Actually, I returned two days ago. But who's counting!? XD
Anyways, I left Alexandria bright and early on the morning of the 28th, with: Regina, her host sister Reem, Youssef, Melanie, Takey, Eman, Ahmed, another volunteer who's Fatma's brother, and Nagwa, their mother, for Ismailia. We made the four-or-so hour car ride in a rented microbus, and it was actually a very pleasant ride. The scenery was very pretty, and we talked and laughed endlessly. Eman even gave me and Youssef a little Turkish lesson, because she studies Turkish at the University of Alexandria.
I now know how to have a brief, simple conversation in Turkish. ^_^
Anyway, after arriving in Ismailia, we spent most of the rest of that afternoon in a nady (country club) located on a lake that is part of the Suez Canal! We went swimming in the FREEZING cold water, and then had lunch in the club.
Then after that we went on a little tour of the city, and saw the pretty colonial French Quarter, where the French people that worked on the planning of the Suez Canal used to live.
Then, we went out to a cafe, then, rather than staying in a hotel, we were hosted for the night by host families from the AFS Ismailia chapter (there is an active AFS chapter in Ismailia, but there are currently no AFSers being hosted there, since all eight of us got placed either in Alex or Cairo)!
Mine, the Elkaseir family, was very sweet and I was glad to get placed there for the night. :)
Then, the next day, we went on a felucca ride on the Canal, which was fun - except for the deafening shaabi music that was blasted from a radio onboard. -.-
After that, we went to Asia for two hours or so. :D
Haha, more like we took the ferry across the Canal to the Sinai Peninsula. But the Sinai Peninsula is technically part of Asia, so I guess we really did go to Asia for two hours (or so, I can't remember just how long it was). :)
The rolling desert landscape was absolutely beautiful! Seeing those endless dunes of sand, and imagining that this was the start of Asia, and all the way on the other side, thousand of kilometers (I'm trying to start thinking in the metric system) away were China and Japan, it was an amazing feeling.
We also visited a place that used to be part of the formidable Bar-Lev Line, the Israeli defensive line across the entirety of the Suez Canal back when Israel occupied the Sinai Peninsula in the 70's.
After that, we took the ferry back to Africa for lunch, and spent some time in the home of Ahmed Nouh, a very kind AFS volunteer from Ismailia who we'd met back in Alex while he was studying there.
Then, we all piled back into the microbus for the ride back to Alexandria.
The return drive back to Alexandria was not nearly as pleasant as the departure-drive to Ismailia. Everyone was really tired, and because of that, pretty much everyone just fell asleep for most of the ride. Good thing I'd brought my iPod. :)
But one really amazing thing that I realized, was that as we were returning to Alexandria from Ismailia, it really felt for the first time like I was coming home. It was a beautiful feeling. :D
Another thing that had helped me to realize this was that, when I woke up in the Elkaseirs' home, for a moment I freaked out and didn't remember where I was, expecting to wake up in my bed back in Alex. XD
But yeah, I really enjoyed Ismailia! We all had a good time, and it's a very interesting little city. :) Also, the size of the city is much closer to Ann Arbor, and it has a much more small-town feel to it than the only other places I've seen in Egypt, Cairo and Alex, which are both big cities, so Ismailia reminded me of home a bit. :)
Now, on to the second subject: the infamous Hurricane Sandy.
I've been worrying lately for the large amount of family that I have who live in the New York/New Jersey area, and on the East Coast in general. All these terrible images circulating on the Internet and the news here have worried me greatly for my family. I don't fear too much for all my immediate family and friends back in Michigan, because Michigan is pretty far inland. But apparently, even Michigan has suffered some high winds and storms from the hurricane.
If a state that far inland can feel the effect of a hurricane that much, than I fear all the more for those that lie in its direct path. Stay safe everyone! I'm praying for you all from Egypt!<3 Inshallah, you'll all be fine.
Thanks for reading everybody!
Ma as-salama for now.
|Palm trees! Taken on the drive|
|The nady where we swam!|
|One of the houses from the colonial French Quarter|
|A French cathedral|
|Moonlit view of the Suez Canal|
|From the felucca ride|
|Gorgeous desert landscape :)|