Egypt, Israel and Palestine – first part, Egypt
Why are you not writing about Egypt or Israel? It’s a question I must answer several times and it’s actually a logical one as I used to spend a lot of time in these countries. Have been caught in armed riot, have seen manipulated elections (yes, I know, this is possible to happen in almost […]
Why are you not writing about Egypt or Israel? It’s a question I must answer several times and it’s actually a logical one as I used to spend a lot of time in these countries. Have been caught in armed riot, have seen manipulated elections (yes, I know, this is possible to happen in almost every country) snow in Jerusalem and had unforgettable diving experiences. Met so many different people in these countries, wealthy ones who used to send a private jet just to fly their barber from London to Cairo and poor as well who were happy to build a one room tiny house using carton boxes. Met peaceful people and warriors too. Fighting sometimes with themselves, with their own nation, but fighting also with the “others”.
I did not wrote at all about Israel and Palestine and just a bit about Egypt because the topic might be a burning fire. Must to be crazy to put your bare hand inside. There is a second reason why I did not wrote that much about Egypt. Actually, is not one of my favorite country. Yes, I admit in Egypt are a lot of ancient ruins and buildings to see and yes, I met there good people too. Unfortunately, I had to deal as well with a lot of human stupidity, limited mentality, lie, religious brainwash. Everything I wrote till now in every of my articles were true and I want to keep like this but I cannot write only nice things about Egypt. So, I kept delaying again and again to write about this country. However, I cannot hide what is in my mind, so decided to write this article and really hope no matter of what experiences I had there, you will still listen to me and you won’t cancel your trip to Egypt just because of my article?! My opinion is, you should go there, see how that country is with your own eyes and make your own opinion about. You know, I have been in these countries for work and. If you go there as a tourist, spending your holiday in an “all-inclusive” hotel, most probably you won’t see the real face of a country, neither deal with situations I’m writing about.
Won’t start now a debate about religion or nationalities as it’s not the reason why I write this article and definitely not easy to understand what is happening in this region of the world. Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Shiites, Sunnis, Protestants, Wahhabis, Copts, Sufis are just some of the representants of the main religions presents in the area. Put all of them in a caldron, add water which is just as precious as gold in these countries, guns, place to live, desire for freedom, for power, Tora, Coran and Bible explained but more or less radical religious leaders in several wrong ways. Once al these are together, give the spoon to mix them in the hand of the politicians, the leaders of all kind of terrorist groups and their weapon suppliers and you might get exactly what is there. To understand what and why is happening in these countries and to not be influenced is not always easy. Perhaps I have my opinion too, however I do believe that every person should be free and live in peace.
Was checking some travel books about Egypt, Israel and found some about Palestine too and seems most of them are written using the same recipe. Really nice pictures, some tips where to go, what to do, almost zero personal experiences, somehow too sterile content. I cannot write as these books are and definitely cannot write only nice things about every country. Yes, sometimes I have bad experiences too, in some countries less in some more and I’m not hiding this. Decided to write two separate articles about these countries, showing you through my experiences how is the life, the mentality in these places. I won’t write only nice things, saying thank you to different ministers for inviting me in their countries. I’m sure some of you will disagree with what or how I write, however I think this is normal. We are all different, having different perceptions, ideas, opinions about our world. because this world is beautiful, has so much to offer to all of us. Will start with my “favorite” country, Egypt.
The country of millions of check points, everywhere, all the time, apparently without too much logic or strategy. On every street where the traffic it’s just a bit more than 2 cars/hour the police starts to control. Their action results in long ques, the drivers are honking even more than they used to. As no car can pass faster just because everyone is honking, the drivers are turning back, driving on alternative routes avoiding the check point. if you ask them why are they doing this check points, the only answer you get is one word. “System”. All their actions are part of a system. I used to wonder which is this system? “Let’s not think just act” system. If they stop you, are asking for the driver license. Once you are foreigner, these guys cannot understand what is written so they are showing to each other like “hey, check this out”, then saying “ok” and you can continue your way. I guess they have in their mind a whole database as no license is registered in any system. Simply deciding by looking at the documents if you are ok or not. You might think they do this only because cannot read what is written on a foreigner driver license, but exactly the same is happening with the local drivers too.
once they stopped me, I had no documents with me. Yes, used to happen sometimes, I simply forgot to have them. One of my colleagues was with me in the car, so I quickly took her documents and gave it to the police man. The guy was looking at the license, then with the already well known “ok” gave it back to me. yes, I know, the picture on the license is really small, but still, visible the difference between a male and a female face.
