Laura Augustyn

My trip to Egypt - Part 4

I walked off the boat and a handsome Egyptian man asked me if I would like to take a ride on his boat, or felucca. I could see the kindness in his eyes so I went with him. His name was Ali Mohammad. He told me he did not continue in school, but had learned English on his own. He was a mechanic by trade, and also a boxer. He took me across the Nile River to Banana Island, where there were monkeys and bananas and some other animals.

I felt I had died and went to heaven. This was in Luxor. Ali told me about his life, how his father had died, and he is now responsible for his mother, and one sister that is younger and not married. He told me some of the culture about Egyptians. They are very strong in their Faith * lslam and their culture as Egyptians. They are respectful. He invited me to see some guest houses he was building with his brother. He told me that I was always welcome to come and stay. He told me how I was a kind person as he could see through my eyes and into my soul. He said that they do not hug or kiss or even hold hands in his culture without marriage. I learned quite a bit about the culture, and another friend was made, who I also keep in contact with via social media. Finally the day came for me to get off the cruise and fly on to Cairo to go on to Alexandria where my mentor and friend Abdel lived. He arranged for a ride which was 4 hours from Cairo airport to Alexandria for me with Ashraf, who spoke no English. lt was a long 4 hours but he was kind and we stopped for tea and pastry. I arrived in Alexandria and Abdel met me at the hotel I would be staying, the Sheraton Montazah, which was overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and walking distance to the most beautiful beach I had ever seen. Again, l was in heaven. Abdel arranged for me to meet up with Radwa, the original tour guide for the next day to arrange a tour of Alexandria.

I did see the places where Aristotle the Great, the Greek who came to Alexandria, and how it was named after him, in battles at Pompei, and the Roman Theatre, etc. I did get to see that enormous Library, the biggest in the world. There were many students in Alexandria, that go to the university. Education is free and despite what the media says, girls go to college. They are tested in high schools to see and give them direction on what to do. One day we visited a separate beach called Memora, where I met up with some of the girls and they were fascinated that I was from America and insisted on photos with me. Abdel's extended family - his brother's family - his daughter, her husband and their daughter welcomed me to his home with an authentic meal in that Northern part of Egypt in Alexandria on the sea, made up of fresh seafood. They spoke Arabic and some English, so we conversed the best we could. All in all we remain good friends.

Sadly, my mentor/my friend, Abdel passed away on January 27 ,2017 , but he was the guide for me in my life, and somehow it led me to experience Egypt and now study EFL. I hope to perhaps go back there to teach, through a sponsoring agency or private school, and or set up a nonprofit foundation in his memory/legacy to sponsor an Egyptian to experience life in America, as he did, as I did. lt proves that no matter what background culture and language are intertwined.

I continue now on my spiritual journey, reading the Quran and remembering that we are all on earth for a short time and we have the free will to treat other's as God would want us to. I find the Muslim people to be very kind in their actions and attitudes and feel that they are not portrayed in the media as the peaceful people that they are. I saw firsthand that they are truly humble and kind.