As promised, I am back with more information on my latest few weeks in Egypt!
The two weeks following my Spring Break adventure were unfortunately, a sharp shock back to reality. I had way too much to do and not enough time to do any of it. I had my second powerpoint presentation due for my Politics class and I was stressed beyond belief over it since each presentation is worth about 20% of my overall grade. I did not do well on my last one and I knew this one needed to be perfect to balance out the poor grade. I also had my first big homework assignment for Ameya as well as a Naval Science exam due for back home; not to mention figuring out my class schedule for next fall, an Intelligence Community Fair (future career research), summer planning issues… all-in-all, I didn’t sleep more than 4 hours any night that second week. Naturally, as a result of the time crunch, I also wasn’t eating well ( I was either having Oreos for dinner or skipping meals all together) and after the long week of readily-available, incredibly-healthy, wonderful food, it really took its toll on my body. To top things off I didn’t have the time to work out either, so that just added to the stress… In short, I was in desperate need of a full nights sleep, some vegetables, and a mental vacation unlike any other.
Like an answer my prayers, the IFSA crew was whisked away in a van at 6 am on Thursday, March 21st, far too early in the morning in my opinion, but 6 hours later I knew exactly what the rush was for. I swore I was dreaming. Or in Heaven. Or in a Disney movie. I was the Princess and this… this grandiose building surrounded by so much green, perfected by the sound of distant crashing waves and the smell of fresh melted chocolate wafting through the front doors… this was my castle. We had arrived at the Movenpick Resort at Aihn Sochkna on the Red Sea. We checked in and on a tiny piece of paper at the front desk I saw how much the rent on my castle cost. Evidently it takes $320 a night to turn me into a Princess. IFSA covered the entire trip (well, it was included in the tuition for the semester). After admiring our room and the breathtaking view from our balcony, Sarah and I wasted no time in making our way towards the crystal clear, giant infinity pool overlooking the Red Sea.
What a God-send. The temperature was just right. The water cool. The sun warm on my skin. Nothing to do, no where to go, no one to answer to. I read a little, but mostly just chit-chatted with Sarah and then Matt as well once he met up with us. At one point, I played a couple games of volleyball, what a relief it was to finally be doing something active again! It felt like we had only been lounging around outside for seconds before the sun began to set over the distant mountains. The breeze picked up, it was time to go inside. Once we were cleaned up and presentable we walked into the dining room to discover a jaw-dropping assortment of food. They had EVERYTHING. Filet mignon, grilled chicken, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, a salad bar, pasta, a bread bar, a desert table. I nearly cried I was so excited. Six or seven plates of food later, I was stuffed thicker than a turkey on Thanksgiving. Full and content, I went to sleep early and didn’t set an alarm for the first time in forever.
When I awoke, it was to discover a completely different scene outside my window. No longer was the sky a brilliant azure blue. Instead, it was a dreary yellow-gray. An ugly, dark, beige. The wind was gusting strong enough to bend palm trees and create waves in the smooth pool. A dust-storm. Not to be confused with a sandstorm. Despite the weather, Sarah and I again tried our luck at the pool. The beach was nearly impossible with the wind whipping up the sand so strongly, yet we still tried to part the Red Sea during the storm. We toughed it out by the pool for awhile. The dust particles were minute so it didn’t hinder our vision or anything, we barely even felt it. We swam and read and I did some sleeping but eventually the wind grew too strong and the challenge wasn’t worth the effort. There were also a whole bunch of giant locusts that were making things a lot less fun haha. We went back inside and watched movies on the television in our room the rest of the afternoon. At around 7 we attempted to watch the Ole Miss vs. Wisconsin basketball game but technical difficulties left us “score-watching” instead. Ole Miss won in the end, to the chagrin of Sarah… who happens to go to UW… figure the odds of that one haha. During dinner, Matt and I had a bet to see who could eat the most food with Sarah acting as head judge. I won After dinner Matt and I became a little nostalgic for America so we watched Remember the Titans on his laptop. Shortly following I went to bed singing “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” haha.
The next morning, to my excitement and frustration.. the sky was back to its perfect blue. Taking advantage of the sunshine, our last two hours were spent on the beach of the Red Sea, or more accurately, in the water. It was incredible! Not particularly warm but it was so full of salt that I didn’t even have to move my legs to keep afloat. It was such a unique and odd sensation. The most perplexing feeling was when I tried to dive down to the bottom, only to discover that I couldn’t.. the buoyancy of the water acted like a life vest around me keeping me from sinking down. If only every body of water could do that All too soon we were hurried out of the water, checked out of our rooms, and ushered into the back of our van. Six long hours later we were back in Alexandria, our mini-vacation from reality over all too quickly.
That break was incredibly necessary and I am beyond grateful for the escape it provided. Now I am preparing to buckle down for the final month of classes. Time is flying by so quickly! I hope I can keep up with it! It is hard to believe today is already Easter. Wow. I skipped classes to observe my 2nd favorite holiday, as if to prove my point from my last blog post, I have never been in a position that I couldn’t observe a religious holiday when I wanted to. It took hours upon hours to track down a church, that is not only celebrating Easter today (and not on Coptic Easter), but is celebrating it on a Sunday (instead of Friday) and in English. After a great deal of research and phone calls and emails, I finally tracked down a beautiful Anglican church not far from Kafr Abdo. Matt and I went together for mass then stayed for the pot luck lunch immediately following. I hope to go back every Friday for mass. The people were beyond gracious and networking is never a bad idea 😉
In conclusion- Happy Easter! Thank you for reading and I look forward to my next blog post!