Posts Tagged ‘world’


Friday, September 10th, 2010

EgyptAlmost two decades ago, I had a chance to go to Egypt. Since I was living in England at the time, it didn’t cost very much to go on a cruise down the Nile River. I have to say, it was the most exotic-looking place I’ve ever been. Because I’m a tightwad, I took a cheaper tour that did not include the pyramids, and now I regret my decision. The most famous sight in Egypt is the pyramids, so I should have splurged and spent double the money. Oh, well. I asked my husband if we could take our children to Egypt on a “field trip,” you know, after I’m rich and famous. He said, “Are you kidding?! They’re killing Americans over there!”Egypt-2

The thing that struck me most strongly about Egypt was the enormity of all the stone sculptures. Almost everything was done in a very large way. Palm trees lined the edge of the Nile River, and beyond that were sand dunes as far as the eye could see. White long-necked birds flew along the edge of the river.

I entered King Tut’s tomb, which was almost like a cavern cut into the mountain. It was smaller than I thought, but everything was so elaborate, including the paintings that covered the walls. Hieroglyphs were painted everywhere, telling stories about the young king’s life.

Sphynxes lined different Egypt-3cobbled streets, and I saw the ruins of many famous cities, including the Colossi of Memnon statues in Thebes. They were tall and creepy, and they were roped off, so you couldn’t actually touch them.

Abu Simbel was a temple in Ramses. It had four large statues of men sitting at the entrance. Inside, large statues lined the hallway, and an eerie feeling crept over me, almost like there was something demonic about the statues. I had a sense of awe, but it was a creepy awe that included a strange fear. I can’t quite explain it, but I was glad to be out of there when the tour finished.

Mexican Border

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

mexican-borderA British friend of mine exchanged to the United States for his senior year of university. He was studying botany at the time, but now he is the pastor of a church. I remember that he always kept Venus flytraps in his room.

One day during his senior year, he asked me if I would be willing to drive him to Mexico, along with three of his British friends (two girls and one guy). None of them owned a car, and none of them knew Spanish. So I said yes, piled them all into my small Toyota, and off we went for the weekend. We all lived in Texas, and our destination was Laredo, a town on the border of Mexico, since I absolutely refuse to drive a car in Mexico. If you have white skin, the police sometimes throw you in jail for no reason, because (of course) white people are rich and should be able to bribe the authorities.

It took all day to drive from Denton, Texas, to Laredo, Mexico. I was driving on a long and lonely road in the middle of the night, with an occasional dry tumbleweed blowing across the flat, dark highway. There was nothing to see to the right, and nothing to the left. The road was a straight line, seemingly forever. I saw no speed limit sign, so I assumed it was 65. I stayed exactly at 65 because I wanted to make it to the border as soon as possible.

Suddenly a car appeared out of nowhere and started to tailgate me. The car was pushing me forward because he was right on my bumper, and I didn’t want him to hit my car. I wished that he would just pass me, since there was no way for me to get over without driving onto dirt. He followed me for a long time.

Lights started flashing. It was a police car! He pulled me over and clocked me at 70mph. My heart was pounding because I had never gotten a ticket before. I paid attention to every word he said. I tried to explain to him that he had pushed me forward, that he had forced me to go faster.

“The speed limit is 55mph.” He rattled off a memorized speech. “You have the right to speak to a judge.”

“Isn’t the judge in bed right now? What you’re saying doesn’t even make sense,” I stammered, not trying to be funny, but knowing that something unfair had just happened.

He slapped a ticket into my hand and walked away.

We spent the night in a scummy motel with a neon sign that buzzed. It stormed that night.

The next morning, we walked across the border and spent the day walking around and going into shops. I translated for my friends and made sure they each got their passports stamped. I’ve never been to Mexico since.


Thursday, July 1st, 2010

scotlandFat sheep dotted the landscape as I crossed the border from England to Scotland. Shaggy, red-headed highland cows roamed across the green countryside. I remember going up to a highland cow, incredulous that it wasn’t a Steven Spielberg fake animal. Red hair covered his eyes as he looked at me. I hadn’t even realized that it was a bull; the horns should have given it away. As I ran away, I sank into the mud and lost my shoe. Luckily the bull continued to munch lazily on some grass, so I pulled my shoe out of the mud and was glad to get back to the bed and breakfast for a nice cup of tea.scotland-2

Eilean Donan was my favorite refurbished castle. It looked like a stone house from the outside; I would never have called it a castle. It was right by the ocean. The inside of the castle was magical: it had dark wood, armor, grand fireplaces, and tapestries with rich, deep colors. I was transported back to the medieval time period for just a moment.scotland-3

Lock Ness, one of a group of lakes in the middle of Scotland, was an unforgettable place. A castle ruin overlooked the blue, tranquil waters of the lake, unruffled by the Lock Ness monster. Being a dragon lover, I looked around for quite a while on the lake, knowing full well I would never see a sea dragon, but I was determined to give it a chance nonetheless.

Inverness, a town situated on the northernmost part of Scotlanscotland-4d, was a cold, barren land. Mist rolled in over the swampy, boggy water of the ocean. The shore was extensive, and it looked like a forlorn, uninhabited place as I walked barefoot across the cold, dark sand, mist swirling around my feet. I entered a sweater shop and bought a thick, blue sweater, which I still have to this day.

Germany and the Netherlands

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

GermanyThe last week of my “Nightmare through Europe” tour included Hitler’s devastating actions made into tourist attractions. I was in Germany. Our tour arrived at a concentration camp, where I was shown a horrible film that I wish I had never seen. I stood in the actual rooms where millions of Jews had been murdered. I already had a fever and felt miserable, but now I felt like vomiting. It was so far beyond sad that there were just no words. Silence seemed like the only appropriate response.

In the city of Munich, I saw the Glockenspiel chiming the hour, with the dancing figures coming out of the clock and twirling around like a huge wind-up toy. I walked by a clock maker’s shop, where the largest cookoo clock was located.

Germany-2The day was damp and dreary, but we went on a cruise of the Rhine River. We passed several castles along the way, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it would be magical and beautiful had I traveled in the summer instead of the spring. The rain drenched me to the skin.

Later we went to the Netherlands, where we saw more of Hilter’s devastation. I looked at the real place where Anne Frank and her family had lived. The secret passageway behind the bookshelf led to the attic. The rooms were so small up there, it would have been like living in a closet. Needless to say, when I took the ferry boat back to England, I was glad to be home.