The world is a pretty mad place right now and you might think that taking a trip to Egypt would be well avoided. Thanks to the world press, we get a pretty narrow view of how it is on the ground for the ‘Kawaja’ (foreigner).
Having lived in Egypt for 8 years, I reckon I have a pretty good understanding of the locals. However before returning to Moon Beach at the end of March, I saw a BBC news report with some pretty angry, nasty looking Egyptian guy shouting into the camera how much he hated Bush and Blair. I must admit to having a slight moment of wondering if my faith in the Egyptians as some of the most non aggressive, passive and friendly people I have ever come across, may be challenged by the pride and devoutness of the Muslim religion.
Having now spent a month on the ground talking to the Egyptians, I have not been disappointed. For sure they hate what has happened viewing the attack on Iraq and death of civilians as not much better than evil Sadam’s killing of his own people. Certainly there have been some protests in Cairo, as there have been all round the world. However I have felt perfectly safe and have not felt anything different in the atmosphere from all the other times I have spent here.
The crowning example for me was sitting in a shisha bar in the local town – a town that is not touristic, but very much a poor man’s dwelling. The 7 of us were the only white people there. No one else spoke English. In fact the words ‘sore’, ‘thumb’ and ‘stick out’ spring to mind. In the corner of the bar a large television was blasting out the Arabic news of the Iraq war in full swing. All around us the Egyptians sat chatting, drinking tea, puffing on their shisha pipes and playing their traditional game of dominoes. I secretly scrutinized all evening and there was not a single scowl, glare or unfriendly glance in our direction.
The war has such far reaching effects – from the camel guide who doesn’t get his tips anymore to the rubbish man whose supply of lucrative tourist rubbish has dried up, to the misconceptions that can arise so easily and restrict us away from enjoying our normal pursuits.
But then back in Moon Beach it is easy to forget the world as you get absorbed in the charm of warm sandy beaches, dolphins, migrating flamingoes, flying fish and a fine force 5. I cant think of a better place to be when the rest of the world is in such a mess!