First off, I want to apologize for the delay in this blog. I am a delegate in the Model Arab League (MAL) and our conference has been this week. It has been one of the most interesting experiences that I have had while here in Cairo. It is a four day conference with students here from other parts of the world. I am a delegate on the Economic and Social Council, representing the observer participant of the International Labour Organization. Before joining MAL, I was very unaware of the intricate politics of the region. There was so much I did not know. I have learned an immense amount of knowledge about the Arab States through this organization. It has been a great learning experience.
Today, I wanted to tell you all about one of my favorite trips I have taken while in Egypt to Fayoum. Fayoum is located about two hours south of Cairo. It is an oasis city in the deserts. At one point in time, the area was covered with water, but the water dried up and the land has now turned into desert. There are still remains of the ocean in the form of lakes, waterfalls, and fossils, which we got to see.
The first stop was Lake Karoun. This is one of the biggest saltwater lakes in Egypt and is known for duck hunting. There are hundreds of duck on the lake and there are fishing boats all along the shore line that are especially for fishing and hunting ducks. The lake has an interesting legend associated with it. There is a character that is present in both the Bible and the Quran that is said to have rebelled against Moses and for his punishment God ordered that the Earth swallowed him up in this lake.
The second place we went to Wadi Rayyan. It is the home of two natural waterfalls that flow into a lake. It is the home of many species of plants and animals. Unfortunately, the water is not that clean but it is really beautiful.
Following Wadi Rayyan, we drove through the desert for a while and stopped at Magic Lake. There is a reason why it is called Magic Lake. It was one of the most gorgeous things I have ever seen. It is a lake in the middle of the desert and the blue water shimmers in a way that makes it look almost unreal. We had a chance to stop and walk on the shore line and play in the lake for a bit.
The most popular site to stop at in Fayoum is Wadi Hitan. This is where many whale fossils have been found. It is proof that at one time the land was covered by water. There have been discoveries of many different whale of all different sizes. The tour guide said that many of the whale found had little legs. Archeologists say that the whales found are part of the evolution of whales. They believe that at one time whales had legs and as time went on there was no need for legs so they evolved without them. The whales in Wadi Hitan are the missing link per say to their discoveries. Also in this area there are fossilized Mangrove roots, a water plant that grew in the area. On the mountains of sand you can see a dark rim that lines the middle of it. These black lines are the water lines of the ocean at its original height. Right now, the entire display is about a half a kilometer or so around the desert, but not all the land has been excavated. There is still so much to discover.
We had traveled to Fayoum in 4×4 SUVs, which came in really handy while riding through the dunes of the desert. This was my first time to ride through the desert and it was pretty awesome to say the least. We also got to sand board which is like surfing but instead of on water it was on sand. It was pretty intimidating at first, but it was super fun.
Why was this my favorite trip? My answer to that is because this was what Egypt really looks like. I have been to so many sites; all historic and beautiful, and show a piece of Egypt. But the reality is that Egypt is mostly desert. The only places that are densely inhabited are around the Nile River and the seas. The desert is the biggest piece of Egypt that I felt I had not experienced yet. The desert is huge. It is a massive amount of space that covers so much of the earth. You can look on a map and see the deserts all around the world, but you will never really understand what it is like until you are standing looking out at nothing but sand. And then you come the oasis and you see bodies of water in the middle of nothing, in the middle of the desert. It was incredible. As we traveled from place to place around the area, I realized how big the earth really is. I realized how beautiful it was. And I realized how much evidence there is of the world before us. Every place has its own stories to tell, whether through fossils, oases, legends, or people. It was definitely a trip that I came out of appreciating the beauty of the earth and its creator.
Thank you for reading this week! Stay tuned for more interesting topics to come!