28 May, 2010

Traffic has been aweful. I'm still not even home yet. There is a burger calling my name.
Well, I'm back in the states. On the way back home finally. Customs took forever... More about that later though.

27 May, 2010

A Sigh of Sadness and a Breath of Excitement

"Save tonight, fight the break of dawn. 
Come tomorrow, tomorrow I'll be gone." 

Well, here it is. The last substantial post I will make from Egypt. I'm currently sitting in the "Man Cave" next to Sean who is watching a show on Haley's computer, while Ann checks her e-mail on the other couch. The others staying in the "Man Cave" are out on the balcony smoking and talking. It's rather odd to be here instead of in my own apartment. 

It's also really odd as the group is continuing to break apart and shatter. Rebecca's gone, Will's gone, Ryan's gone, Lindley's gone and Ann will be on her way to the airport in two hours. I'm torn about leaving Egypt right now. It's going to be a bittersweet goodbye in the morning. I just know it. This post is going to be an overall reflection post, so more apologies from me for being ridiculously long. Here goes nothing.

Egypt for me has been a road of ups and downs. There were so many good times and bad times as well. I think the good times outweigh the bad, but Egypt was still a much different experience that I ever would have imagined it to be. 

I came to Egypt expecting it to be the Egypt of 20 years ago. "Paris on the Nile." I'm not exactly sure why I expected this, but that's what I wanted. A society in the desert that was sophisticated and yet somehow adventurous. Egypt wasn't what I expected at all. I landed in Cairo in what looked to be LAX or somewhere in California. Palm trees lined the road of a modern looking city.

As we entered into the main part of the city, I found what looked like parts of the Middle East you see in pictures. Unfinished buildings made of brick, covered in sand with palm trees lining the road. The more I got to know Cairo, the more I realized that it was in fact a rollercoaster, as they told me in orientation. Some experiences were great, like the trip to Luxor and Aswan and the trip to the Children's Museum and being able to communicate entirely in Arabic at Khan Al-Khalili. While others were horrible, like the days I had to write papers, and sometimes the walk to and from school. Egypt was in fact everything. Good, bad, amazing, and disastrous. I truly do believe that I will always have a love-hate relationship with Cairo and Egypt in general. 

This semester was completely different from the last one I spent in Prague. From the city to the group of people on the program. I felt I had a certain connection with the kids in my Prague program. We were the FAMU kids. We were a family. Here was not the same dynamic. I felt that I didn't get to know everyone as well here. Though I did make some great friends. Shruti was absolutely awesome and so much fun. Mustafa helped me survive this semester. I found I have more in common with him than I thought I originally would. Will proved to be a rather delightful person to be around. Surprisingly, Sean became a rather close friend, which I wouldn't have pictured at the beginning of this whole adventure. And Tyler became someone I could talk to about random things. Sadly I didn't get to know the other girls as well as I knew the guys and Shruti. But, then again I felt that there was a slight cliche between them all and I was once again the outsider. Around the end of the semester this seemed to disappear, but the fact still remained that I didn't really know them. But, they were a lot of fun when we did hang out. 

Ok, so with all the good of a semester, there comes the bad. And before I get so engrossed in the awesomeness that was this semester, I'm going to first talk about my problems this semester. There actually aren't that many, but they are enough to warrant a bit of a rant.
So, here it goes. Egypt itself would be a much better place if the people, particularly the men, in the society would understand the concept of being a woman. Being a woman does not mean you have the right to call me names, hiss at me as I pass, and just overall harass me. If there is one thing I will not miss about Egypt it's the fact that I can blend in and not have to feel angry when I walk down the street all the time. 

Egypt would also be a much better place if they could understand the concept of the environment. Let's be honest. The place is absolutely filthy. I had the worst time trying to adjust to the fact that I had to walk around trash to get to school and that trashcans were incredibly hard to find. Also, the fact that everyone seems to own a car. Why on earth would you need to own a car in this city? There are taxis everywhere! I'll never understand. 

And while I'm on the subject of taxis, just because I'm walking down the street does not mean I need a taxi to get wherever it is I am going. I do like to walk.

As for the program itself, I have very few gripes about the program. I would have liked a little more structure within some of the classes and sometimes I wished my professors were a bit more interactive. But, then again I don't know a way to teach Egyptology other than lecturing with pauses to answer questions. I also think that the workload was a bit much near the end of the semester. But, I've written all of this on my evaluation forms, so hopefully these things will be taken into consideration for programs in the future. 

Overall, I think program and my experience in Egypt was one I'll never forget. I've made some amazing friends, seen some incredible places and done some unforgettable things. You can't leave Egypt saying that you didn't take something away. I definitely did. I learned a lot about myself and I definitely saw a way of living that I would never have seen otherwise.

To finish this post up I've moved outside on the balcony where it's much cooler. As the wind blows and the smell of some of the empty alcohol bottle blows along with the wind, I can't help but already miss everyone. We may not have been a close family like the FAMU kids were, but we were definitely something. A group of friends embarking on an adventure of a lifetime.

I'm dreading the end of this post because it means the end of an adventure. The end of a chapter in my life that I had been planning since I was a freshman in college. When I end this post, I will leave Egypt and return to the States as a Senior at American University. The words are rather terrifying. They symbolize another big moment of my life coming to an end, but I'm not going to think about that just yet. 

As with my last post from Prague, I'm going to give some advice to those who wish to study abroad. My words of wisdom are this, go into an experience with no expectations. You never know where you may end up and what memories you will make. Let your feet do all the traveling. Live your life with little reservations.

I can't say that I won't miss Egypt. I know I will, something at home will remind me of Egypt and call me to remember the dirty city of Cairo. Even with all the times I wanted to leave and felt uncomfortable, I know that Cairo has a special place in my heart. 

I need to thank Matthew, our program manager, for being extremely awesome and so easy to talk to. I'm extremely excited to keep in touch with him about the thesis project I'm going to take on next year. Thank you to Tamer, our awesome housing specialist, who took care of any problem we ever had. And for giving me my Arabic name, Bakinam. Nadia, our former academic adviser, for all her courage and support with girl's nights. And Dr. Riham, our current academic adviser, for listening to us gripe about all of our classes and workload and for truly understanding what we were going through. Without you all, this semester would have been a mess. I know it just would have been. To everyone on the program, Ann, Ryan, Shruti, Garrett, Tyler, Will, Moose, Sean, Lindley, and Haley, you've made this experience one to never forget. Know that you've been great inspiration for some of my characters in scripts.

