A Journal of chimeras (brief postings that vanish)

Copyright Mel. White, 2011-2020

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Chapter 0 - Prequel: A Thousand Miles Up The Nile (via Germany)

Since I teach Egyptology and am getting a degree in Egyptology, the choice to take a vacation in Egypt makes a lot of sense.

But I'm sure a lot of you are wondering, "Why go to Germany?"

In the early years of our marriage, my husband kept trotting me around to all sorts of different places in West Texas, telling me about family members who lived there or friends of family members who lived there or... even just places they'd passed through.  His family had a rich and deep connection with the land here in Texas.

Me?  I had nothing.

I grew up as an Army Brat, moving about every three years (long enough for me to get to know the people around me but never long enough for a lasting friendship.)  There was no connection to the land.  Teachers didn't know me or my family, and I wasn't an exceptional student (I was annoying, however, because I'd read through the textbooks very early in the semester and spend the rest of the time covertly reading science fiction.)  The only thing I felt a connection with were the lands and the forests, and in particular the forests of Germany.  They are still part of the landscape I see in dreams, cool and green, and welcoming with fragrant arms of pine.

Fast forward 42 years.  My parents have died and I have a small inheritance -- enough to pay for the rest of my degree in Egyptology and to fund one (just one) trip abroad.  Egypt was calling!

But it's a very long flight to Egypt if you fly directly.  I was afraid that we'd arrive, exhausted and in pain, and not able to enjoy our trip.  So I checked the balances and discovered we could afford a few days in Germany.  This was MY chance to get some revenge on my husband -- take HIM to all the places where I grew up!

Plotting a multistage trip without the help of a travel agent is a real challenge, but I threw myself into it and then started trying to learn Arabic (one of the 5 hardest languages for an English speaker to learn) and German.  I'd taken German courses in school back when I lived there (in 1960), but my German was pretty rusty.  I gathered up tapes and books and spent about 10 minutes over a course of 6 months trying to learn a few new phrases in Arabic and the final month before the trip, I switched over to trying to re-learn German.

If you know me, you know that I tend to overplan everything.  Yes, I've been packing and repacking for the last month, researching what to take and what not to take.  Among the thing that you might find odd are an electric teakettle (they recommend boiling the water in Egypt, just in case... and I have no patience for those little coil-dunkers), sewing kit, handi-wipes (face wipes), empty medicine bottles (for the face wipes), sports whistle, and several flashlights.  I also brought a bathtub stopper (with my bad back, I prefer baths.  Showers just won't unkink the back.)

I had to make the hard decision about which technology I could bring, eventually settling on my little light laptop (after I backed it up), my cell phone, and my small Samsung tablet.  I felt awfully darn naked.  For art, I packed colored pens, colored pencils, a sharpener, scissors, and a tablet of index cards to serve as drawing paper.

...and then I repacked again.  It's kind of a new hobby, y'know?

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