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Marsa Alam, Egypt

Updated on August 23, 2013
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On the road to Marsa Alam

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Vacations are wonderful opportunities to relax, self-assess and gain confidence through exploration of new activities. I was teaching abroad in Cairo, Egypt when I had my first vacation--in life! It seems that in my times in America I had always worked hard and knew little of taking time for myself. It was in Egypt where I discovered just how valuable and necessary vacations can be. On a trip to Marsa Alma, a nine hour drive from Cairo, I opened myself to adventures that allowed me to uncover new parts of myself. My trip also gave me the peace and space to exam myself for things I needed to discard. When traveling, one has the opportunity to explore, experience, and exhale.

It was the Eid, a Muslim celebration of Ibrahim being asked to slaughter his son Isaac, obeying and being rewarded with a “ram in the bush” (a ram to take the place of his son for a sacrifice). In Cairo this is celebrated with slaughtering of sheep. I was given a full week off of school which led to me taking an amazing trip to Marsa Alam, a beach city on the southern coast of Egypt, an hour away from Sudan.

Creative, unique huts at camp

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The camp was a beautiful, secluded group of huts with creative paintings and poetry in each hut. Each morning began with a traditional breakfast of falafel, fuul, flat breads and soft cheeses. The aroma of coffee would swirl around us as we sat, cross legged at low tables. This was outdoors and the sun would warm us. Most days were filled with long days in the Red Sea and sleeping in hammocks (“hammock time” as my coworker Monica and I would joke). Nights were spent laughing, meeting new friends at camp, eating, listening to music (many brought instruments) and star gazing in the pitch darkness.

Days and nights at camp

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I was intensely self-reflective during the trip as I was reading the book “Drop the Rock” and thinking about my character defects which seemed to have bubbled to the surface since coming to Cairo. I found myself writing and having self-revelations. One morning, I arose early and walked to the isolated beach. I picked up stones representing each character defect that I had been pondering and threw them into the ocean as a symbol of my turning them over to God. This private ceremony came after much thought of these defects: what they did for me and to me and why I was ready to hand them over. I also thought deeply about what it would mean to act “as if” they were removed. As this would be the true determiner of my faith: could I walk in the faith that they were gone.

Paradise

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After my ceremony I felt giddy and renewed. The last three days of my trip were more adventurous and beautiful. I went to a secluded bay believed to have been created by a meteor many years ago. This was my perfect image of paradise as we all laughed, swam and seemed to bond instantly in the beauty of God’s creation. The water was crystal blue and this was my first small introduction into snorkeling. I saw a new world under the sea as I watched colorful coral that beamed with life. There were small fish that played hide and seek in the coral.

The next day brought danger and excitement as I continued my experience of snorkeling in a very lively part of the Red Sea. I saw huge colorful coral and whole schools of a variety of fish. I even spotted Dorie from “Finding Nemo”! I was with a fun group of young women that were much more experienced with snorkeling than myself. I felt slight twinges of fear as we ventured further out to sea. We were looking for sea turtle as that was the famous attraction on the beach we were on. I somewhat reluctantly went forward and just as I began turning back, there it was: a beautiful, huge sea turtle. My heart was full of excitement and joy as I swam 2 feet away from a turtle that may have been older than my grandparents! It was breath taking!

I saw a friend near and we began to swim back towards the shore. I was so tired but pushed forward until I suddenly noticed my friend and in fact everyone gone. I was alone. I began pushing towards the shore but the water started getting murky and choppy. I began to swallow water as I became exhausted from the swim and water. Suddenly a moment of realization: this could be the end. I began to panic as I realized this could literally be my last moments on earth. As I put my snorkel mask back on and dipped back into the water I said the only prayer I could: “Jesus!” I stated right in the water. When I came back up for air I suddenly felt a renewed strength and began screaming for help. A friend and a stranger heard me! A diver, in full wet suit quickly swam to me and swam me all the way to the shore. I suppose he was my ram in the bush.

Vacation must haves: Tools for an adventurous and self-reflective trip

1. camera

2. book

3. journal

4. simple, comfortable clothing

5. an open mind

My friends were surprised at my ease and jovialness on the shore. They had no clue what this moment meant to me. For me, it was the reality that God’s hand is always there and that my life is truly saved in Him. Also, was a great moment of realization of just how much I have changed. The old character I once possessed would have never asked for help, even to the death. Also, there were many times I felt ready to die and would have surrendered to it in those waters. Somewhere along the way, I have gained an appreciation for this life. I want it and am willing to receive whatever help available to me to live it. Thank God for that moment of reality.

Wadi Gamel

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Beduin CoffeeBread, made right in the sand with hot coals.
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Beduin Coffee
Beduin Coffee | Source
Bread, made right in the sand with hot coals.
Bread, made right in the sand with hot coals. | Source
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That night we went to Wadi Gemel, the valley of the camels. We went for a camel trek, had beduin coffee and bread and laughed in the quietness of the desert. We even ate cheese made from camel's milk! The pitch black night only adding to the intimacy of the night. I felt so at peace amongst the Beja people that are descendants of the Kushites. I was grateful for each moment, each experience I have been given. I was humbled.

Vacations are wonderful and fulfilling. My experience showed me just how important it can be to take a break. To get away from the every day demands of life and open yourself to something new, is important for one's growth. With an open mind and a great location, you too can find yourself while miles, even thousands of miles, from home.

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    • KrystalD profile image
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      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thanks Joaniebaby for reading and commenting :)

    • joaniebaby profile image

      joaniebaby 5 years ago

      What a great HUB. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Egypt is, and always has been, my secret vacation destination. At least now I have seen something of it through your eyes! Thanks again.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Sandra, I agree that the defects are apart of the journey. These was a particularly cleansing trip and I just had to find a way to share it! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 5 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      Thanks for the beautiful photos and the reflections on eliminating your "defects." I find that defects certainly do emerge on holidays. But that's part of the journey. Sandra Busby

    • KrystalD profile image
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      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thanks Chelsie. I love sharing it because I think we all have so much to learn from eachother. Thanks for always sharing your experiences with me!

    • profile image

      Chelsie 5 years ago

      U write beautifully thank u so much for always sharing your experiences