When I decided to visit Egypt, I originally planned to go alone because I didn’t think I would find someone who would want to join. But then my flatmate Brynn had extra travel money and said “why not?”
So, we booked our flights (when we originally met up to study) and looked into airbnb’s to stay in. We booked one, and the host messaged us asking what we wanted to do in Egypt. He then planned our entire itinerary for a little over 300 USD a piece, which we did not expect. But I am glad the itinerary was planned for us by a local because I would not have thought to do most of the stuff on the list. All I thought I wanted to do was visit the pyramids and Sphinx, the Nile and Alexandria. But I really think we lucked out with a host who helped us experience so much more…
Paying for the itinerary, which included transportation and admission to attractions, was the most expensive part of our trip besides the flights. But it was the best investment for us because of the cultural differences in Egypt compared to other countries I have visited.
The major differences in culture that I realized are:
- Language barriers: One problem I overlooked when deciding to visit Egypt was that I know zero Arabic. I guess I figured it would be more like European tourist areas where mostly everyone is multilingual. Our host Mohammed helped a lot in this case as our translator.
- Admission to attractions: Part of language barriers, it was a lot easier for Mohammed to purchase our tickets than us to figure it out.
- Security: There is security and military everywhere. Whenever entering a new building or area, you have to go through airport-esque security. And there are military men carrying guns patrolling the streets. I guess this made my stay feel a bit safer knowing that everyone had to go through the same checks to get some place.
- Transportation: Let me tell you about the rules of the road in Egypt: there are none. Egyptians like to drive anyway they want, and there are only speed limits on highways. As a result, streets are filled with cars being driven wherever they can squeeze, the noise of horns honking and people walking in between moving vehicles. You may understand why I am grateful to have had Mohammed as our chauffeur, basically. Also, he stopped me from getting hit by a car so many times during our stay.
- Cats and dogs: These animals are everywhere. Most are strays, but people treat them as if they are one of their own. These animals enjoy the good life; walking from street to street getting fed by different families and being given good places to sleep every night.
- Religious dedication: Muslims pray five times a day. This means that, as a Muslim country, there are public announcements that say when to pray throughout Egypt five times a day. Friday is their main day of worship, which was our last day in Egypt. Driving back after our horse ride that day, we passed a mosque and Mohammed went inside to join the prayer. I think it is pretty cool how Muslims are so willing to drop what they are doing to pray.