About My Blog

I Spent six weeks in Egypt before spending a year in Germany. This blog covers the best summer of my life. If you are looking for my posts while I was in Germany ask me, and I'll be happy to share them but I have been asked not to share them publicly. Feel free to visit my brothers blog of his year in Germany or my new blog

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Still surprised

There are many oddities about Egypt that I can't quite wrap my head
around. They are considered a develloping country and have the social,
economic, and health statistics of a third world countries but the
people here either don't know it or don't care. Also it's hard for a
tourist to see unless you travel to the obscure parts of Cairo. The
buildings here all seem to be from just about the same time period and
they are all beautiful beneath their crumbling walls, peeling paint,
and black stains from pollution. This makes me wonder what Cairo or
Egypt was like in the 1900s. We visited a museum in Alexandria which
said that the king and queen were much like King Louis and Marie
Antoinette in that they ignored their people and live lavishly
themselves (the museum was a collection of their jewelry). The time
frame for King Farouk is a bit earlier but it still coincides with my
question. It seems from a viewers perspective today that Cairo was
once magnificent. With new, clean, European buildings that would
remind most people of Italy or France but at the same time all we have
learned is that Egypt has always struggled, this would make sense
because it is develloping. I have never heard of a country regressing
so much that it becomes a third world country in need of devellopment
but if there was a place it seems like this was it. In my defense I
haven't studied modern Egypt at all and we haven't covered it yet in
class here.

The oddities of Egypt go beyond their development and status. Today
as we went to a bowling alley (I'll come back to this) Andrew, an
Egyptian studnt and friend of ours, pointed ou a palace and explained
how the whole palace rotates on it's axis because of a huge turbine at
it's base. It spins slowly but none of us Americans could understand
this concept because as far as I know spinning buildings have yet to
hit the US. This was odd to me that Egypt was develloped enough to
have fancy buildings that are also masterpieces of engineering but not
enough to refurbish old buildings. I thought about this and decided
that they could care less about their people because they will always
live here but they need to impress tourists and the way to do that is
by showing them their advanced technology, fancy buildings, and modern
architecture. I don't mean to say that Egyptians are ignored by their
government but they are kept happy enough that they won't leave.
Egypt is a country of service, the transport system is cheap, food may
as well be free, and homes are simple but liveable. There is nothing
complex about life here and as long as you are middle class you don't
have to worry about putting food on the table but you also can't think
about leaving for vacation. The huge gap in wealth is fascinating but
it still seems that most people are middle class where a car is not
uncommon but two cars is too many. Alexandria and the beaches there
confused me though, the beaches and resorts were extremely classy and
surely pricey beyond the budget of many Egyptians but there were so
many condos and new ones being built all along the beachfront. So who
lives here and vacations there. Not middle class Egyptians, not
Europeans (we didn't see any), and there were to many to be for only
the wealthy Egyptians. But then again this is a country where there
are 15 stores selling faucets, sinks, bathtubs, tiles, and pipes in a
five block area.

Again there is more. This morning in the car ride to school the
driverook his seat belt (with no buckle at the end) and wrapped the
strap aroundthem hand brake. It kept slipping off the handle even when
braking the slightest bit so I can only imagine what would happen in a
serious wreck. Closer inspection of his seat revealed a screw driver
stuck in the shoulder strap of his belt where it the belt disappears
into the car. I don't ever feel unsafe in these cars because these are
the gods of the road but I have seen accidents here and I tell you
that they must be praying to the right god because safety features
alone are not keeping these Egyptians alive.

Now for the bowling, a truly American experience in the middle of
Cairo. The name was funny and there was a seating section behind the
lanes that could seat 250 members of an audience. It's not everyday in
the united states that women in floor length clothing and hair
coverings are seen rolling strikes and spares at bowling alleys in the
US, but here it's malish, whatever, it's the norm. I don't want to say
I'm still culture shocked because I'm not and I adjusted quickly and I
feel comfortable here but still I must say that I still step back and
think sometimes "did she just bowl a spare with a hijab on?" or "did
he really just serve me the same glass someone else just used?" and my
favorite "is that really a screw driver wobbling around in his seat

1 comment:

Heidi said...

The things I learn by reading you blog are just amazing.