On day two here, we got the grand tour of the Great Pyramids, learning so much more than I thought I knew about Egypt and Egyptian history. We toured all pyramids, went down in the smallest pyramid of Menkaure, and rode camels around the pyramids.
Afterwards we went to a perfume shop where they sell authentic Egyptian ointments and perfumes. I was VERY impressed with the quality and service of the shop. They blew their own glass for the perfume bottles, which we also got to watch. I recorded some video of it (here) (as well as the man making papyrus). The perfume lady was very knowledgeable and gave us the grand tour of all the scents they offer. I was so impressed, I bought a few bottles myself: one for cologne I am going to make and one for medication. Menth, as they call it, smells just like our American spearmint plant, only is much more potent and useful in medication. It works similarly to Vick’s rub, but is actually better for you medically than eucalyptus.
Afterwards, we traveled to the Cairo downtown and the square, where all the protesters were a few months ago (and almost caused us to cancel our trip). We took a tour around the square and went into the Cairo National Egyptian Museum (one of the world’s most famous museums). We took a rather rushed tour, due to time constraints and due to the fact we were all exhausted. We did get to see King Tutukamun’s stuff and other VERY famous archeological pieces.
We walked out of the museum to see a very large apartment building on our right totally charred and abandoned. It reminded me yet again of the protesters who were standing exactly where I was only months before. Izzat (our tour guide who was with us the whole day), told us of the excitement of the people and how easily 2 million people crammed into the square and museum courtyard in protest against the government. He explained the history of the revolt and what led up to it (if you want me to tell you more about it, just let me know, but I figured this post was already rather long, so I am trying to wrap it up) with great excitement and clarity. He said kept using the term “we” as if Egypt herself, united through millions of people was speaking out against the injustice brought on by the government. Izzat told us how people there were excited, like any mass mob would be, but they were not harmful. The majority of the crowd was just excited to be there and stand for something. Only a very few members became violent, and the rest of the crowd did their best to silence them. In fact, Izzat said there was a large group of people linked arm to arm to protect the Cairo Museum and other shops around the square from some crazy people who would take advantage of the situation and try to loot.
I do not understand where many people get the idea that the Middle East is so dangerous. I have not yet seen the rest of the Middle East, but of all of the people I have run into so far (and believe me, I have probably run into hundreds upon hundreds of peddlers and shopkeepers), NONE of them had any ill intentions towards me. In fact, most of them asked when I was coming back. As we drove through the city, people waved and smiled at our bus when we would pass them.
My personal belief is that we need to approach the Middle East with caution (just like we should in ANY foreign location we go to, no matter how “safe” or “dangerous” they say the location is), and start to understand this region and people group before we start to barge in with our arrogant American know-it-all attitude to try to fix it. Similarly, before we start to judge the region based on the news we hear (which most of the time is grossly exaggerated), we need to engage in some educational dialogue in order to understand what is ACTUALLY going on over in this region before we stare at it with arms crossed and brows furled through our telescope across the ocean. I think sometimes we can’t see passed our own arrogant biases to see the Truth behind our own fabricated lies we invented for ourselves through our own narrow opinions.
Sorry for the rant; I am off my soapbox now. ;)
Following His Call,