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Published: October 15th 2007
Okay, soo lots to catch you all up on! My last week in Alex was an emotional one - saying goodbye to these people was beyond difficult as they were my best friends, my family, my support for 3 months - it's crazy to think how close you can get with people when put into situations such as this. But then I went and spent 5 days at the Red Sea - Sharm el Sheikh with two of my British friends and my friend Ellen, from Miami - it was a blast though it wasn't "egypt". It's on the Sinai which means that its part of the Middle East (part of Egypt belongs to Africa and the other part, the Sinai, belongs to the Middle East). However Sharm El Sheikh is SUCH a touristy area - no Egyptians live there, they just work there - it feels like you're in Europe rather than in Egypt. All the tourists are from Italy, France, England and Russia - just a handful of Americans. We spent the day at the sea - the most AMAZING water that I've ever seen - soo much nicer than the Caribbean water - clearer, bluer, and the sea life is fabulous - I saw two mantarays swimming together! We pretty much just hung out - we rode camels on the beach, diving, snorkeling, and of course shopping (my mom might beat me when she sees the small suitcase I'm giving her to take back to the States with her - absolutley stuffed to the max but of amazing purchases!). Then I said good-bye to them and off to Jordan I went.
I took a three hour bus ride from Sharm up to Nuweiba where I bought a ferry ticket to cross the Red Sea over into Jordan. The ferry was supposed to leave at 1pm - well, of course nothing over here is ever "on time" - we didn't end up leaving til midnight - which was fine because for about 12 hours I sat around a couple hundred Jordanians and Egyptians all staring at me - being the only foreigner/white person there! These three guys in their early 20s were hilarious - practicing their english with each other before saying things to me - trying to get me to eat bread with them and watch them as they take thousands of pics with their cellphone of me - seriously are we THAT interesting! They provided a good source of entertainment though. We got on the boat (it was the slow ferry so about 3-4 hours instead of the super fast one - this one just wasn't in my budget!). I had my Egyptian cellphone and on the ferry I kept getting text messages saying "welcome to Saudi Arabia" well let me just say that this about made me vomit as I suddenly got EXTREMELY NERVOUS that I somehow got on the wrong ferry! First off, Saudi Arabia doesn't allow Americans unless you are there on business and even then there is a lot to go through to get a visa. Second, I had pants and a t-shirt on - in Saudi whether you're a Saudi or a westerner ALL women must be FULLY and I do mean FULLY COVERED which I of course was not! Anyways, we were actually just in Saudi waters so my phone's coverage switched over to the Saudi one - thank god! We landed in Aqaba, Jordan early in the morning on Sunday and then of course it took forever to get the hundreds of us off that boat - luckily the customs guy on the boat took a liking to me and gave me the Jordanian visa for free - hey, when you're budgeting 15 bucks is important!! Aqaba is right on the Red Sea and right across from it - you could easily swim - is Elat, Israel. My plan was to go to Petar, Amman and the Dead Sea and then cross over from Amman into Israel - that was the plan anyways - I don't think I could have had worse luck or better luck than the luck I had on this trip. I ended up doing all these things EXCEPT go to Israel - there were problems with the border trying to cross over up from Amman so I would have had to go back down to Aqaba, then cross over in Elat and then head north to Jerusalem which I just didn't have the time so I'm bummed but know that I'll be back soon so I know I'll get there. Furthermore, I went to get out money from the ATM and the damn machine ate my card so I had to wait for the next day to get it back after my mom had to call the bank back in the States so I lost 2 days of traveling on that as well! But in the end it all worked out for the best as I ended up staying with a Jordanian family for the week - soooo amazing and soo much fun! There are the parents who have 8 kids - 6 boys and two girls - ages 9, 18, 23, 24, 26, 27, 29, and 30. The oldest five are all married (3 boys and two girls). Two of the daughter-in-laws are pregnant and the two daughters both have two beautiful lil kids each! I stayed with each of them and they cooked me the most amazing food, took me all around Jordan - I never had to pay a thing and they wer all just soo good to me!! I was soo sad to have to leave them! But I got to see most of Jordan and absolutely fell in love with the country! Petra was amazing and is absolutely HUGE - its not just that one wall that you always see in the pictures!! I'll add pics of all this the next time! I actually found a job working with Palestinian refugees in Jordan so depending on how my time in Ghana goes I'm going to apply for it so that I can work with the refugees as well as continue studying Arabic!
Anyways, I'm currently in Kenya - moving to the Kenyan beats with Paul Simon's Graceland ( I just LOVE LOVE LOVE that cd) stuck in my head! I got here Thursday morning where I was greeted by one of my best friends from college who is here with the Peace Corps. I'm currently with her out here in the "bush" and by bush I do mean the BUSH - I'm going to the bathroom which is a hole in the ground - soo difficult - this takes a lot of aim and concentration - men have it soo easy! I shower with a bucket - guess this is just all getting me ready for Ghana...but no one can ever say that I can't "rough it" cause I don't think you can rough it any more than this! My family would be in shock if they could see me now! The people here are soo nice and I just LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE, did I mention LOVE, the children! If I come home in February it will be with a backpack full of lil African babies - they're absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I feel like the freakin President here though - the children just love playing with my hair and touching my skin. A bunch of ten year old girls said yesterday that they didn't think white people existed until now because I'm the first one that they've ever seen in person! The people all just stare at me and come running out of their homes to look at me or shake my hand! I've been hanging out with the locals who are all fantastic. It is emotionally difficult though here seeing the way some of these people live and I met a lil girl yesterday, Faith who is 7, whose parents died earlier this year from AIDS. My mom and aunt come soon so I'm stoked to see them and I'm going on the safari next weekend! Then its off to the coast for a bit and around before headin to Ghana on the 14th next month. I'm not sure yet about South Africa because plane tickets are around 600 bucks right now so when I go to Nairobi at the end of this week I'm gonna see if I can find something cheaper if not I might just head to Uganda and Tanzania.
Love to all,
Danielle "under African skies"
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