Sunday, January 31, 2010

Different day

Today was in many ways not that eventful. Dr. Griggs has been sick and was not up to doing much. We still went the the Supreme Council of Antiquities office to sign our contract for doing the dig, but found out that the security clearances have not gone through yet, so there was nothing we could do.

We tried to buy some things we needed for the dig, but Dr. Griggs got too sick, so we weren't able to keep going around town to get it all. Instead Kerry and Julianne went to the Cairo museum and spent a lot of time there. So much to see, and after a while you get numb from seeing too many great things.

We had dinner and then went to the big bazaar here. It wasn't really a great day to go to the bazaar. Not many shops were open, since it is a weekend day. Plus, Egypt was playing in the championship game for all Africa soccer cup. Everyone wanted to watch the game, and hardly any tourists were there. We had everyone trying to get us to buy their stuff because there were only about 5 other people in any of the stores anywhere, and they really wanted to sell stuff. After a while we left, but the taxi ride home was really crazy, because Egypt won and everyone was in the streets celebrating, waving flags, dancing, etc., and we really couldn't get through. It was full-on bedlam. Everyone in the whole city seemed to be out, filling the streets and sidewalks, dancing, making music, hanging out car windows to wave signs and flags, setting off fireworks, honking, and wildly filling every open space outside. It was really crazy.

But we finally got through, exercised, and now we are going to bed. It has been a different kind of day, but Julianne is getting to know Egypt a bit.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In Egypt!

Well, we are here, in Cairo. It has taken me a little while to post this, both because we were so tired when we arrived and because the pages were automatically translating into Arabic, and it took me a while to figure out how to log in.

Things went pretty well. We were a bit late getting out of our house, but things went so smoothly dropping the kids off with Kristen that it was not a problem. Everyone seemed excited and happy to be there. I am not sure Jacob understood he would not see us for a while, but he was content there. I assume that Grandma and Grandpa got Kaleb and Tashara to Keith and Kristin's okay, because I got an email from Kaleb that was sent not too long after he could have gotten there.

Thanks everyone for helping us out with all this!

The flight went very smoothly (it is so much more fun to travel with someone than alone). We got into Paris just fine and had a long layover, so we thought we would go out and do something. It took us about an hour to get to the train station (CDG airport in Paris is one of the worst airports in the world). It also took us a while to figure out exactly which train to get on and get tickets. But finally we were off. It was fun to see the countryside by train, as it took us almost an hour to get downtown.

It was very cold there. Our coats were packed in our luggage, which was not available to us. Fortunately I had thought to have Julianne put sweatshirts in the carry on. There was a miserable, biting wind everywhere we went, and it snowed on us a bit.

We walked from the train station to Notre Dame. We toured inside it. What a huge and beautiful building. We really enjoyed it. Though the highlight may have been the two beggars who were fighting each other when we came out.

We thought we would eat some real french food in a real French cafe. It was some of the worst food I have ever had. We wanted crepes, and were hungry, so we ordered a ham crepe. It was a whole wheat crepe with no sauce at all, and a bunch of ham stuffed inside. It tasted like a slab of flour on a slab of meat, and was so dry it was hard to get down. We had turkey in a mushroom sauce, since the French are famous for their sauces. The sauce was good, but the turkey was overcooked and tough. The French Fries were good. We skipped the desert crepe we were planning on ordering since it didn't look much different than our ham crepe. Instead, as we hurried back to the train, we got some little pastry treats from a pastry shop. They were pretty much tasteless. We could not believe how much they looked like they would have flavor, and how much they did not. It was surprisingly like play dough without the salt taste.

I know we only have limited experience, but from my point of view, French food made in America is much, much, much, much better than French food in France. Ah well. I forgot to put the camera in the carryons, so we have no photos of France.

We made it through that crazy airport in record time, had a good flight to Egypt, negotiated the visa and passport lines, and found our regular excavation driver waiting for us. The traffic was pretty good (it was 11 pm), but Julianne still almost broke my hand about 10 times as she squoze so hard when cars were close. I am not letting her get close to touching me when we get in real traffic.

