Special to ABC News: Reporter's Notebook by DARIUS RUBIN
This summer, my mom was planning a trip to Egypt to explore the history of the Bible. She wanted me to come with her, but I wasn't really excited at first. I wanted to spend the summer hanging out with my friends and didn't feel like taking a 30-hour trip to the middle of nowhere. But my spirits were raised when I realized I got to have my own Flip camera and to be one of the "assistant" film crew everywhere we went - that was pretty cool. And when we finally did get to Egypt, I knew going was definitely the right decision. It was an amazing trip.
One day, we went on a hot air balloon ride over Egypt to see for ourselves how important water is to the people there. I wasn't kidding about the middle of nowhere - where there is no water, there is only desert.
We thought the ride would be pretty smooth, but before we took off, we learned what to do when you're about to crash. You're supposed to sit down, cover your head and hold onto the railings, which still didn't feel very safe. But we weren't nervous after we took off because the view of Egypt was amazing. I even got in some target practice from the air when I tried to spit into a river from the balloon (mom was not happy with my efforts).
The next day, we took an overnight train ride from Luxor to Cairo. My mom made me think the train would be like the Hogwarts Express from Harry Potter with huge cabins and kitchens in your compartment, but it was quite the opposite if I say so myself. We had tiny rooms with bunk beds.
Before we set off we saw some Egyptian boys out the window who made us smile, but then we saw a man whacking the boys with a stick - it was awful. We didn't know why the man was doing it. Maybe it was because he felt like he was the boss of them. My mom said it was just like Pharaoh mistreating the Israelites in the Bible before Moses led the Israelites to freedom.
My friend Hossein was also along I got some pretty cool footage when we were driving through the desert on the way to Mount Sinai. It's a Bedouin desert and my mom explained that the Sinai was a bit dangerous now because of the political changes happening in Egypt, and some of the Bedouins were kidnapping, or stopping and robbing, westerners. So our driver put on a head scarf to camouflage himself as a Bedouin too. That's when we noticed he also had a gun. My mom was pretty shocked but I was never scared. The driver seemed like a pretty capable guy, and I thought he could protect us. I didn't want to be kidnapped or anything, but the whole experience was kind of exciting because it felt like being in a movie.
Overall, exploring Egypt was really fantastic. We got to see some of the most ancient sites in the world, like the pyramids. And in the fall when school started again, I was very well prepared for my ancient history course.
And I definitely had the best "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" essay of anyone in my class.
Tune in to Christiane Amanpour's two-part ABC News special, " Back to the Beginning," which explores the history of the Bible from Genesis to Jesus. Part one airs on Friday, Dec. 21 and part two on Friday, Dec. 28, both starting at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.