26 September 2009

The Pharaoh's Curse

So we went to a lot of extremes to avoid getting sick. We lived off of hot simple carbs and warm bottled water for more than a week. We slathered on the hand sanitizer before, during, and after any activity where we touched ANYTHING that might have been touched by anyone else. Haha Even so, a good chunk of people got sick in varying degrees of severity. Well, I was doing REALLY well and I felt great. Until the morning after our overnight train ride. But I got very little sleep, and I figured it was just mild dehydration. So I drank lots of water. And then on the bus that morning, it hit me. Like a brick wall. Oh boy was I in for a long day. That turned into a long several days. And I’m still sick, even though we’ve been back for two days. Ugh. In all of my other entries I just tried to focus on all of things I loved about where we went. But in all honesty, I couldn’t enjoy some of them like I had wanted to… particularly the Egyptian Museum. I could barely stand up let alone walk around and be amazed at all of the cool things I was seeing. Oh man. Did I mention that there was no air conditioning in this museum? And the bathrooms were on the second floor… hahahaha It is funny now. But I was SO terribly sick that first day. So as beautiful as everything from King Tut’s tomb really was, my favorite thing about the museum was that there was one room that was air-conditioned and it had one bench inside it. So there I sat for several minutes. And it was just one of the many tender mercies that day.

Another tender mercy that also demonstrates Middle Eastern hospitality… before I go any further, this is a terribly embarrassing story and more than a little disgusting, but I hope you all get a chuckle out of it and at least learn from my experiences. My group was visiting a synagogue in Old Cairo (this was in the morning just before we went to the museum). I was already feeling quite ill, but there wasn’t really anything I could do about it. I took some pepto bismal, drank some water and hoped it would go away soon. But as I was sitting in the synagogue, the overwhelming “I’m gonna be sick” feeling came over me. I knew it was either going to come up or down, and either way I was in trouble. So finally I got up and went over to the lady from our travel agency that was accompanying us and I asked her if she knew of any bathroom nearby because I was not feeling well. I followed her out where she asked the man at the front desk if he knew of one. He answered her (it was all in Arabic so I have no idea what was actually being said haha) and pointed down the road. So she grabbed our security guard and we scurried a little ways down the road to this humble little house where I see an old Egyptian woman poke her head outside. She showed me inside to this small open room with a toilet (open to the kitchen by the way haha). I got there just in time. Phew. Crisis averted. Or was it? I recomposed myself, and reached to flush the toilet as I just prayed Egyptian plumbing would work just this once for me. The toilet started to flush and then it stopped. The woman’s water had been shut off (which she said later happens all the time when the city needs it for something else). So what in the world was I supposed to do now?!?!?! It is not an exaggeration when I say that SHEER PANIC set in as I kept trying to flush the toilet. This was almost a bigger crisis. Getting sick all over myself is one thing, but getting sick in a stranger’s tiny bathroom in her tiny home and then leaving it as a mess for her to clean up when her water turned back on… NIGHTMARE. But alas, it was out of my control. The lady with our group and yelled back to see if I was ok, and when I told her what was going on she explained it to the woman, who told me not to worry about it. So I did something I never would have done if I weren’t with a group… I agreed to just walk away. We of course gave her a little money for her kindness and her hospitality to this poor sick American tourist, and then we went back to the synagogue to meet up with our group. I guess I at least have a really good embarrassing story to tell during all those silly get-to-know-you games we play in Provo…

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