It’s been a while since my last blog post but while browsing through Google Keep, my new obsession as I LOVE lists, I came across a letter I had written to my dear friend, Aletha.
It is a recount of my trip to Egypt and was written on my 2-3 hour flight from Istanbul to Paris using my phone. I never sent it. Now two months later, I’m reading this letter, looking back at the photos and am feeling the vibes of the country again so here goes.
Aletha, if you’re reading, this one’s for you! Wink*
I am currently on the plane from Istanbul to Paris. It has been an extremely long flight that started at 3am this morning and not a particularly comfortable one at that.
A female official in Turkey was trying to make my life difficult and did such a good job of it that I was literally fuming. The problem? She couldn’t find my stamp of entry and was looking at my previous visas.
So I tried to show her and she asked me to step aside! A whole queue of people couldn’t advance as we were blocking the progression of the line and was being watched like a theatre piece because of this foolish woman.
Normally, I’d be a lot more patient but I haven’t slept in 36 hours and I have a huge spot above my right eyebrow.
Ahhhhh…all complaints aside, Egypt has been a wonderful experience. You’ve probably seen from some of my posts on Facebook and Instagram how much I’ve enjoyed my stay. As a child, I was an avid reader of Egyptian history books and watched almost every Mummy movie there was. As you can imagine, for me to see real life hieroglyphs etched into almost every surface available on every tomb and temple we visited was a dream come true!
We swam in the Red Sea and saw an aquarium of fish, then took a boat to cross the Nile River the following day. All these important landmarks we’ve heard and read about, I got to see with my own eyes. They are all the more impressive when bathed in the golden sunlight so unique to Egypt!
However, the country is still fresh out of its civil war/ second revolution but is in full development. The people praise the current president, calling him a “visionary” and it is true! He has built the roads and the housing he promised them but as all this is still work in process, many parts of Egypt look “war-ridden”.
The villages and cities have a worn down, dilapidated look about them and where we were in the south, people are still very religious and traditional.
To illustrate what I mean, there was a shisha tent on the beach at the Movenpick resort in Hurghada and one of the men employed by the Jamaican Rastafarian looking, Bob Marley loving, hash smoking Egyptian owner called Mustafa told us an otherworldly story about how his first wife was his own cousin and how she spread rumours about how he was unable to produce offspring. He was so heartbroken by what the village was whispering about him that he made his way to the Arabian gulf to work for ten years where he met his second wife. This wife gave him a son who’s now eight months old and of course, he went back to the village to celebrate and “take his revenge”. What an incredible story huh?! Never did I even stop to think for two seconds that there are still people who lead such lives and marry into their own family.
Anyway, continuing on the topic of conservatism in the country, women still wear burkas like uniforms and the only time I’ve ever even seen women around and about were in schools so at least they have the right to an education but I have rarely seen women in the workplace. When we went to Luxor, it took me a couple hours to figure out why something seemed…off, just not quite right…and then it hit me: there were literally no women. Not in the museums, the souvenir shops, the restaurants etc. And it makes me wonder…do they feel suppressed or is it the whole “what one doesn’t know can’t hurt them” situation? What do you think?
So all this just to bring us to my one real disappointment on this trip: that there is such a disconnect between ancient Egypt (which was such a progressive civilization during its time) and the Egypt of today, almost completely destroyed by extremist Muslims.
Emphasis on ‘extremist’. I am not at all against any religion, race, colour or what have you but the extremists of each group do not make me feel very comfortable.
This includes vegans who resort to converting others by spreading the “good word”, or rather by sharing gory videos of animal abuse. I sympathise but this isn’t the proper way to go about things.
One thing has to be said though and that is one doesn’t need much to be happy. The Egyptians embody this humble spirit better than most people I’ve met. It is truly eye-opening when you see those with much less, much happier and more grateful than you are. They have such a hunger and a thirst to succeed so they work very hard but their smiles never falter. I’m sure we all know this but it is easy to forget when you live in such a strong consumerist society and when you have social media and the stress of a fast-paced, city life.
Strangely, I never signed off but then again, in my own bizarre fashion, I never sent this letter either.
But there you have it!
Aletha, I was thinking of you and didn’t forget about my pen pal but as usual, life sweeps us away.