"True teaching is not an accumulation of knowledge; it is an awaking of consciousness which goes through successive stages" - Kemetic proverb
I went on a solo trip to Egypt in September 2020. I planned to go to Israel, but they were poorly hit by C19 and did not allow tourists, so Egypt was the next best place. I was there for a week and a half and travelled to Cairo, Alexandria and the Red Sea. Here are eleven things that I noticed:
1. Egypt is incredibly rich in culture and architectural masterpieces
I don’t need to type too much on this point. Many of you have heard that ‘civilisation started in ancient Egypt’. This country certainly has one of the richest lands and cultures globally. This isn’t because of modern society, but it’s due to the civilisations that lived there thousands of years ago. When you visit Egypt today, you will see an amalgamation of the Kemetic, Roman and Greek cultures as, over time, they began to mix their cultures and breed to produce the Egyptians that we see today. One thing I noticed was that ancient Egyptian civilisation was highly death-centric. Almost every site contains a tomb, coffin or mummy-related artefacts.
2. There are many cities that you can visit
3. They are warm to other cultures
When I read Trip Advisor before I left, I saw mixed reviews. Some black women said we need to stop going to countries where they don’t like black people, while others said the locals were very warm. I had the latter experience. It even got weird after a while. Everywhere I went, I got, “where are you from?” I then said “Nigeria” and went “, I love Nigeria”. One man even gave me a discount because I had “Egyptian skin”. I don’t even know what that means. I heard “Habibi” all the time, which was the only Arabic I managed to learn aside from “Shukran” (thank you)”.
Another thing that happened every day was Egyptian men asking to take a picture with me( I was like, wtf??). On the last day, I went to the Egyptian Museum and even got asked to be on Egyptian TV. So, the men are amiable but not in a creepy way.
4. They are also warm to each other
I think this is an Islamic thing because I have noticed it amongst the Hausa people. But, I observed the men there are incredibly friendly to each other. They stop and talk to each other on the street and ask questions, and you would think they had known each other since.
5. You don’t see many women about
The only time I saw women were at the Cairo City mall and then at the hotel. Aside from that, it was when my friend took me to an Egyptian version of a ‘Strip Club’ without stripping. The women are singing classic Egyptian songs to men at different tables. She goes round to each table, and then they spray her with money whilst she sings like Celine Dion. It was fascinating to observe.
6. The weather is HOT, and there are not many ACs on
Na, I don’t know what kind of beef Egyptian people have with air-conditioning. The taxis wind their windows down (partly because they are smoking cigarettes whilst driving), the AC in the hotel (Safir Hotel Cairo) was weak, and the hotel at the museums and all sites were non-existent. I had to rely on my electric fan; when the battery died, I was finished. I remember the day I went to the pyramids; I was in buckets of sweats. Even the men driving the horses were grabbing my fan to use. If you think Lagos is hot, Cairo is mercilessly hotter and humid.
7. Every man here smokes
When I say EVERY man, I mean EVERY MAN. I did not meet one man who did not smoke. I took myself to lunch at the Ritz Carlton (a gorgeous hotel, will stay there next). I met a lovely guy there and had to ask, what’s up with the chronic smoking of all men, rich or poor, in this country? When you are in a taxi, within 2 minutes, they shake a pack of cigarettes in front of you and ask if they can wind down the window. He told me that he started smoking at 11! I almost passed out. He said the men there begin early, and because it’s not haram in Islam, unlike drinking alcohol, the men in Egypt smoke a lot. Plus, cigarettes are cheap there (£4 a pack), but not as cheap as in Lagos (£1 a pack).
8. They are going to try to cheat you mercilessly
Now, I really have to highlight this one because it is CRIMINAL. Nigerians are infamous for scamming and overpricing, but I swear to you, Nigerians will not try to cheat you the way Egyptians will. They are RUTHLESS. Let me give you a few anecdotes:
- When I got to the airport at around 11 pm, the trolley men in their red t-shirts were all there. One comes to me, and whilst I usually say no, because it was late and I was doing the princess lifestyle, I said yes, he can help. He told me to sit down and relax. After that, I needed to buy a sim card. I think this is where I effed up because he might have seen me count the money to pay for it. He couldn’t speak proper English, but when it was time to pay, I gave him £2. The trolley fare wasn’t even up to that. This man was grumping and huffing, and then I gave him a £10 note!!!! My friend told me that I gave him his yearly pay in one. I don’t know why I become a softie when I go on holiday.
- I used the hotel taxi driver to take me out for 4 hours on the first day. We went to the market and then to 1 shop to buy all-natural skincare products. This mother******* tried to charge me $80!! Do I have ‘MUMU’ written all over my forehead?? Yeah, I did not pay that, but what I did pay, I still think, was too high. I started taking Ubers from then on.
- When my tour guide took me to the Coptic church, after I wanted to buy papyrus for my bedroom, the tour guide charged me £65 for two papyri in his presence. My tour guide’s face squeezed up, and he told me to sit down. The two of them went back and forth in Arabic. Then I see the seller angrily pack the papyrus in the bag, the tour guide gives it to me to hold and then the man says I should pay him £15!
- Then I met my friend on Day 3 and told him everything. We then went to the pyramids together, and he was like, oh my days, he thought I was joking. The way they tried to bump me, he even had to ring another one of his friends in disgust! My friend is a native Egyptian but was born and raised in London. So until he started speaking fluent Arabic, they fixed up. He told me to shut up for the rest of the trip and let him do all the talking.
9. There were no mosquitos
Lagos mosquitos are so evil and merciless. They have made me hypersensitive to going to hot countries and fear being chewed up. Even though the stunning River Nile runs through Cairo, I did not receive one mosquito bite. God is good.
10. Women, make sure you cover up adequately before you go to the market
Mhm, you see this one, yeah? I suffered. On day 1, I said, let me go to the market, as I needed to buy dresses because I read online that you should dress modestly and cover your shoulders. I bought a couple from London and wore 1 to the market. The hotel taxi driver was the one that took me. Within 5 minutes, he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, can I buy you a dress” perplexed, I was like ‘, Why, what’s up?’. He replied, “Men can see your body.” He even said, if anyone asks, you are my wife and held me when walking around the market. He bought me a dress as deep black as anything, and I had to change in the back of a man’s shop. That was my first morning in Egypt. Those dresses were suffocatingly hot. I don’t know how their women do it, because they even wear them on the beach!
11. If you’re a vegan/vegetarian, you are going to struggle
I was vegan for about nine months in 2020. My friend had forced me to watch ‘What the Health” on Netflix and went on a 2-hour rant on how meat leads to clogged arteries etc., so I converted on the spot. What ended up ending my veganism was going to Egypt. There were NO, and I mean NO, vegetarian options. I went to eat in multiple hotels and restaurants, and in the end, I had to settle for eating salmon every day, and I don’t even like fish. So yes, Egyptians love their meat. Camel meat was on the menu everywhere. They also didn’t have a large variety of fruits. It was just guava, strawberry and mango everywhere.
Here is an example of what my meals were like;
All in all, Egypt is a country everybody should visit at least once in their lives. I will certainly be returning there for more trips soon.