So, here we are in our hotel. We have had a good night's sleep, and Julianne may never wake up, I can't believe she can sleep so well when her body thinks it is a different time. She will have not jet lag problem as far as I can tell. Soon we will post photos, etc., of our time here.

God bless!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Big Day for the family!

We had a big day today! BJ played in his first young men's basketball game. In this stake all the ages play on the same team, so he was 12 playing against 18 year olds. He did well. He had a point, a steal, a sweet hussle rebound, played great defense, and got out of some traps set for him by two people at a time, both of whom were almost two feet taller. He had a good game and did great!

Tashara had a huge day! It was her first ballroom dance competition. A whole bunch of grade schools had their teams go and compete against each other. Each partnership was called up (in groups) and had a type of dance randomly drawn, which they then danced as the judges watched. Tashara ended up dancing the cha cha, and the merengue (no idea how to spell that). She did great! When it came time for awards, you could tell how great she did. Her team won a gold medal (a few of them won that). Tashara won "top performer" for her level, and her school won first place for their level! She has worked hard, and it surely paid off!

Those weren't our only adventures, but we probably shouldn't share the adventures of our youngest ones eating gum and crackers they found on the floor of the bleachers while watching the competition, or of how difficult it is to actually get anyone to go to bed around here, or how Dad's blood pressure skyrockets as people exhibit their going-to-bed-inabilities, or what an adventure it is for the kids to listen to Dad tell them off for five minutes about how they need to learn to go to bed. Those are adventures best not mentioned. Instead, just remember that BJ had a great performance, and Tashara literally had an award winning performance in every way!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Getting ready for Egypt

We are less than a week away from going to Egypt. Dad will stay for a while, but Mom will get to go with him for a week. The last time Mom and Dad got to travel somewhere together was in 2008, when they got to go to Greece. The details of finding someone to stay in our house, some place for each of the kids to stay, ways for them to get to school, some of their practices, scouts, Julianne back and forth from the airport, etc. have been so crazy that for a while we thought Mom couldn't go. But now it looks like she will, and we are excited. It will be her first time to Egypt. She won't see a lot of the stuff most people go to see there, that will have to wait for next year. But she will get to see what Dad usually does when he is there. She will meet the officials he works with, see his excavation site, the place he stays, the people he knows, etc.

All of this is so that the excavation is a part of both their lives, not just Dad's. This is to help make it so that the excavation brings them together, not apart. It should be a wonderful week.

Thanks to all those who are making it possible!!!

Getting Passports

The day we got passports was a bit crazy! We had already gone to BYU with the Judd family (who are moving to Israel with us at the same time) and gotten photos for everyone. Then we filled out a long form for each of the six children. It took forever. This cost plenty of money two. Between photos, form fees, filing fees, etc., it was almost $100 per child.

Dad (Kerry) got there early and filled out more paperwork in the office. It took a long time, and then he waited. Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, the kids were following Dad's direction and waiting at school for Mom (Julianne) to come pick them up. Only problem is that Dad forgot to tell Mom he had told them that. So she waited at home for them to come home, busily working on building a retaining wall and not paying attention to the time. Dad waited and waited (for over an hour) getting more and more frustrated. The kids waited and waited at the school. Finally Mom noticed the time, figured they were at the school, and went to get them.

When they finally got there, all eight of us filed up the stairs to the little room. That was a lot of kids for a little space with nothing to do but smile at the ladies who were verifying that they were actually the people they claimed to be. We did pretty well, with kids climbing up and standing on the tables only a few times. A few minutes later, and several hundred dollars poorer, and minus the paper work and birth certificates we came with, we left with the hope that one day we would actually receive those precious little blue books that prove our American citizenship and allow us to travel.
The exciting day came several weeks later. Everyone got a package in the mail except poor Kaleb. All the kids were so excited to see their pictures inside such nice books with all sorts of patriotic emblems embossed all around them. Kaleb was a little bummed. But not to worry, the next day he got a party all of his own. It was official, we were ready to travel. Now we just needed to figure out where to and when.

Mule Team on the Move!

This is the blog our family is setting up to share our exciting times and travel with our loved ones. We are going to do so many things, and have so many great experiences, that we wanted to share. Follow us on our amazing adventures here!