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Published: December 23rd 2013
Classic Bazaar Photo
This was a cool little shop.
Some of my favorite classes in school were the middle school Social Studies classes. I was fascinated by the rich culture and ingenuity of the early and ancient Egyptians. It was one of the classes I looked forward to attending, it wasn't a boring history, but the beginnings of civilization. A people who built shrines to their Gods, Kings and Queens. A society that invented irrigation, a multitude of amazing things.
When my friend Tony told me he was being stationed at the embassy in Cairo, I had mixed feelings. I knew that he would have limited access to Western people and that it would be difficult for him to stay in such a different culture for two years. On the other hand, to be fully embedded into a different culture is appealing to me, I wondered if it would be as appealing to him. Either way, I knew I would try to get there for a visit. It turned out to be relatively simple to get a flight on my way out of Vietnam.
Traveling to many of the Middle Eastern countries is such an intimidating experience in many ways. Traveling alone as a
Perfect Tree Ornaments
Oh, and I'm sure they'd be like $30 in the States.
woman can be intimidating enough. Add the modesty garb of the devout Muslims and add the different social norm of indifference between men and women. Put in a pinch of dislike of Western lifestyle and the fact that in some of those places, if a woman gets raped, it's her fault. She shouldn't have been there, shouldn't have worn that (because men can't control themselves), a load of other bs reasons. It's a different society and I don't have to agree with it, but if I'm in the middle of it, I'd best respect it and conform as necessary, at least. Doesn't this sound like I'm generalizing? Why yes I am, not something I do usually, but I'll clear that up in a second.
Let's face it, the world is scattered with extremists and many of the most recent incidents of the training, kidnapping, killing and violence happen in the Middle East, causing fear and hatred, what some have termed as the War Against Islam. As someone who believes in the goodness of people, I believe this perception has been an unintentional consequence of fear. I digress though. Unfortunately, most people try to group these countries together,
generalizing in the most harsh way, many unknowingly doing so. For example, just because we both are from North America, there is a distinct difference between Americans, Canadians and Mexicans. Just because there are many Catholics in the U.S. and Italy, they are still profoundly different practitioners and have their own methods of brain power and culture. So the same can be said of the Middle East.
I'll try to explain it in my own way here, bear with me. Just as most people can't explain anything about nuclear power and the different types of reactors, they can't separate the different cultures over here. Not all reactors are created equal, some are inherently safe while others require a bit more supervision and maintenance. Some are designed to respond quickly while others are kept at a constant power output. For 99.9% of the time, nuclear power is a clean and efficient energy source, but a few morons allowed Chernobyl and 3 Mile Island to happen. See where I'm going with this? Overall great except for a few morons who do A LOT of damage. Being so detached from this part of the world, many Americans fall into this same
line of thinking, all middle Eastern countries are bad and all their ways are the same as the terrorists who have been publicized. It's NOT true and an unfair characterization. I say this, despite some very bad experiences with that culture, but I try to use an open mind and fair thought process before passing judgement on a culture or a religion as a whole.
Whew! That was a mouthful, wasn't it? I guess I just want to make sure that my limited experiences aren't used as fuel to an assenine assault on a different culture and religion. One of the oldest and most beautiful cultures/religions I might add.
Now, let's get to Egypt. My girlfriend Sarah and I were happily greeted at the airport by Tony. Such a dear, he had a car and driver waiting for us and we were whisked away to his humble, and GIANT, apartment. He does not drive there, most of the military personnel do not drive. I don't think they're permitted to do so, don't quote me on that. Anyway, after a small recovery and many Tony hugs, we are ready to get out and see everything. Whoah, whoah
ladies... slow down. Let's plan this out, says he. We did need to pace ourselves, we had plenty of time, but so much to see and wondrous things to do.
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