Spirit & Travel
Spirit-21 opens the travel section with a trip to Egypt, a place many associate with history and Spirit.
This story is told by Tanya Pashkova, a Ukranian woman who met most of the Spirit-21 team on a study travel tour to the U.S. in 1993. A strong friendship developed, and we have remained friends through time in cyberspace.
Tanya, when not working at the Kyiv Post, sits atop her suitcase, waiting for Spirit to guide her next adventure. Her story clearly shows Spirit weaving people together through the urges of the traveller.
Seeking Spirit in Egypt
This story started when I browsed www.spirit-alembic.com and clicked on the picture of the Avenue of the Sphinxes .It was a hectic time at the office, putting together the advertising for our Kyiv Business Directory, with deadlines (love that word) to meet. People were screaming and shouting at each other, and papers were flying around, and the atmosphere was one reminiscent of some impending natural disaster. To calm myself down and stop reacting to the office storm, I made the Avenue of Sphinxes the background wallpaper for my desktop.
For two weeks I enjoyed the wonderful Sphinx Avenue, and peace came to me. The deadlines passed, and we celebrated the finale at a local nigh club. I did not want to go there without an escort, so my friend, who was also single, accompanied me.
I never give much credence to a lottery or anything of the sort; I still find it difficult to accept such things. However, I was lucky. I often dreamed about going to Egypt, but these recurring dreams felt like ones we all have. Out of 70 participants, they called my name and I can still hear the echo in the room. I'd just won the best prize of 8
a trip for two to Egypt. The evening's celebration transformed into the celebration of my prize. I was laughing in disbelief and dancing in a dream. We moved to another nightclub, and I broke the heel on my shoe. Perhaps that was Spirit's way of snapping me back into reality so I could find my way home.
I went home to change, and called my mom and told her I was going to Egypt. She didn't react, as though I were telling her some kind of a joke.
Monday arrived; I started my computer, and saw the Sphinx Avenue. I was staring at it, trying to comprehend how on earth and with whose help I had put that picture on my desktop. I told people in the office about this experience of mine, and saw general amazement. Time for the trip was nearing.
Flying to Hurghada, our landing place, was a lot of fun. Somehow again I was in the right place at the right time. We got invited to the pilot's cabin where we stayed for almost an hour. How wonderful! Hurghada turned out to be just a common Arabian town built primarily for tourists. If not for the souvenirs of the pyramids, sphinxes, and papyrus paper, I would not know that I was in Egypt at all! The bus trip to Cairo changed that. During my studies in secondary school of western and eastern civilizations, I read about the Nile and how civilization appeared around the Nile. Children have vivid imaginations when they read books with mostly black and white illustrations. When the bus took us along the inflow of the Nile, my young Soviet imaginings from 1988 proved true. Egyptian people were working the land, growing crops and using (as it seemed to me) ancient agricultural tools. The desert was all around. Only near the Nile with its inflows of green land and palm trees was there any sign of life.
I held my breath in anticipation, running from one side window to the other. The bus made a turn, and suddenly I froze. From the window, looking at the desert, there they were
grand, imposing, calm, full of history, mystery and knowledge. I was mesmerized.
How many times I'd seen movies, pictures and paintings of the great Egyptian pyramids. None of these could compare with the impact of simply "being there". If you are fortunate enough to go there, I highly recommend viewing them at sunset, when many of the tourists are gone. Contrary to popular belief, the local inhabitants are very honest and friendly, and evening is a very safe time for taking in this spectacular display.
The Red Sea is another great experience we had in Egypt. Many of you have either been to an aquarium or seen programs of rainbow colored fishes. Just imagine swimming in such an aquarium. If you make it to the Red Sea, try scuba diving or snorkeling. You will see amongst the beautiful lace-like corals, suddenly swimming towards you, fishes that look like parrots! I lifted a stone and from the niche appeared a big eyed fish that looked at me as if to say, "Hey, why did you lift my house? Put it back, Immediately!"
Luxor and Karnak were two other places that we managed to see on our 6 days in Egypt. This is the land of the dead, where the pharaohs were buried. The place holds so much history that I felt very small like a grain of sand in comparison. While coming down the steps of pharaohs' tombs, I found myself talking to spirits, apologizing for disturbing their peace by my and other tourists' intrusions. The inside walls of the tombs had kept the original colors of the drawings and hieroglyphs. It's incredible! I thought the dream would never end. I still feel that even while I am writing this down, that I am dreaming, and that you are here with me in that dream.