The day and a half in Cairo after I wrote my penultimate post were a whirlwind of activity, and I was too busy trying not to dissolve into a soggy, weeping mess on my trip back to the U.S. to try and write anything about the end of my trip. Then I was scrambling around preparing for school, and producing the first issue of the newspaper, and faster than I knew it classes had started and I’ve been back in the States for almost a full month.
I’m going to cop out a bit, and instead of writing up my own, sappy summary of my time in Egypt, I’m going to post a photo essay that I wrote for The Hoya’s arts and leisure magazine.
When I was packing for my study abroad program Egypt early this summer, a friend of mine who was living there warned me that I had to be prepared for two Egypts. The first is flashy and modern and moderately Westernized, a country where every kid has a facebook and American pop music booms from every taxi. The second Egypt is more religious, more deeply conservative, a country still grasping at the past out of fear of the future, where men will point at your chest and yell at you if they think your shirt shows too much skin.
I saw both these Egypts during my two months there, and more. I saw Egypt the third world country, where children as young as four worked selling tissue packets on the street. I saw Egypt the burgeoning democracy, got to witness the announcement of the results of the country’s first free elections and see the expressions of immense pride and exhilaration on Egyptians’ faces. I visited the North Coast, where the country’s elite sun bathe on private beaches in front of the crystalline blue Mediterranean. And I walked through parts of Cairo where every building seemed to be halfway deteriorating, where motorcycles, donkey carts, pedestrians and stray dogs crowded the unpaved, trash-strewn streets.
I am fascinated how this country can contain so many separate but tangential worlds, and how Egyptians seem able navigate them with such grace. I didn’t get to witness these worlds completely when I visited, but what I did see of each of them left me hungry for more.
Ma salama Misr. Inni s’arja lak, in sha’ allah.