So, here it comes. The end of the adventure in Egypt. It seems like it just started and at the same time as if I've been in Cairo for years. And with a deep breath, I'm bringing this post to an end. I'm just about out of things to say. No one is stepping out from behind the curtain this semester, I'm all alone on this one. But, it's been a blast. 

So long Cairo, I will miss you. Perhaps we shall meet again. I hope we do. 

The End is Near

The end is very near. At this point I've packed all of my things away into a suitcase, a backpack and a carry-on and I'm sitting in my living room waiting until 12pm. I will then relocate to the "Mancave" or Moose and Tyler's apartment until my flight tomorrow morning. Approximately 24 hours from the time of this post, I will be on my back to the States. It feels a little surreal. 

As I packed my things up yesterday evening I thought about it. The journey that I've been planning since my freshman year of college is finally coming to an end. It's another chapter of my life closing and tomorrow will begin a new one. 

Ok, I'm going to stop being sappy for the moment. That will definitely come later. Yesterday night was my last final, so I was completely relieved to be entirely done with the semester. It was a long and hard road to get to this point, but I learned a lot and had fun along the way. We also had our final dinner last night. We went to LaBodega and I got some shrimp curry, black lentil soup, and crème brulée. I also split an appetizer of duck with Moose. It was overall a pretty good night. But, as with all programs, our small group began to shatter and splinter. Rebecca left for Australia before the final dinner and not long after dinner finished, Ryan left to go and prepare for his flight home. 

After dinner we went to the bookstore that was down the street for a little bit of time, and once we had finished shopping, we split up into two groups and I came back to my apartment to try and pack up my things, which I had been dreading since I took my final. How does one pack up five months of a life into only two suitcase and a carry-on? I managed it somehow, but it was very sad to pack everything up. 

Prior to dinner though, we all met at Matthew's apartment for presentations. Matthew gave out the Qishta awards, which were pretty amusing. There was an award for all of us. I got "Future director of Will's History Channel Program" as I'm sure  you guessed Will got "Future Professor and Host on the History Channel". It was pretty nifty and he gave us Ancient Egyptian statues to commemorate the awards. Then Lindley made a slideshow that was set to the song "Save Tonight", which made me tear up a good bit. I realized that it was true once again. The group of friends I had made in this country was fragmenting apart. 

Backtracking now. Sadly Tuesday was not as spectacular as it was supposed to be. I spent the morning pretty much just hanging around the apartment working on things that needed to be finished. I did have dinner in the evening with Virgina, the girl I worked with at Past Preservers, at Felfela. It was pretty good and it was great catching up with her. She seems to be doing fine and she told me to look her up if I was ever in the UK. 

After dinner I went back to the apartment and then out on a felucca with everyone as our last gathering as a giant complete group. It was wonderful and lots of fun. I then went with Shruit, Ryan and Ann to Koshary Al-Tahrir to get some food (I only got water as I wasn't hungry). We had a nice conversation and then we headed home where I slept really well for the first time in a while. 

And well, that's about it. Things are wrapping up. I'm probably going to go and get the last minute things that I need for back home after I've moved my stuff to the Mancave and then I'm going to stop over to see Matthew to ask about my Senior Thesis next year. Wow....I don't believe it, I'm officially a Senior in college. Time is just flying. 

So, stay tuned. We not done just yet. One more post from Egypt to come!

Countdown: 1 day left in Cairo. 

24 May, 2010

The Final Countdown

This is it really. The last time that I'll be counting down whether to leave the United States or return to it. At least for a while that is. 

This last week has made it really real. I've only got these last few days in Egypt and then I'll be on my way home. I had two of my finals today, which I think went really well and then I wandered with Rebecca, Lindley, Ann and Tyler to Khan Al-Khalili where I got some more last minute gifts for friends and family back home. 

Yesterday was Rebecca's birthday and we celebrated it by heading out to City Stars (the mall), doing some shopping and then having dinner at a really nice Thai restaurant in Zamalek. We also surprised her with a cake, which was rather nice. It was a good get together for everyone and I enjoyed seeing us all as a big group. Also, while we were at the mall, we had lunch at this little Mexican restaurant called "El Chico". It was the most delicious Mexican food I've ever had. This is also probably because I've been deprived of Mexican food since I got to Cairo. So, it was a well welcomed change. 

Also, Saturday night was a day spent pretty much doing nothing. In the evening we went to a house party, but I didn't stay long. Rebecca and I caught a cab home after about an hour as neither of us was really feeling the party. I did get some delicious tomato soup and an Oreo shake from this little cafe near the party though. 

Everything is really ending and in a way I'm having trouble believing it. I've been here for five months. Five months! It feels like I've been here a lifetime. I have a certain route that I walk on my way to school, certain people that I talk to on my way out the door in the morning, a scarf guy in Khan Al-Khalili, and an in with the little restaurant across from where I go to school. How has it only been five months? I'm not entirely sure, but it has been and it's finally coming to a close.

So, here's to the next few days in Egypt. May they be filled with adventure, as I know they will. The summer's calling my name and I'm almost at the point where I can respond. 

Countdown: 5 days left in Cairo

21 May, 2010

Coming Full Circle

Everything about my journey in coming back around full circle from where my journey began. It feels almost like a déjà vu. I've seen it all before, I've done it all before, but in some way there is a variation, a difference, that makes me remember what I had done in the past and I can see how I've grown. 

My journey began at the end of January and it of course began on a dinner cruise down the Nile with my soon to be Arabic teacher, the AMIDEAST staff and my program mates, who I had only just met. That first weekend I was here, I explored Khan Al-Khalili with Shruti and Ann. It was an overwhelming experience and I can remember thinking, 'how am I possibly going to be able to survive within this country?' Within that first month of being here, I also went to a French Party at the French Cultural Center. It was a lot of fun. We went with our newly met Egyptian friends and we met more Egyptian friends while we were there that would accompany all of us on our journey in Egypt for the next four months. 

And now, here I sit, with one week left in this country. Both sad and excited to leave. I have come full circle. Yesterday morning, I got up and decided that souvenir shopping needed to be done and thus hopped a taxi all by myself and headed down to Khan Al-Khalili. The conversation with the driver was a little awkward and leaded to me telling him I was married, so that I wouldn't get another marriage proposal (this is something rather common in Egypt actually). 

