We all have been fascinated with the idea of discovering Egypt. Most people shook their heads in disagreement when I said I was traveling to Egypt. Traveling there raises questions in everyone’s head- Is it a safe place? How would you travel alone? Is there any unrest? They worried about my safety. As a very environmentally-conscious person, most people “in the know” wondered why I would want to travel to a place that had been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The answer, for me anyway, was simple. Egypt’s history which is one of the most impressive and of course the geography of the place -The ancient rivers, the deserts, lagoons, the beautiful valleys, and the elegantly designed cities were all fodder for my hungry lens.
Sure, Egypt for most of us is synonymous with the Pyramids, but for me the present and future of the Country are just as intriguing. Egypt for me was not about the place at all, it was about the people who created these unforgettable experiences for me.
Egypt is a land of dream chasers, mirages, coffee- shop comrades and nightmare survivors. My first week in Egypt was just about exploring the old streets of Cairo. In fact looking at the now peaceful Tahrir Square, the spray painted walls of nearby Mahmoud street are the only proof that revolution ever came here.
It’s reassuring to have some solidity when the ground is shifting. Egypt’s political uprisings and the violence hurt the economy and kept the tourist away. Now the streets are calm once more, and everything seems much more affordable.
Sometimes while walking the streets I might be frowned at for taking photos, but in my experience if you smile back and try to hold a conversation, you would hear stories of the living which are as fascinating as the stories of the dead pharaohs, though the conversations will always wobble between politically correct and incorrect.
Sometimes with these conversations, comes a point when you become someone’s confidante and discover the local haunts. One of my best journeys was due to the same reason, a trip to Luxor and Aswan. I enjoyed my time in the one of the Nubian Villages ‘being local’ in their courtyards where the youngsters gossip and take selfies. With Walls inscribed with Myths and stories, the temples of Luxor and Aswan will leave you speechless and definitely take you back in time.
The duality does not confuse Egypt. It sits comfortably within every local. It is evident in the fact that, no matter how much the government incentivizes them, they loath speaking English and they would rather snack on Falafel or kushari over KFC any day.
This country has something for everyone, and its waiting for a spark to set off the old train of imagination. It can happen on a felucca ride on the nile or right under the broken nose of the sphinx.
So, what’s Egypt like? They’ll ask me. Well its surprising, in more ways than one. I’ll remember the monuments and markets but, most of all, the people. For me the Egypt’s story seems as much about its present and future as its past.
Egypt lived up to its promise as every city here takes up that challenge to wow us in that little time we spend there and when you go home you would find yourself missing the Chaos.