Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Letters from Egypt: Missing in Action

First of all, I’m going to address this issue – you may not agree with what I write, but note that these are my experiences. As I’ve stated in previous blogs, I’m not here to appease everyone, if I only showed the positive without the negative, how realistic is that? I do not mind counter views, but please remain respectful.

Furthermore, for those men who send me emails and/or post comments pretending to be women – just stop. You’re only validating views that have been expressed regarding harassment.

Finally, I almost always respond to questions and/or comments. However, I make a rule that I do not meet men via my blog unless in a group setting. This is a safety precaution, and one that I highly recommend for anyone in any situation.

As Ramadan has ended and another birthday has come and gone, I wonder where I’ll be next year at this time. Will it still be Egypt, will I be back in the US, or some other unknown location?

I have to be honest, I really miss home. My best friend recently got engaged and told me in an email. While being thrilled, part of me was sad that the news came via an email and not a phone call. Thus is part of the set back in being overseas.

And of course, I’m at the age where many of my friends are getting engaged, married, having children and I wonder – what the hell am I doing? Oh yeah, riding camels by the pyramids (which might I advise, do not ride for longer than 30 mins as you will regret it later…and I do mean REGRET). Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my life, but sometimes I just wonder if I'm missing out on other things. And I can tell you what, I am.

That isn’t to say that life as an expat isn’t exciting and definitely gives you stories for when you’re 85+ years old in a nursing home humoring your nursing attendant. What I’m trying to convey is that while the grass is always greener on the other side, there’s definitely no win-win to life as an expat. You’re seen as adventurous from friends and family at home, and yet, sometimes you just want to return to that time before you were known as this globe trotter (so to speak).

Then I wonder if when you become an expat, if you’re always an expat?

***CREEP ALERT***

Beware all potential travelers venturing on a desert safari. I received word of a group that went on a desert safari with the man pictured. While I will remain brief, he was inappropriate to all the women and also took pictures of them exiting the water for personal use – despite their persistence he stop. I believe he has been reported to the proper authorities, but this is a warning for any of you that thought about booking with this company and/or guide:

Ahmed Mouaref

Siwa Oasis (does tours throughout Egypt)

www.siwasafaritours.com

badwy_mouaref@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Letters from Egypt: Next Stop Fayoum

Sometimes I just get the urge that I want to have an adventure of sorts, like that day I just woke up and said, “I think I’ll go to Shobra.” The end of Ramadan when most Cairoenes venture to the Red Sea, some of us still maintain a regular work schedule as though we were back in our own countries. So while I couldn’t venture to the party scene on the Red Sea (Hurghada, Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab), I decided that I could still venture out which led me to visit Fayoum.

Fayoum, the nearest oasis to Cairo, is full of character – but I didn’t really see much of it as one day is simply not enough time. I did venture to nearby Sinnuris and visited the lakes and waterfall.

This isn’t one of my usual posts, but more so to introduce a new place to perhaps see the rich culture. Fayoum is somewhat of a remote village-type area mostly comprised of farmers. Not many foreigners venture out to Fayoum, but it should be a stopping point instead of the usuals: North Coast, Red Sea resorts, etc.

However, here’s one of my usual warnings: If you have a weak bladder, I suggest wearing diapers. Okay, but seriously, remember that it is a farm town so don’t expect Ritz Carlton-type toilets.

Also bring snacks/food for your visit as it might not be the most sanitary of places and that's if you can really find anything edible. There are some hotels, but we encountered a problem as our server refused to get us the regular menu as the set menu was more expensive (also menus are mostly in Arabic so go with someone that reads squiggle squiggle dot dot). We left and headed to Arabian Nights, which is great for the ambiance, but don't expect mouth-watering delights.

Your Perfect Getaway
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