GIZA, EGYPT (30 March 2018) — By chance I stumbled upon a wedding procession in the hotel lobby with traditional music playing as the bride and groom made their way surrounded be a coterie of photographers, musicians and well-wishers. It was quite a sight and the sound of traditional drums and flute created an ambiance that spilled over onto passersby, and we all clapped in rhythm to the music.
Cheering for the newly married couple as they half-danced, half-walked within the bubble of their crowd of guests, I felt like I had a brief moment of connection to some “everyday” Egyptians. Because of the massive size and importance of the tourism industry here it is sometimes difficult to step outside the “protective” barriers separating visitors and locals — especially on a short journey — and the wedding was like a beautiful slice of “reality.”
Of course, the fact that they were having their reception in the Mercure Hotel meant they were probably nearer the upper end of the socio-economic spectrum than the “average” but for a few moments I had a random window into modern Egypt far removed from the ancient civilizations I have been visiting thus far. And it was serendipitously delightful…
ABOUT THE EXPEDITION
JoMarie Fecci, of USnomads, sets off on an independent scouting trip across Egypt and Sudan in preparation for an up-coming Sahara expedition. Driving locally-sourced Toyotas and working with small local teams in each region, she will traverse a winding route that jumps off from key points along the Nile as far south as Khartoum, where the Blue and White Niles meet. During the journey she will visit a series of UNESCO world heritage sites focused on the ancient civilizations that occupied the region and meet with local communities. The primary goal of this mission is to assess terrain, security, driving conditions, logistical concerns and approximate timeframes for future travel.
WHERE WE ARE
The Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. With the Mediterranean sea on its northern border, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, and the Red Sea to the east and south, it occupies a geo-strategic location connecting Europe, Asia and Africa. It has land borders with Gaza and Israel to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Islam is the official religion and Arabic the official language. Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa and the Arab world, with over 95 million inhabitants. Most of the population lives near the banks of the Nile River, in an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of the country’s territory, are sparsely inhabited. Considered a cradle of civilization, Egypt emerged as one of the world’s first nation states in the tenth millennium BC and iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy.