Monday, July 4, 2016

DAY 1 & 2 - From Houston to Cairo

Checking our backpacks, and for the umpteenth time making sure I had our passports, we departed for our 3 hour drive to Houston at around 10 am Saturday morning. The day had finally arrived! Alan and the puppy dropped us off, we hugged tightly and waved good-bye.

Waiting at the George Bush International Airport. Our first flight was with Continental Airlines. We departed at 6:50 pm and lost about 8 hours due to a new time zone somewhere over the ocean.

The morning greeted us early along the coastline of Greenland.

About to land at Frankfurt, Germany for our connecting flight. It felt good stepping on land after that 10 hour flight, and I was surprised that we stepped outdoors onto a platform of stairs. The air was cold and windy, and we caught a shuttle bus to the main airport.

Found this interesting vending machine while using the bathroom at Frankfurt International. Mini toothbrushes that you chew to clean your teeth!

Short on time, and not wanting to exchange money for the Euro, we had a quick lunch at McDonald's using our Visa card. Then a dash for our gate and checking in for our boarding passes.

We were actually pretty impressed with Egyptair, considering I had read conflicting reports about the Egyptian airlines. Mainly complaints about how rickety the airlines is, not to mention a friend who had just returned and said his plane was leaking oil and nearly did a nose dive over the Mediterranean! Before our plane took off on the runway, I caught a few phrases on the intercom in Arabic. What stood out was the word, Jihad! A passenger was reading the Qu'ran a few seats behind us. About an hour into our flight, we were served dinner. Their salmon dinner with rice was very delicious! Actually, the best ever.
Wow, in 5 hours, we would be landing in Egypt! Really hasn't sunk in yet. Interestingly, the same guy was still reading the Qur'an when our plane landed.

Wow, Cairo! We arrived and I became overwhelmed with what I was to do next! I needed to get our entry Visa's, exchange money, find our driver to take us to our hostel, so many things and wondering if we were going in the right direction.
Following the lead of my fellow passengers, I stood in line to pay our fees (in USD) for entry Visa's. No problems there. Then I found an ATM machine and to my relief, I had options in English. It wanted to know how much LE - pounds I wanted to withdraw. I selected 500, thinking it was a lot, but in reality I had only withdrawn about $90 USD.

We found our driver holding our names on a cardboard sign. He greeted us, and led us to his car in the parking lot. We tossed our backpacks into his trunk and searched for a seatbelt while in the backseat. Couldn't find one and held on for dear life as our driver sped off. We soon learned that there were no road rules. 3-4 cars would crowd together in a "two lane" road. Honking and cutting in front of one another. No speed limits, no traffic lights and no right of way for pedestrians! With shock we watched people cross and dash across the highways, cars beeping horns, people on bikes cutting and darting across the traffic. It was a zig zag mess! A few times I had to hold my eyes closed as our driver stepped on the gas, speeding past cars while the brake lights of the cars in front of us appeared. Miraculously we arrived at our destination with white knuckles and rattled nerves.

It was going on 10 pm and we were amazed at how many people were walking the sidewalks. It was like the city never slept. Our driver led us to the Yacoubian building and we took a rickety old elevator to the 4th floor.
After checking in with our confirmed reservations, I paid the desk attendant and he led us to our private suite. I was surprised he led us to the 2nd floor away from the office. With pride, he unlocked an old door to a sitting room that sported a suite of private rooms. He gushed that we had the place to ourselves. Each private suite was named after an American President! Our room was named after Obama! The one next to us was named for Clinton. We went into our Obama suite and noticed we had 2 single beds, a table and lamp, and a bathroom. Handing us our room key, our desk clerk closed the door.
I was disappointed. It felt very isolating being on the 2nd floor of this old building. Not what I had in mind. I wanted to be around other people. Too tired to think about it any further, I quickly inspected our locks, slid on the door chain and it fell apart in my hand! I tried to fix it as best as I could, then located a plug-in for my laptop. I knew my husband Alan would be concerned if he didn't hear from us soon, so I needed to let him know we had ARRIVED!
We threw ourselves over the bed exhausted. I didn't want to sleep with the lights off so I left the bathroom light on, with the door cracked. While lying in bed that night, the magnatude of what we were about to do started to sink in. We were a long, long ways from home! I had this idea (crazy?) that I was going to backpack our way into Israel! So many months of planning and I was about to find out if I had done my homework or not. Do I really want to flunk the test so far away from home??
With a sinking realization, I knew that without a doubt, I was going to have to keep my wits with me at all times. It wouldn't have been so bad were it for myself, but the responsibility of my daughter, and the trust of my husband's faith in my judgement, would have to keep my mind sharp with common sense! I had to comfort myself in the realization that I was embarking on a leap of faith and answered prayer!


Anonymous said...

spellbinding.. can't wait to read more.. I was wondering if the room was clean, mattresses hard etc.

Helen said...

Room clean, mattress nice. I guess I could give more details but felt my blog post was long enough!

Patty said...

NO, no, no, do not think of the blog being too long; everyone wants to read all the details!!!!

This is so exciting!

Daisy said...

You were one very brave lady. I'm not as brave as you. I will be reading more posts as you post them.

Daisy said...

You were one very brave lady. I'm not as brave as you. I will be reading more posts as you post them.

The WoodLand School said...

This is a wonderful (sometimes scary!) first installment -- can't wait to read the rest. The combination of text and photos is just awesome!