If you are checking the statistics of traffic accidents per year, unfortunately Egypt is really not on a good position. If you decide to spend your holiday in that country, I suggest to you to go and see as much as you can, but use the big buses instead of renting car and driving. I wrote on purpose to use big bus, instead of small ones. Not because the driver of a bigger would be better, but in case of an accident in a big bus you are somewhat more protected. Yes, I used to live and drive there enough to know why I’m telling you this. I consider myself lucky as I did not had any accidents, but by avoiding them in the last moments destroyed several tires. Cannot count how many times had to suddenly change the direction because the local drivers were cutting me off, changing lines without looking around if there are any other cars, etc. Of course, no one, never ever stopped to see what happened. Even if they heard the sound of how the tire exploded when I hit the rocks on the side of the road, all they did was looking at me while speeding to disappear as fast as possible.
Let me tell you a funny story, when I was standing in front of the entrance of a 5-star hotel having only underwear on and this time I really enjoyed the situation. I had guests in that hotel and went to meet them in the lobby of the hotel. At the entrance a strict security guy was asking me to empty my pockets and to take off my belt. I empty my pockets, then put everything I had back and tried to explain him why I cannot take off my belt. During that time, I was working for an English company and I must say the management was really not the most intelligent. Someone in England decided we must wear some uniforms made from plastic instead of cotton. No matter how it looks, no matter in Egypt are at least 45°C during the day, we had to wear it. So, my belt was holding the stupid trousers. I was showing this to the security guy, explaining him what will happen if I take off my belt, but he kept telling me that according to the “system” I can enter the hotel only without belt. Again, a very intelligent system, but I already gave up months before to understand the Egyptian systems. I told him, ok, no problem, if you want my belt, here you have it. Removed my belt and holding it in my hands while my trousers went within a second down and like a penguin started to walk to the reception. Imagine the staff looking at the idiot white European walking like a penguin having only his underwear on.
Thanks to the already mentioned great English company Thomas Cook I know what it means to work illegal in Egypt (and as well a few other countries). Funny how for the very intelligent management was more important to give us shitty, plastic uniforms instead of organizing work permit for the employees. So, we ended up working illegal in several countries.
Let’s stay now in Egypt where the planes with tourists from different countries arrived and I was standing in front of the airport, waiting for them.
While standing there, once an agent from the immigration bureau came to me, asking for my documents. Well, in that moment I wasn’t the bravest guy on the airport. I knew I have nothing to lose so decided to turn back the question, asking the agent who is he, from which agency and where are his documents? Poor guy was so surprised, seeing that a most probably illegal worker is asking him questions instead of trying to run away that for several moments he was just looking at me with totally confused face. After his brain cells started working again, told me to wait for him, he is going to his car for his documents and will come back in a minute with one of his colleagues. As soon as he turned his back to me and started walking towards, I run to my car and managed to escape, left the airport as soon as I could (unfortunately many of my colleagues were not so lucky and they cannot forget that night what they had to spend in an Egyptian police station under arrest ).
Already at the beginning of this article I wrote that Egypt is not exactly my favorite country. Yet, I would lie if I would not mention how many amazing experiences I had in Egypt. First of all, diving in the Red Sea is what I will always miss and what will make me to return there again and again. Then all the beautiful hotels I had the chance to stay. Met some great guys and we became friends perhaps for the rest of our life and I had unbelievable spiritual experiences in church and as well in mosque. In this apparently religious country, once I even been in a so-called red-light district (in this case the district was a house) where local and “import” girls were working. Egypt is the country where I learned what it means patience and tolerance (try driving there without these skills. You will end up being killed in some road rage on the second day of your stay or within one week your heart will stop). Have so many nice memories from the desert when in the night, laying on my back on the yet warm stones was admiring the billions of stars shining on the totally black sky. Here in Egypt I met a woman who made me to fall in love and to have my most memorable relationship.
And Egypt is the country where a very religious hotel manager called the security to escort me out of the hotel when I was asking him to stop saying lies instead of taking real actions. Here I learned what it means to be really alone when due to some armed clashes between army and Bedouins all the tourists were evacuated and I was alone in a whole hotel. In this country I had the chance to enjoy a cup of coffee, sitting at the same table, day after day with one of my favorite actors, Mr. Omar Sharif. Here in Egypt saw so many beautiful sunsets and could talk for days about all the nice, great or unpleasant experiences I had.
I won’t lie and never did when I had to speak about my feelings and experiences regarding Egypt. Yet I never, ever told to anyone, to not visit Egypt. Everyone should see once in a lifetime the pyramids, one of the seven miracles of the ancient world! I really recommend a boat trip on the Nile and to visit the temple from Dendera. The walls of this beautiful building were decorated already by the 2nd and 3rd Ramses and the treasures of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo are definitely a must-see program. If you ever made plans to spend your holiday in Egypt, I won’t tell you to change your mind. Go there, explore, discover, see as much as you can. Make your own opinion about the country, I really wish you to have a nice and first of all a safe trip.