Bok Towers was always one of those places that I meant to visit one day. Yet, every time I found myself traveling on I-4, I always came up with an excuse as to why I should skip this unusual, yet relatively local, destination.
One day, I finally ran out of excuses. The promise of botanical gardens, historical grounds and a live carrion concert seemed like the perfect date.
“Small, medium or large?”, the young waiter asked us from behind his mask. El Tahrir, an Egyptian chain restaurant, serves only one item: koshary, a traditional Egyptian dish that is a popular street food and that also happens to be vegan.
Within a short time, a medium bowl appeared with a bed of noodles, lentils, crispy onions, rice and chickpeas served with a bowl of tomato sauce and packets of garlic sauce and chili sauce. You are meant to use these to adjust to your own taste. I poured the entire bowl of tomato sauce on my koshary and squeezed some of the chili sauce from its packet.
I had posed the question “How do you enjoy your koshary?” to the Vegetarian/Vegan Egypt Facebook group and got back over 70 varied responses. The majority seemed to use a combination of garlic and chili sauce. A few liked theirs with more tomato sauce. I left El Tahrir wondering how I would prepare mine the next time I tried this delicious Egyptian vegan dish. I also knew that next time I would order a small as the carb and protein packed meal filled me up quickly.
“Don’t flush”, Chrissy told me, “I have to go too”. I laughed from my squatting position over the sandy hole I had just dug with my hands. I quickly took stock as to how I got to this point – peeing while watching the sun rise over the White Desert in western Egypt.
The previous morning we walked out of the Steigenberger Hotel to find Mo standing there with a suitcase on rollers. We hadn’t seen him since our Giza excursion and so we spent some time catching him up on our time in Luxor while we waited for Sayed, our driver. I had loved learning about the various ancient eras of the Egyptians: marveled at the architecture; reveled in the linguistic scripts and enjoyed the stories of each pharaoh we came across. But, I was looking forward to this excursion most of all as it had the biggest potential of being the highlight of the trip for me.
“We’re first?” My heart jumped and the next thing I knew I was falling out of a plane into what everyone on the ground saw as a partly cloudy day.
Skydiving had been on my bucket list for quite awhile and was frankly one of the scariest activities on my ever-growing list. But, I felt it was time. My wife Mindy had decided to end our 16 year relationship a few weeks prior and so I began the process of rediscovering myself as I healed. I also liked the symbolism of diving into the next chapter of my life. And so, I pushed my fear aside and signed up for a jump with my friend Erick.
I had just survived Covid and 2021 was not even a week old. The thought of spending my 48th birthday at an animal sanctuary appealed to me even more than usual. My internet search landed me at Peacefield in Newberry, Florida, a place I hadn’t even heard of but was only a few hours drive away.
It was just after midnight and so officially Valentine’s Day. Chrissy gave me a card she had thoughtfully written and brought with her to Cancun. Inside were wonderful words of love stating how happy she was to have met me. What a wonderful way to begin a holiday that I hadn’t celebrated in over a decade and a half.