Egypt is More Than Just Sand

The famous pyramids of Egypt. Photo Credit: Mark Baron

By Mark Baron
Staff Writer

It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to travel 3000 miles away to Africa, but I guess my day just so happened to come. Before I traveled to Egypt, some people would ask me, “Why would you want to go to Egypt?” I’d simply reply, “Why, not?”

This summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Egypt, a place rich in culture, customs, and most importantly, ancient Egyptian history! The trip was sponsored by E.F.(Education First)Tours, an organization that  takes groups of high school and college students, as well as teachers,  to different parts of the world (Not for free). Altogether, the trip was ten days with travel included.  For me, it was more than a vacation: it was the opportunity to learn a great deal about the culture and ancient history of the country.  And it was fun, too!

Egyptian culture is quite different from the United States. For example, Egyptians’ sense of time is determined by the heat. Since the temperature in Egypt can get dangerously high, at times, the schedule of the days change. For instance, Egyptians usually wake up quite early in the morning, take a siesta around noon, and then get back to work toward the evening, as the sun goes down.

I have to say, though, that shopping in the open air markets was my favorite! I refer to these long rows of shops as ‘the gauntlet.’ I coined it this name after the way venders try to sell their merchandise. Unlike U.S. shopping, you don’t browse. Instead, the shop keepers either physically grab you by the arm and pull you in, put an item in your hand, or throw it on you! If you have boundary issues, it might not be for you. I had the profound experience of a man dressing me in a three piece Egyptian robe and I bought it for cheap! Turned out, it was a female’s robe…not cool.

Another great aspect of the culture is the food. Not one of the things I ate was bad. Most of the food we had was fresh vegetables, rice, and chicken or beef, but it was all cooked to perfection. The most interesting thing I tried was stuffed pigeon and why not? You don’t usually get the chance to eat one…unless you live on the street. Along with the good food, though, came good people.

Egyptians are some of the friendliest people I’ve met. Even though they may live in constant heat, it never seems to dampen their day. Always keeping a laid back attitude and light sense of humor, they managed to make me feel more at home and less like a foreigner. And the hospitality is second to none.

The trip alone would be great with just the people and culture, but what really made this trip worth while was the ancient landmarks and history. Altogether, our group saw about twenty different historical landmarks. Twelve of those were ancient Egyptian temples and/or tombs. One of the best experiences, you might guess, was not only seeing the Pyramids of Giza, but also walking down into a pyramid! Consider this: the second great pyramid consist of approx. 2.3 million stone blocks at an average weight of 2.5 metric tons. That’s, roughly, five million tons of pressure above you! However since the Egyptians were brilliant mathematicians and architects, the pyramids still stand after thousands of years! Being able to walk into such an amazing accomplishment gave me a complete sense of euphoria.

Through my journey, I was able to experience a culture far from my own and see things many people only dream about. I am extremely grateful for the experience and appreciate all that I gained from it. However, this was just an overview. I didn’t even get to the really good parts! If you are interested in an opportunity like this, visit www.eftours.com. And if you have any questions, feel free to stalk me on facebook! Ma’a salama! (Good Bye!)