MTS 02 - 16 - 2010

Every day, I wonder, can this trip get any better? Is it possible? And every day, it seems, it does, despite all doubts and incredulity. As I write this, Iím sitting beneath a canopy on our cruise shipís main deck, watching the banks float by. In the distance, sandy hills are dotted by villages, everything varying shades of brown and yellow, with the occasional pop of turquoise or white. Along the river, a wide strip of green is covered in papyrus and cotton plants, interrupted by groves of palm trees. Behind me, a group of Egyptian girls plays ping pong, while a two boys row an old fishing boat glide through the waves below my feet. What a wonderful mix of cultures: both from the same country, but such different lives. Their paths will probably never cross again, and Iíve been thinking about this quite frequently: lately, people whose gazes I catch, how vastly different we are (but still so similar!), and how this one, fleeting encounter is the only connection, interaction we will ever have in this lifetime. Do they think about this too? Am I locked in their memory, the same thoughts running through their mind? One moment of eye contact, now immortalized in my memory, wondering who they are, who they will become. These boys in the boat and these girls behind me are no exception: they will forever exist in this moment, suspended in time in these words. And now, from both banks, I hear the calls to prayer, which from both the distance and the volume of the speakers, blend into muddled speech. If I could, I might choose to live in this moment forever, watching the Nile flow beneath my feet, feeling my mind fully relax and find the peace itís been searching for, for so long. Everything so foreign has been good for me, I think, forcing me out of my comfort zone and forcing my mind out of the same rut itís been in for so long. And whatís more, Iíve noticed that all of this traveling to unfamiliar places has helped to blur the distinction between myself and my surroundings. What I mean is that at home, we get so dragged down by routine that we forget to experience and react to our surroundings, while travel does the exact opposite. The line between where you are and who you are fades; as you absorb where you are, it is who you are that transforms.

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