Sunday, 24 October 2010

Egypt!

Sphinx before Khephren's Pyramid, Giza


Egypt! Such a magical name for such a magical place!
Egypt! Birthplace of so many civilizations!
Egypt! Land of pyramids, temples, sphinxes , tombs and the great river Nile!

Two weeks I have been touring, sailing and visiting this magnificent country, from Alexandria in the north to Abu Simbel in the deep south. And I have become enchanted and fascinated by everything I saw and experienced.

It was the ancient Egyptian culture and civilization that originally drew me there. As a student of the Western Mystery Tradition, with a special emphasis on Egyptian mythology, I soon became aware of the enormous richness of this civilization and its cultural heritage. So, when the opportunity arose, I set out on a two-week exploration tour to experience this  for myself.

The banks of the Nile
For one week I've been sailing on the Nile, from Luxor in Middle-Egypt to Aswan further south, then I flew to Egypt's bustling capital Cairo and a two day excusion to Alexandria on the Mediterranean topped off this vacation.

On this trip I've visited many tombs and temples, many of them ancient. But I have also seen two mosques  from the inside,  as well as witnessed part of a Coptic Christian ritual. And I've stood in what could be called a contemporary temple of knowledge and culture: Alexandria's brand new Library.

Egypt is fascinating and so are its people. I have a great respect for the sheer ingenuity by which they live their lives in the face of many challenges, some of them natural, many of them man-made. I have also found that many of the prejudices regarding the people of Egypt are simply not true. Even the ubiquitous so-called 'obnoxious and pestering sales people' are not out there to make the tourists' life miserable, they are simply people who try to make a living by selling an amazing variety of stuff. Seen from this viewpoint, things all of a sudden are not so bad, especially when declining to do business, using  few Arabic words and a friendly smile are appreciated and often lead to interesting and fun interactions without any pressure to buy anything.

In the next days I hope to write a bit more about some of my experiences in this marvellous country. One of the many things I learned: whatever it is you bring in, that's also what you will get. If you're open and receptive, the whole country will open itself for you like a lotus flower. But come in closed-minded and full of prejudices: that's what you will reap. I prefer the first attitude!

Mohammed Ali Mosque in Saladin's Citadel, Cairo