Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Trip to Egypt ! ( A City of 20 Million )

As I entered the Country of Egypt, I said to myself, am I ready? Well I wasn't. I thought the city of Cairo was going to be much different than what it really is. Egypt is in northern Africa but is still considered a Middle Eastern country. I have never been to this part of the world. Another chapter in my life was about to begin whether I was ready to face it or not. This is my story, a trip to a very big city, a city of 20 million people.

The People

The people in Egypt are extremely hospitable. Almost everyday I was invited into homes and offered tea, which I never refused. The Egyptian black tea is the best tea I have ever had. Most everyone was so friendly. I learned a lot from my Egyptian brothers. Everywhere I went I heard “Welcome to Egypt” which was good to hear. I could only imagine if they were to come to my country, not many would welcome them. Some might even look down on them just because they are Arab. I have grown to love Egypt more than I thought I would. The people in Egypt are great and they have taught me a lot during these few weeks. Although not many drink alcohol in Egypt, almost everyone smokes cigarettes and the sheesha. (Which is tobacco smoked through a water pipe)

Strongholds of Islam

Islam is huge in Egypt as I am sure it is in other Middle Eastern countries. After arriving in Cairo, Egypt I heard the prayer call for the first time. There are five prayer calls each day and they are broadcast over the speaker systems of every actively working mosque. From where I was staying in the city, I could only hear a few mosques. Walking the streets during a prayer call, I could see many people stop and pray which consists of taking their shoes off and bowing down multiple times while holding what looks like prayer beads. I was even eating dinner one night while in the middle of the restaurant all music was turned off so one person could pray during one of the prayer calls. In Egypt there is a mosque on almost every block.

Garbage City

While I was in Cairo, I had the great opportunity of visiting with people in a place called garbage city. Most of the people in Garbage city are Coptic Christians. The reason the city is called garbage city is because all of the garbage in Cairo is taken there and the people recycle 80% of it and then send products back out into the city of Cairo. The first time I entered the city the smell instantly hit me. I mean, it was hard to believe that people could live with the mell, but after awhile the smell didn’t seem that bad anymore. As I walked the streets, I saw trash everywhere, and then I noticed on one street all the trash was plastic and on another street all the trash was paper. There was a real system to all of this. I kept going back day after day and began to get to know the people and their families. I even went to Coptic Mass with them. Even though I didn't understand what was being said, because it was all in Arabic, I still had a smile on my face.

Gold Island

I took a boat down the Nile River (which flows through the middle of Egypt) to an Island. This island has four villages and has 50,000 people on it. Gold Island got its name because the fertile soil provides a way for these very poor people to make money by growing crops. Egypt doesn't have great fertile soil so these people are very fortunate. As I walked on the island and went into a village, I got the feeling that these people haven't seen many white people before. Many of the children ran around the corners away from me as they saw me approach. Others would stand still as if they thought I wouldn't see them. As I took out my camera some became interested into what it was and how it worked. These people were so beautiful! I just couldn't stop taking photos. Around every corner and down every street there was something new to photograph. This is what I was looking for. This type of photo opportunity is one I’ve always wanted

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