St. Spyridon the Wonderworker of Trymithous

The Church of St. Spyridon in Corfu Old Town, Greece.

I’ve been contemplating an update for some time, and haven’t had much of a clear idea for what content.  There’s just a lot of content.  Then noticed that the feast day of St. Spyridon is December 12, perfect time to tell of his church.

St. Spyridon has been one of my favorite saints.  He was born in Cyprus and served as a bishop in Trymithous in the 4th century, all while maintaining the life of a simple shepherd.  His icon normally shows him wearing a round, pointed shepherd’s cap.  He was one of the 318 bishops to attend the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, which formulated the major part of the Nicene Creed.  The council also addressed a false doctrine, which Church tradition says St. Spyridon had a hand in refuting as well.  The doctrine in question made Jesus Christ a created being that was subordinate to the Father (“Arianism”), and not fully sharing in God the Father’s divine nature from eternity.  The Nicene Creed states Christian doctrine very clearly in this matter; Jesus is, “…begotten of the Father before all ages, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one essence with the Father….”  When the theological debates were ending and the arguments seemed at an impasse in favor of the Arian heresy, St. Spyridon stepped forward and asked to speak.  Being an unlettered shepherd, his brother bishops thought it unwise of him to debate with the shrewd Arians.  After his brother bishops relented, St. Spyridon demonstrated the truth of the Trinity by showing a clay tile in his left hand to everyone and speaking of God’s infinite nature.  He finished by saying, “…I want…to prove the truth to you, before your very eyes, through this common tile which is also composed of three elements, and yet is one in substance and nature.”

So saying, St. Spyridon made the sign of the cross with his right hand, and holding the tile in his left said, “In the name of the Father!”  At that moment, the flame with which the tile had been baked rose up out of the clay, to the astonishment of everyone present.  The saint continued, “And of the Son!” and before the eyes of the assembly, the water which had been mixed with the clay came streaming out of it.  “And of the Holy Spirit!” and opening his hand, the saint showed that in his palm there remained only the dry earth from which the tile had been molded.  Through this miracle many Arians became convinced of their error and were restored to the Church.  Many icons show him holding the clay tile referring to this miracle, as in the painting on the right.

Corfu Old Town viewed from the Old Fortress.

St. Spyridon is also famously called “The Walking Saint.”  This owing to the fact that his body wears ornate silk slippers inside his reliquary, but these must be replaced about once every year because they wear down over time like any pair of shoes.  He has been seen appearing in person to people throughout the centuries.  There have been numerous stories of his protection of the island of Corfu, where his relics have stayed for over 500 years.  This included invasions from Turks, and bombardments from Italian forces in WWII.

He is also known as a Protector of Children, like St. Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra, and this is the main reason for my fondness of him.  When dealing with thieves, his demeanor was that of a Shepherd of Men (see the section under ‘Socrates Scholasticus’).

I spent Spring Break this past year (2016) in Greece, traveling for part of the trip to Corfu (“Kerkyra” in Greek) to visit St. Spyridon.  It was Holy Monday through Wednesday that I stayed in Corfu, just a day after St. Spyridon’s relics were taken in one of its annual processions on Palm Sunday.  Photos were not allowed inside the church, but I was able to attend Holy Week services, pray, place an icon of St. Spyridon on his reliquary for his blessing, and venerate his feet.  The antiphonal Byzantine chanting in Bridegroom Matins services was just amazing, beautiful.

Two performances this week at school: one for Middle and High School, the other for Primary School.  Lots of performance preparations going on.  Friday is a half day with a faculty luncheon after student dismissal.  Looking forward to flying to family in Orlando, Florida in a new home!

Back in the US for Summer and What I’ve missed from Home

I started writing this post toward the end of June, but did not finish it until now…when I’m sitting here back in Cairo!  Well, here it is.  Hopefully will follow this up with a post on things I miss about Egypt soon.  (Insha’allah!)


