At the end of every ‘Indiana Jones’s’ movie, Jones and his team ride off into the sunset. If chance has ever taken you on an adventure, you would know how Jones’s feels, speeding home towards the sunlight. You are a changed person, your view of the world is a bit less skewed from experiencing just one culture by being thrown into the strange and beautiful occurrences that surprise each sense, in Egypt.
The first step out of Cairo airport, you see a mass of people in all manner of dress crowding to enter tents of elephant size made of cloth with elegant designs. While moving along with these pilgrims, you may encounter a glare from the women, or a wolfish grin from the men. Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country.
Out of respect for the people and to help the reputation of our culture, wearing conservative clothing is highly recommended. I gazed down a tiny corridor and saw the smiles of faces coming out, and the fear of those around me going in. In front of me was a little girl and her mother, behind me my mom.
We all bent over, and single file, hunched through a pitch black tunnel. Occasionally there were lights to lead the way. When the girl in front of me saw the people coming down holding hands, she looked at me and we held each others, and soon everyone else in front and in back of us did the same.
This is what I remember of going inside the pyramids, how people of countries innumerable of all ages held hands and were together in awe. While walking around inside palaces, tombs, and museums, hire a tour guide to explain the hieroglyphics. At first, one may think that the ancient Egyptians had the most peculiar way of thinking.
After hearing a few tales, I realized that their concerns were the same as ours. I then walked among the heiroglyphs imagining what occurred to inspire those two-dimensional figures with different perception. An Egyptian marketplace has everything that is to be expected of such a place.
Some cars had no engine, and were pulled along by a horse. Herbs were in great cone shaped stacks. There was livestock being sold, as well as giraffes, camels, lions and monkeys.
Take these images, and put them in an alleyway crowded with merchants selling these goods, yelling and charming you and Egyptian housewives into their stores. Now add thousands alleys in a maze, and you get the idea. This experience can be daunting, my mom was offered 100 camels for me to be the wife of an Egyptian sailor, and the same would happen to any western looking person.
Despite this, there are no words I could write to describe the food that we had found at a restaurant, and the immortal oils that are the same as those found in the pharaohs tomb will forever smell sweet. Here, I established an appreciation for other cultures, despite the differences, because each has so much to offer the world.
Transportation must be carefully planned. My mom and I tried to buy passage around the pyramids with some camel drivers that were common dessert nomads. By the time we realized they were taking us the wrong direction, we couldn’t get off the camels we were on because, well, camels are much taller than you assume. Our tour guide saw us and coaxed the nomads into taking small fee for us causing their inconvenience. The traffic in Cairo appears to have no rules, on the way back to our hotel, a car blazing in fire was strolling down the highway. The amazing part is that none of the drivers noticed. Not only does planned transportation remove much stress, but the spectacles seen from the car window will give your something to reel over. When your auto stops for gas, or breaks down, whatever comes your way, you are privileged to see Egyptians in their reality.
I know how Indiana Jones felt while riding home. I was just going on a historical touristy trip. Jones was just finding the Holy Grail. I arrived an American, and left a child of the world, I learned that all people want the same things, have the same goals, feel the same emotions. I left Egypt with more tolerance for those that are different, because in the end, none of us are different from one another at all.
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