Wednesday, November 16, 2005

egypt....the place to love and hate at the same time






(pictures added 11/23 - the first is is me in comparison to the blocks that make up the pyramids...i am the same height as some and shorter than others....the second picture is one of the three pyramids...these were utterly amazing in size and construction...mind blowing and something to see with your own eyes...the third shot is of the sphinx and the largest of the three pyramids at giza...we saw a light and sound show with these as backdrops one night and that was just incredible...the fourth shot is chad and i in the chief justice's tomb...he has his hands in the manner of a pharoh and i have mine in the manner of a queen...or so the guard told us...just before he took us for money for giving us a tour of the tomb and for letting us take photos...you gotta love it...ahhhh egyptians...the last shot is of the royal barge found intact next to the great pyramids...this was used to carry the pharoh's mummy and sarcophagus up the nile to its final resting spot....hope you enjoy the shots and the write-up.....)

so here i am now in tunisia at my friends rick and thalia's....and they have high speed internet at home...so hopefully i will be catching up with those of you who have sent me e-mails and i am really far behind in answering...but i'll tell you more about tunisia after i have been here awhile.....

egypt...some people have asked if it is worth going there....and the answer is YES....just to see the pyramids and the sphinx and the ancient temples and heiroglyphs in person is amazing....BUT, you should be ready to realize that you are equivalent to dollars signs only and women are second class citizens...if you come with that attitude...you will do just fine...but the big thing to keep in mind in egypt is...everyone before you was hassled and everyone after you will be hassled...you are not the only one....as my friend chad and i traveled around egypt, the main topic of conversation by tourists was about the hassle they got from egyptians...men, that is...women...well that's a different story.....but i figure you'll understand more after i have finished with my entry....

my intro to egypt...as it is for most people...was cairo...and my first impression from the airplane was that the place is BROWN...from the buildings to the trees to the streets to the cars....everything is dirty and brown....it has a lot to do with being on the edge of a desert of course....but everything is brown....including the sky....i have never seen such a gross inversion layer due to the pollution....just incredible....cairo is HUGE...someone told me 18 million...and i am not shocked at that number...it seems to be more polluted and more crazy than bangkok...which kind of suprised me....but if you spend only a few days in cairo you start to have sinus problems and breathing problems due to the pollutioin...plus, everywhere you go people smoke....in restaurants, in cafes, in taxis, in the metro stations, on trains....everywhere....that really blew my mind...
but cairo is very vibrant and once you see the nile, you know why it is you came here....the nile is LARGE....and is the lifeblood of egypt...and it runs right through the city.....the pyramids also make cairo worth seeing...although aspects of them made me quite sad....

first of all you have to deal with the hassle the moment your taxi comes in view of pyramids...everyone is jumping on the car and slowing it down to talk to you and tell you about camel rides and horse rides and that the pyramids are closed, but they can get you a deal...its crazy....then you get up to the ticket booth and have to fight to get your tickets...in egypt, lines are a crazy concept....you can see this anywhere you need a ticket and when driving...more on the driving in a moment....but the pyramids are larger than life and incredible and mind blowing...but if you want to go inside that is more money and if you want to see the barge they took the pharohs up the nile on that's more money...and of course there are the men hassling you wherever you go...they want to show you a particularly beautiful spot to take a picture at...or they want to give you a ceraic scarab for free...well...for free for about two minutes...then they ask you for money...and there are guys hawking camel rides and horse rides....it enough to drive you crazy!!!!! but this is all dealable...the aspect about the pyramids that depressed me the most was how much garbage is there....sooooooooooo much....every hole that is being excavated or vacated...every side of the pyramids and the tombs...in the small cracks everywhere...there is garbage...so depressing in my opinion....BUT. its still the pyramids and the sphinx you are seeing....and if you keep that in mind...you can deal....the one other bummer about here personally was that i lost my camera...it either fell out of my pocket or was stolen...so i lost a bunch of thailand photos i hadn't had time to download...total bummer

as for other aspects of cairo...well..i would consider the time of year you go...and don't go during the month of ramadan...people get cranky due to fasting everyday in the afternoon...plus, its hard to find food and forget even trying to find a beer or liquor...luckily we caught the end of this holiday...but then we had to deal with eid...the festival at the end of ramadan that folks celebrate with their families....crazy time that was....cairo is insane in the way of driving....red lights, stop signs, lanes in the road, cross walks, using lights while driving at night...they all do NOT exist....if you need to cross the street, it is a death race....and if you remember that atari game frogger...you are the frog.....its evil...i was shocked when the taxis did not use lights to drive at night...and that the horn is used to tell other drivers you are there...all the time...i don't miss the horns....BUT...cairo also has sheesha..as does the rest of egypt...this is flavored tobacco you smoke through a water pipe....yummy...we tried many flavors throughout the two weeks and i have to say i really liked apple, cantaloupe, coconut and lemon...we did see an "ass" flavored tobacco...but no one in the group would touch it :) the mosques in cairo are beautiful...although call to prayer happens five times a day and that gets tiresome...especailly since the first of the day is at sunrise around 4:30 AM....there are some amazing buildings in cairo...architecture wise...and the khan al khalili..in islamic cairo is a bunch of fun for a crazy market...but remember...if you are a tourist, you equal money and they will hassle you to stop and buy at every store...but they have a sense of humor about it there...the vendors are not so desparate as many people go there...its a bunch of fun :) so cairo does have some great aspects...you just have to be ready for the ones that aren't so great...

i met some great people through my friend tyson who lives in cairo and am extremely grateful he was there with his arabic and my friend chad came and joined me...as traveling around egypt by myself would have been horrible....doable, but horrible....as i mentioned above, women are second class citizens...and foreign women are all considered "easy"...especially american women....if you are american, you must be a whore...thank you hollywood....i got very tired of men never asking for my opinion or even listening when i was talking...egyptian men that is...but yet, as soon as they figured out i was single they would ask for my hand in marriage...whatever....one man even had the nerve to ask if i was a virgin...as this is important to egyptian men...yeah right buddy...go away....i was groped a few times and hated that i was stared at no matter where i went...i was respectful...i did not wear shorts, except at the beach...so this was really frustrating to me...i respected their culture...they did not respect me...i also found it interesting that the first two cars of the subway are for women only....i did use these a few times during rush hour...as the men's cars would have been a bad idea...but when i got into the women's cars, all conversation would cease...and i would get the stare...lovin that...again, thanks hollywood....it seemed as if being a foreign woman there was never acceptable to egyptians as a whole...oh well...you win some, you lose some....

i have to run now....as it is late and we are headed south to the desert tomorrow to go camping at an ungodly hour....i will write more when i get back into town and will figure out the picture thing as i have time to do so :) so check back in a week or so and hopefully more will be here....i haven't even covered half of what we did in egypt....hope all is well and happy early thanksgiving to those that celebrate :) talk soon....

2 comments:

Twitch said...

WHORE! How dare you wear shorts on the beach... Do they have UPS in egypt? hm? "what can brown do for you?" NOTHING because youre an american WHORE! Say hello to rick and thalia for me. Hope you have better luck with the next locals you meet.
Can't wait to see you....
G

Mel Bowman said...

what a crazy experience! i was wondering what it would be like for you to visit egypt. i'm not sure i could handle being treated that way. i give chad's family a hard enough time because they dont let women up in the hunting cabin for the first weekend of deer hunting! i really have no desire to go up there anyway, but it's just the principle of it! at least chad doesnt agree with them! i still give him a hard time, just because ;-). cant wait to hear more!