John and Paul and I flew home safely yesterday after being stranded in Egypt by Iceland’s volcano eruption. We were in Doha, Qatar to visit Jessica during Paul’s Spring Break. All went well until flights through Europe were canceled due to volcanic ash. Here are some of John’s and my notes home to our wonderful neighbors, friends, and family who took care of our home and pets while we were gone:
- 18 April:
John and Paul and I are stuck in Cairo. All of the airports in Europe are closed by the volcano in Iceland and all USA flights from Egypt go through Europe. Paul loves the pyramids and seems determined to take photos of every hieroglyph he sees on every tomb wall. We have two people watching our house and pets in San Jose so all should be well at home. … There are now 6.8 million stranded passengers and as budget travelers, we are at the end of a long queue. It will probably take several days to get home. I appreciate your help! Cairo is wonderful. We are going back to see the Sakkara tombs and also to see Dahshur today.
- 19 April:
We have climbed inside of 3 pyramids – which are stinky and hot but very interesting. They don’t tell you in the guide books that people pee inside the pyramids – nasty! …Lufthansa’s regular flights start today but no word yet on how they will get those of us in the canceled flight backlog home. We are on the 17th floor of the Ramses Hilton with a Nile river view, 3 blocks from the Egyptian Museum.
- 20 April:
We just got back from the Lufthansa – United office here in Cairo Egypt. The first flight possibility goes out of Cairo on Saturday 4/25 (standby – not confirmed). John and Paul and I have confirmed seats on Tuesday 4/28. There does not seem to be any other way out of Cairo except through Germany, according to Lufthansa. We will keep checking back with them. Kat Carpenter and Felix Quintero are taking care of our house and pets in San Jose….It rained briefly this afternoon in Cairo – with lots of wind. We are set to take the Nile river trip and will be back in time for the first possible standby flight on Saturday. Everything is cash only – we had to call to extend our daily cash limit to pay for the cruise. We have been out collecting additional medicines – since we only brought enough for our original stay. Egyptian drugs have different names and dosages but we found a friendly English-speaking pharmacist who is helping us. There is an amazing 180 degree Nile view from our 17th floor room – lots of pollution haze but still exhilarating to stand on either of the two balconies.John and I just had a snack of Golash (like baklava) and Konafa (like a firm custard with filo on the bottom and shaved onto the top). Very tasty! Paul is happily watching Arabic TV. All Saints Cathedral (Episcopal/Anglican) here in Cairo also sponsors a group of Sudanese refugees and they have their own shop – feels like home.
- 24 April:
We are now confirmed to fly Lufthansa early tomorrow morning – arriving on Sunday 4/25 around noon at SFO. Hooray – we are finally coming home!We went on a Nile river cruise – visited temples and tombs in Aswan and Luxor and just returned to Cairo. Paul has happily climbed inside of 3 pyramids (Giza, Sakkara, Dhashur) and visited 3 royal burial sites in the Valley of the Kings (Queen Tawosert in KV14, Thutmosis III in KV34, and Ramses III in KV11) . We have been to the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the Coptic Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, and the Mohammad Ali (Alabaster Mosque) in the Citadel of Salah al-Din. We visited the Coptic Museum and saw the Nag Hammadi Library. We have visited the Egyptian Museum, Imhotep Museum, Memphis Rahina Museum, Nubian Museum, and Luxor Museum.Paul has missed a week of school but is working on a paper for Geology and a paper for English about his trip to Egypt – illustrated with photos. He has rocks to show his Geology teacher.
- 25 April:
We’re home! After 48 hours on the go, from Luxor to Cairo to Frankfurt to California, we landed at SFO just after noon, and got back to the house an hour ago!Everything and everyone looks fine – Tino the cat says that nobody loves him, but he is willing to shed on us anyways; Redda and Juliet (the dogs) are glad to see us – and the birds were singing their hearts out when we walked in the door! Not to mention the happy flowers and roses! Thanks again for watching over everyone!More later after we get unpacked and unjetlagged :-)Egypt was a blast, but it is good to be back home!
Things I missed about California while in Egypt:
- Drinkable tap water
- Crosswalks and gaps between cars on the street, street signs and lights that are not just decorative
- Being able to enter a building or historic site without a bag scan and questions by heavily armed guards
- A telephone system I understand
- Fresh fish
- A wide variety of national and ethnic foods
- Not having to pay tips (baksheesh) for everything
- Peet’s coffee
Things I learned to love in Egypt:
- Fresh dates
- Tomb wall carvings and paintings of animals and daily life in ancient times
- Donkeys and Camels and Horses on city streets
- Om Ali and other Egyptian deserts
- Bargaining in markets and shops
- Hearing the Islamic call to prayer singing out across the city and knowing what time it is
John and Paul and Jessica and I took about 6,000 photos – check back to see them soon…