Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Personal Recount

I spent some time reading an old hand written journal of mine. The pages that made me smile the most was the detailed information I had written while on my trip to Egypt.

What was funny about it, you could see the excitement, the jet lag, and the fear all rolled into one with my handwriting.

I am literally going to share those few pages with you here. Apparently I did not finish the journal entry, probably because I got waaaay to busy to write while there.

I hope you enjoy my little journey back to meet my egyptian for the first time!

November 12, 2007

And thus begins my "magnifigant" (my word) journey. I am relaxed - sitting in the Birmingham International Airport - downing my last taste of rotten America: a chili cheese dog & apple juice in this teeny tiny cafe/bar.

Appropriately, two african american gentleman entered - one with a guitar case strapped to his back. He has on a blue fedora and has this scratchy "blues" voice. I wonder... will he be heading to Memphis too?

Made it to Memphis, TN. Flew in the smallest jet - sooo small. It was so small I had to check my tiny carry on. Now THAT is small. Cool person sat next to me, ex-Army (dble duty Iraq - he insisted on telling me over and over.)We made small talk, he was a really sweet guy. Toward the end of our flight, he was hesitating, as if he was about to ask something. Finally he asked did I want to hang out between flights. I just smiled and sent him on his way..

Funny - every one asks the same question - WHY EGYPT? My Response - WHY NOT?? Ha Ha

Note to self - Farsi?? Nah. (The Army guys swear people in Egypt speak Farsi. Bless his heart.)

November 13, 2007 11ish European Time 4am my time:
I am sitting in a cafe at the Airport in Amsterdam. I will not dare try to write the name - waaay too many consonants.

I survived the transatlantic flight! Phew! Not bad at all. Piece of cake - except for the whole total exhaustion thing.

I sat next to the nicest englishman from Norwich. Shame on me for not getting his name.

I ate chicken with beans & potatoes with tabouli, a brownie, cheese, fruit & & & & like a 5 course meal on the plane. Yikes. Breakfast - more of the same. Northwest Airlines does it right on a transatlantic flight.

Sooo.. no one around me seems to speak English. It is hilarious being in a place where no one speaks my language! Ahhh.. international airports. You can just hide out.

My gate is apparently E5. I thought I would write it now - b/c my brain is about to shut down.

WOW. I'm in Europe. For a record, I saw a castle & windmills when we landed. Pretty cooool.

Also, I had a non-conversation with a Romanian Gypsy. hahaha

****** (later) *****
I am delirious tired. Moving slow - can hardly hold my pen. Will rest now.
******(later) *******
I'm back - almost 7pm Amsterdam time - can I say - so freaking expensive here ???? Cost me $12 for 3 postcards & 1 key chain. Lunch was also $12 for 1 small bag of chips, 1 croissant and a water. Snack - 1 small (tiny) can of pringles & 1 coke - $9. Holy Gajolly!

I am ready to leave here. Not entirely impressed. Plus - it's definitely NOT smoke free. But it is sooo clean. People actually clean up after themselves & the bathrooms are spotless. Another interesting observing - men just go into the ladies room and clean while you are in there & it is no big deal. Hmmm.

I made friends with 2 egyptian women old enough to be my parents. ONe - Fatima - she invited me to stay in her home. LOL How sweet is that?

The men are dressed sooo well here. European men have such an attitude about them, everyone does ... really. Even down to how they hold a cigarette. (Which waaaay to many smoke.) Plus, the women here exude a sexuality while the men are soo comfortable with other men. Just completely different than American people. I like it.

I am looking forward to getting away from hearing Dutch for a while. 10 hours is a loooong time to wait.

I will have to remember to save money to survive the Schinopol (something like that.. lol) airport. ha ha ha.

Well- let's just state the obvious, I will meet Yasser in a little over two hours. This is crazy! Ha!
I can see my writing is crazy - I have jet lag. I am soo miserable tired and so confused about the time. Let me drink my $5 coke and listen to my egyptian sisters chat and the french man in the cafe demand his coffee.

Hmm.. I wonder who I will sit next to in the plane??

November 16, 2007.
I am officially in Egypt! My flight from Amsterdam was only 3 hours and 30 minutes. I sat next to a Dutch woman . The food - I had a pasta with spinach. NOT GOOD. KLM Royal Dutch airlines - sucks.
BUT I am here. :-)

When I got off the plane, I took a shuttle to Customs. There - I stood in line for a VISA, handed the passport to the guy, and he said, "$15." and that was that.

My heart was beating sooooooo fast. I kept looking to find Yasser, never saw him!
Finally I made it to Customs officially, took out my passport and he handed it back to me, that was it.

(I was shocked - because I read sooo many horror stories about going through customs in Egypt.)

I got my bags immediately and a nice police man helped me load them. Everyone was asking, "Taxi?" "Taxi?" - I went toward the Declaration are and saw people had their blue card - oops - I left mine at Customs. I had to go back and get it. Finally - I make it to the last check point and the guys simply asks, "Where are you from?" and I replied, "Alabama." He counted my bags and said - "Go on." THAT WAS IT. I went through so much to get my prescriptions notarized, letters from my doctors, left my video cam - all because of the horror stories I heard! And that was ALL! I did see them searching other bags, just not mine!

