Merry Christmas, With Love from Ghana

Merry Christmas!

I'm back in Ghana after spending two FABULOUS weeks in Egypt. I went with 3 girls (Esther, Brittney, and Sara) that I met this term. Wow, did we ever have a great time. We spent the first couple days in Cairo, enjoying life in the city. We smoked some sheesha, saw the pyramids, rode a camel! We took a ride on a fellucca boat down THE Nile River. We then spent a couple days camping out in the desert, first the Black Desert with black rocks on the sand, then the White Desert with white chalk formations all over the place. All part of the Sahara, which is pretty exciting. Not as hot as I would have imagined during the day (maybe because we're used to Ghanaian heat) but definitely freezing cold at night. Our guide, Samy, was so awesome, and we had nice long talks to him about his ex-wife, a German lady who actually converted to Islam to marry him! You can guess why things didn't work out though.

Then we spent another couple days in Cairo, saying goodbye to Esther who was only with us for a week before she went to back to Ghana and then back to the States. Thursday night was "Prom night"---a pretend prom for the end of the term for American University in Cairo kids that we met through Esther. We ate an expensive dinner (and by expensive I mean $30) at the Nile Hilton and saw a bellydancing show. Sara and I said goodbye to Britt Friday, as she was heading to Kenya for her next adventure.

The two of us headed to Hurghada on the Red Sea for a day of snorkelling. Apparently, I have a mild fear of snorkelling... The boat first stopped at a reef in the middle of the sea but I had trouble breathing and was mildly freaking out, so I just went back to the boat and relaxed. We stopped next at an island, so I practiced in the shallow water which made it easier. I snorkelled for a lil bit, saw some nice coral and cute fish, then sunbathed on the beach for a couple hours. We left for Luxor later that night, and spent 2 days there checking out must-see tourist spots, like the Valley of the Kings tombs and various temples. The temples I found particularly interesting and beautiful, and they reminded me of Rome---huge ancient architecture in the middle of a modern town.

We took a train from there to Aswan. We went to Elephantine Island where we met these 2 local Nubian guys who were about our age and they took us around and hung out with us all day. They took us sailing to a small island that was turned into a botanical gardens, then around another island to see the beautiful sunset. By this time, the wind had died down enough that we weren't going to make it back and they had to call a friend to bring us a motorboat. They took us to a restaurant to eat and see a Nubian dance performance while we waited for the boat, and the restaurant was nice enough to feed us for 1/2 price! We got our boat after that, and headed back to Elephantine Island. We went to a woman's house and she did henna for us on our hands and feet. Finally we headed back to Aswan to get some sleep---sort of... We woke up 3 hrs later at 3 in the morning to get a minibus to Abu Simbel to see some more temples. Tourists have to take a police convoy to get there because it's so close to the Sudan border. No one we talked to was sure it was really necessary, but mostly just to make tourists feel safer. But the trek was worth it because the temples were huge and gorgeous and the best wall paintings we had seen yet. We arrived back in Aswan early afternoon, and caught the 18.00 night-train back to Cairo. We saw several mosques at the Citadel, ran some errands (ie last-minute shopping w/ leftover Egyptian pounds), ate some Pizza Hut, then headed to the airport for our afternoon flight back to Accra

I'm hanging out in Accra for Christmas (as if it's tomorrow! where's the snow and cold?? haha) and then I'm heading out on a backpacking adventure across some of West Africa before New Years for a few weeks with Alanna. Then my sister Laura comes Jan 16th for a couple weeks of trekking across Ghana, then I'm settling in for 2nd term....

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! HO HO HO!

Mel