>In the Footsteps of Cleopatra

6 Jan

>So I went to Egypt this last August for a week. It certainly was an interesting holiday – the kind that makes you rethink what you know. Although it only lasted a meagre 8 days, it felt like an eternity. I’ve learned to appreciate the strange Muslim chanting to announce prayer and the funny guttural language that surrounded me. It was my first visit to Africa and it definitely left an impression. I thought it interesting to stand face-to-sand with the pyramids and crawl down the stairs into the empty treasure chamber. The crowds, the smells, the emptiness. It’s nothing like in the movies and that’s how it should be.

Hot is another word that comes to mind when describing Egypt in August. 46 degrees hot one unfortunate afternoon. Also, camels, not a very comfortable means of transportation. Those creatures are in desperate need of a seatbelt up there to stop you from gliding down again. We travelled in a luxurious cruise ship complete with paddling pool (advertised as a small swimming pool) and hunky Egyptian crew in hormone overdrive.

While there, we engaged in many excursions to the ancient temples built by the Pharaohs of Egypt. Luckily, we did not encounter any mummies (except in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo). The holiday had many highlights and few low points, most of which were self-inflicted (we arrived a tad late at the airport and had to have our luggage sent after us on a later plane which forced us to borrow someone else’s clothes for several days) so all in all, the experience was very satisfying.

The only real nuisance on the trip were the pesky salesmen one met with all over the place – mostly at the tourist hot spots, admittedly. We found ourself cornered, chased and tempted with phrases such as: “Beautiful girl! Everything is free here!” Many seemed to think that complimenting our appearance would open up our wallets but they were out of luck with our group. We rarely even acknowledged their request with a response and simply soldiered on. Ignoring them seemed the best solution. The locals themselves were all friendliness. The children, from a young age, happily greet the tourists with a bubbly “Hello!” and an old man helped us cross the street in a busy area.

We discussed religion, marriage and relationships with the crew of the boat (not with the hormone-driven ones mentioned before) and learned to put aside our differences and become friends. In a sense, this holiday taught me that no matter where we come from, what we believe in and how we dress, we’re all the same in essentials. I now look at the Muslims in my country through new eyes – more critically than before because my expectations are raised due to the decent Egyptians I met and befriended. Maybe we all need to travel to different continents once in a while – to get out of our comfort zone and expand our horizons. Plus, it’s a nice excuse to dabble in exotic fashion, try to learn a new language (they will undoubtedly teach you the bad words first as the rules of language acquisition dictates) and meet new friends in unexpected places.

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