11 December 2010

The Loooong Trip Home

We only missed our 7am departure goal by 45 minutes.

I'd say that's pretty good considering 8 of us were trying to get on the road, and four of us were three and under!

Hellooooooo open road!!

H settled in for a long trip, but we had decided to make a quick (ha!) side-trip to an abandoned city on the other side of the Nile on our way home. We didn't have long to drive to get there.

Marker 375 was our cue to begin looking for our turn.

The paved road didn't last too long. This was the end of the road. Literally.

Forge onward!

You've seen lots of pictures like this by this time. Hope you're okay with that.


More remote roads led us to the ferry!

This 'car-boat' as my boy called it, carried our vehicle and all eight of us over the river and to the woods. Can you call it woods if it's full of palm trees?

No matter.

Um, I admit I got a bit nervous. The operator said that the boat had been operating since 1988.


I didn't know if that was supposed to reassure me or make me really nervous.

This sweet old lady wasn't nervous... and she loved our babies!

The boat ride was about 15 minutes and chilly!!

Brrrrrr. 70 degrees and a breeze.

In the distance you can see the old town we were headed for.

We approached the bank, backed up the narrow road...

...and we began to make our way!

Of course there were no roads leading to the ruins so we just drove around and around and asked for some help.

The locals in this area paint their doors. Isn't it beautiful!

We found it!

They call this ancient city a 'medieval boomtown.' There used to be more than a dozen churches at this site, but now the only remaining building is this large Throne Hall, built over 1000 years ago!

There were lots of other various ruins in the area...

...great for little boys to explore!

Running on ahead,

and playing in the sand!

Our two hands made their marks in the Sahara! (for at least five minutes or so)

This guy showed up and 'babysat' us two women and the kids while the men had been taken off by the local authorities to register us and pay our fees.

Apparently this was normal protocol.

But I wish he would have put the stick down.

C'mon guy. Do we look dangerous?

It took much longer than we hoped and we spent awhile watching for their return.

They made it back with some funny stories and we continued our exploration.

Or maybe H continued his exploration and we continued taking pictures of him!

Great spot for a cup of coffee, wouldn't you say?

We headed back through more palms and past more colorful gates.

Once again, we didn't really know the way. After driving in a few circles and having a few moments where we all wondered if we were really gonna make up another sandy incline...

We made it back to the ferry!

By now, a couple hours had passed since we were last on the boat and the weather was PERFECT!!

We had a picnic lunch under a tree back on the west side of the Nile and hit the road again by 1pm.

I love me a picnic and we had so many on this trip!

Once back on the road it wasn't long until...

Dun dun dun.

A certain vehicle's engine died.

It just died.

At full speed.

On the road.

In the middle of the desert.

Oh no.

Not much around besides that one lone tree.

What to do?

Our friends drove off in search of the closest town and a mechanic when two mechanics just happened to be driving by and noticed we were having a spot of trouble.

They were diesel mechanics, no less.

There is a God.


They really knew what they were doing and they tried and tried and tried and couldn't get it to start.

While they worked I pacified my boy in the backseat with a bottle of Pepsi. It's what any good mother would do.

The men even tried the classic push-start.

They tried for quite a distance to no avail.

So we sent the very helpful but not successful mechanics on their way and waited for our friends to return to begin plan B.

In the meantime...

..remember this tree in the distance? Well, I thought it'd be really nice to pull out the blanket and sit under the tree with my boys while we waited for reinforcements. But I didn't want to be that far from the car. But the car isn't working.

So after Mikey realized I wasn't kidding about my suggestion... he finally helped me push our vehicle to the tree!


This is me pushing.

And this is Mikey talking on the phone pretending to push...

While I am still pushing!


But we made it to the tree! Beautiful shade tree! Yes!

And maybe I burned 28.5 calories in the process.

Double yes!

Unfortunately, at the very moment we arrived at the tree our friends arrived back with the materials for plan B!

No sitting under the tree for me.

Oh well.

I guess you could say that we pushed our large vehicle a few hundred meters through the Sahara Desert for nothing.

But I don't like to say it like that.

Commence plan B! Luckily, Christian has had extensive experience tying two vehicles together.

Thank GOODness!

Here goes nothin'!

He towed us 30 kilometers to the town he had scoped out.

It was the most peaceful 30 minutes of the entire trip. No rumbling engine. No a/c blowing. Just us getting pulled slowly down the road with our windows down.

I could practically have an entire conversation with the passing donkey cart drivers we were going so slow and it was so quiet.


We made it to the town without crashing into the back of our friend's (very nice) vehicle.

This was a great relief.

We pulled up to the mechanic area,

where dollar(?) signs flashed in the eyes of about a dozen guys who then swarmed the engine.

I didn't think our chances were that good of actually getting it fixed during a short wait. I thought for sure I'd be cramming into the vehicle with the other family and my two children for the rest of the drive back to the city and leaving my husband stranded in this (not so friendly) town with a busted car, spare-part-less, for the night.

N was worried too. So she did what any worried baby would do.

She ate sand.

And the kids sat on benches with strange men, naturally.

And we all watched the goat eat it's way around the vehicle while the mechanics were off searching for the missing part.

Which they found.

Miracle of miracles.

Remember where we are?

Yeah. There are not so many spare part factories around here.

And I didn't see a single Auto-Zone either.

The bigger miracle? The spare part fixed the problem and the car started.

Wow. I hate to admit how shocked I was that it actually worked.

But I was very shocked.

And relieved, too. I like to have my Mikey with me and not stranded in this (not so friendly) town with a busted car, spare-part-less, for the night.

Here Mikey is discussing the price.

It is never a good idea to send Mikey to discuss the price alone.

I love you honey, but you have way too much compassion on these guys.


So we were back on the road around 5pm! Seeing more beautiful doors and only about 45 hours behind schedule.

Okay, maybe it was more like 5 hours behind schedule... but we were moving again!

We saw a lot more of the same. Ladies on donkeys.

Man on camel.

Gas pumps old enough to qualify as antiques.

Small road side markets.

And a cute girlie playing peek-a-boo in the back seat.

Where's baby?


(Side note: I am SO glad that this sweet N goes with me wherever I go!)

We had a roadside stop at twilight.

For diaper changing,

rock climbing,

and of course...

picture taking!

And my little connoisseur of sand did her usual.

*testing the sand on the palette*


Guess that sand isn't as tasty as some other sand.

By now the sun is going down.

And I'm glad it'll soon be too dark to see how dirty my feet are.

Pretty filthy. I know.

What does the Bible say about "the feet of those..."?

Oh. Nevermind.

It must not be true.

He he.

As this trip was drawing to a close and we were were pulling into the city I was reflecting on my life and how I never thought I'd be where I am today.




I am amazed at the adventures we've had. My hearts bursts with gratefulness that the Lord has blessed us in these unexpected ways. I think of all we've done and yet still have so much life ahead of us. I think "What could possibly be next?" And I don't have an answer. But I'm so glad that I know The One who has.

Anyway, I decided that if I am never able to take another adventure again as long as I live on this earth... then that should be just fine. It's not like I'd like to stop having adventures.. Oh no no no! I mean... there are of course, hundreds of things I can think of that I'd like to do. It's just that I've already had more than my fair share of adventures, haven't I?... I am SO thankful. I don't deserve all the privileges in my life. I really don't. God has really surprised me. And maybe I have surprised myself, too.

All glory and honor and PRAISE to Him who holds the whole world in His hand (yet rides in the backseat between the kids on long road trips with us at the same time).

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