I arrived back home on June 12th.  It was a busy school year, and now I’m looking back on a busy summer, too!  I attended three weeks of teacher training for curriculum development and the Dalcroze teaching method.  I’ve also been working on two graduate school classes, and learning the ukulele and guitar.  On top of that, I’ve visited family in Florida and taken personal retreats to Holy Cross Monastery in West Virginia.  I certainly could use at least another month of summer!

While preparing to come back to America, I wondered what I might miss about living in my home country and decided to keep a list.  So here it is, in no particular order:


(Okay, this is definitely at the top of the list!) I really missed my family and the support that is so near.  I’ve been able to see my niece take her first steps, and watch her expressions as she became familiar with me.  The last time I had seen her was back in January when she was about 7 months old.  Maybe when I come home for Christmas again she might say her first words!

Rain! Thunderstorms! Lightning!

At the time of writing this post (late June), the high was 80 F (27 C) today in Kentucky, but the high in Cairo today was 108 F (42 C).  Even so, I’ve probably missed the rain and thunderstorms more than the 28-degree temperature difference!  I don’t think I ever saw lightning or heard thunder while in Egypt.  The Egyptian sky is cloudless for most of the year, and the most severe weather comes in the form of rain or a sandstorm.  This made me very accustomed to never worrying about an umbrella while in Cairo.  Back in Kentucky, it has to be a conscious effort for me to check weather forecasts for rain and prepare for it ahead of time, especially when spending the day on University of Kentucky campus.  No matter where I’ve been this summer, rain– and especially thunderstorms!– will distract me because I’ve missed it.  But in my second week back in the US, there came a storm that briefly pounded my house with 60 mph (96 kph) winds!  Certainly a little more than what I wished for!

Late Sunset!

Sunset around my hometown of Wilmore can be as late as 9:00 pm.  Sunrise can be as early as 6:15 am.  That makes for a really good sleep schedule with not a lot of dark skies in my wakeful hours.

In Cairo, on the other hand, the sunrise and sunset pattern is significantly different.  Since it’s so hot, Egypt is on Eastern European Time (EET) and that puts sunset in Cairo at 7:00 pm at the latest and sunrise at 4:54 am at the earliest!  The reasoning is simple: having an early sunrise and sunset makes for a more enjoyable evening when temperatures will cool off quickly in the desert.  In the winter, sunset can be as early as 5:00 pm.  That makes just a 2-hour difference between winter and summer sunset times.  But the difference in winter/summer sunset times in Kentucky is almost 3 hours and 40 minutes, thanks to Daylight Saving Time.  I’ve found this website for solar graphs and data on Lexington and Cairo.  Pretty interesting!

Personal Vehicle, Lighter and More Predictable Traffic

It’s expensive to own a car, especially in Cairo.  But I can get by with not owning a car while overseas (at least for now).  Not that I’d want to ever own a car in Cairo; the traffic is very heavy, fluid, and unpredictable.  Taxis are my main way of getting to places I need to be.  Public buses and trains are also widely available, but require much more Arabic skills than I currently have.  Back home, having a car is very close to a necessity: you have farther distances to buy groceries, visit friends and family, go to church, and other activities.

Despite all the differences, it feels really good to have a personal car at home, and being able to drive when and where I want.  It also brings to mind how living abroad can best be described: trade-offs.  When living in a foreign country, you miss some things from home, but other things in your new country give a different kind of abundance.  In my case, living relatively close to everyday places, and no gas bill or car maintenance!

Cold Cereal, Milk, Coffee with Cream, and PORK!

Food is an adjustment no matter where you go in the world.  I’ve missed my staple breakfast food in the US: cold cereal with milk and coffee with cream.  I’ve consistently eaten this kind of food for breakfast most of my life.

