India, Egypt, Japan … soon… When people ask me ‘why do you travel?’, I usually answer «because I need to»; but now that nobody reads us, sometimes I answer «Why not?». Getting out of the comfort zone is the most important university since ancient times, even before the unification of Egypt in 3100 b.C. Traveling […]
India, Egypt, Japan … soon… When people ask me ‘why do you travel?’, I usually answer «because I need to»; but now that nobody reads us, sometimes I answer «Why not?». Getting out of the comfort zone is the most important university since ancient times, even before the unification of Egypt in 3100 b.C.
Traveling gives people knowledge, experiences, reality … It suddenly erase misperceptions, urban legends or tall tales … When your body is travelling, it acts as a pleasure magnetic sensor. A cluster of truths slaps you in the face, and it’s so magical, that in these situations you do have to turn the other cheek.
My journey begins in Cairo, in the «mother of all cities». Its amazing hospitality… Even though I was tired, somewhat nervous and wasting the last light of the day, It gave me the feeling of 16 million people embracing me in unison.
I visit the Pyramids, the Sphinx, the Temple of the Valley of Chephren, Egyptian Pharaonic Art Museum. Does this really is on Planet Earth? As I put from there in a Facebook post:
«Sitting I try to control my emotions … but it’s impossible»
One of the most special moments is the first few days was when I interviewed the Vice-Minister of Tourism and Chairman of the Egyptian Tourist Authority, Mahmoud Samy. Knowing firsthand the expectations of tourism development in Egypt, the strategies they want to implement, involving many efforts they put to this country as a tourist destination, despite its resources… Without a doubt, a very interesting person.
I continued down to the south, with subtlety, wanting to feel, with that sense of peace that can only give the beauty of the unimaginable … Luxor, the loneliness of the Temple of Karnak saddens, dimensions, silence … Overwhelms thinking of human ability to build and destroy as a double-edged sword. Here I became aware of how far we can go. An anecdote:
«The legend about the luck beetle says that if you give it three turns, you attract good luck and if you give it five, a good husband»; do it always counterclockwise. «I’m not superstitious, but I think you have to «search for» luck, and if I am here in Egypt how can I do not give it some turns?? And counterclockwise is a reflect of my way of doing some things. If the legend is true, I will stay with these three turns given»
Necropolis of Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Temple of Pharaoh Hatshepsut, the ruins of the Temple of Amenofis III, the Colossi of Memnon … is there something ugly in this country? The answer is simple and short: No.
I’m crossing the Nile, here the sun rises at 4:30, reading the book from my friend Rayko Lorenzo ( «Don’t be the best … struggle to be different») is part of the sunrises in my routine. I have often said «this book is written for me»… They say the Nile is mysterious and sensual.
Egypt makes you feel all its magic, you get caught, dragged; you inevitably feel its despair, its poverty … The strength of monuments does not explain the loneliness in them. You also feel the aroma of perfume, its spices, the sensuality of the Nile … I think I got caught in that moment of mystery in the Nile this morning.
I entered the city of Edfu, former second capital of Egypt in a time of wealth and happiness; poverty today, a lot of poverty. I have seen looks with no hope in the future, the market without activity; village women walk up here to buy, they walk with their heads down, entirely covered in black. They did not let me take pictures, the more I travel inside the country the more closed mentality of the population I find, as in a parallel reality. The Temple of Edfu, the best preserved, has impacted me. I try to convey the «roller coaster» in which I travel, so many emotions exhaust me.
Day in Aswan. Many visits for tourism, I walk quickly, perhaps with some anxiety, when finished I begin to really visit this city. My guide trembles, knows that I will not stay in the car, I want to enter places, meet people, ask them how was their childhood, how was their reality, what they would like that they can not have… even if I didn’t like the answers…
We enter a store of antique perfumes and I do not address the seller, but two veiled women, hidden as ghosts, and I demand being attended by them. My gaze does not bow to the face of the seller, I challenge him and he knows that I will leave without buying if he does not accept.
