December 14, 2007

Back to Cairo

Another early wake-up call for us today, 4am! Our taste buds were yet again tantalized as we enjoyed a buffet breakfast with made-to-order omelettes, fruit, pastries and traditional Egyptian food. We were herded onto the bus at 5am, ready to drive to Aswan airport where our flight took off at 7am. Only one hour and fifteen minutes later, we were back in the busy bustle of Cairo. On the way to the International Friendship garden where we would plant our friendship trees, we stopped off at Sadat’s tomb, the late president of Egypt. We soon learned that his tomb, which was appropriately shaped like a pyramid, was positioned at the site where Sadat, a great campaigner for peace in the Middle East, was assassinated during a military parade 1981.

Following this stop off, we arrived at the International garden, in which every country was represented by their native flower, tree or plant. We were guided to two sections of the garden, where pre-dug holes and large trees in pots were waiting for us to bury them! After some heavy lifting and getting our hands dirty, our trees were finally planted (some of them named!). It was amazing to know that a piece of us would be living in Egypt forever, and everyone was talking about coming back in 20 years to Cairo, to see how big our trees had grown.

After this, we traveled a short way by bus to our next destination in downtown Cairo, Felfela. This was a rather elaborately decorated restaurant serving traditional Egyptian cuisine, a type of food we all have grown to love! We ate breads with traditional dips such as hommus and baba ganoush, followed by falafels and chicken. After this, we had free time for almost three hours, a first for us in an extremely hectic but fulfilling trip.

Anna Mackenzie – Australia

Today, after we had the time to check into the Semiramis Intercontinental , and make ourselves comfortable with the new roommates , we headed down to the Osiris meeting room , where we were challenged by our leaders to break the record in preparing care bags for Egyptian children … and since we are blessed with a group that works together as perfectly as a puzzle , we were able to beat the record made by the former peace campers , by 18 minutes. During the assembly of the care bags , Mary Eisenhower was present to support us , and right after we finished , we had the final and the most touching open microphone session in order to step out and go beyond the set itinerary and any kind of imposed script and simply speak our hearts and minds out, that being the last one , many of the campers took advantage of that time to say goodbye to the new friends and the inspiring leaders who have guided us all the way through our journey exploring ourselves and exploring 26 nations other than ours. As an Egyptian , I took my two minutes to address my friends and I started by reminding them of what our beloved leader Barb told us at the very beginning of peace camp , she said :” No one really knows you here, so you can be anyone you want to be.” I took the liberty of granting the 49 peace campers with whom I was lucky to share my country , culture and myself for the past week, the title of Ambassadors of Egypt to their 26 nations, believing in the power of the word and knowing that there isn’t another time in the history that I have witnessed where my country and the entire middle east needs good ambassadors more than now. We owe it to Egypt where we had the best memories of our lives , and the blood that is shed everyday both in places that we know of and others that we don’t, as we sit whether at our 5 star hotel , or our one of a kind Nile Adventurer cruise ship. I would be speaking for all the campers when I say that we believe in the power of youth , and that we’re going to prove that we have been worthy of such a once in a life time opportunity , to treasure it , share it with the world , and try to make one little change every day. Of course parting is tormenting , but as Barb said: that is just the beginning of the rest of our lives! She took us through our experience since the very first meeting at the lobby of our hotel , till a few hours ago. There were many tears among us , because of many reasons, some of which are , the overwhelming feeling of the friendships that were formed , the joy of honor to have been part of Peace Camp and definitely sadness as we approach the end of the camp.
We were given time and told to look pretty because we were dining out. We had a wonderful evening at an Egyptian home , hosted for dinner , both the students and the adults were present and the students mingled and shared their experience with everyone.
I leave you now in peace to go to bed , for tomorrow is a new day with so much more to explore , thus , I need to recharge.
Randa Fadly - Egypt

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