Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cultural Differences

While I was on vacation in Egypt, I enjoyed seeing the vast treasures of the ancient world including the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, The Temple at Karnak, and The Valley of the Kings. I had heard of most of the places we visited because I've always studied art and architecture, specifically Egyptian. What I wasn't expecting was how a place so rich in history, could be so poor. For some reason it never dawned on me that Egypt is a third-world country.

While visiting all these places, we were often encountered by the local people who were there selling their wares to the tourists. Some places the people grabbed you. On more than one occasion I was groped by someone standing way too close, maybe they thought I wouldn't notice. I was kissed on the cheek several times. It made me wonder did they feel comfortable doing this because they feel Americans are more free with our bodies because we aren't as conservative or covered us as their women or was it just a cultural difference, they are more expressive of their emotions.

I'd done a lot of research before going and made it a point to be a conservative as possible by wearing long sleeves and long pants when in public, only thing I didn't wear was the headdress. I made sure that no cleavage was exposed, which is hard because I live in wrap tops and dresses and v-necks. But I still felt uncomfortable in the way the local approached me. They'd also make comments to my Father or other men I was with asking, "How many camels?" At first, I was like what the hell, but later figured out what they were talking about. It goes back to the old days when families paid a dowry and apparently in Egypt it's their way of saying how much for your daughter.

Other places we went people yelled out "My Cousin" and "Obama" because clearly they knew we were Black Americans. It was refreshing to see how excited they were to see us. In America, there still seems to be a love-hate relationship between Blacks and Africans who've come to America. I remember having Africans, mainly Nigerians, say all types of negative things to me. In Egypt, there wasn't any of that. Maybe there was, but since I don't speak Arabic I didn't know what they were really saying about us. I just had the feeling they were more accepting and genuinely happy to see us.

Part of our nine day excursion, was a 4 day cruise down the Nile. We ported each day and went to different parts of Egypt to see the historical sites. The second day there I noticed something strange, there were no women working on the boat, even when we began our tours you never saw women working in the shops. I know that it's a mostly (70%) Muslim country but it amazes me that many of the women don't work. From the looks of it, with many of the locals on the streets, smoking hookahs, hanging out outside, I seems like a majority of them do not work. I wonder what the unemployment rate is there.

Going to Egypt was definitely an experience I will never forget. Next time I go, yes I will be going back, I plan to spend some time in southern Egypt in Aswan which is the home of the Nubians, or the brown people.

Here are just a few of my pictures.

Temple of Isis

The Great Pyramids of Giza. Giza is about 15 miles outside of Cairo. It took 45 years to built the largest one.

My Aunt and I with a camel. We did get to ride one, it was definitely an experience.

1 comment:

  1. I hope one day to make the trip.

    Glad to see that you went and enjoyed it enough to return.