Cairo, Egypt and a Writer’s View
My Egyptian Safari
The stars that could be seen were uncountable, so numerous and bright that they more than made up for the lack of a moon as our jeep bounced through and around and over sand dunes of various sizes. Our driver claimed he could see better without headlights. As the mushroom-shaped chalk monuments the White Desert is famous for became obvious in the distance, I gave up my fear of accidental cliff diving and surrendered to the thrill of whipping wind.
It was adventures like this that first drew me to Egypt: opportunities to live in the city but to dwell in the desert sands, the contrasts of life in Egypt stirred my suburban-raised heart. But as my first contracted year of teaching came to an end, I sensed that there was more to discover. As each progressive year brought me to the decision to continue, the relationships I built became a great part of my choice. As I became an active member of the communities I'd joined, I learned more about the Egyptian character and its incomparable energy.
My Life in Egypt
And so I fell in love. Somehow the whirl and swirl of it all came to settle in my soul. Twelve years since my arrival in this incredible place, I'm still in awe of its people, its places and its potential. Life in Egypt is not easy in the best of times. Difficulties abound in accomplishing even the most basic of tasks — that doesn't make me love it any less. It simply requires an added layer of persistence and patience. It's never been dull. It's regularly chaotic. It's always frenetic. However, since the January 25th movement turned into a revolution being in Egypt has also been confusing. And unstable. And in many instances, unsafe.
Then Came the Egyptian Revolution
The Egyptian "revolution" is an ongoing process. News coverage tends to cut and paste stories into simplistic categories with neat beginnings and endings. The travel industry, on which so much of the struggling Egyptian economy is based, is even more motivated to present situations in clear-cut ways that comfort potential visitors. So much of what is being written now about touring Egypt is focused on the benefits of short lines and discounted rates. And while better deals and quick entries to the sites are big draws right now, they are certainly not the only factors to consider. Safety concerns still exist. Violent incidents still take place. Tourists are still being targeted.
And Why There is Always Adventure in Egypt
Egypt has never been a destination for the faint-of-heart. Its history, its geography, its culture have always required an adventurous spirit and a higher level of attentiveness than most other countries a traveler could choose. These days, the need for awareness and caution is greater than usual. Egypt is still a realistic and wonderful opportunity for a traveler to consider but to do so without taking into account all of the concerns isn't practical. Do your research. Connect with locals as you are making your plans. Keep your eyes on multiple media sources. Learn the lay of the land before arriving. Go with eyes and ears wide open.
Egypt has always been and will always be an incredible country. Current events should not prevent visitors from considering it as a travel destination, but nor should these events be ignored as a factor. I welcome you to visit my adopted home. Come as a knowledgeable and aware visitor. I challenge you to not fall in love with it.