Anyway, I got down there and I ended up looking around through some of the shops, when one of the shop keepers stopped me to ask if I spoke English. He spoke English rather decently himself, but as he explained, he could speak but he couldn't write it and he wanted to send an e-mail to a friend of his in South Africa that had proper spelling and grammar. So, seeing that I was in a good mood, I sat down and worded the e-mail out for him. Turns out, he had just had a baby, (normally, I wouldn't have believe him, but his mother was sitting close by and I spoke with was overjoyed for a grandchild, so I assumed it to be true), and he wanted to let his really close friend know that she had just been born. Her name was Nadia. 

To thank me for writing the letter, he offered me some very good Egyptian tea. I sat and talked with him for a bit and I did end up buying something from him, a beautiful box that was actually really well made. He wanted 400 Egyptian Pounds for it, but that was way more than I had, and I ended up getting it for 100. I still probably overpaid for it, but it is something that I've been looking for and I got the experience of sitting with this man and talking. So, in the long run it's worth it. 

I shopped until about 2pm at the market and I did quite a bit of bargaining while I was there. And I almost finished all of my souvenir shopping. Almost. I still have some more to, but I'll do it later today. 

I returned home for a bit of downtime before heading out with everyone to our end of the year Yacht Party. AMIDEAST was nice enough to rent out a Yacht for all of us and everyone we've ever met during our time in Egypt. We went on a two hour tour of the Nile, which was pretty awesome. There was pizza and soda and good company. I enjoyed it so much. It made me both love Egypt and at the same time long to be back home on the Chesapeake in a little crabbing boat with my camera. Oh, yeah. That's the other thing. Guess what I forgot to bring...my camera. So, no pictures of mine sadly. 

We returned from the Yacht Party and said our goodbyes to everyone. Sadly, this was probably the last time I saw Emy before she comes to the States in October (hopefully). I wished her well and then Shruit, Sean and myself went on an adventure downtown. We pretty much just went and looked at every possible store we could have. The streets were packed with people and the night itself wasn't as hot as others had been. 

After a quick beer at a bar downtown, we then traveled to Max's place where we gathered everyone and left for the French Party. It was a good bit of fun. I ended up dancing with an Egyptian dude, who was a little creepy, mainly because I felt bad for him. A friend of his, who was even creepier than he was, tried to cut in and I pretty much scowled evilly at him until he left me alone. Eventually, Moose came over looking for beer...and I told him I'd buy him one, so he grabbed me away from the creepy dude and as promised, I bought him a beer as well as a drink and a crepe for myself. Best. Crepe. Ever! Mmmmmmm Chocolate.....It reminded me of Europe, which just made me miss Prague. Sad. 

The French Party ended and we wandered over to an after party at a nearby apartment. I didn't stay long however, as it was rather lame. It wasn't really what I wanted to do for the evening after the French Party. So, Sean and myself caught a taxi home. I pretty much played online for a bit after that, talked to Geoff and then crashed. 

I got to sleep in this morning, which was just wonderful and I'll probably do a bit of shopping later today. 

So, you see, I've come full circle. I started my trip to Egypt with a Nile Cruise, a trip to Khan Al-Khalili and a French Party and I'll finish my trip with the same. The experiences both times though, have been quite different. I can see my growth when I look back on them. My most recent trip to Khan Al-Khalili did not have me panicking and unsure, but confident and bargaining in a language that I was certain I could never remember. The Nile Cruise went from an introduction to Egypt to commemorating my time in Egypt with everyone I've met. And the French Party served as my connector from Prague to Egypt and Egypt to Prague...a connection to my memories of last semester and new ones that I made this semester. 

The semester isn't over yet, but as its drawing to a close I'm realizing just how much I've grown and accomplished here in Egypt. And I'm amazed. Who knew that I could survive this? I definitely didn't think I could and here I am. Life has a funny way of working these things out. 

Well, I have to run now. More shopping needs to be done before I leave. But, I'm not done blogging yet. Keep an eye for more updates in the next week. Who knows what may happen. 

Countdown: 8 days left in Cairo

P.S.- I found out yesterday that my language skills jumped two levels. I started at Novice High in terms of proficiency and now I'm at Intermediate Medium. That's super impressive. Yesterday was a good day!

18 May, 2010

Watch out, it's coming!

Well, I managed to survive and I guess that's a good thing. Probably more than good, it's rather great. All of my papers have been turned in, all of my presentations have been presented, classes have been completed and now I only have three finals to take until I'm home free and able to completely focus on the things that I really want to focus on.

In a way, I'm seeing this semester end and it's a bit bitter-sweet. I have made some good friends, but there have also been some downfalls to the system as well. But, there is no time to get into this stuff now. I'll do it later, when the semester is closer to being over. Right now, I've still got a week and a half to enjoy my time in Egypt. And I'm going to do my best to do so. 

As of recently, I haven't done a whole lot of exploring. Friday and Saturday were pretty much spent working on papers and presentations. I did take a trip out on Friday night with Will, Max and Moose to a bar downtown, which was an experience. When we first walked in, surprisingly enough, Moose got more stares for his beard than I did for being the only white girl with blonde hair in the entire bar. It was quite refreshing. This worked well until an older gentleman came into the bar, sat down next to me and started creeping on me. Well, that's a story for another time. It pretty much ended with the boys saving me and me making up a fake history. 

Anyway, so the semester is winding down and things are moving fast. Soon, I'll be a senior in college, which will be weird. I never thought it would go this fast. Wow.

Ok, well, I'm going to run now. Gonna make some food and get into some artistic things. Stayed tuned for more stories! They are sure to come.  

Countdown: 11 days left in Cairo.

14 May, 2010

One Down, Two to Go

Well, one paper down, one presentation and paper to go. That and of course finals. That's all that's really left for me this semester and in a way I can't wait to be done with it all. I'm very torn about my feelings on Cairo at the moment, and daily they fluctuate between reasonable and unbearable. I'm just keeping my eye on the prize...home. 

These last few weeks have been extremely hard on me, there is no doubt about it. I don't think I've really left my apartment much since this last weekend beyond going to school. 

Last Tuesday was my last day of work,which was quite nice. And then last Wednesday the big event was going to the Children's Museum at the Egyptian Museum with Dr. Nicole. There were Egyptian monuments made of Legos! And it was wonderfully exciting! I think I enjoyed that so much more than the actual museum itself. Although, we did go into the main hall so that Will could give his Tut presentation.

