Merry Christmas from Egypt!
I had a horrible nights sleep, shame on me for having a coffee in the afternoon and adding to it our afternoon tea. Too much caffeine! But the kids didn’t care and woke us up at 5am so excited that Santa had come. I told them they could choose one present to open. Then it was back to bed. Well, haha- wasn’t I optimistic. I told L no more presents till 7am. So he was in and out of our room to check the clock. After an hour of this I threw the kindles at them and was finally able to fall asleep. At 8am we had to get up since our driver was coming at 9. The kids opened the rest of their gifts from Santa and we had another yummy breakfast at the hotel.
Our plan for today was to visit some local churches and a famous bazaar. Our first stop was the Hanging Church, named due to the fact they built it on top of a previous castle.
This was inside the main chapel and if you look closely above the standing floor lamps you’ll see two white hanging eggs. They’re flamingo eggs. Our guide told us, flamingos don’t protect their eggs once they’re laid, they leave them to be protected by God until they hatch. So they’re highly symbolic of putting your trust in God. I have never heard that story before but it’s interesting.
Then we walked next door to a Greek Orthodox Church. The chapel was beautiful! But we enjoyed exploring the cemetery next door even more.
Then we walked to the Cavern Church which is one of the locations that Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus stayed in when they were in Egypt.
L is standing on the well which the holy family drank from. Our guide told us, when Mary would have to go out and get food and water she would leave baby Jesus behind. One time he started crying and crying, then this well appeared and filled with water. It was pretty incredible just thinking of the fact we were standing in the same space that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph had been in.
Going to that church was something I had been looking forward to on this trip. It was a special experience.
Our guide now drove us past several mosques in the area and wanted to take us to Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the oldest mosque in Cairo. This was interesting since in our travels we’ve never been able to enter a mosque before. Our guide said if we’d tried to come yesterday on a Friday we wouldn’t have been able to enter since all the men would have been in prayers. The building was massive and it’s starkness was a great contrast to the beautifully decorated churches we’d just visited.
After we finished with the mosque we were hungry and our guide had the driver take us to the famous shopping street of Khan el-Khalili bazaar. He said this is where the locals shop when they need something.
So we were all excited about this part, we wanted to find another Christmas ornament and the kids were hopeful for more travel trinkets. However, our guide seemed to take us on the most narrow, and random streets. The shops transitioned from tourist items, to metal and woodworking shops. There were lots of motorcycles zooming through. The guide would walk super far ahead of us so we didn’t feel comfortable stopping much. It was odd, and by that point in the afternoon we were all over it. The city is a lot on the senses, it smells from all the trash, and the various animals around, there is constant horns honking, and construction noise, you’re always walking close to other bodies or avoiding animals ridden with flies. It’s just a lot! We get that it’s a part of travel, we enjoy exposing ourselves to other lifestyles. It makes us so much more thankful for our easy lives back home. But sometimes it’s ok to admit we need a break. We were thankful we seemed to walk quickly through the bazaar and were back in our van headed to our hotel.
After being stuck in traffic and everyone just so ready to be back in our hotel, we come back to staff cleaning our rooms, and they had left another batch of cookies for our kids! The contrast in our locations and lifestyles was not lost on us this Christmas Day. We are blessed.
Our guide stayed with us at the hotel, he had arranged for someone to come give us a Covid PCR test. This felt a bit sketchy when we saw the guy. He was just some young dude in a hoodie sweatshirt. He pulled these swabs and test tubes from his leather bag. Our guide was helping him write down our information. Nothing about this felt official, but whatever, as long as the airport thinks it is… I’m just thankful it wasn’t the deep nasal swab like we got in Jordan. After that we said good bye to our ho-hum guide. We are on our own tomorrow, our plan is just to visit one or two museums, and then we start our long journey home.
Speaking of home, we’re all feeling homesick today. Last year was our first Christmas at home in almost 10 years. It was really nice. So for today to be such an up and down day, lots of expectations and not many of them met. It just felt a bit hard for everyone.
But after a bit of down time, L and I went to the kids club so he could play some video games. R came in for a bit and Ty got some laps in the pool. By 6pm we all were in the outside pool and hot tub where we swam for almost an hour.
Upstairs for a quick shower, and a most unusual dinner of leftover KFC, hotel hard unripe fruit, and more hotel cookies.
I think tomorrow will be better. We can sleep in, there are no set times for anything, and we’re just going to make our own goals. We even talked about splurging on room service for dinner!