Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sunday, January 3

With just two days left in Cairo, we all started doing our last-minute tasks. Reid wanted to see the AUC campus, and Nancy hadn’t been there yet, so they took off with Andrew & Miriam on a little adventure. Since it’s a secure campus, they weren’t sure anyone but Andrew could get in, but they did it and had a great time. Jacob had no interest in going; he just wanted to wander down to Road 9 for some final souvenir shopping. I would have gone, but Rachel just seemed too out of sorts to want to travel anywhere. I think she could sense a big change coming, and she didn’t really like talking about Grandma going back to America without her.

I had been trying for weeks to prepare her for my departure by talking about going on an airplane to America and telling her about Utah and Grandma’s house. Whenever she told me she wanted to come with me, I would tell her she could come to my house in June and that would satisfy her for a while. So Rachel and I just spent some precious time by ourselves, and we both had a nice late-afternoon nap.

After we all ran some errands (including a visit to the House’s to use their clothes dryer) and another shopping trip to Seoudi’s, we sent Andrew to our favorite Egyptian Mexican restaurant, La Sombra, to pick up dinner.

Rachel had a particularly rough evening; I don’t think she liked seeing everyone starting to gather belongings and pack suitcases. Reid and Jacob each brought a suitcase full of food and Christmas presents to Cairo, so now we had two empty suitcases for Andrew & Nancy to pack with their stuff to send back with us (in anticipation of returning to the U.S. in June). Poor Rachel didn’t like the fact that Grandma was leaving without her, and she was just antsy about everything. Bedtime was difficult, but she did ask me to “sing at her” again. I crawled into her mosquito net so I could lay by her side and proceeded to sing our favorite Primary songs. The more I tried to sing, the more the tears flowed. It’s a good thing it was dark, because I didn’t want to upset Rachel, so I just whispered the songs and kept crying. This was the last night with my sweet Rachel, and my heart was breaking. You’d think I could be stronger, but all my emotions just turned to mush. After I left Rachel’s room, I think everyone could sense my sadness, but I tried not to let it affect the rest of the family (I really did try!).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Saturday, January 2

Again, I’m going to defer to Nancy for details on the day’s activities.

01-02-2010 001 NilometerThe Nilometer

01-02-2010 006 Andrew & Jacob - bottom of NilometerAndrew & Jacob at the bottom of the Nilometer

01-02-2010 004 Nilometer ceilingceiling over the Nilometer

01-02-2010 005 Nilometer ceilingceiling over the Nilometer

01-02-2010 009 Gayer-Anderson MuseumGayer-Anderson Museum

01-02-2010 014 table top in Gayer-Anderson Museumalabaster table top

01-02-2010 015 Gayer-Anderson Museum - RachelRachel: “Can I go under here?”

01-02-2010 017 Gayer-Anderson Museumcomfy-looking bed

01-02-2010 021 view of Ibn Tulun mosquelooking from the museum to Ibn Tulun mosque

01-02-2010 029 Ibn Tulun minaretminaret at Ibn Tulun

01-02-2010 030 view from Ibn Tulun roofview from Ibn Tulun roof

01-02-2010 037 Ibn Tulun roof - Rachel, Nancy, Miriamon the roof at Ibn Tulun

Friday, January 1

Since we’d been so busy during the week, we decided to do a whole lot of nothing today. Attending church was very emotional for me because it was my last time in Egypt. I was glad for the opportunity to bear my testimony and thank the wonderful Cairo Branch for their friendship and support. What a great group of LDS church members! I’m happy I had the chance to serve in the branch by playing the piano for their small Primary; I’ll miss those cute kids.

After lunch and a little bit of rest, we started making potato pancakes for dinner. Now, this is fairly simple when you have a big kitchen and a Bosch mixer with a grater attachment. Not so easy in a small Egyptian kitchen. But I put everyone to work with a couple of peelers and one small grater, and before long we were busy frying up some delicious German potato pancakes. For the stew, we made do with beef bouillon, carrot slices, dehydrated potatoes, and spices. No beef; no celery; no onions. Oh, well, it still tasted fairly good.

Andrew’s friend Joseph came over after dinner to enjoy a game of Risk (the Arabic version) with all the guys. Andrew lost big time, followed by Jacob and then Reid. Joseph was thrilled to be the victor, and we all enjoyed our relaxing evening.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Thursday, December 31

When will the madness end? We just had to get in another day of being tourists, but this time Nancy and Miriam wisely chose to stay home and get some sleep. The rest of us, however, were just crazy enough to go back out into the streets of Cairo. This time we headed up to the Citadel, probably the most recognizable site in Cairo’s skyline. The Mohammed Aly Mosque there is fairly new (1820s) and is quite stunning. There is also an old palace which has been nicely preserved.

12-31-2009 001 The CitadelThe Citadel

12-31-2009 006 The Citadel

12-31-2009 007 The Citadelcourtyard of the mosque

12-31-2009 011 The Citadelceiling in the mosque

12-31-2009 013 The Citadelgorgeous stairs

Down the hill from the Citadel is the Mosque & School of Sultan Hasan—very old (1300s) and one of my favorite spots.

