I had few expectations for my trip to Egypt. My mind was in limbo over the extremes of Middle Eastern culture but the modernization through politics and even tourism. With this, I went to Egypt with an open mind.
Surprisingly, my biggest concern was flying with a big group of people. "What?" you ask... "How could that be your biggest concern?" Well, I am used to flying alone. I have developed routines and timing. Flying has become my control freak characteristic. Stressing about everyone else, it took me by surprise when I became the problem child. On our flight back to Egypt, I went to the bathroom. This may sound innocent, but apparently no one heard when I said I was going. After being with a large group of the same people for 4 days, I did not put in as much effort as I probably should have. With this, the group asked "where's Gillian?" for the rest of the night to tease me. I was glad to have my own row on the flight back.
The flight there was much more pleasant though. It was each of our first times in Egypt. In arriving, we had to buy a visa at the airport. It now remains the most flourished decor in my passport. We had no problems getting through and met transportation people that worked for the hostel outside of security. As part of our stay, they brought us to and from the airport. It was nice to be welcomed when arriving in a busy and unfamiliar, foreign country.
Driving in Cairo is out of control! There is no such thing as lanes. Two lane roads turn into three lane roads and there is no such thing as a speed limit. Our driver was going onto an on-ramp to a highway and apparently realized he was making a wrong turn. Among the traffic, he backed down the ramp. Other cars swerved around us. Nicosia has a very low crime rate but is high in traffic accidents. While I thought they were crazy, Cairo acts like a bulldozer over Nicosia's sand box. The only good thing is, Cairo drives on the same side of the roads as in the states.
Somehow we made it to the hostel. We were greeted my the owner, Abraham. He told us a plan for the weekend he made up for us and offered us tea. According to Abraham, we needed to talk before we drank the Egyptian tea because afterward we might not be able to understand him. Did this make me hesitant to drink the tea? Most definitely. Did I drink it anyway? Yes, I did. After waiting anxiously through every sip and surveying my body's tendencies, I finished the cup without any affects. The Egyptians are big-talkers.
In comparison to hostel standards, I think ours was up to par. The only controversial figure was the bathroom. The room was a giant shower, containing a toilet and sink. This would not have been a problem but the hostel had a horrible draining system. Throughout the trip, we walked in bath water from our stay. I did not walk in the room without shoes.
That night we walked around town. The heavy population was overwhelming. Children walked the street without parents. We were stared and pointed at. As we were unfamiliar with the area, our group only walked for a few blocks. In one night, I received more culture shock than my stay in Cyprus so far. Egypt is a country that involves a slow transition. Compared to America, there are few similarities.