Last Thursday I went to the American Research Center in Cairo to do some research on my Egyptology paper. The people there weren't very nice and it made me not really want to work there...except that I had to as there really isn't a place to do research in Egypt like there is in the US. When I got there the people answered the door and gave me a look like I was some kind of invader. They asked where I was from and when I explained, they told me I could there for the day, but next time I needed a note. But, if I'm not mistaken...I'm an American citizen and this is an American funded center...I was told I wouldn't need a note. Oh well, I don't have to go back there ever again. 

Friday I pretty much locked myself in my room and wrote a good 1,000 words on my paper, and I attempted to do the same on Saturday, only to fail. I did get a lot done, like my Anubis project(seen below), but did not finish my paper like I had planned on. I also never made it out to City Stars to get my camera fixed. 

The Anubis Chest from Becky Mezzanotte on Vimeo.

Sunday was a field trip with Dr. Magda down to the Egyptian Museum. Will and I did the math and we figured out that we have been to the museum seven times each. That's more than I go to the Smithsonian's in DC and I've lived there for two years. We were pretty much explaining to Dr. Magda what things were and how we knew what they were and such. It was a very different kind of tour. After the tour she took us out for ful and tamiya at a really deceiving looking restaurant. At first glance it looked like a normal side street shop, but once you got inside it was like a full restaurant. And the food was excellent as well. Sunday also marked out last outside lecture of the semester, which consisted of Egyptian politics, something that is becoming extremely popular at the moment. 

Monday was another awesome day. Following all of my classes, which were pretty standard, my IR class met down at the League of Arab States. A building we often see passing through downtown, but have never been inside. I have to say, it was gorgeous inside and I learned so much from the Ambassador who spoke to us. Normally, we talk to people who know their stuff, but have their own agenda in what they want to tell us. Not this guy. He started off by telling us that we didn't really know what we were talking about as we didn't really know what the Arab League did and had not seen the recent news concerning the league. After this little wake-up call, he proceeded to tell us what the Arab League does and his position in the league. 

So, the Arab League sort of functions like a mini-UN within the Arab world. It consists of 22 countries all of which speak Arabic and are considered "Arab" (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Sudan, Comoros, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Jordan, Palestine, Mauritania, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Djibouti, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Lebanon are the 22 members). The main purpose it to "put out the fires" that are started everyday in the Middle East and once that is taken care of to focus on networking projects to try and develop the Middle East into something along the lines of the European Union. The Ambassador's job at the Arab League is to basically deal with the "fires" started. 

After explaining all of this to us in detail, he then took our questions. Which he answered in a really straight forward, no jokes manner. It was really refreshing and he knew exactly what he was talking about. So, that was a lot of fun. Also, we got to take a tour of the building, which was really impressive and looked almost like a mini-UN. AND there was a garden! I ran my feet through the grass and life was good. 

Tuesday brought about a day of work for me. I left the house maybe once to go to pizza hut for some food and that was about it. I did manage, however, to finish my Egyptology paper, which relieved some stress from me. It made me feel a bit better about everything. 

Wednesday brought classes and the end to a week, leaving only three days left. I turned in my paper and spent that evening watching DeathNote with Moose and Salah. It was so enjoyable. I also had a meeting with our program manager during the day and I pretty much broke down due to all the stress. I need to go home. Oh yeah! And I helped plan some budget stuff for Rudes. Good times.

Yesterday was a trip to Coptic Cairo in the morning. There were some pretty cool churches, but it was so hot that I could have done without the trip. Especially as I have so much work that needs to be finished by Monday. That just means that this weekend is going to be a very crazy, but oh well. It was enjoyable and I got to see some of the old walls of Babylon, and the church where the Holy Family supposedly hid...however, logically and historically it doesn't make any sense, so I'm unsure if I believe it. 

Later in the evening we went to see Carmen at the Cairo Opera House. It was good, but not the best. I did get to get all dressed up to see it though. I don't want to really get into it as it just makes me mad. So, I'm just gonna not say anything. If you want to know, just ask. 

And that leads to today. Well, I've been finishing up my proposal for Rudes next semester and then doing my powerpoint and hieroglyphs homework so that tomorrow can be solely focused on my IR paper. It's going to be another long weekend. I promise I'll update once things calm down and they won't be so packed with things. More to come!

Countdown: 14 days left in Cairo

08 May, 2010

The Walls Are Closing In

Or so it feels that way. Even with my incredible sense of planning, I'm having some minor panic attacks as the end of the semester approaches. This weekend itself was a mixture of both good and bad. 

The good: Well, I was able to get a start on my 4800 word paper for Egyptology. I got approximately 1200 words down and the outline of it. The rest should hopefully come pretty easily. I also managed to finish my video for Arts and Hieroglyphs and do some research on the festivals of Ancient Egypt...which Will and I managed to screw up last week. Long story short, we ended up with one wrong festival each. Thus, more work for me this weekend. Also, almost done with the editing project I need to send to Nigel. 

The bad: Today was unproductive...at least the afternoon was. I did get to hang out with Moose, Max and Maria, so I guess that's a plus and I had high tea with my IR professor at his apartment, another plus. The downfall of all of this, however, was that my productivity plummeted and I haven't really gotten anything else done. And I need to keep going as my Egyptology paper is due on Wednesday and my IR paper is due May 17. But, after that...I'm free! Well, except for finals...but I'm not worried about them at the moment. 

Also, another thing worrying me is the fact that no one seems to want to give me grades. I've asked and I keep getting, "well, I'm still grading". I NEED TO KNOW HOW I'M DOING!!! It's driving me nuts. I know my grade for Hieroglyphs and Arabic (they aren't too bad B and A-, respectively). But, what about my others?? Huh? 

Ok, end of my short rant. I need to get back to working on things before I get really anxious again and start having a minor panic attack or something. More to come. Hopefully after I've relaxed a little bit. 

06 May, 2010

From Luxor to Aswan: We're Definitely Not in Cairo Anymore

Sorry for the delay in posting this, but I needed to borrow my flatmates camera so I could upload the pictures, as Egypt seems to have claimed another one. Luckily I have a warranty on this one and its only good in Egypt, so I'll be taking care of that tomorrow. Also, I've just been really busy this week since we got back. But, things will start slowing down soon. Anyway, enjoy!

