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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Egypt - It Depends on Your Perspective

You can probably tell from reading a few of the posts below that we enjoy Egypt. Even more than Egypt, we enjoy Egyptians. They are certainly the friendliest people we have encountered in our travels. You will encounter a lot of "high pressure" salesmen in the tourist areas, but other than that, your encounters will be fun and likely lead to long-term friendship. Even the "high pressure" salesman encounters can be made into fun.

Afraid to try the local markets because you don't speak the language? Can't learn languages." Just a few words of Arabic will do the job!

Going to the bakery or stopping at a banana cart will be a pleasant experience. Say, "Hello," identifying yourself as an English speaker, point to what you want and say "nus kilo, min fudluk." (You just asked for a half-kilogram, or about a pound, please)

Nine times out of ten the response will be, "Oh, you speak Arabic? Where are you from?" Even the banana seller from Upper Egypt speaks a little English. The shop owner may scramble to find the best English speaker nearby if the conversation continues.

How you react to Egypt depends on your attitude, more than anything else. Things are different. Different doesn't mean "bad." Walk through an area and some Americans will say "Oh, the poverty!" Stay and get acquainted and you might say "Egyptian families are so close! And so generous and sharing!"

We recently stumbled on this internet posting that literally had us laughing out loud.
Muslims began praying right in front of me at one point as the minarets called the masses to prayer while I was waiting. In light of the situation between Muslims and Christians, I was worried that they might get enraged in their prayers and walk over and confront me . . . or worse. I can't say that I have experienced much fear in my life. I'm sheltered from much of that in America. However, I experienced genuine fear in the Cairo train station.
No wonder one of our Cairo neighbors asked Linda, "weren't you afraid of me because I cover?"

The author of that post goes on with this note:
Danger still abounds here in Egypt. On my way here to Egypt, a group of English-speaking Egyptian residents told me about the recent and highly publicized threat by terrorist Osama Bin Laddin.

Apparently, he has threatened to target and murder American tourists in Egypt. What a wonderful news item to hear as you are waiting in the Cairo airport with a 9 day "tour" of Egypt before you. Anyway, security here has been EXTREMELY TIGHT as they anticipate BinLaddin's next move.

The irony, of course, is that this quote was extracted from an e-mail that the person sent home to friends on 6/5/2001. We can only hope that he was not comfortably at home in New York on 9/11.

Incidentally, if you do follow the link referenced and read the whole posting, be sure to read two of my posts. Check out my Koshary for Dinner post and my What's for Lunch post.

And, yes, I will admit to sometimes stopping in an American fast-food outlet in Cairo.

But it is only because I find the McArabia sandwich to be so darn tasty. I'm lovin it!

It's available in either chicken or meat - but that's another whole post, and I'll leave it for another day.

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