camel, with Caleb death gripping me so I won’t fall off. Memories.
The pyramids themselves were quite a sight to see. Thinking about what engineering went into building these massive structures was amazing! How did they do it? No one knows for sure. They say that at the top of one of the pyramids, there are blocks of stone weighing over 8 tons. 8 TONS. Incredible! The most surprising part of the whole day was that since tourism is so down in Egypt, we saw almost no westerners there. Only Egyptians (who all wanted to take their picture with us…). So people, if you’re wanting to take a trip to Egypt to visit the sites, now is the time (wink, wink)!
We now sit in the apartment of our good friends, Marco and Jessie, as they parade us around Germany for our 3 weeks off. We just finished a few days in Hamburg including a day trip to Lubeck, and this afternoon we are headed toward their hometown, Berlin, where we’ll spend Christmas with their families. Next week we are also planning a trip south to meet some of Caleb’s extended relatives…Back to Berlin for New Years and then south again to see the sights of Bavaria! Our time in Europe will end with 3 days in Vienna as we part ways with our M&J and head back to Cairo.
We are so happy to be in Germany, but will be missing our families this holiday season as well. We wish we could be in two places at once. Eat some green bean casserole for us!!
Merry Christmas to you all!