This blog is going to sound extremely different from the other ones I write about my trips. There really isn’t any other reason beyond, I brought Kitt, my laptop, with me on this journey because of all the school work that I need to get finished, which means I’ll have written everyday about what we did. This is a combination of good and bad. Good as I will not be struggling for the words of my story, but bad as I’m sure it will much longer than any of the previous trips. Oh well. !مش مشكلة, Mish mushkeela! (Translation: No problem.) On that note, let’s get this adventure started.

Day One: Wednesday, April 28- To Luxor We Will Go!
The semester is coming to a close, I have several giant papers and presentations to work on and where am I, on a Nile cruise in Luxor. Not that I’m complaining of course. I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a while. The temples, the statues and most importantly...wait for it...wait for it...The Valley of the Kings! What I was not so thrilled with about this trip was the time of departure. 3:30am. What? That’s about the time I’ve been going to bed lately, what do you mean I have to leave at that time?

Needless to say, I didn’t get any sleep before I had to leave for the airport. I had planned on sleeping from about 11:00pm to 2:30am, but as per usual my plans never work out. I ended up having an argument with AU’s Financial Aid Office, which led to me calling my mother, which mean that I didn’t get to sleep until way later than intended...1:30am...I don’t even think I got the whole hour of sleep. But, that didn’t stop me from gathering all of my things and heading off Cairo International Airport to depart for Luxor.

Flying domestically was one of the most interesting experiences I’ve ever had. We got to the gate, and I put my luggage through the x-ray machine and they didn’t even stop my bag for the amount of liquids I was carrying in it. They didn’t even ask for my passport! But, the guard who put my bag through did ask for money. I was way to tired to be functional and dealing with them, so instead I just grabbed my bag and proceeded through to ticketing.

After we got our tickets, we proceeded to the gate, but not before stopping for a bit of breakfast at 4am. I had a very delicious chocolate croissant and a white hot chocolate, which was actually a little disappointing. Oh well.

On the way to the gate, we had one more security checkpoint to pass through and just from this experience I’ve determined that Egyptian security is nothing like American security. I didn’t remove my liquids from my bag, I didn’t have to remove my shoes and belt, I didn’t have to pull out Kitt, they once again didn’t check my passport and they arbitrarily stopped some of us carrying bottles of water...but even this was at random as they let some of us wander through carrying cups of coffee. Whatever, I enjoyed not having to deal with the hassle.

The flight itself was very short. We literally got on the plane, they took off and we were up in the air for maybe 40 minutes. Enough time for the cabin staff to run around and quickly hand out juice boxes and for me to sort of fall into a light sleep, only to be woken up by Korean tourists running toward the front of the plane to get off.

We waited for the tourists to exit and then got off ourselves. I’ve never gotten off an airplane in the middle of the runway and been shuttle back to the main airport. It was really an interesting experience for me. But, then again flying in general for me is still a new concept as I started flying places about 3 years ago when I visited Jackie in Boston...but that’s an entirely different story.
Sadly, I did not take any pictures of this as I was still very tired from not sleeping. Hopefully, I can take some pictures of the scene before we leave to head back to Cairo.

Once safely in the airport, we waited for our bus to come and pick us up to take us to Karnak Temple.

Now, as for Karnak Temple, it was beautiful! Everything I had hoped to see. Dr. Magda gave us a bit of the background and took Will and myself off on our own to discuss some of the important scenes carved on the temple walls.
The first pylon of Karnak Temple. A line of Sphinxes on each side lead up to the entrance.
My favorite area had to be the Odalisque of Hatshepsut. There is only one remaining upright, but there is an interesting story behind the odalisque itself. When Tuthmosis III finally came to power, he did not like Hatshepsut, the Queen who had ruled as King before him and also his mother, so to show his dislike of her, he encased the bases of her odalisque in a building, and only left the top showing as reverence to the god Amun. But, to quote William, “What a dick move.” I laughed a bit when I heard this story, it just seems so typical of these Ancient Egyptians.
 The fallen odalisque of Hatshepsut.
We probably could have stayed for hours in Karnak, but the crowds of tourists and heat became rather unbearable. Thus, we retreated back to the bus and a small cafe called, “Snack Time” for some food and air conditioning.

The food, at least for William and myself, came after seeing Luxor Temple. Now, Luxor Temple was at one point connected to Karnak Temple through the avenue of Sphinxes, which are currently undergoing excavation in hope of reconnecting the two temples. Luxor Temple was much different than Karnak is a lot of ways. For one thing, it was located in the city, so traffic ran around it on both sides. The other thing that separates Luxor Temple from Karnak is the very distinctive Christian inscriptions. It becomes very obvious that once the Christians came to power in the area, they decided that the Egyptian gods and goddesses were Pagan and plastered over them in the temples. The temples themselves were just converted to churches and more recently, a mosque has been built inside of it. In a way, its kind of sad. All of the old history, while still there, is being destroyed because of different beliefs.
 The first pylon to Luxor Temple. 
The line of Sphinxes leading up to Luxor Temple.
After Luxor Temple, Will, Dr. Magda and myself met the others at “Snack Time”, where I got a delicious vanilla milkshake and more mediocre Chicken Cesar Salad. We then headed off to check into the boat that we will be spending our next four days living on.
The restaurant of relaxation. Milkshake was delicious. The salad had something to be desired.
The boat itself, the MS Commodore, is rather nice. It is considered to be a 5 star hotel on the water...this if of course Egyptian 5 stars, which differs considerably from American 5 stars...more like American 3 stars or so. Anyway, we checked in and once again I am rooming with my travel companion Shruti. Once I got into my room, I layed down (finally!) and took a well needed two hour nap. It was wonderful.

I woke up just in time for lunch, which was decent. Buffet style with the usual sorts of Egyptian foods you might expect, rice, carrots, broccoli, meat. After lunch, I played Tarneeb with Will, Sean and Matthew (our program director). This is the same game I played in Siwa, but I apparently was taught the Syrian version (which I’m pretty good at), this was the Egyptian version and has slightly different betting rules and more of a team feel...which means, I wasn’t as good at it the first time around. Oh well. I’m learning. After Tarneeb, we played a game of Rummy(the game I keep forgetting how to play)...and still I lost. Cards were just not my thing today.
 Sean and Will playing ping pong. An event that was very common throughout this trip.
We killed about 3 hours or so playing card, but that still meant two hours until dinner. So, I thought I’d be productive and get to work on some research. As expected though, this did not happen. Instead I began writing this blog post and then transitioned into talking to Sean and Yasmina in Arabic for about 2 hours. I guess it was a well spent 2 hours as I didn’t speak English at all and confused a gentleman looking for a lighter as to what language I spoke. Compliment? I think so.

