“Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.”
A 10-hour flight on August 25th, 2016 led to 10 days of pure excitement…to simply be breathing the air and exploring the rich history, deeply rooted in the northeast African country known to most as Egypt. Prior to traveling, of course my mom and I shared with various family, friends, and associates that we’d be heading to Egypt to celebrate my achievement of being a Masters graduate and my mom’s 59th birthday. While being met with much excitement we were also asked a lot of, “Wow, why Egypt? Isn’t it dangerous there? Aren’t you scared?”
Now, honestly…earlier this year when I expressed wanting to make a trip to Egypt with my mom we were both leery due to a few situations that had taken place in Egypt at the time, which made us question how safe this trip would be. However, after reflecting on how short life can be we decided to stay true to ourselves and travel by faith like everything else we encounter in life. I mean, my mom’s bedroom décor is Egyptian themed and a gold Nefertiti necklace adorns her everyday since before I was born, I’ve never seen her without it on…how could we not make this trip of a lifetime?!
I’m so grateful to have traveled to Egypt, I feel so blessed. I truly wasn’t sure what to expect from this country I admired from afar but I learned and experienced more than I could’ve ever imagined possible (I climbed the inside of the Great Pyramid in Giza, PRICELESS!) So, I feel it’s only right I share some of the things I absorbed, in hopes that it’ll be insightful to those who may be considering a visit to Egypt or are just nosey like me and want to know how things are over there. 🙂
- EGYPT is SAFE to visit!
I HAD to address this first. The company we traveled with paired us with not only the most amazing tour guides in Egypt but we were also given a security escort everyday that we didn’t even know existed for the first few days because they’re strictly a precaution. The Egyptian people or military are not out to hurt tourists but of course like everywhere else, it’s better to be cautious.
Egypt even has a police department dedicated to assisting and protecting tourists, called the Tourists Police. They would escort our coach bus through the unbelievably, crazy driving and traffic (their driving is really the only thing to fear, our tour guide said in Egypt you need 3 things to drive: good tires, good brakes, and good luck! Lol!) But seriously, we never felt unsafe even when we were given the opportunity to explore the cities independently. Don’t let fear inhibit you from wanting to travel to Egypt. Always be aware of your surroundings like you should be anywhere, obey the rules of their society, travel with an awesome company like we did (Friendly Planet), and you’ll be fine!
- Any attire you’d normally wear is acceptable; it’s just nice to be mindful of the Muslim dimension of the country.
Just a few examples of the outfits I wore while exploring Egypt.
In the months leading up to my trip, I was reading up on the ideal attire for visiting Egypt and it was overwhelming. Many articles stress the fact that a large population of Egypt is Muslim and that you should be covered nearly head to toe in clothing in an effort not to receive unwanted attention and judgment from locals. Now, we traveled to Egypt as their summer was coming to an end but as expected it was still HOT…it’s not unbearable but it’s a different heat than here in the south so you can imagine my dilemma of wanting to respect the locals by covering up but also wanting to stay cool.
We were informed shortly after arriving that you can indeed dress normally like you would in the summer such as shorts, sundresses, etc. and wouldn’t be treated any certain way. Egyptians value tourism so they don’t expect us to visit and instantly begin living like they do but it was still recommended not to openly display cleavage and other assets in particular settings such as the Citadel in Cairo which is a mosque. I stayed on the safe side and didn’t wear shorts at all, as well as if I was wearing tight bottoms like leggings; most of my shirts covered my womanly assets. But if your visiting a resort or hotel you can be free to dress how you want. The attire is not as strict as I’d envisioned but I still wanted to be respectful.
- Fun Fact: Egyptians call Egypt, ‘Misr’. Also, most Egyptians want us to refer to them as Africans and not Arabs.
Egyptians do not use Egypt to refer to their country. If they are speaking to tourist, they will but amongst each other Egypt is Misr (mis-ruh). The name Egypt is to be derived from a figure in Greek mythology named Aegyptus, who was a descendant of a maiden and the river God, Nilus (the Nile River); Aegyptus was one of many kings in Egypt. Greeks had their hands in a lot of Egyptian discoveries but as our guide explained to us, that’s why Egyptians refer to their country as Misr, it’s Arabic so it belongs to them in contrast to their given Greek name. Misr is recognized as an official name by the Egyptian government and surrounding countries.
Furthermore, Egypt links northeast Africa to the Middle East and their official language is Arabic. I’ve never considered Egyptians to be Arab however; I have heard others do so and I could see why there may be some confusion. They feel that those outside of Africa often view them as Arab since they speak Arabic however, most of them don’t accept begin referred to as Arab…they prefer African. Many Egyptians will tell you this. Get it right. 🙂
- Egyptians love having tourists!
A shop owner who truly treated me like family and took a picture with me on his tablet (left); one of the many cute kids who approached me to take a selfie (right)!
The locals whether children or adults stop and wave as you ride on the coach bus through the streets. We visited several historic sites such as the Citadel of Saladin in Cairo and the Great Pyramid in Giza where my tour group was swarmed with children, teenagers, and even some of their parents walking up with selfie sticks asking to take a picture with us on their phones and inquiring if we were American; they were literally ecstatic to meet tourists, it was the sweetest thing. I later asked one of the guides why were they so excited to see us and wanted to take pictures, he explained that most of them weren’t from the city but from more rural areas of Egypt, and when they come on field trips to the city such as Cairo they like to take pictures and go back to their home city to brag about meeting tourists. Adorable.
Also, they’re especially fond of people of color or their “brothers and sisters” as they affectionately referred to us. You’ll hear exclamations of “welcome cousin, my sister, and my Nubian sister, ” as you peruse the streets flooded with vendors who happily let you know “they don’t know what you’re looking for but they have exactly what you need” or that “everything in their store is free for you, my Nubian sister”… I loved their spirits. Egyptians are truly some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
- Egypt is to travel, not for vacation.
“When in Egypt”…we attended a Galabaya party which required us to dress in Egyptian garb.
Egypt is the home to so many ancient temples, historic infrastructures, and a culture all their own. Although, they also have luxurious resorts and hotels, it’s truly too much to be seen to confine yourself to the activities of a typical relaxing vacay. We were constantly up early every morning, traveling to several historic sites and markets to shop for majority of the day. We barely had a chance to catch our breath but it was worth it because we saw so much that I would’ve hate to have missed by not using my time there wisely. Traveling from Cairo to Luxor, taking a 4-day cruise down the Nile River and docking to visit more rural cities such as Edfu, Ensa, and Aswan located along the Nile, then traveling back to Cairo. I feel like Egypt is a trip for true travel and exploration, be prepared for endless adventure. You can rest when you get home or as one of our travel buddies said “you’ll need a vacation from your vacation!”
Now that I’ve returned home, the fact that I traveled to Egypt is still like a dream to me. What I’ve shared in this post only scratches the surface of my 10-day excursion in the Egyptian culture. But I hope I’ve ignited a desire for you to add Egypt to your bucket list! The Egyptian people are extremely appreciative of those who take their time to come and visit their country. It means a lot to them that we would want to learn more about their culture and since this trip meant a lot to me, I want to inspire you to experience it as well.
I’d love to share more about my trip to Egypt! I’ll be sharing more pictures soon. Is there anything specific you want to know about? Let me know in the comments section below.