All of these are available in Egypt, but cereal is more expensive than it is in the US, which doesn’t make a good buy.  Milk is widely available at a good price, and so is cheese, fruit, bread, and yogurt; this usually makes up most of my breakfast.  I have a drip coffee maker, but finding the right coffee ground for a drip machine at the grocery store is tricky.  The most popular forms of coffee are either instant Nescafe or Turkish coffee.  Starbucks stores are also available to buy ground coffee.  But it’s more expensive than in the US since it’s imported from Starbucks roasting facilities in Amsterdam.  Still, I manage to have coffee, usually from Carrefour grocery store.  Thankfully!

Pork is a bit of a rarity.  Since the Egyptian people are 90% Muslim, and pork is viewed as unclean in Islam, any pork products are expensive and hard to come by.  What I miss most is bacon!

Lightning Bugs

Having these bugs light up the air in the evening is wonderful, but not something I’ve seen in Egypt.  It’s great to see them again!

Kentucky Landscape

Two school years ago (2013-2014), my morning drive to school involved going by the Kentucky Horse Park, usually around the time of sunrise.  Some mornings also featured a cool fog on the rolling, slightly wooded farmland, making it all the more beautiful.  That kind of scenery is now a treasured experience!

Sunday Liturgy and English Services

While I’m able to go to a church service every week in Cairo, it has to be on Fridays, not Sundays.  Egypt’s weekend is Friday through Saturday, and with Friday being the traditional Muslim day of prayer, it’s also the best day to go to church.  The Liturgy is in Arabic, so it’s necessary to take a Kindle with me to follow services in English.  The chanting is Byzantine style, not one that I’m familiar with, nor have been able to learn.

Being able to come back to services in English, sing or direct a four-part choir in the Russian style, or serve in the altar…these made for some of the most vivid experiences of old-time familiarity.

But again, there are trade-offs.  I wouldn’t be able to attend Liturgy in the Chapel of the Burning Bush while I was at home, or walk in the same places that the Lord spent his early childhood with his Mother Mary and Guardian Joseph, climb to the top of the God-trodden Mount Sinai, or visit the earliest birthplaces of Christian monasticism.

Other trade-offs with living in a foreign country can be tougher to deal with.  The crux of the matter is learning to be thankful for them all…which is by far the hardest adjustment.  (Still trying to learn that myself.)  I’m beginning to feel that this year will be easier than the last, like my colleagues said who were themselves coming back last year.  More on that later on, I hope.

First Sandstorm

This past week I had my first taste of a sandstorm!  It had been warm for about two weeks prior to the storm; daily temperatures were ranging from 60 F in the morning to 72-75 F in the afternoons.  Come to find out, that was unseasonably warm for late January and early February.

The storm began Tuesday afternoon, the 10th.  It was warm for much of the school day, and the morning sky was clear.  Once I dismissed the last class of the day, I looked out the window and was a little surprised to see the sky and buildings looked yellow-orange outside.  I had seen colors similar to this on hazy days, so it didn’t occur to me that this was a sand storm…just another hazy day, I thought.  (But wait, weather in Egypt is not supposed to change this fast, is it?  I thought I left all that in Kentucky!)  We had a faculty meeting immediately following dismissal.  Once that was over and I packed up to go home, I saw the wind whipping trees and shrubs around on the school grounds.  I also noticed the canopy covers in the inner courtyard were flapping under a lot of wind.  Oh, so this must be what a sandstorm is like!  I went home and could hear the wind howling past the side of my apartment building the rest of the evening.

Wednesday afternoon
Before. Wednesday afternoon.

I wake up the next morning on Wednesday, come outside to wait for the bus, and the sky is still orange!  The air was also colder and heavier than I remembered.  Once at school, I saw the halls had lots of sand.  Very soon into the day, the teachers were told no one was to not go outside for recess.  Air quality was just too bad for physical activity outside.  It was decided after lunch time that after school activities would be cancelled for the day.  No Percussion Lab for my two enthusiastic drummers!  According to one of my Egyptian coworkers, this storm was the longest, most severe storm for Cairo in the past six years.  Calls had to be made to the parents, and the school bus schedules had to be rearranged to take everyone home by 3:15.  I found a news article mentioning the sandstorm had shutdown Cairo Airport to all arriving flights.  That’s when I took a photo of the sky outside my villa, and the landing just inside the main entrance.

