Terrence’s Chalkboard Talk (by TheDreamisNowOrg)Source: youtube.com
OK THIS IS REALLY SLOW SORRY. i’m lazy, busy, and lazy. i don’t even know where the time goes sometimes.
day two was ALL ABOUT TOURING. we finally got to meet hisham, our tour guide in cairo, as well as tarek, who we now consider our tour uncle. (he basically takes care of us throughout the trip, hence why he is now group family heh) as the group may know, hisham is probably the most genius man i’ve ever met (he is a literal egyptian encyclopedia) and i developed a stupid infatuation during the trip. but that’s beside the point.
the first stop was the outdoor museum in memphis, which is just a small trek across the river from cairo. it’s called the mit rahina museum!
there is a large piece of Ramses II statue that weighs over 60 tons! you can still see the limestone polish from thousands of years ago. the statue shines in the sunlight <3
most of the statues were from his reign, but we’re not sure whether that is ACTUALLY correct because he might’ve defaced many statues and carved his cartouche in place. here’s what they looked like:
also, don’t take pictures with the egyptians there. they charge you money….
eesh. def. didn’t know that…this is also where i found out that egypt is FULL OF STRAY KITTIES. i’m in love with cats.
after this big adventure, we were all about the pyramids. yes, the giza pyramids. and the saqqara step pyramid. and i crawled inside a tomb. the whole shebang, i pretty much did it all.
saqqara: this is the step pyramid - the town is also very famous for the egyptian rug industry. its the only way the place thrives - through special industry. LITTLE KIDS ARE SO FAST AT THREADING. they have the most beautiful shiny silk rugs, but they also come in cotton thread but don’t look quite as beautiful. regardless, the handiwork is absolutely lovely and it reminded me of being in turkey 5 years ago.
i left my la apartment at 6 in the morning, and i flew out to dubai by 9:30am. i realized why not enough americans visit egypt - it takes a full 24 hours (minimum) just to get to cairo. on my way over, it took me 27 hrs.
i arrived in dubai, and that airport is so modern, full of glass, and beautiful as ever. i loved seeing all the arabic/english signs, and there are prayer rooms (for muslims) EVERYWHERE. pretty nifty and cultural :) but i had to go straight to my gate after my 16 hr. flight. i got to see the world’s tallest tower, but sadly i couldn’t take a picture of it from the plane because the desert is too dusty.
the reason why it took my an extra three hours to get to cairo was because of the flight over. they told us to put on our seatbelts, and at this point i felt so excited to finally see the largest city in africa. but what bewildered all of us was the delay; the uae police force came in, questioned two men across from where i was sitting, and escorted them out. their bags were taken, and cargo was emptied out from the plane. the pilot told us there were some safety precautions they had to review and ended up checking every carry on luggage on the plane. thankfully i sat in front of the two people that actually spoke english (two british tourists), and we concluded it was a drug smuggling incident. if it had been anything more serious, we’d all be evacuated. if anything less, then they wouldn’t have checked everyone’s baggage. while this was all going on i couldn’t help but think about how americans already think suspiciously of arabs, and to see two arabs being escorted out of the plane did NOT help my train of thought. way to feel bad ><
i stayed at the flamenco hotel (golden tulip chain), and its very red and velvety all around. it actually has modern elevators, internet is a bit shotty (but there was a market and internet cafe, thank goodness), but it was cozy as could be. i’m not particularly picky where i sleep, as long as i can sleep well on the bed.
every doorway of a building/museum has the metal detectors, but no one seems to know why they’re there. egyptians just joke around that its there for the police to stay awake since they don’t really do anything but sit around (since the revolution anyway).
we stayed in zamalek, which is an island in the nile that is a part of cairo. i didn’t even know the nile had islands… zamalek is home to all the foreign embassies and is considered to be very tourist friendly. if you aren’t arabic and are living/staying in cairo, you pretty much flock to zamalek. its a fantastic location and easily connects to cairo and the rest of the bustling city.
egypt is made up of about 80 million people, and cairo (including zamalek) is home to 20 million of them. that’s right - 1 in 4 people live in this city. only 4% of egypt’s land is actually used, so overcrowding and the urbanization is really hurting the environment.
i’ll add some random tidbits about the country and city as i go along - they just pop into my head sporadically and i’m doing my best to recall the days. i worry i’ll forget this life changing experience, so i’ll try to jot everything down!
Image Essay for class. This is what I chose to write about.
This picture was taken in Resala, a Muslim non-profit organization in the heart of Cairo. Resala’s efforts are all directed to make a better Egypt, particularly in the largest city of the African continent. This volunteer-run organization has numerous programs (even programs one probably wouldn’t normally think of), and it makes one visiting Cairo think about the lack of welfare Egypt provides for its citizens. This photo depicts one of their programs: reading, writing, and computer skills for the blind. The young man is completing his writing lesson in Braille while the instructor reads aloud. My experience in Egypt was so powerful that words cannot describe; the stories of the revolution, the changing attitudes of the Egyptian people – almost like the country is learning how to breathe again. But if anything struck me as so powerful it would move me nearly to tears was exactly what this young man was doing. He was writing.
It is more than disheartening to see the staggering rates of literacy for a country that is known for an advanced ancient civilization but in the end has a straggling modern one. With a literacy rate that barely reaches 70% (for women specifically, it is drastically lower by almost 20%), here sits a blind, unemployed youth who took bustling streets of Cairo to come to this organization in order to read and write. He beats the odds for not only those in his generation who not a part of this statistic, but he is a leader for those who are young and blind but refuse to be limited by their disability and Egypt’s lack of resources for them. This is the quiet revolution that he instigates every day, and in the end he will be one more person who learned how to read, write, and most importantly, express himself in a crucial time of creating a new Egypt. When coming into this room, I realized it is he who represents the true people of Egypt. I already knew flying into this country that I was determined to battle the naysayers who did not support me on this trip, saying it was too dangerous and volatile at this time. But seeing such a civil society and finding what defines the Egyptian people is what changed my life so drastically – and this young man represents it perfectly. The perseverance to come in regularly and fight the illiteracy rate, the passion and determination to perfect his ability of language and expression is exactly what those “Facebook Kids” were fighting for in the center of Tahrir Square just four months ago. It gives me so much hope to see an individual who seems to know no bounds to his abilities and was fortunate enough to find the resources to help him.
Coming into Resala gave me a new outlook on how people work in attempting to better society. People from all different backgrounds are willing to give in their time and energy in a plethora of causes worth fighting for, and Resala is the prime example of what the government needs to do for its own people when they come into power. The people hope for a welfare state that will finally care for and educate its citizens, but in the meantime Resala will keep fighting to create helpful and useful Egyptian citizens. This young man is reshaping himself to not be one defined by his disability, but rather be one defined by his ability to read and write.
before i start my testimonies of adventures, this is my photo album!
hope you enjoy :)
hello! i’m currently in LA and will be for the rest of summer. there was minimal internet when i was in egypt, so this blog will be everything in retrospect and will probably progress very very slowly. i’m jetlagged (came back sunday, started working on monday) and have a million things to do, but the image of egypt and everything i love about it is so vivid that it wont be a problem to get this all done eventually.
so this blog is about my travels and experiences in egypt, a country i learned to identity with, to learn from, and to love with all of my heart.