My trip will be over soon, I do not want to leave without a deep look into those dark eyes, I want to hear those women talking to me. I am not comfortable thinking about a woman that can not speak. They accepted, and explain to me, now I CAN hear them. Finally some words, and finally I get a picture with them in a dark interior room, they do not want to be seen much more than this. Usually they wear black gloves even when they go out. I understand and respect the great effort they have made. Their words, intonation in speaking (the guide translates) have «knocked out» my mind.
Arrival at the Aswan High Dam, considered the jewel of Egypt. I had to ask five minutes of meditation to rebalance my emotions. Looking at the «jewel» of Egypt, in the solitude of places that once were full of tourists I think:
«Maica, is this trip changing yourself? How do you assimilate all of this? «
I can not keep writing this article without mentioning two people, two Egyptians who have managed that I never forget my boat trip in the Nile, my guide Abdullah Rable and Amro, receptionist at the boat Amarco, their way of treating and solving unforeseen has shown me where is the Egypt’s future: in its people. That is my «fear» when traveling, not the accidents or illness, or loneliness … but the goodbyes, this is where I’m a coward.
What is the taste of Egypt?
Thanks to Hamdi Zaki, Former Minister of Tourism of Egypt, I am touring the country, knowing their culture, heritage, fashion, and of course the cuisine of this enclave. The chef of the boat cruising the Nile shows me the importance of spices, flavors, smells… the types of bread, rice…
The day of General Elections in Spain, my travels take me to Alexandria, coincidence? No, nothing happens by chance … More than one politic would need to read some of the books from this impressive library where I am. Looking at the Mediterranean Sea, I meditate:
«When will humans learn that only if we look for the common good we will find our personal path?»
In the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the weight of History remembers the mistakes of humanity… if only we could learn from them… As always, the book from my good friend Rayko Lorenzo is with me … And I hope he forgives me, but I left the book there, among thousands of other books for someone to find it, and read it … and pass it to someone else … and then another … to spread the message.
Egypt in Ramadan is a unique experience, everything is transformed to meet this tradition of fasting from 03:00 h. until 19:00 h. in which the hardest part is not being able to drink anything; high temperatures make it almost impossible to achieve this Muslim custom.
Since I arrived on 19th, I do the hours of fasting like them, out of respect and to «feel» their culture as close as possible, but not having any liquid… i can’t, sometimes the heat is as if I am going to pass out. I admire their strength and discipline with this custom, and especially what I like the most is the «breakfast» we share in large tables at 19:00, after the fourth prayer.
We are in the Khan el Khalili market, with its labyrinthine streets, from 19:00 h filled with families flooding the streets until dawn. Everything changes in Egypt in Ramadan, museum schedules, monuments, libraries … they close at 15:00, so that their employees can rest on those toughest hours prior to «breakfast» . The last hours without drinking and without eating are eternal, it is when the relentless sun makes the thirst a big sacrifice.
On the road there are volunteers with bags of juice and liquid to distribute at 19:00 h. to anyone who needs it. On the tables the food belongs to anyone and to everyone, everything is shared … and all congratulate themselves on having served a day of fasting.
The trip continued, I visited more places, I kept trying to talk to people, knowing their traditions, their impressions and sorrows … But allow me to keep the last days i spent in Egypt for me. Secrets exist because there are fascinating stories behind them … The silence often speaks as clearly as a law … Closing the curtain on time allows me the possibility for you to imagine this country in its shape, its thoughts and perceptions … You can see some pictures in this gallery, but soon I will release the full report.
When I was travelling back to Spain, terror appeared with his coward suit of shrapnel in Istanbul, ending the life and daydreams of dozens of people with name, challenges and family. Once again, fans of violence, gunpowder and bullets, attempted against the right to life, to breathe, to kiss …
I looked at my suitcase with tears in my eyes and I thought I do not travel alone anymore, I will travel with the memory of those victims and familys forever; a person or a cause is not dead because they no longer live, they die when we stop remembering them … I promise to never do so.
I travel alone, which is not the same as being alone traveling… Do not let your soul leaving without allowing it to breathe Egypt …
Article published in Euro Mundo Global