We left our home in Santa Barbara at around 8:30 PST on Monday morning, January 8. Our trusty friend and chauffeur Rich Dixon drove us the two plus hours to LAX and waited with us through check-in. Thanks Rich!
We then entered the gauntlet of airport security. To be really honest, it all seemed very disorganized and confusing. There were no clear instructions given to travelers as to what, where or how our belongings and we were being checked. Clearly, this process was known to some of the people in line who were rapidly shoveling off their shoes, emptying their carry-on bags into plastic tubs, and shuttling them down the conveyor belt to be x-rayed. Mind you, we don’t travel all that often; this was all really new. Now multiply that times three kids, and you arrive at some major line slowage. The security folks were very friendly and even joked with the kids asking Sam for his autograph and laughing at Emma. And then suddenly we were free to roam about the International Terminal. Pretty weird.
After a few initial first remembered flight jitters by the kids, everyone settled in for the eternal flight. Sarah Jane raised her hands during take-offs and landing as if we were on a roller coaster. Sam promptly spilled the refreshments on the tray behind his seat and was told by the wet man seated there that he’d be alright. at least that’s what we thought he said; his German was really fast. The man in front of me poured water in my shoe, while I was wearing it, Megan spilled her own beverages on herself, and Emma let everyone in the economy class section know just how loud/three she could be. All this in the first thirty minutes of our eleven hour flight. And that only got us to Frankfurt!
Twenty four hours after leaving home, at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, January 9th we touched down in Cairo. A family we met while disembarking from the plane told us that the people here were very warm and friendly. They also welcomed us to the organized chaos they called life in Cairo. After an uneventful customs check-in we went to look for our luggage. The place was packed. And being the total blend in family that we aren’t, we were quickly snagged by dozens of “helpful” men who wanted to carry our luggage and get us a taxi. One of them claimed us first and drove the others away. He escorted us through the throngs of people waiting for friends outside the terminal. It turns out this was the main day that Muslim pilgrims were returning from the Hajj in Saudi Arabia. Everyone had to touch the blonde hair of our kids. They didn’t seem to mind or notice; perhaps they were too jet-lagged. Our luggage guide offered to call our friend Kerry, who was to arrange our pick up, after we discovered that the battery in our cell phone was dead. She was there somewhere in the crowd, and we finally connected. After a forty-five minute taxi ride across town we arrived in Maadi. Home at last!
It all seems very surreal. Sam told me that he felt like he was in a dream, that he would wake up and nothing really would have happened. Air travel has a way of shrinking our world. The travel of distance was kind of by-passed. What remained was a journey to another culture with no real transition time. Everyone arrived in one piece. We slept until 2:00 am, woke until 6:30 am, and slept again until noon the next day. We explored our neighborhood, not quite rested or confident enough to journey to the ancient world yet. But tomorrow we'll really venture out.