TRAVEL THERE: GOING WITH THE FLOW IS JUST PART OF THE JOURNEY
Last week I admitted how much I loved the neat little packages called hours, because they keep my days in order. I’m also fairly fond of making a plan and then executing it. As you’ll see as we travel along, I had a plan for Egypt and much of it came to fruition, but having the ability to just go along with whatever happens is really a skill you need to develop, if you want to truly enjoy Egypt. Being married to Bill has given me a head start on this ability and I’m glad I had it to pull out of my kit.
So, Plan A had gone awry and we had a choice. Welcome to Egypt!
Bassem could drop us off at Mona’s (Bill’s sister/Bassem’s Mom) or we could go with him to Mariam’s (his fiancee). This caused a slight frisson for me. All that hurried gift fritzing was immediately rendered useless. The five gift bags settled around my feet in the car would do me no good. To boot, I’d have to continue carrying them around until I could deliver them to the appropriate recipients.
I also had another dilemma. Egyptian protocol suggests the appropriate moment for gift-giving is the first time you see the donee. You get a pass at the airport with those who pick you up, but after that you should greet people with their gift the first time you see them. I desperately wanted to run back into the hotel and trade my Mirette family gifts for whichever would be right for wherever we ended up going. That wasn’t possible, because we were already out on the street and even by the measure of Egyptian time, we needed to hustle.
The time crunch was creeping up on us, because the Easter Luncheon was scheduled before too long. So it was decided we’d go to Mariam’s and save Bassem from having to stop by his parent’s house to drop us off and then pick us back up.
So, off we went!
I wasn’t too worried about the gifting thing. I would have preferred to show up with something, but we’d hosted the Ghaly’s at Christmas and exchanged wonderful gifts. I sort of had a deposit of goodwill in the Egyptian gifting bank with them. I want you to know they are delightfully gracious people who would not have cared whether we ever gave them a gift at all, but I was trying my best not to drop any Egyptian balls.
The Excitement Builds
Going to Egypt under any circumstances is a pretty exciting adventure, but going for a wedding explodes the thrill factor. Seeing Bassem having his mani/pedi got the wedding juices flowing, but arriving at the bride’s family’s apartment turned that flow into a gushing fountain.
The bride’s parents were thrilled to see us and in true Egyptian fashion starting bringing out food. Homemade cheesecake, cookies from a wedding shower, various pastries, cupcakes, you name it – even though we were saying, “No thank you. We had a late breakfast. No thank you. We’re only here for a minute. No thank you. We don’t want you to go to any trouble,” the whole time.
Also appearing in the Ghaly living room was the bride, a huge pink bag full of wedding dress and luggage for the honeymoon. As I feared, we were presented with a beautiful gift, a spray of decorated chocolates adorned with Easter decorations. Her parents insisted that they were treating us to a dinner boat cruise later in the trip and as we headed out the door, we were forced to take the decorated wedding cookies from the shower. I love Egyptians!
One side note. The TV was on in the apartment, not that anyone was paying it any attention. Since I volunteer with Global Heart Ministries and they create Christian programming for satellite broadcast in Central Asia and the Middle East, I couldn’t help peeking to see what they were watching. Sure enough, the tv was tuned to one of the channels which airs our programs. We are not broadcast in Egypt, because our shows aren’t produced in Arabic (yet), but I was thrilled to see the Ghaly’s were watching our channel.
We loaded up and headed to the hotel. That time in the car with the wedding dress in my lap, the undelivered gifts around my feet and my armload of chocolates from the Ghaly’s is one favorite memories of the trip. It perfectly captured my time in Egypt – running late on Egyptian time and executing Plan B, but loving every minute of it.
Back at the hotel I had to hustle. I had all of about half an hour to fluff myself up and get ready for the next event. That meant shuffling more gifts. Since the party was honoring the bride and groom, I couldn’t deliver any of the other presents, but I did need to get the wedding gift ready. A driver was scheduled to pick us up and while the rest of the country might be on Egyptian time, the drivers were prompt.
I’ve rambled on for long enough now. Come back next week for the Bridal Luncheon.