Laura Augustyn

Laura's Life Blog

Egypt - Aswan, Oct. 21, 2016

For the next leg of my trip, I was off to Aswan. I had a full day of my tours in Cairo that day, Wednesday, October 20, 2016, riding a camel at the magnificent pyramids, buying some souveniers in Cairo, going on to see the Sphinx, then Radwa the tour guide introduced me to an Egyptologist who showed us the famous Egyptian Museum, full of relics from King Tut, the boy King.  Fascinating, to say the least.  I went back to my hotel, the Ramses Hilton, ate dinner there, met a couple of people from the US, New York area in the dining room. 

A businessman from White Plains, New York saw I was American and he was talking to an Asian woman from NYC and her husband.  When they left, he started to talk to me.  He revealed that he was Egyptian Coptic Christian, 2nd generation, he was in Egypt to visit his parents, but lived in the USA.  He commented that he was asked to change his seat in the dining room, because a husband and his burka attired wife felt uncomfortable with him facing the wife, as she would have to open her veil to eat.  A little extreme, but to each their own.  I learned that respect of the culture was very important in Egypt.  Even when I arrived from the airport, I had on a skirt that was below my knee but showed the lower part of my calf.  I noticed the driver looked at my leg as I sat in the back seat.  Getting back to the guy in the dining room, as the dinner was finised he told me I could come to his room and he told me his room number.  My gosh.  My second night in Cairo, and I was being harrassed, but not by an Egyptian, mind you, but by an American.  Hence, I walked around the hotel, as I did not want him to follow me and see where my room was.  I went to the gift shop and started to talk to the owner, a nice, pleasant  young man named Mustafa.  He told me that his dad actually owned the shop and he ran it.  He had most beautiful souveniers from Egypt.  I bought a scarf, some of the other artifacts, a business card case with the pyramids on it, amongst other things.  Mustafa and I chatted for a couple of hours.  I told him my dilemma about the guy in the dining room.  He was quite shocked, as he said Egyptian men would not ask a woman to go to their room directly like that, and for me to stay in the shop.  Sure enough, the guy passed by and saw that I was in the shop.  Thank God, Mustafa saved me.  The Asian woman passed by the shop as well.  She was from NYC and gave me her buiness card and said she travels a lot, but her husband does not like to travel, so she sometimes goes alone.  Well, it was time for me to depart from Cairo on the early flight to the airport, which would be on Egypt Air, but this time, only an hour flight from Cairo to Aswan.  My flight to Aswan took off in the early am. I was seated next to a Filipino woman and her husband on the plane who told me they were Catholic. I told them that I too was raised a Catholic in America. I was curious as to how Egypt was treating them, so I asked them how they felt living in Egypt. They said they felt completely safe, even though Catholics make up only about 1% of the population. Overall, they loved Egypt.  Everyone respected them, they had their own community of people called "Patriots from Overseas" working in Egypt and they were freely able to worship Catholic Mass at their Church.

I arrived in Aswan for this part of my journey, Nasir would be my tour guide. I could not find him at the airport.  Radwa had written his phone # on a slip of paper, luckily the Filipino woman helped me to contact him by her cell phone.  Another person who saved me, the Filipino woman on the flight from Cairo to Aswan.  Nasir had a couple from lndia with their baby in our group as well, this worked out well as we all went to see the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser together. Lake Nasser was named after the Egyptian President after King Farouk was overthrown in 1952. Abdel Gamal Nasser rose to power on themes that mixed Arab and Egyptian nationalism. President Nasser's first priority was to end subordination to Britain, which meant a quick and urgent removal of British bases privileges and then to acquire greater control over the Suez Canal. Egypt had asked the USA for money for the dam, but it was actually the Soviet Union that helped give the funding to build the dam. President Nasser's successors were Anwar Sadat followed by Hosni Mubarak. Sedat was part of The Camp David Peace Accord, which was signed in 1978 along with Jimmy Carter and Menachem Begin. After Sedat stepped down in favor of President Mubarak, the Arab Spring of 2011 forced the resignation of Mubarak from power. This resulted in multiparty elections and has raised questions over the future of Egyptian nationalism. As of today, President El Sisi has been elected. El Sisi followed the in the footsteps of Nasser and Sadat as all of them were Army Generals. The people of Egypt seem to like the Army which has a great presence in Egypt. I saw many roads being built, and the Army is there to help and assist. I must say that I felt very safe in Egypt, in all honesty, I felt safer there than I do here in America. There are no guns that the private sector uses. There is a lot of security to preserve the historical sites and the police and army are not only very noticable, but they are very nice and hospitable as well. 

All Aboard the Cruise Along The Nile - aboard the Princess - I felt like Cleopatra - Luxor - October 22, 20116 and Abu Simbel

I was now ready to board the cruise along the Nile, to go from Aswan to Luxor. I got to know the staff on the cruise ship, who l helped along with a few words of English, and they in turn would teach me a few words of Arabic. Everyone was very nice. Meals were in the main dining room and a buffet of assorted Egptian foods such as foul - an Egyptian breakfast dish, falafel, vegetables.  One of the best things one must have in Egypt is the fresh Mango juice, which is so tasty. The cruise allowed me to see much of Egypt and how the Nile is considered Life through the Ankh, as it gave life to the meaning. I saw a part of the Nubian tribe in southern Egypt near Aswan, who were darker skinned and lived close to the Sudan. They invited me into their homes. I got to visit Abu Simbel, Ramses temple, the great Pharaoh who had over 100 children and many wives. Out of all his wives he loved Neferteri the most and he built a temple next to his to honor her. Every year on October 22, there is a special sunrise celebration where the sun rises and shines directly on the rooms of his temple and hers as well. I was there to witness this and it was truly amazing. I grew to love the sun too as part of my spirituality. On the last day of the cruise, I had so much history and facts, that I was ready to embark on my own off the cruise ship as they were going to go on another tour.