Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Anti musrya? La’a ana TOURIST

So much has happened since my first post. We’ve flown from Dulles to Cairo, explored Cairo for five days, and now come to rest in Alexandria.

  • National Egyptian Museum
  • Arabic musical performance by a Takht group (5-player arrangement of a ney (similar toa flute, a violin, a oud (a large barreled guitar), a tambourine/hand-drum, and the Qanun (stringed instrument like the piano)—this was enthralling to listen to. I am on the lookout for a music shop as I meander and get a feel for Alexandria.
  • Explored the Khan el-Khalili market or souk that winds through tight stone alleys

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  • We saw a performance of the sufi-religious dance called the Whirling Dervishes. The tradition entails spinning continuously for long periods of time (we saw one man spin for 37 minutes) to attain religious ecstasy.

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  • Pyramids and the Sphinx!!

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  • Rode camels in the desert surrounding the Pyramids

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Our tour guide with a camel casually milling around in the background, as if we wouldn’t notice! This tour guide was with us at the National Egyptian Museum, the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx. Regaling us with historical context, and architectural and cultural importance, he never failed to grab our attention with an emphatic “my ladies and gentleman” for every fact!

In addition to learning a lot about ancient Egypt, the chaotic traffic in Cairo and driving to Alexandria has a true silver-lining: non-stop people-watching throughout the diverse parts of modern Egypt. En route to Alexandria we drove through construction zone after unfinished building after crane-storage space…etc. It is not difficult to gauge that Cairo is crowded and its population is ever growing. From our sky-high highway, we paralleled the rooftops, which unanimously house a hodgepodge of rubbish, discarded wood, and multiple satellite dishes. The media may be struggling to grasp and portray the complex Egyptian current events but the Egyptians themselves are well wired in and technologically equipped. Cairo, and undoubtedly other Egyptian cities as well, intertwine the ancient with the modern. The pyramids are not miles outside of the city, out of reach of urban sprawl, but bumped right up to the living and breathing city. Eager to give the tourists the ‘Egyptian and Middle Eastern experience,’ men and boys ride camels and horses around the pyramids and the sphinx, weaving through the groups of us tourists. However, don’t let the dromedaries fool you, this is Egypt in the 21st century and here, the man on the camel with the pyramids in the background is yammering away on his cell phone.

Hopefully by the next time I post I will be a member of the (new) Library of Alexandria!

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