20150212_164023I think one of my colleagues suggested that we close the main entrance door to the villa.  That would have been a smart idea, although sand would still have made its way through cracked windows in the stairwells.  At any rate, the floors and handrails were covered in sand when we came home.  On Thursday a friend found this Buzz Feed News article showing photos around Cairo during the sandstorm.  The video at the top of the article is from Aswan in May 2014 when a similarly severe storm hit the town.  The rest of what you see are buildings around Cairo and the Middle East affected by the storm of this past week.


Ground floor landing
Ground floor landing

Thursday morning still had an orange sky and colder temps, but I was told the storm was supposed to clear out during the day.  And that it did!  Here is the same spot at the villa after coming home Thursday afternoon, one day after taking a photo of the sky during the storm.

After. Thursday afternoon.

So now I have lots cleaning to do this weekend.  Even though I kept my doors and windows shut, sand was still able to leave its mark on every level surface.  But at this point, it will have to wait for tomorrow.  It’s now past 11:00 pm.

In other news, Spring Break plans have partially materialized!  My parents and one of my brothers are coming to Cairo in April!  We will spend a few days here, then we hope to go to Luxor in Upper Egypt where many ancient Egyptian temples and burial sites are located.  If it’s possible, we will also go to one or more of the monasteries of ancient Scetis, where most of the Desert Fathers lived and pioneered the monastic life for Christendom.  This area is in between Cairo and Alexandria, just about a 90 minute drive from downtown.  I’m excited!


First week back from Christmas

I’m back in Egypt after flying from home in America.  I had a wonderful time visiting family, friends, former coworkers, and students!  My trip took me first to Newark airport, then Munich, Germany, and finally to Cairo.  I saw some large, fascinating churches as we were circling and descending to land in Munich; I wasn’t able to get pictures of them because my seat was not near the window.

School started on Sunday the 11th.  Usually we will have a morning assembly on the soccer field, but it was cancelled because it was drizzling and abnormally cold: about 5 C, or low 40’s F.  It was also very cold inside the school.  Since Egypt does not have as much lumber resources in its arid climate, all the buildings have walls made of concrete and no insulation.  Pairing this with standard high ceilings makes them ideal for keeping relatively cool in the summer.  But with the winter temperatures we were having, the concrete walls having no insulation, and the high humidity, every room felt cold even with heaters going constantly.  Thankfully the moisture was mostly gone the next day, and temperatures warmed up by Wednesday.  In the last few days, temps have been ranging daily from 50-65 F, with forecasts of 55-75 later this week.  I’m not sure if the forecast is more normal seasonal weather, or just a warm spell, but I’ll take it!

It definitely would be nice to have the low 40’s back home, I’m sure!  But with living in any new country, there are trade-offs.  In America, and particularly in my home state, winter months are colder, sometimes as low as -15 C or 0 F.  But the houses are built with insulated walls and good heating systems, so the coldness only gets to you when you’re outside.  In Egypt, the winter nights are generally warmer– sometimes 5 Celsius, or the low- to mid-40’s F.  However, with the walls naturally being cool and having no way to retain heat, I sometimes have to go outside to get warm!  Thank goodness for flash water boilers and plenty of tea!

This week my school will have Monday off as a holiday since it is the Coptic feast day of Epiphany.  So I hope to go to the Egyptian National Museum then.  Then next week, we will have a Sunday off as a government holiday, making a longer weekend.  During that time I hope to go with a Coptic parish on a day-long retreat to the monasteries of St. Mina and St. Philopateer (Mercurius).  It will be the only three-day weekend until Palm Sunday in April; might as well take advantage of the breaks while I have them!

