Planning to see elephants and lions up close on the savannahs in Tanzania and Kenya invited great anticipation. In perusing pictures of Machu Picchu, it was hard to absorb the grandeur of this place in the skies of the Andes. Caves of Cappadocia, THE David, spitting iguanas and blue-footed boobies in the Galapagos, the great wall of China, the grand library of Ephesus, the Berlin Wall,--all have given moments of awe at the great diversity and places in this world.
But, nothing compares with the thought of seeing the pyramids which were millinia old when Cleopatra rolled up in a rug to greet Caesar and then romanced Antonius. And today I wonder about that moment when the last of the ancient wonders of man come into view. It is inconceivable that it will be anything other than a "this can't be true" moment.
I've stolen (or borrowed) this picture from my friend Liz, taken when she and Richard were at the Mena House Hotel--where we, too, will be the first night in Egypt. Come with us!
But, the thing that makes this travel even more surreal is the time of year we are doing it--Christmas--a time when we decorate our house to resemble windows of department stores in days gone by, a time when family gathers around the tree at night to enjoy the lights and the season's serenity, the moments of oohs and aahs Christmas morning as treasures unfold from colorful papers, a time of carols, trees, Santa and reindeer.
Last January, when we first flew the idea of Egypt at Christmas, we sat with Casey and explained what it would mean, including just a couple presents (dear to a child's heart) as the gift for all of us would be the trip. He was totally enthusiastic--yes, he could give up presents and all that the season here has to offer--no problem. So, we began to make plans, signed on with a highly recommended Egyptologist in Cairo, used award points for plane tickets and for hotels, began researching to know more about places to see and things to do. Then----the Arab Spring came to Egypt--what to do? In our daring, we decided to ignore it and to go ahead with the plans.
Now, the time is here and Casey is rethinking his willingness to forgo Christmas. The Christmas tree lot beckons, thoughts of an Xbox 360 are enticing, movies with friends sound fun, Christmas Eve services bring memories--yes, leaving is hard. But, the time for indecision is past and so Christmas day will be spent in Luxor in an Islamic nation. Surely this will be an unusual year and create a one of a kind Christmas memory.
We are taking his stocking with a few little trinkets with which to fill it. We are taking 2 or 3 small gifts, so that Christmas morning will have a flavor of what it is here. We are taking our bible to read the Christmas story in Luke--not sure that there will be bibles in the night stands of Egypt. We are not taking a tree, an Xbox 360 or a ham--our traditional Christmas meal. And in writing that, I just realized that the hotel will probably not serve ham--wonder what will be on the menu, probably lamb and chicken and hummus, which I know Casey will not even touch.
Speaking of which, one of the great mysteries for me right now is just what Casey will eat there and in Jordan, where we go to visit Petra. For a child who has traveled the world, he has no curiosity or tolerance for diversity in food; in fact, he is a true, obnoxious pain when it comes to eating. So, he may starve. Ya think? Yes, there is fish--he doesn't like fish. Yes, there are veggies--what? eat something nutritional and good for you--particularly if it's green. Try something new that may be deliciously good--no way. Yes, it is one of his very annoying character traits.
Today he is with his church group decorating the homes of seniors in our church who need help. I asked if we qualified but we're not on the schedule. Just as well, per a couple paragraphs back.
So, in less than two weeks, we will be in the air--God willing and if all the connections work. I wonder if our first glimpse will be from the air. That would be spectacular maybe, but, maybe not. I'll let you know.
Happy holidays to everyone.