Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cairo on my mind

I think I may possibly have PTSD from our visit to Egypt a little over a year ago.  It was a fairly traumatic experience for me and Paul.  Normally we are fearless travellers and we have never had a problem with the people or cultures of any of the places we have visited.  We aren't the type of "tourists" who seek out the nearest McDonald's and only stay at a Holiday Inn.  We eat local, we stay in hostels or bed and breakfasts or small hotels, we use public transportation, and we try to learn and use words and phrases in the language of the country.  But Egypt was something else. 

It didn't help that it was Ramadan and impossible to get any food when we got there.  It also didn't help that when we finally were able to eat, I ended up getting food poisoning and found myself thinking that I would die on the floor of a filthy hostel just a block off Tahrir Square.  But the real problem was that we had a hard time adapting to the people.  The Egyptian culture is so ... different.  For the most part, the people we interacted with were pushy and abrasive and downright mean.  As a woman, I have never been treated so poorly and there was one time when Paul had to step in and defend me from an extremely aggressive and insulting man who was leering at me and getting much to close for comfort.  Amazingly, the one person we really connected with in Egypt was a teenage Egyptian boy working at McDonald's (the only place I felt safe to eat at after puking my guts out for three days).  He explained to us that treatment of foreigners by Egyptians was a big problem that nobody knew how to solve.

But seeing the news stories over the past few days about the unrest in Egypt has really affected me.  I am drawn to the images - captivated by the violence in a place of which I have few pleasant memories.  And I am saddened for the Egyptian people.  I read one news story that was trying to make sense of the situation and the journalist explained that the Egyptians he spoke with can't articulate what they do want in a leader, they just know that they don't want the leader they have now.  I worry for them.  I see photos of the crowds in Tahrir Square and I remember walking through there on our way to the Egyptian Museum (the pink building you can see in a lot of the photos of the rioting). 

Anyway, after clicking through story after story and looking at gruesome images of today's violence, I decided to open up my file of photos from our trip to Egypt and browse through them.  And I was surprised to remember the beauty that we saw there:  gorgeous sunsets, haunting ancient structures carved from stone, sand stretching for miles and miles.

These photos also make me so thankful to be safe and sound at home.  But despite the bad experiences we had there, my heart goes out to Egypt and its people tonight.

1 comment:

  1. Your pictures are gorgeous. Despite the terrible, awful, no good, very bad experience that you had there - I would still love to go someday.


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