My New Home

This is quite a hiatus from posting!  It has been quite an adjustment since coming here.  I have a new home, new school with new colleagues, students, parents, new culture with a new language, church community, friendship circles, ways of getting around, food, and places to go and see.  After more than three months living in Egypt, I still haven’t found time to visit the Giza Pyramids yet!  Hopefully soon.

So here’s a little about where I live.  If you look on Google Maps at Cairo, you’ll notice a long road circling the city.  This is called “Ring Road.”  The Nile River separates the big city: on the east side of the river is Cairo city proper, and on the west side of the river is the city of Giza.  Both places are under different local government jurisdictions, called Cairo Governorate and Giza Governorate, respectively.  I think of Governorates as a loosely related term to State governments in the US, though I haven’t done any research to see if that is a correct way of thinking of things.

I live in a “suburb” called New Cairo.  There’s still at least a million people living there, and many consider it part of greater Cairo, so it’s not really a suburb.  Perhaps you could think of it like Manhattan or Brooklyn in relation to New York City.  New Cairo is just outside of Ring Road on the east side.  Another name used for this place is Tagammoa El Khames, in Arabic meaning “The Fifth Settlement.”  I’ll write in more detail about New Cairo later.  Now for some photos!

I live in an apartment building with eight other teachers from ISE.  Below are some pictures of my apartment:

My kitchen
Dining area
Dining area
Living room
Living room

And to the left out of view from the living room is a door out to a balcony.  And it’s the best part!

Apt Balcony Sm
It’s pretty awesome!

I later learned that the mosque in view of my balcony was the mosque ex-President Mohamed Morsi used to attend while he was in power.  Now he is in prison and his political party has been outlawed.  But taxi drivers still point out his mansion almost every time I ride past it; it’s hard to miss, and is located in a busy street not far from where I live.

I hope to make more posts about where I attend church, and about my school.  God willing, of course.  Right now we’re at the end of the first trimester at school, and gearing up for the Winter Show.  Next few weeks will be busy.  I miss you all!

Flight to Egypt: A Recap Part 2

I am already in the middle of the second week of school, and it’s hard to know how all that time has flown by!  Since Egypt’s people are culturally Islamic, the work week revolves around the religion’s traditional weekly day of prayer.  That day is Friday instead of Sunday; as a result, the Egyptian weekend starts with Friday and ends with Saturday, and the work week begins on Sunday.  Our school follows the same schedule: our first day was Sunday, August 31, and we are now halfway through the week, even though it’s Tuesday.  It’s been a crazy whirlwind so far!

I left off last time with me touching down in Amman, Jordan.  I had about a 90-minute layover at the airport, from 4:30pm local time to around 6pm.  It was just enough time to walk to the proper terminal for the flight to Cairo, get settled, and observe the surrounding areaIMG_0212: all flat desert, with a small number of buildings in the distance across the runway.  The airport seemed to be on the outside of Amman, but I could not see the city itself from the airport.  All announcements over the airport were given in Arabic, and I could definitely tell I was in a foreign culture.  On the way to Jordan, the announcements were given in Arabic and English.  I suppose having the English still made it feel like home in some way.  While waiting for the next flight, and until I met with school staff in Cairo, all communication around me was Arabic.  While about half of the women veiled their heads in the traditional Muslim fashion on the way to Amman, the flight to Cairo had most women wearing the hijab.  Few of the men dressed in a traditionally Arab manner as well, wearing the ghutrah and agal head dress with a robe called a thawb.