Dinner itself was only ok. Fried chicken with lemon, some potatoes and veggies. I think it could have been a bit better honestly. For desert, to celebrate Sean’s birthday, we had birthday cake and of course, the regular desert. Also, to celebrate Sean’s birthday they brought him in front of everyone and made us all sing. It was rather funny.

After dinner, I sat around with everyone outside enjoying the night air and company of those in my program. It’s nice to feel that I’m apart of the program especially because I often feel that I’m not on the same playing field as everyone else. We talked and chatted until about 11pm, when we all decided that sleep was probably a good thing as we had an early morning. I got back to the room, read about two pages of my book and promptly passed out. I was exhausted.

Day Two: Thursday, April 29- Valley of the Kings and Hatshepsut

The morning was a bit chaotic to start with. I think that’s an adequate way to describe it. The wake-up call came at 6am, but no one specified to us when our actual tour was supposed to be and that’s where the confusion started.

I got up when the wake-up call came in, took my shower and then went to breakfast, where I was alone until about 6:50am. Enter Matthew and the instructions that we are to be at the tour in 10 minutes...followed by the comment, “Not going to happen.”

We eventually got on the road by about 7:30-7:45am. Oops. But, this didn’t really matter in the long run. Our first stop was the Valley of the Kings, a sight Will and I have learned a lot about. Sadly, you cannot take any pictures inside and our tour guide said that they government would fine you 50 Egyptian pounds for one photograph and 3000 Egyptian pounds if it was taken on a camera phone. With rates like that, for a moment I did consider it, but ultimately decided against it as my money is becoming more limited the closer I get to the end of the semester.

The Valley itself was incredible, though our tour guide didn’t know exactly what he was talking about and Will and I knew it. How did we know? Well, he asked a question and when Will answered it, he told Will that he was wrong and kept going. Will got rather mad at this and Dr. Magda told us that he was right and our tour guide was wrong. We heard a bit about the history of the Valley before heading off on our own to take a look at some of the tombs.

Our first tomb was Tuthmosis III, the Napoleon of Ancient Egypt. His tomb was a heck of a climb, but compared to when I climbed the Red Pyramid, this was cake. We reached the top and then descended into his tomb which was about 150 meters underground. Needless to say it was very hot! The tomb itself seemed unfinished to Will and myself as most of it was not fully painted and some areas had been gridded for writing but not filled in. Nonetheless, it was pretty awesome to be inside. Another cool thing about being inside this tomb was that Dr. Magda was able to talk to us a little bit about the scenes depicted on the wall. I guess because not that many people venture up the hill and stairs to see the tomb. On the walls of this tomb is the 12 hour night that the dead must take to get into the underworld. Each hour, which are not in order, portray a task, or obstacle that occurs throughout the journey and how it is overcome.

The next two tombs that we visited were Ramses III and Ramses IX. They weren’t as impressive as I thought they would be, especially since Ramses III was pretty important. He did after all protect Egypt from being invaded by the Sea Peoples. We also weren’t really allowed to talk about what was in the tomb, so that kind of sucked. Dr. Magda tried talking to us in one of the tombs, and one of the guards yelled at her, to which she responded, “I am a doctor and their professor.” and promptly continued walking into the tomb.

When we finished with the Valley of the Kings, we returned to the bus and avoided being taken to an alabaster factory simply for the fact that no one wanted to go. It kind of made me happy as I didn’t have to worry about feeling forced to buy things that I didn’t want/need. Our next stop was the Temple of Deir-el Behari (Hatshepsut’s temple). Hatshepsut is a very interesting figure as she was a Queen who became King. Had she been a man, she would have been King as she was of royal birth. However, because she as female, she was not. Instead she was married to her half brother, Tuthmosis II, and made the royal wife. She failed to produce any children however, and the only son of Tuthmosis II was from one of the secondary wives, so when Tuthmosis II died, Hatshepsut became the regent of the young king, Tuthmosis III. Eventually, during her time as regent, she decided that she did not want to just be the child’s regent and thus creates the story of divine birth for herself, which claims she is a child of the gods and thus can rule over Egypt as king, which she then does. She rules over Egypt as King, dresses in the ceremonial male garb, and is even referred to as “he” instead of “she”. She really is a fascinating person in Ancient Egyptian history.
 Deir al-Bahri. The tomb and temple of Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh of Egypt.
After we left Deir-el Behari, we made one last stop at Collosi of Memnon. Here we only stopped briefly to look and take pictures with the giant statues.
The statues. Not the best picture, but it shows both of them.
We returned to the boat with about an hour and a half to kill before lunch, where I proceeded to write the first half of this entry and then play Rummy with Will and Sean. I lost rather badly, but you know, I enjoy playing cards with them.

We then had lunch which consisted of some delicious fish, chicken, rice and fried squash vegetable. The desert was also rather enjoyable...and I had jello, which is something I normally don’t eat, but it was rather delicious.

After lunch we had a little bit of free time, where I managed to work on some research for my presentation on Monday, had tea time at about 2:30pm and then at 5 o’clock we had Arabic class on the boat. It was a pretty interesting class. We learned a lot of new words relating to Luxor and the sights we had seen.

After class I went out to the deck area where I played ping pong for a little bit before the cocktail party. I also got to see the ship pass through the loch. To do this, the brought the ship to a complete stop, flooded the area and then allowed the ship to float out into more open water. It was pretty cool! Even though I’m pretty sure that this technology dates back to the 1800s. It was still really cool to see.

The cocktail party itself was pretty cool. It introduced the heads of staff on the boat to us and then we had free cocktails. I felt a little bit underdressed as several people actually wore fancy clothing to the cocktail hour. After this I played some more cards before heading down to dinner.

Dinner itself was rather fancy, which once again made me feel underdressed...oh well...Dinner itself was pretty good. I rather enjoyed the meal. We had chicken and vegetables and some delicious crepes with brandy for desert. I absolutely loved desert!