12-31-2009 015 Sultan Hasan MosqueThe greatest Islamic building in the world

12-31-2009 017 Sultan Hasan Mosquecourtyard

12-31-2009 018 Sultan Hasan Mosqueprayer area

Next door to Hasan’s mosque is the Mosque of Al Rifa’i, a much newer structure (early 1900s).

12-31-2009 022 Al-Rifai Mosque

12-31-2009 026 Al-Rifai Mosquebeautiful woodwork

12-31-2009 027 Al-Rifai Mosqueinside the mosque

To celebrate New Year’s Eve, we watched Harry Potter #6 and endured the loud sounds of a neighbor’s party (which didn’t end until 3 a.m.). Basically, we’re boring people, but we do enjoy one another’s company.

Wednesday, December 30

One more time, off in a van to be tourists. This time we headed east to the city of Suez, which just happens to be the southern entrance to a famous canal by the same name. It was cool to see the Red Sea and to see all the ships in the distance awaiting their turn to use the canal.

12-30-2009 001 Suez

Then we drove on to the resort town of Ain Sokhna where we were able to play in the Red Sea for a while. Nancy said the water was awfully cold, but I thought it was warmer than the water we experienced in San Diego last June. Rachel was more than thrilled to be out of the van and free to play. She loves to be in the water and sand.

12-30-2009 006 Ain Sokhna - Red SeaRed Sea at Ain Sokhna

12-30-2009 010 Ain Sokhna - Red Sea“Mom, this is not my wet suit!”

12-30-2009 012 Ain Sokhna - Red SeaWading in the Red Sea

12-30-2009 014 Ain Sokhna - Red SeaChillin’

Since we were home by 3:30, we decided to let Rachel get wet again by going to Maadi House. She loves the warm water of their swimming pools. We then enjoyed a nice American dinner in the restaurant before heading home. What a wonderful day!

12-30-2009 024 Maadi HouseFamily fun

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tuesday, December 29

Pyramids, pyramids, pyramids, and more pyramids! Again, go to Nancy’s blog for more details. We visited three separate sites: Dashur, Saqqara, and Giza. Each site has different types of pyramids, built in different styles and centuries, but all fascinating.

12-29-2009 002 Dashur - Red PyramidDashur - Red Pyramid, steps to entrance

12-29-2009 005 Dashur - Red PyramidDashur – Red Pyramid

12-29-2009 009 Dashur - Red PyramidDashur – Red Pyramid

12-29-2009 012 Dashur - Red PyramidDashur – Red Pyramid, Jacob at base

12-29-2009 013 Dashur - camelDashur – camels are cool, weird creatures

12-29-2009 015 Dashur - Bent PyramidDashur – Bent Pyramid (not allowed any closer)

12-29-2009 019 Saqqara - Step Pyramid - ReidSaqqara – Step Pyramid, Reid

12-29-2009 030 Saqqara - Step Pyramid - group photoSaqqara – Step Pyramid

12-29-2009 031 Saqqara - Step PyramidSaqqara – Step Pyramid renovations

12-29-2009 041 Saqqara - view of Giza pyramidsview of Giza pyramids from Saqqara

12-29-2009 043 Saqqara - view of Dashur pyramidsview of Dashur pyramids from Saqqara

12-29-2009 053 Giza Pyramids - JacobGiza – Great Pyramid, Jacob on left

12-29-2009 044 Giza PyramidsGiza – Great Pyramid

12-29-2009 048 Giza Pyramids - Jacob & RachelGiza – Great Pyramid, Jacob & Rachel

12-29-2009 059 Giza Pyramids - Jacob & camelGiza – Jacob’s camel ride

12-29-2009 062 Giza PyramidsGiza – the second pyramid

12-29-2009 072 Giza Pyramids & SphinxGiza – Sphinx and pyramids

Whew! What a day! It was so good to get back to the apartment and relax. Reid made the day even better by making his famous homemade macaroni and cheese for dinner. Some of the best times we’ve had here have been just sitting down to eat together or playing games in the evenings. More than being tourists, it’s just fun to be with Andrew, Nancy, Rachel, and Miriam and being part of their lives.

Monday, December 28

Nancy has written much more detail about our day on her blog, so you can go there if you’re interested. We began by visiting Quaitbay’s Citadel, a very old fort that protected the harbor of Alexandria. Rachel kept calling it a castle, because it just has that look to it.

12-28-2009 005 Citadel of Quaitbay

12-28-2009 006 Citadel of Quaitbay

12-28-2009 026 Citadel of Quaitbay

12-28-2009 032 Citadel of Quaitbay

12-28-2009 012 Citadel of Quaitbaysmall mosque inside the Citadel

12-28-2009 013 Citadel of Quaitbaymosaic floor

12-28-2009 036 Alexandria LibraryAlexandria Library

12-28-2009 041 Amud El-Sawari (Pompey's Pillar)Pompey’s Pillar

12-28-2009 044 Amud El-Sawari (Pompey's Pillar) - Jacob at bottomJacob standing at bottom right