Sunday, February 22, 2009
I just got back from Marsa Shagra, a small place on the coast by the Red Sea. It's a strange little town. It basically exists because of scuba divers. Almost everyone who lives there works in the tourist industry. So much so that the price for everything is given in Euros instead of Egyptian Pounds. The picture is of me and a friend WAY out in the desert with some nomads and camels.
I had a strange discovery while I was there about freedom. I know I'm hardly an impartial person when it comes to freedom. I'm an American, and we tend to idolize freedom. It's one of our most valued possessions. So much so that we wrote it into our Constitution. I think being raised in that environment, I tend to assume that I'm free unless I come across convincing evidence that I'm not.
Anyway, I had finished my time there and was getting ready to head back. In order to catch the bus back to Cairo, I first had to take a taxi in the other direction to a town that has a bus station. It was about 20 kilometers (12 miles for you Americans) away from the place where I'd been staying. There were two buses in the afternoon, one at 3:00 and the other at 6:00. I got to the station at about 2:30 and planned to hang out for a few hours and take the later bus. I thought it would be nice to have a glass of tea and see the town. But when I got to the bus station, the taxi driver wouldn't let me get out of the taxi. Apparently the hotel had called the authorities and told them that I was leaving. They were instructed to send someone along with me so that I wouldn't be alone. I told the guy that it was okay, I would be fine on my own, but he told me that I couldn't be alone. He was going to go anywhere that I was going to go. I decided it wasn't worth hanging out if I was going to have someone following me all the time, so I decided to take the earlier bus instead. It was a strange feeling, realizing that I wasn't free. Suddenly I wasn't able to go where I wanted to go or do what I wanted to do. It was kind of a surreal feeling. It was like being a child all over again. Having to ask permission to do things and stuff like that.
Anyway, I had a great time while I was down there. I wish I'd been able to stay a little bit longer, but the time that I was able to spend there was nice. I think I'll try to get back there some time in the future. But in the meantime, there's a few other places that I'd like to visit first.
So, tomorrow is my first day of teaching English and getting back to studying Arabic. Funny thing . . . I was looking at my visa while I was in Kenya. Stamped really big on the bottom is the phrase "not eligible for work." I'd been praying about it a little bit, and felt like God told me that I needed to be a man of my word. So I went by the school today and talked to the administrator. I told her that I was happy to teach, but that I wasn't going to take any money for it. I feel a little silly teaching for free. But God's been speaking to me a lot lately about being a man of my word and not making small compromises. So, no salary for me . . .