Dear Aletha

It’s been a while since my last blog post but while browsing through Google Keep, I came across a letter I had written to my dear friend, Aletha.

It is a recount of my trip to Egypt and was written on my 2-3 hour flight from Istanbul to Paris using my phone. I never sent it. Now two months later, I’m reading the letter again and looking back at the photos.

Dear Aletha,

I am currently on the plane from Istanbul to Paris. It has been an extremely long flight which started at 3am this morning and not a particularly comfortable one at that.

A female official in Turkey was trying to make my life difficult and did such a good job of it that I was literally fuming. The problem? She couldn’t find my stamp of entry and was looking at my previous visas.
So I tried to show her and she asked me to step aside! A whole queue of people couldn’t advance as we were blocking the progression of the line and was being watched like a theatre piece because of this foolish woman.
Normally, I’d be a lot more patient but I haven’t slept in 36 hours and I have a huge spot above my right eyebrow.

All complaints aside, Egypt has been a wonderful experience. You’ve probably seen from some of my posts on Facebook and Instagram how much I’ve enjoyed my stay. As a child, I was an avid reader of Egyptian history books and watched almost every Mummy movie there was. As you can imagine, for me to see real life hieroglyphs etched into almost every surface available on every tomb and temple we visited was a dream come true!

To further enhance the cultural experience, there was a shisha tent on the beach at the Movenpick resort in Hurghada. One of the men employed by the Jamaican Rastafarian looking, Bob Marley loving, hash smoking Egyptian owner told us an otherworldly story about how his first wife was his own cousin and how she spread rumours about how he was unable to produce offspring. He was so heartbroken by what the village was whispering about him that he made his way to the Arabian gulf. While working there during his ten year stay, he met his second wife. This wife gave him a son who’s now eight months old and of course, he went back to the village to celebrate and “take his revenge”. What an incredible story huh?! Never did I even stop to think for two seconds that there are still people who lead such lives and marry into their own family.

Continuing on the topic of conservatism in the country, women still wear burkas like uniforms and the only time I’ve ever even seen women out and about were in schools so at least they have the right to an education but I have rarely seen women in the workplace. When we went to Luxor, it took me a couple hours to figure out why something seemed…off, just not quite right…and then it hit me: there were literally no women. Not in the museums, the souvenir shops, the restaurants etc. And it makes me wonder…do they feel suppressed or is it the whole “what one doesn’t know can’t hurt them” situation? What do you think?

One thing has to be said though and that is one doesn’t need much to be happy. The Egyptians embody this humble spirit better than most people I’ve met. It is truly eye-opening when you see those with much less, much happier and more grateful than you are. They have such a hunger and a thirst to succeed so they work very hard but their smiles never falter. I’m sure we all know this but it is easy to forget when you live in such a consumerist society, when you have social media and the stress of a fast-paced, city life. 

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