Monday, February 2, 2009

Egypt and back home...

Well, I made it home last night and what a ride it has been! After Israel we spent a few days in Egypt. We crossed the border from Israel into Egypt in Eliat and then crossed the Sinai penninsula. Talk about barren land! There is hardly even a bush to be found. It's no wonder the Israelites were grumbling in the desert. I would have been too! No water. No food. Lots of heat in the summer. Yuck.

Anyway, as we started out across the Sinai, we joined up with a new guide and driver... and an armed police escort. That had us a little on edge at first. Then we started crossing through checkpoint after checkpoint. We weren't allowed to take any pictures through the checkpoints and quite honestly, I wouldn't have wanted to make those guys mad! They were all armed and stood behind bullet proof shields as we checked through. I thought I would feel safer in Egypt but yikes! I think we were all a little on edge... especially when they provided two armed police escort vehicles with our bus once the sun went down. It was obviously not a very safe place to be.

So we made it safely to the hotel that night and left the next morning for a little 4-wheeling in the Desert of Sin. We got to climb in some caves, scoured the desert for treasures - all rocks. There is nothing else. Had some fun in the sand dunes and then headed to a wonderful lunch provided for us by a group of bedouins. Delicious food that was safely prepared for our sensitive American stomachs. We were quite thankful that we could eat the fruits and vegetables because it was about the only place we could be certain they had been washed in bottled water. It was wonderful! To picnic in an oasis in the desert in Egypt (where the wandering Israelites were known to have been) with food prepared by the local desert dwellers... amazing!!!

We traveled on to Cairo and the traffic there is amazing! There are no rules. There are no stoplights. There are lane markings but they are never used. We entered Cairo at the end of rush hour and were on a 3 lane highway. At one point, we counted 7 cars across this 3 lane highway. Then of course you have to consider the donkey carts along the road, the cars on the sidewalks and the people dodging traffic trying to work their way to the other side of the road. Do you remember that really old video game called Frogger? (Yes, I'm showing my age.) It was just like that. People were trying to cross the road without getting splat. I'm amazed there weren't more accidents - or deaths!

We visited the pyramids on our last day and I was surprised to find that they were right in the city of Cairo. I thought we'd have to travel out to the desert to get to them but learned very quickly that people (like our guide) actually live in homes and apartments with a view of the pyramids. There are places you can take pictures from that make it look like you are in the middle of nowhere, but it's actually decieving.

So, it's been a long amazing trip and one I will NEVER forget. I hope that you will one day have the opportunity to visit the Holy Land. It's the best trip I've ever taken!

Here's some other misc pictures I didn't have time to post but thought it would be fun to share...

The golden menorah worth $$$$ that was created for the rebuilt 3rd temple. It's in line of sight with the Dome of the Rock. Probably makes the Muslims a little nervous to know the Jews are preparing for God to rebuild the 3rd temple on "their" sight?:

Instruments for the 3rd temple:

From the garden of Gethsamane - the olive trees that have been kept alive since the day of Jesus. If they could only talk! What would they say of that night Jesus sat among them?!