Laura Augustyn

My trip to Egypt - Part 2

We are all in this world under one God, and God wants us to live in peace and unity. We all have a free will to choose how we live. So, I decided to embark on this journey, leaving the USA and travelling by myself, despite some people questioning my sanity as to why I was going there, given the media exploitation of trouble in that region. The 10 hour flight from JFK to Cairo was direct and uneventful on Egypt Air. The Holy Quran was recited at the beginning of the flight and directions for the safety of the flight were given in Arabic and then English.

When I arrived at the Cairo airport, I proceeded to buy my visa there at the airport for $25.00. Everything seemed to go easily and everyone was very nice, friendly, organized and courteous. My mentor and friend Abdel awaited my arrival at the gate. He had arranged for a private car to take me to my hotel, the Hilton Ramses. Abdel insisted that I should rest for a while after the flight; the private tour guide Radwa Said from Agilika Tours would meet me in the lobby in a couple of hours. Abdel had arranged the tour guide to show me Cairo in these first 2 days of my visit. After Cairo I would fly to Aswan to see the Aswan Dam, Lake Nasser and the Temples there. I would then board a cruise down the Nile to Luxor for 3-4 days which would give me the opportunity to see more of Egypt's fascinating history. From there I would take a flight from Luxor to Cairo, and Abdel arranged a car to bring me from Cairo to Alexandria for the next week to spend time in his home city, where l would spend time on the Mediterranean Sea as well as see the largest Library in the World and all the history of Alexandria.

My trip was amazing. The first day I went to the Cairo tower and was amazed at all of the people who lived there. The crazy driving on the way over to the tower stood out to me, where people would walk into the streets without stop lights or signs. There were donkeys and horses pulling people on the streets as another form of transportation. Somehow, in all this chaos, there was peace and continuity and I did not feel threatened at all. The next day I went to see the magnificent Pyramids at Giza, which is not too far from Cairo. The traffic is so intense in Cairo, that it often takes longer than one expects. Once I got to the Pyramids, I felt this tremendous sense of awe that I cannot even describe. How can the trio of Pyramids still be standing in all their majesty, built more than 5,000 years ago, and how were they built with such precision and dedication. There was a man there who spoke Arabic and showed me his camel, motioning whether I would like to take a ride. I agreed and my private tour guide Radwa took my photo as he lead me closer to the pyramids. The men near the pyramids are dressed in the long white gowns (or gabadaras) and soon I felt I was well on my way for my spiritual journey. Being in Egypt, in the desert walking in some of the same areas as the Holy Family was such an awe inspiring feeling! While in Cairo, I also went to the Khan al-Khalili outdoor market place, which was full of vendors and items and souvenirs from Egypt. Tea is the primary beverage at all of the shops, alcohol is not sold anywhere except in hotels or a few tourist spots. There were also quite a few places selling Shisha, which is smoked from a pipe similar to tobacco.

Later on my trip I saw the Sphinx, which was also amazing and magnificent in splendor. I learned from someone that the nose is broken off because a drunken French soldier shot it off. I visited the Egyptian Museum which had so much about Egyptian history, KingTut and well, you'll just have to go yourself! It's fantastic!

I later dined for lunch on tabouli salad, hummus dip with pita bread - a staple in Egyptian life with a meat dish called kibbeh, which is a combination of lamb/beef and bulghar wheat. Pork is forbidden in lslam and not served in Egypt. Since I am around Muslim people in America, I knew this already, plus I have not eaten pork in many years. I felt like I was in heaven. Everyone was so hospitable and nice in Cairo - I made friends with the owner of the gift shop at the Hotel Ramses and we still correspond on social media periodically.

While traveling around the cities, if you payed attention to the details you could see the British influence from their occupation back in the late 1800's. While Egypt had a British occupation in 1882, the primary language all over is still Arabic, although some still speak a little English.  English and French were taught to many as a second language after Arabic, so EFL is English As A Foreign Language, after the predominant Arabic. After the British occupation of Egypt in 1882, Egyptian nationalism became focused upon ending British colonial rule and the Arabic language went on to remain the primary spoken language of Egypt.