A Recent Trip
A few years ago, not long after the Egyptian uprising of 2012, I decided to embark on a trip to Egypt. I was into photojournalism back then so my main objective was to document and see with my own eyes the culture, history, people and sites of a country that I’ve had a fascination with ever since I was a child.
The Egyptian civilization to this day is still shrouded in mystery as archaeologists and historians alike try to unravel the secrets of the past. The Egyptians are known for their many achievements in a range of fields including art, architecture, engineering and medicine. Many theories exist as to how the Great Pyramids were built with laser-like precision, a feat of engineering that to this day is still unsurpassed.
On the first few days of my trip, I stayed in a cheap hostel in the middle of Cairo close to Tahrir Square, the site of the protests against the Muslim Brotherhood. At first, I was a little weary walking around with a camera as photojournalists in those countries aren’t usually welcomed with open arms. As I walked around Tahrir Square, I stood out like a sore thumb . To my surprise, a few of the people who were still at the square protesting welcomed me and while there was a language barrier, I could feel their hospitality and warmth. I was introduced to a middle-aged lady who was a reporter and could speak English quite well and she told me about the plight of the people and the reasons for their anger. I was moved that an outsider like me was welcomed with open arms.
On a separate occasion, I was walking around Tahrir Square and a middle-aged man came up to me and started talking in Arabic. He called out to me “Habibi” , wrapped his arms around mine and took me for a walk around the square. I was a little puzzled and concerned because I had originally thought the term Habibi meant “lover or baby” and was reserved for your partner. I pondered how I was going to get myself out of that predicament. It was not until later that I realized that “Habibi” is a term that could also be used by men to call their male friends. In Egypt it is also the norm that males hold each other by their arms while walking. Obviously in Western nations, we are not used to that!
The rest of my time in Egypt was truly memorable. One of my friends introduced me to a local who took me around and we enjoyed the nightlife and rooftop bars in Cairo before I headed to Giza. There I met a few backpackers and we all went to the pyramids and were in awe when we saw the world-famous landmarks up-close. I rode camels around the desert area and marveled at the Sphinx, which is one of the most recognizable statues in the world.
On the final few days of the trip, I camped out in the Bahariya Desert surrounded by amazing natural rock formations under a full “halo moon”. The halo moon is a phenomenon that rarely occurs so I was glad to be able to experience it. There we set up a campfire, drank rum, banged on bongo drums and did yoga under the night sky illuminated by the enormous moon and a myriad of stars. We slept through the freezing winter night under sleeping bags and woke up to witness a breathtaking sunrise.
On the final days of my trip, I took a bus to the resort of Sharm El Sheik to enjoy the New Year’s countdown with some Russian holidaymakers I met before making my way to the holy city of Jerusalem. Looking back, it was certainly one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
unravel (v) – investigate and solve or explain (something complicated or puzzling)
unsurpassed (adj.) – better or greater than any other
stand out like a sore thumb (idiom) – to be very obviously different from the surrounding people or things
predicament (n) – a difficult, unpleasant, or embarrassing situation
breathtaking (adj.) – astonishing or awe-inspiring in quality, so as to take one’s breath away