03 Sep Walking Like An Egyptian
“Shukraan” I said, giving thanks in Arabic for the tea handed to me as I found our front row cushions on the rug covering the Bedouin camp’s desert floor.
A camel nearby grumbled its dislike for the Arabian mare I had just ‘parked’ next to it after our ride to this Sahara hilltop.
And as traditional music played in the background like my own movie soundtrack, my headscarf billowing around me, I turned to take in the truly awe-inspiring sunset view of the Great Pyramids of Giza!
Some forty years ago, this Turkey Run Warrior was a 4th grader in the school library, checking out for the umpteenth time a book on Egypt’s Archaeology. In fact, you can probably still find my name on the library cards for ALL their books on Egypt! (Do they even have library cards anymore? Hmm.)
And now this farmer’s daughter from the Covered Bridge Capital Of The World was at the foothills of one of the remaining Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World!
Another childhood dream realized.
My parents, who still call a gravel road off the Marshall Road home, are often asked, “How does she do it?”
Revealing the ‘How” to you would have far less meaning and be a total disservice to you if I didn’t first answer another question my parents get asked…”Why is she doing that?”
Actually, the ‘Why’ began back in Parke County with a simple formula of Cheerios and National Geographics. Each morning I had a ‘dad and daughter’ date. Me with my Cheerios and he with his 70s-era olive melamine cup of Folgers (he STILL drinks from that cup, by the way).
Pouring over the magazine’s rich photos, Dad made me believe that I could go to all of the places it shared, taste their ‘weird’ foods, and get to know their peoples. Later, Mom would always echo the push to follow my interests.
They also shared all the places they had always wanted to go to. I’m sure they didn’t realize that even as a little girl, I could feel their longing for these places. I think their feelings compelled me to strive to never live with regret.
And this is where the ‘why’ to my story was borne from: the need to follow my heart’s giggles and the burning fear of living with regrets.
But “how” do I do this? How is it for almost two years I have been able to live all around the world calling home ‘wherever there is good wifi?’
I can assure you I’m not independently wealthy. There have been no Hoosier Lottery winnings or an estate left to me by rich relatives. Nor am I traveling or living like a twenty-something backpacker either. I am waaay past those days! This gal enjoys her nice comfy beds, views by the ocean, fine wines and finer dining, and of course, my sparkly sandals!
No, to date I have stayed for three months in a jungle yoga resort on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, six months in Panama in a castle on a volcano and later in an island oceanfront home, and in places across Europe before finally coming to Egypt.
I’ve been able to live this way by combining today’s technology and my experiences in corporate management to create a consulting business that I can do anywhere.
You must realize too that I’ve traded in car and house payments for airline and cruise tickets, and closets full of the latest fashions for a lifetime of memories. ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ has now become ‘Keeping up with MY Dreams.”
I’ve also got several strategies I’ve learned to help keep travel costs way down and cultivate interesting experiences, and I’ll share those with you in the future.
So with few expenses and a pretty steady income, I’m able to travel slowly, having delicious experiences, all across the globe to wherever my heart’s giggles take me.
Which brings us back to Egypt.
Another question my parents get from folks who learn I’m in Egypt is “Just what in the hell was she thinking going there?!”
Admittedly, my folks weren’t crazy with the idea at first either.
They remembered the Egypt from the news during the 2009 coup. They worried too about my being in a Muslim country as a very white, solo traveling gal. On their list of “OMG-What-Is-She-Doing-NOW List,’ this one was a doozy!
Thankfully, they knew I was right.
I couldn’t NOT go see the pyramids. I would regret it otherwise. Still…my mother wanted me to call her every day. “Um, no Mom.”
Now living in Giza, I write this while looking out from my villa balcony at the Great Pyramids.
Magical? Yes, of course!
The real magic here though honestly is in its people.
Camels take their midday lunch as children play soccer at their feet in the dirt street while mothers watch nearby, every one of them stopping to smile with big grins at me and tell me ‘Welcome to Egypt’ proudly in their best English.
Clerks at the coffee shop write “Welcome to Egypt” on my Frappuccinos (yes, Starbucks is here, as well as Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, KFC, Hardy’s, and MickeyDs of course!). At the grocery, another “welcome, welcome” from the bagger.
Egypt’s Welcome Wagon is up and running for all and not just for me as a Westerner here.
No, it’s just their way of life. It’s who they are.
You see, Egyptians are some of the most gracious, authentic and loving people I’ve come across in my travels and this constant feeling from the ‘welcome’ I get, is…well, it feels like that “Hoosier Hospitality’ we all grew up with.
Here, neighbors are family.
‘Community’ really means something.
Farmers take care of their animals and are proud of their crops.
Faith is central to every aspect of everyone’s lives.
And everyone, no matter where they are from, is ‘welcome, welcome.’
Is it any wonder why then Egypt seems like ‘home’ to me?
“Hataa naltaqi mujadadaan”…until we meet again.
This article was previously published in the Parke County Sentinel, of Rockville, Indiana. Their feature columnist for her hometown, Kimberly Roberts, is a writer, international speaker, world traveler, and an Old Soul. She traveled here as a tourist and found her heart’s home here.