A seat of culture in Northeastern Africa on the Mediterranean Sea with over 5000 years of history and many delicious secrets.

Tales from the Oasis

One night as we sat around a camp fire drinking tea which had to be smuggled in from Libya because it was illegal in Egypt, the English speaking guide regaled us with stories of Bedouin life.

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Revolution Inspiration

As you all know, I currently have revolution on the brain so here are some interesting articles about how the Egyptian revolution was organized, plus one of my personal heroes, from the N. America side of the world Bidder 70.

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Update from Cairo

First of all, I have to say that living in Cairo is an entirely different experience from living in a smaller town/village in Upper Egypt. So far the move has been extremely interesting, and has opened my eyes to the diversity of cultures and opinions and ideologies of Egyptians. It has also made me realize how limited my perspective on Egypt and Egyptian culture was while living where I was. Don’t get me wrong, I think my initial experience was a very accurate one, and gave me an inroad into the lives of the majority of Egyptians. It was an experience which most foreigners living in Egypt don’t get to experience, which is unfortunate especially if they are working in the development world. Obviously it’s important to have a good understanding of the people you are working with, and that understanding isn’t fully possible simply from reading books or reports or from hearing people talk about it. Not to say that I now have a good understanding of the people I’m working with from living in Egypt for one year, but I think it was an excellent foundation. Anyway, back to my point, Egypt truly does not have a monoculture, which is also a good lesson to learn while living and working in a country.

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On To Cairo

It has been another month or so since I last wrote, and since I promised to try and be better about sending out more regular updates I thought it was probably about time to fill you in on all the exciting things happening this past month.

The first thing which happened was that I went to a peace-building conference here in Egypt. Anyway, it turns out this Canadian (Brice Balmer) was one of the original people working on developing restorative justice as a viable alternative to the current criminal justice system. It was quite interesting hearing him talk about his experiences and his insights, and it was also great to watch the Egyptians attending the conference begin to think about possible ways to contextualize the things he was saying.

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Unexpected Incidents in Egypt

My life in here in Beba has been similar to the previous posts I have written. I am still living here at the church and teaching English in two different towns. I have a couple more stories about Egyptians that I find telling about the culture as a whole.

Both of them actually happened as I was travelling between one of the towns where I teach and the one where I live. As you may recall I have been taking microbuses between these two towns which they pack completely full of people and then go careening off down the road to try and make as many trips as possible in the day so they can make enough money to pay rent. They aren’t the wealthiest people, these microbus drivers, but they do seem to normally make enough to at least feed their families.

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Egyptian Generosity

Ancient DoorwayI have had quite the exciting, travel-filled, and busy month which I will regal you all with presently. However, I have been thinking for the past few months that I need to talk about the generosity of the culture here. It really is quite remarkable the extent to which this generosity is a part of the everyday life of the people.

I wanted to make sure that I knew a little bit more about the culture before I talked about it, because I wasn’t sure how different my experience as a foreigner would be from the average Egyptian. Although my experience is certainly different as a foreigner, I don’t think that this takes away from the culture as a whole.

In Cairo, and probably some of the more touristy places where they are used to foreigners it is common for people to try and take advantage of the foreigner. So for the first month this was mostly my experience in Egypt. I had to make sure I knew how much things should cost so that I wasn’t charged extra for being a foreigner. And there are some touristy places, like the pyramids, or the Egyptian Museum where foreigners actually have a separate entrance price than Egyptians. I understand that these places take up-keep and that foreigners in general have much more money that Egyptians, so I understand why they have this policy, but it still meant that I had to be aware.

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