Archive for the ‘Egypt’ Category

In life, there are two types of spectators: those who watch from afar and those who watch up close.  You may be tempted to believe that those who watch from afar are those who are geographically far from the game, the fight or the show of affection while those who watch up close are physically present at the event.

This isn’t true.

Those who watch with their eyes, whether at the event or at home on their TV screen, watch from afar.  Those who watch with their hearts, watch up close.

I’ve made this observation as the large-scale demonstrations have begun to unfold in Egypt.

I am amazed, and I feel empathy for the people involved.  I take interest in the story as a news item and as a major story that is currently capturing the attention of the world, much like I did when the miners were trapped in Chile or when State Representative Gifford got shot.  While I am strongly interested in the situation, I am watching with my eyes.

But it’s obvious to me that there are those who watch in a different way than I do.  A blogger in Jordan that I follow, named Roba, shares her impressions of the situation in Tunisia and Egypt here.

My Egyptian students, colleagues and friends are watching with their hearts.  For those under the age of 30, I am realizing that this is the only governing system they have known.  Some are worried about how this will affect their religious freedom, in the wake the demonstrations.  Others are worried about family members and friends.  I have yet to hear any of the Egyptians around me scream for freedom or display any of the jubilant solidarity that is being reported on the news.  What I see is a sliver of fear in their eyes.  What I hear are students who are worried as they ask that we whisper a word of prayer for their country at the beginning of class.  I see some grappling with the reality that has become their country.  They watch with their hearts.

What kindof spectator are you?

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They were tired.

Actually, all of me was tired, but it was most noticeable in my shoes.  My beloved Pumas.  My walking shoes.  I never imagined they’d see much action, but by the end of the week in Egypt, they had done it all.

Trekked the Sahara desert atop of a fancifully garbed camel to see the Pyramids,

walked the winding paths of the Khan al Khalil marketplace,

picked through a winding alleyway following a character named “El Genteel”,

followed the steps of native Egyptians aboard a train to Alexandria,

followed a local guide on a tour to see the Saqqara pyrmids followed by a “perfume tour” where we weren’t “obligated to buy anything”, but it sure would be nice.

No wonder these dogs were tired.

Being strangers to this new land, required guides and there were plenty.  You never realize how vulnerable you are until you’re dropped off into a foreign land and told to survive.  This is even more true of a country like Egypt where tips, palm greasing, favors and giving your cousin, auntie and momma a cut, is an integral part of the society.  With this understanding, I can say for the most part, our guides (sometimes salesmen in disguise) worked hard to make their daily bread.

Guide in Giza to see the pyramids

“Guide” AKA Salesman at the Perfume Factory

Restaurant Owner and dispenser of advice

All in all, it was an adventure that I wouldn’t trade.  After all the stories, advice, warnings, etc that I heard before I went, I’m glad I can say I experienced it for myself.