Saturday, May 3, 2008

Spring Break: An Epic Tale, Pt. I

Thus begins a long and detailed series of installments concerning our spring break adventures. These are all the entries I wrote in my journal, and the first is the longest because it's the introduction.

There were eight of us. We hailed from GW and Georgetown, and had united for the ultimate Middle East spring break: 16 days in Jordan, Syria, and the largely-unrecognized nation, otherwise known as Israel. The cast of characters was as follows:

Ainsley: The Mom. Ainsley is tiny, but she has a big presence. She's constantly making sure we have sunscreen, or that we're going to catch the ferry on time. Ainsley has a penchant for wearing large accessories and making sure her mascara is perfectly intact, even in the middle of a desert. She hails from the great state of Texas.

Alison: The Wanderlust. Not only was Alison abroad in Morocco last semester, but she'll continue her travels this summer at an archaeological dig in Israel. To the joy of the group, she happens to be superstitious about baking things before any trip. So far her brownies, cookies, and fudgy-bars have been effective talismans at warding off evil travel demons.

Andy: The Stoic. Andrew Bradford 'Freedom' Kalaris is usually referred to by his surname. Kalaris likes to sit around looking Greek and unconcerned. He also happens to be incredibly witty, which people appreciate all the more after encountering his initial stoicism.

Ariel: The Peacemaker. Ariel is usually bubbly and entertaining, even on 1.5 hours of sleep. She speaks Arabic well, which comes in handy when making friends with cab drivers. She also has an encyclopedic knowledge of Broadway musicals, which is entertaining for me/trying for Dan.

Brian: The Good Guy. Brian is just...simply a good guy. He refuses any food the second time you offer it, no matter how delicious it is. He always offers to carry your bag, and he likes to check in and make sure everyone is doing ok. Sometimes he just holds back and observes, but you know his dry sense of humor will soon come to the surface. He brought a lunch cooler to serve as a bag, which lends some soccer-mom-like qualities to his travel ensemble.

Dan: The Tactician. Dan can be sullen and sarcastic at times, which is highly entertaining. He's very smart, and knows a lot about international relations. I constantly feel like he's plotting minor schemes/future career paths. He's been known to say things like, "One day when I'm running [insert name of organization X], you're going to pay for that." He got a new haircut before the trip, which he was initially a little sensitive about.

Me: The Sprite. I'm just happy to be here. I hope my currently sunny disposition stays around, because I'd like to think positive and peaceful vibes will come in handy in sticky situations. Unlike Tim and Alison, I wasn't abroad last semester, but I've now caught the travel bug and can't wait to continue exploring in Argentina this summer.

Tim: The Mastermind. Tim is...slightly Type A...which comes in handy when coordinating a group of eight for spring break. :-) He has everything planned down to a T. Of course most of our plans will go completely haywire, but it's comforting to know someone made them in the first place. Tim likes to 'borrow' food.

We started off on a bus for Taba, Egypt, where we would catch a ferry to Aqaba, Jordan. After some last minute jitters mostly incited by Dan, we decided we would continue with our plan, despite to fact that Taba is a common for to Israel, and later on Syria might think we made a detour to The-Country-That-Must-Not-Be-Named before going to Jordan. However, we decided to risk it. The bus left at 11:00 PM, and we were all able to nap some on the way. We awoke in the morning to find ourselves skimming down a coastal road, Red Sea, sand, and palm trees to one side, while a stripe of pale yellow backlit the mountains in the distance. It was beautiful. Dan added to the scene by making astute observations such as, "We're in Taba. It's fucking 5:00 AM." Meanwhile Kalaris hid in the curtain.

We were dropped off on the side of the road and Tim called the guy who was supposed to come pick us up. The guy said, "Ok, I'll be there in five minutes." Great, five minutes. After about 20, we got the message that we should just walk down ourselves. Ok, well we're by the ocean. Finding the marina shouldn't be too hard. We started walking and asked someone for directions. He'd never heard of the marina. "You know, the place with boats for Jordan?" Nope. "Ever heard of Waterworld Dive Center?" Nope again. Ah, ok, no problem. We just kept walking, and after traversing lots of sand and avoiding the camels mine field (they do not like to move), we found the place. I am now lying on a lounge chair, gazing out at the gorgeous Red Sea and ready to take a nap. At 1:00 this afternoon, we'll be catching a ferry for Jordan, inshaallah.