After dinner, it was BINGO night! We danced on the dance floor for a while prior to the game, which was probably pretty good entertainment for everyone else on the boat. Then, Lindley, Matthew, Garrett, Rebecca and myself played Bingo in a more Egyptian style than I was used to. The object was at first to get one complete line, then two complete lines and then the entire card. I was one away from winning for the entire card, but sadly the number 55 was not called and thus I did not win. After Bingo, we played one more game, which was called “the biggest loser”. The way you played was pretty simple. If they called a number and you had it on any card, you threw that card away. Once all of your cards were gone, you had to sit down. The winner got a bottle of beer. But, none of us won sadly.

Once Bingo was finished, I returned to the room where I proceeded to set my clock forward one hour for daylight savings time. Apparently they have that in Egypt. I thought it was just a North American thing, but obviously it is not. I did manage to read some more of The Yacoubian Building, which I am almost finished, before passing out. It was a very long day.

Day Three: Friday, April 30-The Temple of Edfu and Kom Ombo Temple

Another day of adventure! I have been on this boat for the last three days and honestly, I think I could stay for another month. It has been a lot of fun!

Today started as the other mornings have. A wake-up call at 7am, breakfast around 7:30am, followed by a tour at 8am. Our first stop this morning was the Temple of Edfu. This temple is one of the only temples left almost entirely intact and it is because it was buried by the sand and then rediscovered later. It is dedicated to the goddess Hathor and the god Horus and their marriage to one another. There is also another smaller temple where the sun god, Ra, is said to have been born. Wandering around through there was pretty awesome. I’ve never seen such an intact temple before. The reliefs were gorgeous and some of the colors were still in tact. The only real problem with the temple was that because it was built during the Ptolemaic period (Greek Period), the hieroglyphs differ, thus Will and I were unable to read them. We also two slight mishaps with the tour guide at the temple. One had to do with when Will and I went to watch the short movie at the visitors center. Apparently the film had already started and when Will and I tried to enter, our tour guide wouldn’t let us in and then locked the door until after the movie was over. This pushed Will’s buttons and mine a bit, but not as much. Not like the movie was that important, but it was the point of the matter. The other mishap came from within the temple. While he was explaining one of the wall scenes, he said that the man wearing the leopard skin was the high priest, which is technically correct. However, the man was also wearing the blue crown of the king, which means he was the king acting as the high priest. But, when we tried to explain this to him, he sort of ignored us and told us we were wrong. Strike two against the accuracy of our tour guide.
The Temple of Edfu from behind an enclosure wall. Off to the left is a temple dedicated to Hathor.
On our way out of the temple, we had to pass through a market (as you do in just about every sight in Luxor and Aswan). I managed though to buy a galabiya for galabiya night on the boat. It’s a light blue color with silver circles all over it. It looks rather tacky, but is wonderful at the same time.

We soon re-boarded the buses and headed back to the ship. Once back on board, I worked on some more of my IR research before being distracted by some wonderful folks from the UK who wanted to know how a bunch of college students came to be on the boat. We chatted clear up until they rang the lunch bell. Lunch was once again a pretty decent buffet style of food which I enjoyed with the company of people.
After lunch I decided to relax a little bit and so I put on my bathing suit and grabbed The Yacoubian Building and sat by the pool reading. It got a bit on the hot side at one point, so I proceeded to jump in the pool, which was quite refreshing. It was so hot out though that it literally took my hair and suit maybe 5 minutes to dry once I emerged from splashing around. I read a little bit more and then went with Sean, Shruti and Matthew to play a game of tarneeb. We played up until we were pretty much into port. I then got changed, came back up to the sundeck where I played another round of tarneed with Ryan, Shruti and Sean. Ryan and myself lost, which sucked. I have concluded that I am a rather horrible partner for this game...that or I need more practice.

We departed the boat and made our way to Kom Ombo Temple (Kom Ombo meaning pile of gold). It was a rather awesome as this temple contains one of the first calendars of the Pharonic years. There is also a list of medical tools. Kom Ombo is also interesting because there are two smaller temples dedicated to Horus and Sobek, who were enemies during this period, which normally wouldn’t have happened because you wouldn’t have acknowledged the evil god, only the good one. Another cool aspect was the Nileometer, which looked like a giant well. The way it worked was that the Nile waters would rise to a certain point and then the high priest would determine the tax based on the height of the water. The higher the water, the more tax collected because it would be a good year for agriculture and other trades.
 The Nileometer. You can see the water at the bottom of it.
A hieroglyph meaning praise. Yay! I can read!
 The Temple of Kom Ombo. On the right is the temple for Sobek and the left is the temple for Horus.
The cartouche of Cleopatra VII, the famous Cleopatra, found on one of the columns in Kom Ombo Temple.
After we finished at the temple, we boarded the boat again and got ready for Galibiya night. We went to dinner dressed up and had Egyptian food...which consisted of things I buy rather cheaply on the street everyday as opposed to good Egyptian food. It was rather sad that the food was only mediocre, but I ate it anyway. Soon after dinner we went up to the sundeck for the party and for a quick round of ping pong in my galibya with Sean. I soon gave up after it became increasingly difficult to move in my galibiya to play ping pong and I went inside and ordered myself a drink. Once the party actually started it became a lot of fun. We, as in our group, dominated the games played. First was the number of friends game. You danced around and when they stopped the music and called a number, you had to gather that many people. Rebecca won this game and she won a free cocktail. Sean was entered into the next game, which was pretty embarrassing for him, so I won’t describe it. He won and was declared King of the cruise, which meant he won a beer. It was followed by a search for the Queens, where Ann and myself did some traditional Egyptian dancing. We won...along with the other ladies and got some free cocktails. The last game of the night was the bottle passing game, which was like hot potato. I was in the game pretty long, but eventually lost. But, it was ok as Rebecca and Lindley won. Their prizes were two bottles of water...not as exciting as the other prizes.
Will, Sean and Yasmina during Galibiya nigt. Sean is intentionally wearing a woman's galibiya.
Rebecca, Shruti and Matthew on Galibiya night. Everyone looked wonderful!
After the games, the floor was open for some dancing, which was a lot of fun. I danced the macarena, which I haven’t heard since 5th grade and then the YMCA. I decided to turn in around 11:30pm. I returned to the cabin, did some blogging and talked with Shruti before crashing. It was a good night.

