Sunrise over Harlem, thinking about Egypt

This jet lag thing isn’t so bad: I’ve managed to stay awake until a reasonable hour of 9:30 or 10 pm local time for the past two nights, even though I’ve just left a time zone that’s 7 hours ahead. But I’m not going there — it’s a mistake to constantly clutter the brain with negative energy, and yes, thinking about what time your body might really think it’s in is counter productive. I’ve learned through the years that it’s best to go with the flow, take naps, and embrace the dawn (this coming from someone who is decidedly NOT a morning person). So at 4 am, wide awake, I started thinking about the coming day’s plans and my beautiful niece who’s driving into the city to visit us, from New Jersey. And worrying. Even though it’s cold, icy and may be snowing, Keeley will probably NOT drive her full-size 4-wheel drive truck that has enough metal to protect her and her two children from the outside world, she’ll pick her tiny Mini Cooper — a car that offers about as much protection as a, well, you know what I mean. (Okay I admit I suffer from claustrophobia.) Keeley, like a lot of young people, feels invincible. She is so brave — there is no journey she shies away from. My next thought is this is why we have wars: if youth didn’t feel invincible they would opt to work out problems over a couple of beers, or at least just talk trash about their enemies with their girlfriends and be done with it.

Then I thought about Egypt. Every day the news reports seem to get worse. When I heard about demonstrators breaking into the Cairo Museum and tearing the heads off mummies I have to wonder if these were the same people who wouldn’t let me bring my camera into that very museum a week ago — they were so fearful I might sneak a flash photo. What is wrong with this world that people feel compelled to destroy their heritage — one that many Egyptians are very proud of and depend on for their livelihood?  It makes me very sad to think of all the damage this current crisis will do to Egyptian tourism — Americans unfortunately have long memories for negativity. Even if the individuals don’t, the media certainly does.

So I thought I’d put some positive energy out there about my recent experience in Egypt. Other than a couple of pushy salesmen (who always left me alone when I said “No, thank you” in Arabic), the Egyptian people were considerate, patient, welcoming, often very handsome, and kind. A few words of Arabic ALWAYS brought a smile. I always felt safe. Our guide was lovely — very intelligent, well-educated, efficient at all the details of her job, and utterly adorable in her skinny jeans! She also practices a rare form of Christianity: compassion and consideration for ALL people, not just those who practice her faith. She considered her answers to our often too personal questions about religion, social norms, and veils very carefully — a trait I could learn from: think before speaking. I am very sad because I know that Egypt will lose people like her to Canada, the US, or anywhere she can raise her children with clean air and water, religious freedom, and a future that isn’t filled with oppression. Can Egypt afford that? Who will be their future — the idiots that broke into the museum? What good could possibly have come from that vandalism?

Tomorrow we’ll go back to Idyllwild — our beautiful little town in the woods, where I won’t have to worry about the world — only if there’s enough Happy Dog food in the fridge. But I’ll be a little different — I’ll hang my Horus painting (yes Whit — that’s the Egyptian god of protection that I sometimes like to spell H-O-R-A-C-E because I’m a rebel) and hope that he’ll protect us all.

Be patient. Be kind. Think before speaking. Peace be with you. Salaam alaikum. Shalom.

At the Islamic school in Luxor


About Anne Finch

Anne Finch lives in Idyllwild, California. She and her husband Barnaby love to travel. They also love their hometown. View all posts by Anne Finch

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