At 7:30 my driver picks me up in front of our apartment and we are off on a 40 minute drive to the British Columbia Canadian International School (BCCIS) in El Sherouk City which is towards the Red Sea. Driving is insane by our standards. I have yet to see a traffic light, speed limit signs, lines on the road, etc. The drivers go wherever there is an opening between other cars and trucks and use their horns or hand signals to communicate with other drivers. Often times our car is within inches of others and yet there are surprisingly few accidents. Oh, did I mention the donkey carts on the highways or the pedestrians crossing the busy highways?
BCCIS is a B.C. Offshore School, which means that B.C. certified teachers teach our B.C. curriculum and students receive a ‘Dogwood’ graduation certificate at the end of grade 12. Our school has an early childhood education (ECE) department so we have a huge age range of students in two buildings. BCCIS had its inception 11 years ago when the Mostafa family opened the school after gaining approval from the B.C. Ministry of Education. All of the family members are directly involved in the school one way or another and have a ‘heart’ for providing a great workplace for teachers and a quality education for the students. The building and grounds look quite different from typical B.C. schools (especially the palm trees) but most functioning aspects are similar. Many of the support staff members speak Arabic with very little English but we find ways to communicate, sometimes with translator and sometimes with hand gestures or other props. I can’t wait for school to next Tuesday so that I can meet Egyptian students.
Jenn and Cynthia left yesterday for Aswan where they will stay on a boat on the Nile for a few days and visit the Valley of the Kings and other places that we will describe later. It was really rough for me as I ‘had’ to go to the Sakkara Country Club for the day and lounge around the swimming pool. (This is one of the many activities that BCCIS does to make our B.C. teachers feel comfortable in Egypt). Unable to sit still for the entire day a few of us chose to rent quads and go for a tour out onto the desert to view some of the lesser known but hugely significant pyramids at Saqqara.
Saqqara has numerous pyramids that look quite different from those found at Giza. They were the burial grounds or the necropolis for the ancient capital of Memphis. The most famous of the Saqqara pyramids is the Pharaoh Djoser’s Step Pyramid that was built in 2611 B.C. and is the oldest complete stone building in history. Over the course of 3,00 years other pharaohs added their pyramids and burial chambers to the area. As I sat upon my quad in the Sahara Desert and gazed at these structures I had to pinch myself to see if this experience was real!