last I now have time to write you something substantial! Since
we arrived back to Cairo three weeks ago we've been going non-stop.
During our Saturday in Britain we attended Alison's brother's
wedding in Watford- the wedding went well and the weather was
perfect. We stayed in London through to the Monday then departed
for Cairo. The open secret at the wedding was that Andrew and
Anne (the bride and groom) were going to Egypt for their honeymoon;
and guess who they were going to stay with??
their time in Egypt Andrew and Anne invited us to go with them
to Taba. Taba is on the Egyptian/Israeli border and it is basically
a five-star Hilton hotel surrounded by nothing but border posts
and police checkpoints. Once in the hotel compound there is nothing
to do but swim, eat and relax. Our travel there took a degree
of decision making, we wanted to hire a car but the prices were
very high. Many hire companies wanted to charge us an initial
charge plus 40p per kilometer. The round trip is over 900 kilometers
so we soon decided against it. We eventually managed to find a
company that would provide a mini-bus AND driver for the entire
stay for 200 Sterling- it seemed a bit steep but compared to the
other companies the price was right, so that's what we did.
our trip we drove through the Sinai peninsula and our driver gave
us a running commentary on the desert and how they fought the
Israelis for the land. "They took it in 1967, but we fought
and got it back in 1973". Hmm, that's not what I heard. I
thought that Israel took it in 1967, and when Egypt fought back
in 1973 they won . . . for the first few days, then were routed
until they were a matter of kilometers from Cairo- The Israelis
decided to stop knowing that they made their point. Later they
gave back Sinai in return for peaceful relations. A victory of
sorts I guess, but history can be very subjective to whichever
we arrived in Taba we were surprised to see that most of the hotel
guests were Israelis, and most of the hotel notices were in English
and Hebrew. We heard that when the hotel was built it was originally
in Israel, but due to some dispute over the peace agreement the
hotel and surrounding land were handed over to Egypt in return
for $10 million dollars. The recent local history interests the
Israelis and that is why there are so many visitors.
at Taba we saw the eclipse. It was only 70% total but enough to
make the sun seem weaker for a couple of hours. The sky didn't
seem to darken, our eyes probably adjusted to the change in brightness.
Throughout the duration of the eclipse the swimming pool and beaches
were almost deserted- almost everyone went indoors. This really
confused us- we expected more people to be outside to see what
was happening. We later found out that similar things happened
back in Cairo, a friend of ours was warned by her Egyptian landlord
not to go out between 1.30 and 4.00 (the duration of the eclipse)
or she would be harmed by radiation from the sun. Another friend,
a teacher at a private school told us that in the afternoon of
the eclipse her class was reduced in numbers from 20 to just two!!
The children were kept indoors "out of danger". The
hotel gave warnings not to look at the sun during the eclipse
and we guess people understood from this that there was danger,
and maybe since they didn't understand exactly why, then they
just played it safe and stayed indoors. We still get confused
sometimes by this culture.
our stay at the hotel we just signed all of our meals and drinks
onto the room number in order to pay the whole bill at the end
of the stay. When the day came to sign out I went to the reception
desk and felt that it was judgement day- we had enjoyed ourselves
but then it was time to pay the bill. I guess 200 sterling was
quite reasonable, especially considering the fact that I can't
remember the last time we went off for a holiday.
I received a phone call reminding me of a meeting I had arranged
before leaving. I confirmed the time and the place to meet to
be taken to the meeting. It was only as I arrived at the town
about 30km outside Cairo that I realised that I had been there
previously and had done exactly the same talk that I planned to
do. Ooops! Never mind, it was nice to see how much of the talk
the children remembered from about 12 months Ago!
I did a talk with a piece of rope that had a message of forgiveness.
In a nutshell, the rope mysteriously gets tied up in knots and
I explain that it is like this when people do things against us
that make us sad, the sadness inside is like a knot on the inside.
If we don't forgive the person the knot gets tighter and tighter
and it becomes more and more difficult to forgive. Also, if we
don't forgive we keep the sadness inside- it is the people who
learn to forgive and make peace that are the happiest in life.
For example, the story of the prodigal son- the happiest person
in the story was the father because he forgave, but the older
brother kept hold of his unforgiveness and became very angry.
is such a basic lesson but it is an area which many Christians,
old and new have difficulty with. As one wise speaker once said-
it is the basics of Christianity which Christians fail on, more
than the complicated doctrines.
we went out in the car; it's really good to have complete use
of the car since we've returned. We decided to have a family day
out and go to one of the tourist bazaars. At the beginning of
the journey we pulled into a petrol station to fill up. Whilst
queuing, the side of our car was in front of another stationary
car, which for some unknown reason pulled off and went into the
side of our car badly damaging the passenger door. I was not happy,
especially when the other guy denied doing anything wrong. Unfortunately
hardly anyone has motor insurance in Egypt- it's up to the parties
involved to come to their own agreements if damage has been done.
I must admit that for a split second I considered the possibility
of causing grievous bodily harm to the other driver . . . despite
the fact he was an off-duty policeman. Then I realised that this
was a perfect opportunity to practice the lesson of forgiveness
and peacemaking that I had given a few days earlier. Sometimes
the most basic biblical lessons are the most difficult to put
took the guy's registration number and he wrote out his address.
He seemed quietly confident when he drove off - somehow I don't
think that I'll ever see him again or any kind of compensation
either . . . being a policeman he will have the right contacts
to avoid justice.
put the incident behind us and had a really good time at the bazaar.
We started to buy Christmas presents for when we return to have
the baby. I visited a leather shop where I bought a nice leather
jacket for the equivalent of 35 pounds- I've no idea why it was
so cheap, similar leather jackets in the bazaar cost from 70 pounds
upwards so I think I bought a genuine bargain. Just think, all
the money I saved can go towards the repair costs to the car.
I could go on, but it's time for bed now.
Alison, Hannah and Esther
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