After the eventful trip to Jordan in November 2010 where I met a lot of interesting people; followed by a wondrous, never-to-be-forgotten side trip to PETRA where I felt for certain that I am destined for bigger things and distant lands – quite literally, actually – Sir Mano and I took the first flight out of Amman, Jordan bound for Cairo, Egypt – for work.
We arrived in Cairo a few weeks before the political unrest that would go down in political history as the one that would ultimately oust former President Mubarak, was to reach fever pitch. At that time, there were no talks and not even the slightest hint of the Egyptian political landscape turning out the way it did.
Since I only had three full days in Cairo, I made sure I got all my meetings done from morning until late night – usually, at the hotel lobby or at the office of our supplier, who turned out to be such a wonderful host. He took us to a dinner cruise on the Nile River on our first night and it was there that I first saw an actual bellydancing performed and I thought it was very sexy!
There was also a band featured that night who sang mostly Egyptian ballads and maybe three or four English songs for the non-Arabic/non-African people in the audience. One thing I noticed about their music is that almost every single one of them begs for some gyrating type of dance, if you are to dance to it – that is. Everyone who got on their feet were pretty much rounding their hips suggestively and occasionally thrusting them forward in very sensual motions as in frenzied lovemaking.
The highlight of my short trip was, of course, the visit to the breathtaking Pyramid of Giza – some of the startling and most impressive monuments of the great ancient Egyptian civilization. As I only had a small window in my day schedule, I was advised by my colleagues to leave as early as 7am so I can make it back in time for my afternoon meetings. Sir Mano, along with our other colleagues, set out on a separate journey to Mt. Sinai.
We drove for about an hour or so to reach the pyramid complex which, incidentally, is now the only one left of the ancient wonders of the world still in existence. The sky was slightly overcast when we set out on our journey so that the tips of the pyramids were nearly concealed by the clouds when we were approaching the site. When I saw the facade of the three pyramids from the back of the car where I was sitting, my eyes instantly welled-up! I was so overcome by emotions so deep it was hard for me to even breathe. I know I will probably never become conventionally wealthy, but these glorious little treats of life more than make up for whatever real or imagined deprivation.
Egyptians are probably among the warmest people you will ever meet in this world. They smile a lot and are completely unreserved in offering a helping hand, even to foreign strangers like us. The children and women are especially delightful! Despite the language barrier, they make an effort to engage you in a conversation and make you feel somewhat right at home.
Sara and Ahmed are easily two of the sweetest Egyptians I have met while there. We spent so much time cooped up in the car but there was hardly any dull moment as the three of us shared/traded cultural tidbits. It truly is amazing how, sometimes, it is when you feel you’re farthest from home (geographically, that is) that you are brought to a strangely beautiful realization, after getting to know the locals, that you not so different after all. That there are commonalities, passions, and interests that you share which ultimately lead to cultural gaps being bridged. This is what I love most about traveling – you discover much about other people which, in turn, lead you to discover a little bit more about yourself.
I have nothing more to say about Egypt, its beautiful and strong people, or the Pyramids that have not already been said many times over by so many people. I have been blessed and fortunate enough to make that life-changing trip and whatever beautiful things I want to say but failing miserably to put into words, let these photos speak volumes…