I boarded the plane and was able to get a text out saying I was leaving Amman.  Again, all the flight attendants and the captain exclusively spoke Arabic, so I had to follow the actions of others and the lights indicating seat belts had to be worn.  IMG_0213I was given some paperwork for Egyptian Customs, making the required legal declarations.  Happily, it was finished before we backed out of the terminal.  I was put on edge as the plane was turning onto the runway.  Usually in America, a plane will turn on the runway and sit idle for a few seconds.  Not so this time!  Instead, I could hear and feel the captain engaging full throttle for take off as he was aligning with the run way!  That was certainly more of a dangerous move than the typical American is used to!  But it ended up being fine: I was able to watch the edge of the runway along our side and once the turn onto the runway stopped, the plane never had to correct its course down the runway.

I was once again at a window seat, so I could take pictures of the desert as we flew to Egypt.  Interestingly, I observed from our flight path screen we had to completely avoid Israeli airspace.  IMG_0215The plane flew straight south along the Jordan/Israeli border, and turned west once it was clear of the southern tip of Israel.  But that allowed me to get some shots of the Sinai peninsula!  The sun was setting as we were descending for Cairo, so I could see the building lights flickering on.  Not much for a camera to catch anything, though.

We landed and taxied near the airport terminals, but we did not park near a terminal.  Instead, I came off the plane with the passengers on a mobile staircase and boarded a bus.  The bus let us off at a place in the airport that looked like customs and immigration.  Before getting into the line for customs, I had to purchase an Egyptian touring visa from a bank in the room.  I was told ahead of time that the visa price had gone up from $15 US to $25 US.  Curiously, I looked at the new, official visa and the price indicated on it was still $15 US.  Seems someone was making a buck, but it’s hard telling who.  But it’s also something that’s different about many other countries: bureaucratic racketeering can be much more common than in the States.IMG_0215

Anyway, I cleared Customs, collected my luggage, and met some of my colleagues for the first time!  The Head of School, 8th Grade Homeroom, and Art Teachers met me in the airport lobby.  I also saw some familiar faces from Chicago and Amman; they turned out to be the school 4th Grade Teacher, 9th Grade Teacher, and his wife!  We made a quick stop to a duty-free shop and then loaded our stuff onto an ISE school bus.  While we rode to our apartment building (referred to by everyone as “the villa”) Ellen, the Head of School let us know we would be dropping our stuff and sleeping at the villa, and then drive out at noon the next day to a resort at the Red Sea!

We arrived at the villa and I was given the key to my apartment and an Egyptian cell phone provided by the school.  Fortunately, they had ordered dinner at another teacher’s room.  The food was all Egyptian cuisine, including Koshary, which is a distinctive and popular dish in the country.  I met three other new colleagues and we comprised the group that would be going to the Red Sea the next day.  The Head of School and Art Teacher would not be going with us in order to accomplish things at the school.  So all in all, we were a group of eight that would head out the next day.  And that will be the focus of the next article!

Flight to Egypt: A Recap

Well, I’ve finally made it to a point where I can start posting!  It has been a very busy 12-day period since I arrived in Cairo, and I’ve had lots of experiences during that time.  I hope to tell about it in the next few days.

Journey Log

Since my last update, I packed my bags and readied all things I could think to take with me.  I still forgot one essential envelope for the school that I just received from a friend yesterday.  Through God’s handiwork my friend was visiting at my parents’ church, and my parents thought quickly enough to send the envelope with him when he flew to toward Cairo less than an hour after the service was finished.  Thank the Lord it’s here!

I arrived at the terminal at Bluegrass Airport and boarded an American Eagle regional flight to Chicago.  It was a smaller jet, containing a single aisle down the inside of the plane.  On one side of the aisle were two seats, the other just one seat in each row.  I had a window seat and was able to snap some pictures of Kentucky while the plane ascended to cruising altitude.

Last glimpses of Kentucky
Last glimpses of Kentucky

When we were to land in 30 minutes, the main flight attendant worked his way down the aisle to ask if anyone had a connecting flight to catch in Chicago.  If a person said yes, the attendant had a dot-matrix printout from which he let them know where they needed to go in the airport once they disembarked from our flight.  I overheard people had connections to New York, Los Angeles, and other parts of the country.  He came to me and asked his question:

“Hello, do you have a connection to catch out of Chicago?”

