Friday, October 30, 2009

It Is Finished - almost

We made it !  22 days, 43,000 miles (33,000 on a bus), 88 sheets of tp by Alan's count, 147 bottles of water, over 1400 pictures (yes, you may all come over and watch them all), more flys than could be counted, innumerable encounters with the radical religious right, many machine guns, fantastic sights and experiences, and some great friends.  When we began this in Cairo (still sounds wierd to hear that coming out of my mouth, but then I'm not really saying it, just thinking it but it still seems wierd) we bonded (carefully) with our group of 15.  By the time the next group of 27 joined us 10 days later, our tribe of 15 were pretty tight.  Like I said, we were one tribe on Survivor.  The 27 were another and the 15 stuck together.  It was interesting to see that happen. 

Our guide for the Egyptian portion was Mido.  He was an Egyptian Arab Christian who had a Masters in Comparative Religion and was finalizing his PhD thesis, and was the best guide ever.  We all loved him and he took care of us.  He would call us "habibi" for sweethearts and our call to get off the bus was "yalla yalla habibi", or hurry up sweethearts.  Belinda wrote a small book based on his explanation of the things we were seeing and he tied them to sections of the Bible.  You could not find a better guide.  And we didn't. 

Our guide in Jordan threw up a lot.  Not sure why.  Didn't want to ask.  He's the one on the left.

But we did get to see Petra.  It was awesome!  Just like the Indiana Jones movie, except for Indiana Jones.  Oh wait, that is Indiana Jones in the hat and shorts.  Geez it was hot. 

For this section of the trip, there was 42 of us on the bus.  Now you know me.  I like buses.  I've driven buses for high school sports, taken international students around Oregon, driven missionarys to Mexico but riding with 42 Americans just didn't do it for me.  For the first 18 of our 22 days it was a scramble to get a good seat.  Some people slept on the bus just to get a good seat the next day (not really).  Then our Israeli guide instituted a 4 seat rotation after some threats were made to those of us that always got good seats.  Hell, I'm a bus driver.  I deserve a good seat !  This was our group.  Don't they look happy ?

We made two especially good friends, Nancy and Yvonne.  They were angels.  They had brains.  They liked to drink.  We got along splendidly, although one of these ladies kept bumping into me, if you know what I mean !  If we lived closer we would probably replace Pam and Cheryl with them.

This trip was a very moving experience for Belinda.  Others had a very moving experience also.  For them, we had to stop periodically at a pharmacy to stop the movement.  Speaking of food, it was pretty good except there was too much of it.  Every hotel had a buffet.  Alan liked the desserts way too much and we both probably put on a few pounds.  A little more "movement" might have helped.  We were both baptized in the Jordan Creek, ah, River.  We both took communion at the Garden Tomb.  As I said, we ate too much. 

We are exhausted.  This tour was non-stop.  I don't think there was a morning we slept past 6am.  The one morning were could have was interrupted by a "false" fire alarm.  Dang thing was set off by a fire.  Hrump.  Our last night was short.  We had to get up at 12:30am to catch the shuttle at 1:30am to get to the airport and hour away to catch a plane at 5:30am.  Got to Berlin about 3:30pm and to Thomas' about 5:30pm.  Ate and went to bed.  Today, Thomas thought he would do something nice for us and took us to the Neues Museum to see Egyptian relics.  It was good to know the best stuff was in Berlin.  Would have been better to know this before we went all the way to Egypt.  But we did meet Mido.  And Pam II and Cheryl II.  And Belinda needed to crawl in and out of a tomb at the pyramids in Giza and climb Mt. Sinai.

Now a thing or two about tours.  If you know us, and you should if you are reading this, we are not tour people.  We like to meet the people, not 40 other Americans.  Pilgrim Tours crammed a lot of sights into 22 days.  It was pretty grueling.  Everything Overseas Adventure Tours did in 29 days for half the money.  And the Pilgrim Tour had a Christian emphasis, which was what Belinda wanted.  And, as I mentioned earlier, we did meet the religious right which helped us understand how we got into a war in Iraq and how Bush got elected - TWICE !!.  Some of the hotels were a bit dated, one was more than dated.  It was in the middle of nowhere.  And then there was the Days Inn in Aquaba, Jorden.  A little bit of heaven in an upbeat area of the city where we had the absolute best Nutella crepes and mocha.  Just what we needed after a more than filling buffet.  Who would have thought a Days Inn would be the best.  While we had a good tour and two great guides, we would have preferred a smaller group.  42 is just too big and we will share our feelings with Pilgrim.  We know that's how they keep the cost down and all in all it was worth it but fewer people and nicer hotels would have been a better choice.  We couldn't recommend Pilgrim because of this.  Or at least we couldn't recommend this particular Pilgrim offering.

Alan's favorite memory of Israel:

This one says it all for Belinda:

Good night and sweet dreams until the next trip with the Scott's

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