Day Four: Saturday, May 1- Aswan at Last

The morning came much quicker than I intended. The wake-up call was at 7:30am, which was later than most days, but I had been up since 7am showering and packing up my stuff in the room. I wandered to breakfast around 8am and pretty had the same things we’d had all of the other days.

I left breakfast and returned to my room where I finished packing my things and then proceeded out to the lobby to meet our tour guide for the last tours of the trip.

We loaded the bus and drove up to the see the Aswan High Dam. It was amazing, but to as Garrett pointed out, it was very unnatural and it was definitely messing with nature. But, there was still a thrill in looking at the dam and a sense of awe that came over me.
The Aswan High Dam. It's really, really impressive.
We were at the dam for a while and it was pretty hot. I have to say, summer has definitely hit Egypt. Anyway, point of this is that while we were at the dam, one of the kids in my program, Ryan, fainted due to the heat and not having enough water. He came to pretty quick, but we didn’t let him go to see any of the other sites as he needed to rest. It was kind of terrifying.

The rest of us continued on our journey, however. Our next stop was the Temple of Philae which was a temple made to worship the goddess Isis. It’s another Greek Temple to the goddess, but it’s absolutely gorgeous. It no longer stands in its original place though as when the Egyptians built the High Dam, they flooded the original area of the temple. UNESCO paid for the resurrection and movement of the temple to a small island. This meant that when we went to visit, to get there we had to board a small motor boat, which was a lot of fun. It reminded me of the summer and how I’m really looking forward to living on water that I’m not terrified to go in. Anyway, we did the usual tour thing with the tour guide and then Will and I wandered off with Dr. Magda to discuss some of the interesting features of the temple walls. Will and I also looked for the name of an explorer, George Stevens. He is really of no significance except that Will read his travels through Egypt and he pretty much went everywhere that we went in Egypt.
The Temple of Philae as we approached it by water. 
Historical graffiti. It's considered historical if its over 200 years old or something like that.
We left the Temple of Philae and headed back to the ship to finish packing as this was the end of our guided tours and our last day on the boat. We were able to leave our things in our room, which was wonderful of the crew on the ship and travel through Aswan on our own.

Our first stop was lunch at a little cafe called Emy’s. It was recommended in Lonely Planet and thus we thought it would be good, but sadly it was not as good as we thought. I got some spaghetti bolognese, which was a bit over cooked as was everyone’s food and it took forever for it all to come out. Sad.

After lunch, we tried to find the public ferry across the river, but failed and ended up taking a private boat to Kitchner’s Island to the see the Botanical Gardens. They were gorgeous. I’ve never seen that much green in all of Egypt! It was nice and cool too, which was a welcome change from the heat we were experiencing in Aswan and Luxor.

We spent a little over three hours there just wandering and relaxing. We even went on a “can you name this tree by what the leaves smell like?” game. It was a good deal of fun and yes, the leaves of a certain type of tree do smell like the fruit they produce.
The Botanical Gardens on Kitchner's Island. So pretty!
The next stop on our adventure was to Elephantine Island where our group split into two. Will, Dr. Magda and myself went to the Elephantine Museum,where the curator insisted upon giving us a tour as he had graduated from the same faculty as Dr. Magda. The problem with this was mainly due to the fact that he spoke very little English and thus the whole tour was in Arabic. I understood some things, but Dr. Magda had to translate a lot as well. I was proud of what I could understand though. I guess I am learning something this semester after all. The other cool thing about the tour is you had to cross over an actual archaeological site to get into the extended part of the museum. This was pretty awesome as you often forget that the temples you are looking at are restored and not the way they were originally found.
The Elephantine Island Museum. 
The excavation site at the Elephantine Island Museum. 
We thanked the nice man and moved on to see the rest of the Nubian village which is where the others had gone. We didn’t go to far in as most of them were at an area relatively close to the museum, which was once the house of a British archaeologist in case I didn’t mention it before. While we waited for some of the others to return, I looked around the shop ,which had some nice things. But they were a bit pricey so I didn’t buy anything. Once everyone was back together, most of the girls decided to get henna tattoos. I did get one done, so my was decorated. It didn’t take me long to realize though why I don’t get henna done or paint my fingernails. The colors and patterns on my hands distract me too much.
 The Nubian Village on Elephantine Island.
 The henna tattoo I got done on my hand/arm.
After henna, we left Elephantine Island and ferried to another island for some Nubian food. I had some tomato soup, which isn’t very Nubian, along with some chicken Tagen, which was delicious, rice and stewed vegetables. They were absolutely delicious.

We ate rather quickly so that we could get back to the ship in enough time to catch our plane. We finished up in pretty good time, paid the bill and then ferried back to our boat, which was fun as we didn’t quite remember which ship was ours. Oops. We eventually figured it out though.

Once back on the ship, I made sure that I had everything that I had brought with me as well as everything I had bought packed away. I then headed out to the lobby with The Yacoubian Building in hand determined to finish the last ten pages. Sadly, I was distracted by people talking to me and only managed to read approximately 5 of them.

At 9:15pm, we hopped on our bus which took us to Aswan International Airport. I have to say, I have never seen an international airport as small as Luxor and Aswan’s airports. I guess I’m just used to giant ones. Anyway, we checked in and I once again managed to get through security without showing one piece of identification. We sat down in the Sabarro’s cafe in the airport and I bought a Twix bar and a soda to end the trip on a wonderful note.

We boarded the plane at around 11:00pm. It was a very tiny plane, which I once again forgot to take pictures of as we were shuttling to it via bus. I was just really sleepy at this point. We boarded the ‘express’ plane, which was really tiny and were soon off to Cairo. The flight was a little bit longer than the flight to Luxor as we were more South. And while we were on the plane, the actually served us juice in a cup, not a juice box. I also took a small nap on the plane ride back. Arrival back to Cairo International Airport was at 12:35am and I was dead exhausted.

We bused back to Cinema Tahrir and walked back to the apartment where I proceeded to crash and sleep almost immediately. This was of course after checking my e-mail to find 168 unread e-mails. Obviously, I’m popular.

Overall, I think this trip was one of the best. It was fun and educational. Plus, I got to dress up in a funny galibiya and lay by the pool. So worth it. I just wish it didn’t fall around the time of all my projects and papers being due. But, oh well. What are you going to do?

I once again apologize for the length of this post. A lot happened and I wanted to get it all in! I promise my posts won’t be this long in the future. Keep watching for another update coming soon! Yay!