“Yes, my connection is to Amman.”

He immediately lit up!  “Oh, so you’re the Amman one!”  I think I might have been the only person travelling internationally on the flight, which might have made him so excited!  “So tell me, where are you going after Amman?”

At this point, I smiled.  “To Cairo, Egypt!”


“Really?!  What will you be doing there?”

“I will be teaching Music at the International School of Egypt.”

“Wow!  Is this your first time teaching outside the U.S.?  How did you manage to get the job?”  More questions kept coming, and it seemed my answers only intrigued him more.


It was delightful to see his excitement!  I got to know him as well.  His name was Venoni and he lived in Chicago.  I also let him know how I planned to stay in touch with folks at home and gave him the address to this blog.  He ended the conversation with one of the perks of being a flight attendant: “I like getting to know where people are going and why,” he said proudly,  “I love to live vicariously through my flight passengers; it’s what I do best!”

He then told me the plane would park in terminal 3, and that I had to ride a train from terminal 3 to terminal 5, which is where international flights would be coming and going.  Thanks, Venoni, for a great flight!

Lake Michigan, on our descent to Chicago O'Hare airport.
Lake Michigan, on our descent to Chicago O’Hare airport.

One item I forgot to pack was a travel wallet that could hold my passport.  I was able to buy one at the airport, and change my voicemail greeting to indicate I would be out of the country.  By the time I went through security, arrived at Terminal 5, and accomplished these two things, it was time to board my next flight.

The plane I was to board was a larger jet.  It had two aisles and I happened to be in the middle section, away from any windows; I wasn’t able to get any pictures of our flight.  I at least was able to follow on a world map where we were flying on a display screen in front of me.  We started flying north into Wisconsin, then turned northeast over Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  Once we were past the Great Lakes, our path went over Canada, following the U.S. border in a parallel direction.  Eventually we came close to the Hudson Bay and the southern tip of Greenland.  Next we went over Ireland, and by this time the sun was rising for the next day, Tuesday, August 19.  We continued through Wales and over Oxford, London, Canterbury; through Brussels, Belgium; Frakfurt, Germany; Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia; Sarajevo, Bosnia; Montenegro, Serbia, and Macedonia.

Landed in Amman!
Landed in Amman!

We went over Thessaloniki and the western peninsula of Halkidiki.  (It’s too bad we didn’t fly over the eastern peninsula!  That peninsula is the place of Mount Athos, one of the most important spiritual centers to the Eastern Orthodox communion.  Visiting there is one of my hopes while I’m abroad.  That would be an immense experience!)

Next we went through the Aegean Sea and over Rhodes Island.  Once we were in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, we turned east, flying over Israel and the West Bank, then finally arrived in Amman after flying about 12 hours!

Packing, awaiting flight

Today is the day!  My flight leaves Lexington around 6:35pm.  I will fly for 90 minutes to Chicago and arrive there at 7:05pm local time.  After a 2-hour, 25-minute layover, I will take off in a Royal Jordanian flight to Amman, Jordan.  That flight will take 12 hours to cross the Atlantic Ocean.  It will be around 9:30pm when I take off from Chicago, and the sun will have already set.  I will be flying eastward, hopefully getting some sleep.  When I land in Amman, Jordan, my body will expect the time to be 9:30am the next morning after the 12-hour flight.  But the local time will be 5:30pm that afternoon!  After a layover in Amman, I will fly another Royal Jordanian flight to Cairo in about 90 minutes, arriving at 8:15pm local time.  From taking off in Lexington to landing in Cairo, the total travel time will take 18 hours and 40 minutes, in theory.

The side photo is from 2008, shortly before flying from Beijing to San Francisco.  More photos from my travels this time around will be in later posts!  (Hopefully.  I’m still trying to figure out formatting issues.)