As soon as I landed in Egypt, I was greeted by the happiest man I ever saw.
His name was Mohammed, and he was a concierge for my first Egyptian experience. He grabbed my bags, said “Welcome to Egypt!” and breezed through ordering me a visa, taking my American dollars and converting them to Egyptian pounds, and setting me up outside with the driver and car, Shabban and the four-door, white Jeep Wrangler, which would become my ride over the next weeks.
Our first stop was in Maadi, where my good friend courteously hosted me for the extent of my trip. It was an amazing experience, not knowing what to expect at all, then opening the door to see a baby grand piano, a polished wood floor, a dining table for twelve, and beautiful artwork adorning the walls, but the best part for me was the 100s of books on the walls. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here. After I arrived, I changed, and went back to the car, to begin the first tour of my trip: the Pyramids.
I was in awe. My thoughts completely disappeared, as we drove to the entrance to the Giza Complex. I could actively feel inside my body the weight and gold of the mystery these structures hold, and I felt transformed. I felt healed. It’s hard to explain it other then all of it was carefully contained because they had such faith in the unknown. And in that, I found God.
I rode a camel through the desert, held by a 10 year-old boy, and saw all six pyramids on the back of the beast. Eman, my tour guide, offered stories, facts and tales about each and every part of the tour. I was blissful in my ignorance up until this point, and learned as much on the trip as I have holding a history book at home. It was a piece of a bigger transformation, where we were and where we were heading was just as much as a mystery to me.
As we moved along in our program to view the Sphinx, I felt at ease, guided by light, and by love. The Sphinx felt enormously peaceful to me, guarding the entrance to the Pyramids. It felt like an old movie, one where I was the main character and heroine, set upon the world to find myself after a long spell of disclosure.
The last stop in the compound of Giza: the oldest hotel in Egypt, the Mena Hotel. it was gilded with gold, dripping with chandeliers, paved in carpets, and held the finest food, wines and dessert you’d find anywhere. As I viewed the Grand Pyramid out the window where I sat, I marveled at the sight, and tried to commit it to memory. There or since, I haven’t seen anything so magical, and yet, kept. And peaceful.
After lunch, the other piece of the tour which I kept in my skull to examine later in more detail, because I just loved it so much, occurred, and this was the parfumerie. Hidden by an alley, this was the place we ventured after visiting the beautiful papyrus factory, where I learned all about the way Egyptians created paper and art thousands of years ago, which is still used today. I bought a few artworks for the homes of family members, which are Egyptian symbols of protection.
You’re right to think the Egyptians invented everything we still use today; for the most part, it is true. I was baffled and astounded by all the things I saw during this journey which are so much a part of our daily lives. Such an example is perfume, or essence. I was treated to a wonderful lesson by Eman, my tour guide, on the history of essential oils. Pharoahs received them as gifts, as they were by far the most expensive present, and thus, a sign of utmost devotion. Tombs were adorned with scent, which outlasted their gift bearers by thousands of years. I purchased the essence of lotus, which can only be found in Egypt, along with a spicy, musky, sexy blend, called “Queen of the Night”.
After an exciting day, we’re back in Maadi, at the apartment, and I fall asleep. It’s jet lag, exhaustion but enthusiasm which lulls me to sleep. Great to be asleep, and, when I wake up, I dream of all Egypt has to offer me.