By Jasmine Haroun
As a student, school is the place I go to every weekday to learn new things. As a traveler, the destinations I travel to are where I expand my knowledge of the culture, tradition and their people. During my spring break in March, my family and I went halfway across the world to a country in Africa that is rich with stories and history. In four days we got a taste of their culture, architecture, people and most of all, the expansive history the country itself has to offer.
The first thing most people think of when they hear the word ‘Egypt’ is pyramids. As such, we started our tour in Cairo with the pyramids that were scattered throughout the desert. Our guide, Maged, even arranged for us to enter the bent pyramid in Dahshur. When we got to the pyramid I looked up and it seemed to tower over me.
Maged explained that we would have to walk down a narrow tunnel about 60 feet down and then walk up three flights of stairs to get to the tomb. We all ended up taking the journey up and into the pyramid and when we came back from the exhausting walk, I was sweating through my shirt and my legs felt like jelly.
Later that day we went to see the famous “Great Pyramid”—one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. When we got there, my brother and I walked to the base of the pyramid and were shocked, as my brother, who was almost six feet tall, was shorter than one brick. It makes you think “How was it possible that early Egyptians were ever able to create such masterpieces thousands of years ago?”. We were fascinated by the surrounding ruins, the hieroglyphics that covered the walls and the theories about how the pyramids were built.
Later, we visited museums and learned about the pharaohs and their customs. The name Imhotep was a name frequently repeated. He was said to be a chancellor to the pharaoh Djoser, a high priest of ‘Ra’—the sun god as well as the architect of the step pyramid.
In old Cairo, we visited the souqs (otherwise known as a bazaar). There was a gold souq, spice souq and a central open area where we stopped to have Egyptian tea and ‘people watch.’ We saw women dressed in their burkas and even some men dressed in dishdashas (the white robes).
Throughout the day, we heard the Azaan (call to prayer) over the speakers. The melodious sound rippled through the streets reminding folks it was time to pray. As we walked through the bazaar, I watched as customers haggled with vendors, heard the constant honking in the streets and the motorcycles weaving their way between cars.
Our guide even took us to places to see how handmade carpets were strung, paintings were made from bamboo (papyrus paper) and flowers were turned into healing oils and perfumes. I was thoroughly impressed by their knowledge and workmanship.
There are not enough words to describe this trip of a lifetime, but I have to say that I learned so much interacting with the people and seeing the country for myself. I think getting out and experiencing something for itself is a great way to learn something new. Although Egypt is Land of the Pharaohs and Home to the Pyramids, if you look a little deeper, it is so much more.