"It's a dangerous business, going out your door.
You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet,
there's no knowing where you might be swept off to..."
--J.R.R. Tolkein

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Past Pursuits

I started traveling by myself when I was sixteen. I was bored with life in rural Maine, so I signed up with AFS Intercultural Programs for a year in Belgium--I lived outside of Brussels with a host family, attended school, and learned Dutch. It was a hard year (all I'm going to say on the matter), but I made some amazing friends and had some kick-ass adventures.

Me with my host mom on Omaha Beach, Normandy (Spring Break '05)

AFS friends in Barcelona!

And then, the summer after I got home, my super-awesome friend Ellen came to visit me in Maine. We met in Religion class (ha ha what a joke that class was) and I thought she was Australian. We've been tight ever since. She is now interning at a community center in the South Bronx and will graduate from college this spring.

Now fast forward two years. Damascus, Syria (Summer '07). I took a summer Arabic class at the University of Damascus and lived a Christian family in Bab Touma, Damascus.

I lived with 5 brothers and their mother, along with my roommate David (a grad student from Rice U). It was like living in a Middle Eastern dude ranch. But I had fun with them--they taught me how to smoke hookah and how to cheat at backgammon.

My host brother Simoun is teaching me how to smoke hookah in Maaloula, one of the few places where they still speak Aramaic. My host family was originally from there and spoke Aramaic as well as Arabic.

A market, downtown Damascus.

The beach, northern Syria. That's the Turkish coast in the background.

Reading Tintin comic books on the roof of our hotel, Latakia. Don't ask.

Visiting the ruins of Palmyra, out in the desert. This was where I almost got carried off by a rather lascivious Bedoiun.

I took a side-trip to Jordan to visit a friend, and to see the spectacular ruins of Petra! It was unbelievable!

Having lunch in a cave, Petra.


And then there was Egypt! I spent part of my junior year studying at the American University in Cairo. I liked Egypt, but I hated AUC. I missed Bryn Mawr. There was still some fun to be had, though.

Luxor! That's the Nile in the background.

Diving school in Dahab (a resort on the Red Sea). It was pretty awesome, except for having a panic attack under water.

And, possibly the best of all...Sudan! My two friends and I managed to get tourist visas simply by talking about Barack Obama with the embassy staff. I should write him a letter and tell him :)

We spent two days in Khartoum, then explored the ruins in the North (note: there are no pictures of the city because taking pictures in Sudan is illegal without a special permit, and I didn't want to get hauled away for espionage. Once we got away from the city, though, no one cared).

We camped just on the other side of this sand dune (yay for illegal camping!). The desert is COLD at night! But the best part was, we climbed up to the top of that fallen-down pryamid and ate After-Eight mints under a perfect full moon (note: the pyramid looked like that when we got there! It's not our fault it fell down lol). And then our guide was like "you do realize there's a police station right on the other side of the sand dune, right?" And we were like "uh oh." Nothing happened though.

So, all in all, good times. Now I'm at Bryn Mawr, hurrying to finish my exams and getting excited for the next adventure: Indonesia!

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I am waiting patiently for your first report on indonesia. I hope you are adjusting fine and had an ok flight (it must have been toooo long to ever be able to be good :-p).
    Enjoy, and hope to hear from you soon,