As I travelled through Egypt I met many people, all friendly and wanting to encourage others to come visit.
People here are struggling to make ends meet. They are more than willing to help you.
I was invited to dine at least four times in people’s homes. I was also invited to stay at their homes “next time.” I was invited to going sailing on the Nile River. (“My brother and I own a boat…”)
The food is wonderful. Hummus and baba ganoush that I had is some of the best I have ever tasted, smooth and creamy. Then there were figs, dates, and persimmons. Fabulous.
Our tour was often accompanied by security. Sometimes, it was a man who sat in the front of the bus in a suit. Other times, it was a military escort in jeeps front and back. At Amarna, which was the capital of the pharaoh Akenaten, famed for creating a single god for the people to worship. It didn’t work out too well. soon after he died they moved the capital back to Thebes and went back to their pantheon of gods. But at Amarna we were escorted by military that spread out to the four corners of any area we were inspecting. when we went to the rock cut tombs and stela at Amarna I noticed there was a soldier on the top of the cliff as well. it was never clear to me if this was necessary or if it was more of a way to keep people employed. One of the security men who rode on the bus with us became friendly with me. I don’t know how it came about but he opened the flap of his suit to reveal a shoulder hung semi-automatic weapon. I asked if he ever used it. “Oh yes,” was the answer. However, I’m not sure if there might have been a misunderstanding due to the language difference.
Whenever we were out and about at remote sites, almost all the men were armed. Most with automatic weapons, but some of the older men had military style rifles.
None of them wanted to be photographed.
The weather was bright and sunny during the day and cool at night. I wouldn’t characterize the daytime temperature as hot so much as the sun was bright, which made you sweat. Yes, it was hot, but not a humid sweltering hot, but rather a dry hot. There were times at night that I was glad I had brought my puffy winter jacket along. I forgot that in a desert environment when the sun goes down it gets cold.
Litter, Dust, Women, Meals and Homes:
Outside everything gets covered in dust, things look grimy. That’s the cost of living in an area with a lots of desert. Our hotel in Cairo had a lovey lawn. It was exotic looking. Every morning a team of groundskeepers watered the grass and trimmed the shrubbery, and let the flamingoes out of their nighttime pen. If you didn’t constantly water and wipe down floors and walls they quickly became covered in dust and then sand.
I was invited into a hoe that had a dirt yard. You took your shoes off at the entrance. the floors were dirty by American standards, but that is the norm. I visited several friends in their apartments. The hallways are grimy, but once you walk through the door the homes are clean and inviting.
Women by and large stay home. Often times they are sitting on sofas in the main living area watching TV. I was taken into a side room where we ate. The we being me and my male guide. After we ate the women and children ate in the main room.
Egyptian TV has a channel that plays black and white shows from the 1950s. One show was an early sci-fi show with an evil man at a control screen and the heroes flying in a rocket that was suspended by a string. Other times it was a performance at a nightclub or a daytime TV drama.
There was lots of trash in the streets and canals. I saw a few dumpsters, but they were filled to overflowig. I did see a few garbage trucks, but I also saw a man with a donkey cart dumping litter from plastic crates onto the side of the road just out of town. Sometimes I saw trash burning or I saw it mixed with loads of dirt on the outskirts of a town.
If you travel in most of the world this is what you will see.
Hi Ho Silver:
The people selling trinkets around the Giza pyramids and everywhere else in Egypt for that matter have a standard introductory line:
“Where you from? Oh, America! Number one.”
But the folks at Giza throw in “Hi Ho Silver!”
How many people in America even know what that is?
Egypt is a magical place. Like many places it is filled with contradictions and friendly people.