Things start to get a bit fuzzy now. Maybe it's because of the heat which had constantly beat down on us for weeks. Maybe it's because of the inconsistency in our diets, sleeping patterns, and safety. For whatever reason, time was really starting to feel fuzzy by day 12 and it really seemed as though we hadn't been in the states for years by this time although 12 days really is not a very long time.
Despite having only spent a few days in Cairo, we were feeling a bit like native Egyptians by the beginning of day 12 (even with the major lack of tan), crossing streets like we owned them, arguing prices like we were born to do it, and refusing service from anyone knowing that they would follow us for blocks yelling insults at us until we gave them money for performing even the most useless and sometimes outright annoying acts (my worst case was in a restroom in the Cairo airport where a man placed toilet paper he picked up off the floor on my shoulder while I was doing my bui'ness and then demanded a few dollars as a tip, which I outright refused!).
But the trip was finally starting to come to an end, which was sad but good in a lot of ways too as I was getting rather tired. Day 12 was sort of just more of the same in Egypt. Shopping, looking around, risking our lives to cross the streets, obsessing over our alabaster and baking in the hot hot sun. I actually think that some of what I wrote about day 11 was really day 12 but it's all getting a bit confusing to me right now and I've just written out an entire calculus-like equation on two sheets of paper to try and figure out if I skipped a day and I think I've concluded that I have skipped a day.
Day 13, however, is one I'm very sure about. It was our last day in Egypt. Krishelle wasn't feeling well and we were all getting a bit burned out so it was more of a low key day. Uncle Will and I did head out on a nice long walk during the hottest part of the day, frantically searching for bags we could use as carry-ons for our alabaster which we would have to haul from Cairo to Amsterdam that night. We walked for about an hour and a half making a giant loop, finally finding bags directly across the street from the hotel.
We said our goodbyes to Cairo and packed up our things, fitting all 40+ alabaster pots safely (or so we thought at the time) in our bags and waited for Ihab to come pick us up and take us to the airport. The taxi ride to the airport was nothing unusual. We only saw one accident happen and I found that if I just looked down at my knees, I didn't get nearly as freaked out. We did record some of the trip with Krishelle's camera and if I can ever figure out how the heck to post videos here, I'll be sure to let you see some of it. We also have a nice video from the balcony at our hotel looking down onto the busy street below which was one of our favorite sites in Cairo as it looked just like human Frogger with the people below weaving back and forth to cross in the mess.
Our plane didn't take off until just after midnight and was scheduled to go through most of the night. I had an aisle seat and sat next to grandma and the two of us were the only ones in our travel group that didn't fall asleep immediately. It actually felt like the whole plane was dead asleep as soon as we took off. With about 2 hours left of the flight I started to feel a bit nauseous, and would have brutally murdered grandma if she had taken the cheesyomelet offered to her by the stewardess as it would have been passed over me (ok I could never actually hurt grandma but it would have been torture to have any food passed over me at that time). Grandma declined, as did I, and I quickly told grandma that I felt really funny and I wanted to get up and walk around. A few rows ahead of us were some lavatories which I went to, getting quite frustrated when I couldn't figure out how to open the door (we realized later that I was trying to open the flight attendants' closet, which was securely locked with a key). Suddenly I started to black out and the next thing I knew, I heard a man's voice with a Dutch accent telling me that I fainted. I opened my eyes and the whole world seemed to be moving around and blurry and I had no idea where I was but I felt like I had been out for years--like I had died for a while and was just coming back now. They asked me how I felt and I started to realize where I was. I was sweating like crazy and my whole head felt like a bomb, ready to explode.
Well the passengers were all awake now, which was obvious as their heads were all sticking out in the aisle, all the way back, and the few that had front row seats to the spectacle told the flight attendants that I fell hard on my face (which explained the soreness around my eye).
When grandma saw what was going on, she casually woke up Uncle Will (she never panics) and they got up and joined the scene, which was now me laying on my back with some man holding up my bare feet (he was not a flight attendant) and as grandma sat over me, petting my head like you would a puppy, and the flight attendants threw hundreds of thin-as-paper blankets on me as I was violently shivering and really cold now, I thought "this is a strange moment in my life."
About this time they announced over the PA system that they needed a doctor, which woke up Krishelle who immediately looked forward and saw her 77 year old grandmother on the floor on her knees (by the way, somehow during the whole ordeal grandma double-dosed on her insulin--she's ok now).
I drank more water than I saw in the Nile and was feeling a little better when the flight attendant told me she had arranged for me to go to the airport hospital when we landed, which I assumed was probably socialized health-care (enough for me to stay the heck away!!!) and I told Uncle Will I just wanted to go to the hotel and rest. We asked the flight attendant how much it would cost and she responded, quite triumphantly, "We'll take care of you. This is not America. We care here!" It took everything I had in me not to yell so all could here "health care is not a right!" But I let it go. On a side note, we found out later that it would have cost at least $60 and on my way out I so wanted to tell that lady that my co-pay in America (for real health care) was far less than that but there was no sense in picking a fight; besides, I was really thankful for all the care the flight attendants gave me.
Still, they did push me around the airport in a wheelchair for a while; I was holding a pink bag full of alabaster pots which really made me look like an old woman. By the way, one of the first things I asked Uncle Will after I came to was "how's the alabaster? Is it ok?" It had sort of become a joke between the 4 of us that we cared more about our alabaster making it home safely than we did about ourselves.
Uncle Will was pushing the wheelchair by the time we got to the rotating doors which we didn't think would really be a big deal. Well it was. And I so wish we had that on tape. It turns out that the amount of space you walk in was just barely not big enough for a wheelchair and one other person and the door was jammed more than once as we tried to get through it, screaming and banging into each other the whole way (I'm pretty sure we lost one of the blankets that was wrapped around me during the ordeal and of course the first question we all asked after we got out was whether or not the alabaster was ok).
I really wanted to go back out and see the city but everyone just laughed when I said it--and rightfully so as I have never felt as sick as I did for the rest of that day. I thought I was going to pass out everytime I stood up. So I stayed in bed all day, recovering from extreme dehydration.
And day 15 finally arrived--time to go home. Traveling home was more of the same traveling experiences we had already had except now I was horribly sick and terrified that I was going to pass out any moment the entire way home. But I made it.
This trip was so good for me. We really did get to see and experience so much and I really feel like my eyes have been opened a lot more now. One late night in Cairo we walked by a woman asleep on the sidewalk with two small children next to her that couldn't have been much older than my little nieces. It was one of the saddest things I've ever seen; and now as I think back on that and so many other shocking and different images I saw in the four countries we visited, I can't help but be extremely grateful for America, a country that I love very much. And I'm also sad that there are so many within and without this country that so desperately try to tear it down and dilute our beautiful history of standing up for what is right and defending freedom throughout the world in hopes that through bravery and sacrifice we can preserve the freedoms that we enjoy and hopefully help rid the world of whatever causes mothers to sleep on the street with their two tiny children in places like Cairo Egypt. I believe that that's what America tries to do--and I'm proud of my country for that.
Thanks for reading--I hope everyone is doing well and things are just getting stranger for you all . . .