6/15/10: Luxor, Egypt
I believe it was the great Confucius who once said, “Sometimes you just gotta see temples at night.” So we did.
In order to avoid the oppressive heat of the midday Egyptian sun, we didn’t emerge from our air conditioned room until dinnertime today. (Have you noticed the heat theme of all our posts from Egypt? Sorry to keep bringing it up, but it really does hang over everything we do as if it were that obnoxious friend who never understands when he’s worn out his welcome.) But there was another reason we waited so long: at night they turn on the lights as the Luxor Temple. I don’t know if there’s any science behind this, but we finally discovered that temples are way cooler under the lights at night.
That’s all I got on that subject. Let me turn to something that I do much better: reflect. I could reflect until my mirror breaks from boredom, and over the next couple weeks you’ll discover that this isn’t an exaggeration. For example…
I remember when Zhou and I were planning this trip – it was Spring last year and she was spending every day at work working on the details, and I was spending every day at work thinking about it. We would talk each night:
One of us: Do you realize that one day we’ll be in a plane flying over the Atlantic, not to come back again for almost 11 months?
The other: No, it’s not going to happen. That life is too different and we’ll never actually live it.
The first one: You’re right. It’s all really just planning – there’s no way it’ll really happen.
And for about ten months, that’s what this trip was to us: an unrealistic, unachievable figment of our imaginations (despite how much money we had already put into plane flights and the African tour and gear and who-knows-what-else). The idea that we’d be living on the road, hostel to hostel, not knowing when we’d be able to shower again, eat food we know again, sleep in a comfortable bed again – that idea just didn’t jive with the lives we were living. Investment banking. Working 16 hours a day, and spending the other eight hours worrying that the Blackberry would go off and I’d have to go back to work. The trip would never happen.
I also remember the night before we left. There was so much rushing around and finishing our packing, and Zhou was busy giving me a haircut at 2am. There was really no time to be nervous, or anxious. Then we were on the plane flying across the Atlantic. It was the same as any other plane flight I’d ever taken, except we had to fill out customs cards and we lost a Scrabble tile. Then I remember sleeping in Heathrow, starting our overland tour in Nairobi, flying off on our own to Nepal, taking the train up through Southeast Asia… what I don’t remember is that first moment of, “Wow, we’re doing this. We’re leaving everything behind and traveling the world.” All of a sudden the trip just happened, as did our traveling education. We got used to pitching our tent throughout Africa. We got used to hiking 5.5 hours per day in Nepal. And we got used to hopping on hostelworld and booking our next temporary residence a day or two before we moved on again. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had more moments filled with a kind of awe that I’ve never had before. But those were all just part of this new, incredible life we had, and still have, for now.
Today, for the last time, we booked a hostel. Who knows when we’ll ever book another. (Side note: We love the hostel way of living that we’re planning on continuing to travel internationally this way even when we have enough money to afford nice hotels. There’s just no substitute for the friendly atmosphere and the helpfulness of the staff.) It’s just one more thing that we’re doing for the last time.
It’s impossible not to get caught up in them, the lasts. This really was a trip of firsts, and the firsts are still happening to this day. It’s funny though, the dichotomy between the firsts and lasts. It’s as if we’re the nerdy kid watching the Miss America pageant for the first time. There’s so many beautiful women, and you don’t necessarily take any of them for granted, but there’s just so many of them! Then this bully comes into the room and starts punching you in the stomach, and gives you wedgies, but lets you continue to watch. The firsts are still there, but this bully of lasts really kind of gets in the way. It’s a shame.
So my goal, and Zhou’s as well, is to try to push these lasts as far away as possible and enjoy the rest of the trip as if it were not going to end. Then one day we’ll be home with family, and that will be nice. But not today. Today we’re traveling the world.
Picture of the Day: The view from our hostel’s rooftop, with Zhou in her camouflage shirt.