As soon as I got thru - Yasser was standing there - smiling and laughing. He looked soooo cute! Hesham (his friend) came across & grabbed my bags, while Yasser gave me a big hug. I shook hands with Hesham and Hesham's uncle Salah.

Then we went outside & got in Salah's Lancer. Yasser and I were so freaked out. We were smiling and laughing. Salah drove thru Cairo and showed me the Nile River, Cairo Tower, etc. Everything was soooooo different. The driving - soooo fast and no one uses their signals. There were no traffic lights and people do not drive in the proper lanes.

We get to the apartment and travel up the tiniest elevator. We take our shoes off upon entering the house and Hesham's cousin, Amir had prepared a wonderful feast for us! (It is like 2am there!) He made beef with tomatoes & sauce, pasta with tomatoes (spicy), fries, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, cheese and a flat bread (kind of like pita but better) and we drank mango juice.

I sat and talked for a few hours, then I went to sleep. I got about 3 hours sleep, took a shower, then had breakfast with Yasser, Hesham, Amir and Salah. We ate cheese, bread, fig jam and coffee.

Hesham and Yasser decided to take me to the Pyramids!!

Side note - I forgot to say @6am Yasser and I looked out the window and saw the Pyramids. AMAZING!

- We get to the Pyramids and notice how BIG the view is. But I must admit, they were smaller than I expected. Still, very huge - but not as enormous as they seem in pictures. We went in a temple and I saw camels everywhere! We walked into a museum on the grounds and saw the oldest ship - they call it Cheop. Plus.. I saw the SPHYNX!

I saw sooo many things. The desert was RIGHT THERE. We walked down the streets and there were tons of children trying to sell items. I got to drink a Diet Pepsi from a street vendor. Unfortunately, the can was dirty, so the little man cleaned it from a pail of dirty water. Excellent. I was a little nervous about drinking this way, but apparently I survived.

That night we had another good dinner: roasted chicken, fries, salad (Mediterranean style), coke.. etc.

The next morning we took a microbus (basically a small van) and drove north to Alexandria, Egypt. The driver was CRAZY! He was racing other drivers. For Yasser, Hesham and I to go to Alex it was only $10!

We finally make it to Yasser's home. Another small "lift" and I met his beautiful mother. She kept saying, "Habibi, Habibi! I love you, Habibi!" She was sooo sweet.

I met his grandmother - she was soooo tiny. Did I mention how GORGEOUS his brothers were? A beautiful family all around.

We sat and ate boiled eggs, baklava, a special rolled Halal spiced meat, tahini, cheese & green beans mixed with tomato sauce.

Then Yasser and I met his friends and went to this outdoor mall called "Green Plaza." We sat in the cafes and shopped. The boys smoked a Hooka (or sheesha). We laughed, discussed football (soccer). I had an excellent time!

Came home - more cheese and bread and went to sleep. An deep sleep for the first time.

Today we got up and came to Eslam's home. Nice apartment, .. i am tired.. will write more later.

November 29th, 2007
10:45am (Netherlands Time)

I am returning home. I am sitting in the Amsterdam Airport. I feel lost. I know why I was born.

Sooo many things happened in the 18 days I have been gone. I traveled over three continents - got engaged/islamically married and learned a new culture.

Yes - I GOT MARRIED. Technically. Not officially - in more of a non-official/government not recognized islamic way.

I could not be happier. Honestly. I now know and understand love. Yes, yes, yes - he has his faults. But BOY does he love me.

I have never been cared for IN MY LIFE the way I was cared for the past few weeks. Simply, simply amazing.

The colors, the food, the history, the laughs - I have never been sooo happy.

I only hope my bags make it home with me. I have sooo many gifts. I am a little jet-lagged (again) - but I will be fine! I see life differently now. I am loved. I am cared for. I want to be kind. I swear - if muslims believed in Christ the way I do, I would convert. lol
Peace and Love is what I experienced in Egypt.

Magical and Peaceful.

I was sooo sad last night. Completely distraught. Imiss him so much I could vomit.

God please let us find a way to be together. Insha Allah!

I guess that's all for now. I am waiting to take my flight home.

~ Nicole


And that was all I wrote. There was sooo much more, but It was interesting to see what I wrote. If you new how long it took to write the shorter sentences. That was a different time, a different place.

I try to remind myself of all of the good - when the harder stuff comes crashing in.

What about you? Do you keep a journal? (a private one) Do you have any memories recorded that take you back to a really good place?


l'ananas said...

My husband went to Japan when we first met and everyone asked him "why Japan?" It was very frustrating because if you told the world you were going to the dumb Bahamas, they wouldn't ask you that, you know? No offense to the Bahamas : )

Why Japan? Why Egypt? Dumb, dumb questions. I bet those places are AH-mazing.

I love reading old journals. Thanks for sharing yours!

Leanne said...

I really love this, Nicole, and thank you for sharing it with us. I have kept journals off and on through life - and wish I would keep them more. I feel like I just went on this trip with you, it was very exciting! I think reminding yourself of the good is important. Keep doing that. It helps. Thinking of you!


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