Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Pharaoh did NOT get his Revenge!

Whoa it's been way too long! I'm a horrible blogger. Sorry Mom, I'll try, but we might just have to accept that I'm not good at this. I'm too busy enjoying myself :)

Well the past few weeks have been crazy. We went to Egypt! The night before the trip, we had a sort of orientation, where the resident doctor basically told us that we were all going to get traveler's diarrhea (aka Pharaoh's Revenge, aka Cairo Quick-step haha). They were all like, don't go swimming, don't drink the juice, don't use the tap water to brush your teeth, don't eat any fruit or veggies, don't open your mouth in the shower, etc... So we're all freaking out the night before aaand like 4 days into the trip. We must have done something right, or all been too paranoid though, because only 20% of the students got sick, rather than the usual 80%! I was one of the lucky, careful ones.

Egypt was absolutely amazing. From Jerusalem, we drove to Cairo for two days, flew to Luxor for two days, took a night train back to Cairo (so Anastasia), then drove back to Jerusalem circa Mt. Sinai.

Favorite things:

- Pyramids - we got to go inside! We walked through this short and very small tunnel down and then up into this chamber. There was basically nothing on the walls because it had been kind of destroyed and plundered, but it was still cool. In the burial chamber there was a hole in the ground where the pharaoh was buried (obviously...) and we tried to see how many people we could fit in it... as the rest of the group was singing hymns haha. We got 22, if you were wondering.

- Valley of the Kings - Tombs of the pharaohs! Some of them were just COVERED in paintings on all of the walls, still rich with original color. That was cool.

- Hatshepsut's Temple - built into the side of a mountain, this temple was cool. It was also the temple of one of the few women who ruled Egypt. This one was kind of shady though, after her husband died she locked her son up for years and pretended to be a man kind of. Jerk. Later, when she died and her son, Thutmoses III took over, he destroyed everything that had her name or face on it. That's what she gets. I'd be mad too.

- Feluccas down the nile - way fun, we took these little sailboats down the nile in Luxor to a place where we got out and rode camels by the shore.

- Karnak Temple Complex - FAVORITE! It was sooo cool. There are like 4 or 5 temples in this big plaza. There was this big hypostyle hall with these HUGE pillars. Like over 100 of them. It took us 9 students hand in hand to get around the base of one of them. They were all decorated with hieroglyphs and original paint... nuts. It was super cool.

- Cairo Museum - We went into the hall of the mummies! I saw Ramses II; I saw the face that saw the face that saw the face of God. Haha. True though.

- Mt. Sinai - Wow. First off, this was my birthday, the 28th. So I decided I'd treat myself and pay for a camel up 2/3 of it. haha! Don't worry, like half of my friends did, too. The last third was tough though. Given we had to wake up at 2:30am to leave, we were a little tired. But, it was well worth it, because we got to watch the sunrise. It was an incredible experience. Then we had an amazing testimony meeting up there with our religion classes. Best birthday EVER. Later that day we stopped and had lunch (and bday cake) at a nice restaurant on the Red Sea and I got to dip my feet in. It was amazing. It made me miss home a lot though :(

Since we got back like a week ago, I seriously haven't left the center except for our fieldtrip on Monday. Egypt took a lot out of all of us! Everyone's been super exhausted and few people have left. Plus, it's been raining a lot and it's a little miserable outside to walk around the Old City. AND I accidentally threw out all of my hoodies from my suitcase before I came. Biggest mistake of my life.

Our field trip on Monday was one of my favorites so far though. We went to Yad Vashem, a holocaust museum on the Mount of Remembrance(?). It was an amazing experience to go through this museum, with a Jewish guide, in Israel - the Jewish state. The museum was laid out perfectly... it felt a little like going through it symbolically. It was rough though. There was so much information and so much of the artifacts there were shocking. Real pictures from the pockets of victims, shoes, clothes, beds, etc. One of the most shocking things was this plaster model of the crematorium from Auschwitz. It was really graphic and I lost it. There were also some pretty crazy pictures that got us all going.
The worst and most revealing part though, was the children's memorial. wow. There was a big dark room with 5 candles and a mirror system. They multiplied the flames to represent the 1.5 million children that were murdered during the holocaust. While in there, names were read off of children who died and their age and homeland. I had to spend a while in that room, it was terrible and one of the most emotional experiences of my life.
It was definitely an enlightening experience. One I will never forget.

Pictures asap, as soon as I can get over to the Hebrew University!

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