Unfortunately, the one thing that does NOT rock in Egypt (er, specifically Alexandria) are the internet cafes. I can only find this one, and the computer is molasses slow, and the keyboard is molasses sticky. So hopefully I can fill this out later, but for now, just a skeleton post. It doesn't convey any sense of what it's like to be in Egypt (sorry), 'cause for that I need photos and a less sticky keyboard and some more time. But I'll try to get some excitement across.
I've been excited about Egypt since this trip started -- like everyone on Earth, I'm an Ancient Egypt dilettante -- and I built it up to impossible expectations. So I prepare myself on the plane to lower those hopes; as Joshua always says, satisfaction is outcome over expectation. I get here, and...
1 - Traffic and honking are worse than the US, sure, but I was just in India. Coming from India, this is sleepy-time land. Alright!
2 - Folks are so nice! Part of this is, again, a comparison with India's flood of touts and liars (hey, tons of Indians were wonderful to me, but...). The other part is that, while I don't look particularly Egyptian, I don't look particularly NOT Egyptian, so the minority of crooks (every touristy place has 'em) don't flock to me and ruin my wandering. And when I was having this little daydream thinking I could actually live in Alexandria for a year, this random guy on the street gives me a high five! It was a walk-by high-fiving!
3 - Egypt is cheaper than I expected. My room is $6 a night. A great fruit shake overlooking the Mediterranean runs $1. I like this!
4 - Traveling within Egypt... lemme explain. I want to go from Alex to Siwa, and it's a $6, 8-hour overnight bus. HAHAHA! 8 hours, to go across half the country?! I could've kissed the ticket guy! Getting across a quarter of India was 31 hours with a transfer at Delhi, and this is an overnight 8-hour jog? Baby!
5 - The HISTORY!!!! I'm gonna mush this in with #6: the DIVING!! I dived Alexandria's harbor yesterday. Ummm...
- BLOCKS AND PIECES OF COLUMNS FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE OF ALEXANDRIA !!!!!!!!!
- SPHINXES, 4 OF THEM !!!!! I RODE A SPHINX UNDERWATER!!!!
- 5 OCTOPI!!!! ONE WAS EATING A CRAB!!!!
- A BRITISH WWII PLANE!!!!! FANTASTIC CONDITION, PILOT MASK STILL THERE, MACHINE GUN ON THE WING AND BULLETS ALL AROUND, BEST WRECK I'VE EVER SEEN !!!!!
- COLUMNS FROM CLEOPATRA'S TEMPLE, AND HER TABLE, YOU CAN FEEL THE GRANITE !!!!!!!
- 2000 YEAR OLD URNS, HALF BURIED IN THE SAND !!!!!!
Egypt has so much history it just piles on top of itself. From Narmer uniting the country to the first fall (I don't remember if this one or the next one is the "Intermediate Period") to the Middle Kingdom, then another fall with the Hyksos, then the New Kingdom, and then the Greek period with Alexander, then Ptolemy the umpteenth finally capitulates to Rome and the whole Cleopatra affair? That's three THOUSAND years of history, and we're still in BC! Then there's this big chunk I don't know about at all (and this computer doesn't allow multiple tabs/windows, so I can't look it up), but then there's the rise of Islam and then Muhammed Ali (the original... I think), and I'm hazy on English and French colonialism, then WWII with Rommel and the Afrika Corps, and the formation of Israel and a couple of wars there, and then I came to say hi. So much history in one little country it doesn't even fit. The second dive, amidst the ruins of 2000-year-old Cleopatra's Temple (I know!), in the shadow of 500-year-old Qaitbey Fort (I know!), is the best-preserved wreck I've ever seen: a British WWII plane (I know!). SO MUCH HISTORY. WHAT A STORY!! How can you not love Egypt?!
I LOVE this place. I LOVE THIS PLACE!
I'm going to Siwa tonight! Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!!!!