I am suddenly awakened by the siren of the alarm clock, as excruciating as that sound might be, I still can’t muscle the strength to reach over and stop the torturous sound. When I finally am able to do so, I now need to figure out what day is it, where am I, and what time zone am I in? I look out the window and it’s just about sunrise and I notice the building and the body of water and remember this is no longer Brooklyn. I quickly recall the 13 hour flight that brought me to this majestic land of kings and queens. I breathe and praise the higher being…this was not a dream. I am in fact in Egypt. The land located in the continent of Africa, bordering the Middle East and close enough to Europe to have an affect on all of civilization as we know it today.
Wow! I grab my phone and run to the window, pull the screen open and take it all in… The beauty, the view, the history and people….Somehow this felt familiar…I felt at home! Granted this was not my first visit to the land of kings and queens, this time it felt different. As I took in the magnificent view of a piece of history that I had only read about in books, it brought me to tears. I literally filled my lungs with air and slowly whistled it out, looked to the sky and whistle his praise. I then turned around and faced my room, looked at my bed and resisted the temptation of jumping back in and snuggling under my crisp white Egyptian cotton sheets that now have a personal meaning…. I resisted the temptation and ran to the shower and hurried to breakfast.
As I became more and more aware of my environment, I smiled. “Good morning madam.” I attempted to practice my Arabic greeting, “Ah Salam Alakham “. They responded to my feeble but endearing attempt and said Salakham Salam. Where are you from?” I proudly stated, “Brooklyn New York.” They smiled and said “welcome!” Ha!
I rendezvoused with my fellow travelers and entered into their conversation and knew at that exact moment this was going to be a great trip! And it was! Cairo, the capital, is like all capitals: overcrowded, a bit dirty, unkempt, and aggressive…but enchanting. The hustle and movement of the locals are no different than that of Times Square or Barcelona, or London’s Picadeli Circus. Hold on to your purses, listen for the fast-talking salesmen, the charming, good-looking Egyptians, and keep it moving; you will fall in love! If that’s your style! But one thing I tell you it is nothing less than entertaining.
The architecture is magnificent. The spirit makes you feel alive. If it is romance you are yearning for, then Egypt by far will quench your thirst. You can envision the beauty that once made this city one of the Seven Wonders of the World. If you have ever seen the legendary iconic actor the late Omar Sherif on the big screen you will better understand my obsession with Egypt. Egypt was once the playground for Parisian Barons, Ciaro’s elegant specialties, international artists and entertainers, it evoked glamour and class. You can still feel their presence as you walk through the hotel lobbies, and see the art work. I won’t tell you what to do while in Ciaro…we did that already. But I will tell you, it’s worth every second of your time. The food is fresh and tasty. The passion of the people is felt along with their struggle. By the time the day was finished I had no strength to do anything but slip into the luxurious tub that was calling out to me, beautiful room and crawled into bed. My welcome platter was filled with scrumptious fresh fruit furnished by the hotel had been generously and beautifully displayed and made me feel like I never wanted to leave.
Next stop: Luxor! Where do I begin? From the moment I stepped off the airplane, I was in awe. We made a quick stop to the hotel to drop off our bags and change, then rush for a tour of the city and museums. All of this was after the manager greeted us it was then that I knew we were hypnotized (well, at least me) with his welcoming deep voice, that made it impossible to hear the words that were coming out of his mouth. Did I mention to you the charm of the Egyptian men? Well….whatever. Then off we went…
Our guide, the passionate Mustafa was the best guide this area has to offer…his colorful and passionate descriptions felt like the Pharaohs themselves were giving us a tour of the city. I couldn’t get enough. I impatiently waited for more and tried so hard to recall all that my Bible studies and public school teaching had taught us…none of them compared to the depiction that our guide was providing. I wanted more. Learning had never been so exciting… Once again, we found ourselves moving quickly to the next location, gathering more information, and yet it was still not enough. I wanted more, and I was not alone. All I could think of was my desire to come back, as this was only an appetizer and I thought it had to be the main course…I was a captive audience hungry for more.
Upon our return to our hotel, I contemplated scheduling a spa service, but after all of our activities, my body got the best of me and I was out for the night! The next day I awakened in a frenzy, wondering what day it was and peered out the window and watched God presented a magnificent sunrise as it made its way high above the sky as if it was ordered especially for my pleasure…..I selfishly took in the magnitude of what I saw out my window and gave thanks to a higher power.
I made my way downstairs to meet the others all of us eager to board the flight to Sharm El Shake. And yet for a third time, I was embraced and welcomed by a City with open arms, and I responded the same. The hotel was as magnificent if not more as the last, nestled on the beach of the Red Sea with a picture perfect view. I took in as much as they gave me…the view was breathe taking and legend has it that it is one of the most sought after diving locations in the world.
I took their word for it and enjoyed the sea from a distance. But my crew would not standby, they indulged in all the possible water sports with much excitement until they were forced to go to the scheduled activity. But from what I understand the water of the Red Sea is the incubator for some of the most magnificent sea life. The salt water is salty enough to kill anything … I retreated to my suite and napped to prepare for the night of festivities with the Bedouins ….nights of endless food, drinks, dancing and laughter…..fresh food, belly dancing and great company is a recipe for……well, I’ll leave that up to you. Just when I couldn’t take another bite it was time to go….thank God! There’s no way I could have survived another bite…
As I made my way to the refuge of my suite, private pool, and fine Egyptian cotton sheets when the night time came….that was good enough for me.
The next day we returned to Cairo, I was filled with a sense of longing, I couldn’t imagine that our hosts were making it this difficult for me to return to New York and any sense of normalcy. As I soaked it all in I knew, that I never wanted it to end.
As we walked to the square and visited the mosque and strolled through the market, it was obvious they knew we were visitors as the local children giggled and we heard their chants “we love America.”
I smiled and felt at ease…As the night came to an end I made my way to our car and the kind driver that awaited us, for us to rush to yet another dinner overlooking the pyramids as its backdrop…I realized morning would come and I would have to leave my beloved Egypt and like a new-found lover, the feeling of separation was building in my stomach for which there was no immediate cure or at least until I came back into its loving arms….Egypt my beloved!