Dialogue of Civilizations trip to Egypt and United Arab Emirates 2008! travel blog


Well today was probably one of the coolest days we'd had since being here, partially because of the activities, but also because of the freedom given to us for the day today that a group of us totally exploited to our fullest advantage today. I rounded up a group of ten of us yesterday and we all decided to make a trip outside of Cairo, and a bunch of us wanted to see the Red Sea, so we decided on the Suez Canal! soooo We all got up at six, loaded up at breakfast and launched our day on the Wa-Wa van at 7am! We arrived at the Canal at about 9am, and it was surprisingly a bit anti-climactic to be honest, just because it was (and understandably so...) quite, well, practical looking. i guess from all the times of reading about it in history books you expect it to look like this extravagant thing, being like the largest unlocked canal in the world or something, but it just looked quite normal, and plain. What was cool to see though was across the river way were two different signs that were written into the grass, one in English saying Welcome To Egypt! and the other saying Welcome To Egypt! in Arabic script. one of the barges came up and the locals asked if we wanted to go across the way, we declined because we had to get going, but it was still a nice offer.

Once we got back into the van, we realized we were being escorted by two extra cars; very confused we asked our van driver (who is under the authority of Abduh!) what was going on, and he explained it was because when we got out of the van they saw we were Americans and white, and so security just apparently jumped in and decided to guard our van back and front (all these guys have huge AK47s on their backs. So we drove on into Ismailia, the city next door to Suez, of which we came to find out was quite nice because it was not touristy at all! we were literally the ONLY white people in this 10 mile radius. it was kinda crazy. Apparently this is the town that all the Egyptian honeymooners go for their get-aways. When they let us get out we walked around and went through the local market, where we felt like huge elephants stomping through, it definitely was a culture shock. we then stopped by this corner shop that had this HUGE machine that we found out was just a diesel juicer that they used to make sugarcane juice out of sugarcane, and they would serve you these HUGE jugs of sugarcane juice for only 50 piastres, which is equivalent to 10 cents!

Afterwards we passed a mosque and then the town square, and then passed by a woman who seemed to know english and heard us talking about this coptic church we were walking by as we were asking eachother if we thought we could go in; well, apparently she attends this church regularly and so she approached us and told us she'd take us to the back and let us in and get us to meet the priest, which was a pretty big deal, all of this stuff just kindof fell into our hands unintentionally. The man was named Joseph, but in Egypt is pronounced Youssef.

After this we all piled back into the van and drove to a beach called Fairuz, which apparently was a private beach, but only cost us like 8 pounds to get in. so we went and hung out there for about an hour and a half, Ted and i made friends with the locals, he went out swimming with some of the guys, but i had to stay back because the girls swim fully clothed here and i didn't bring an extra change of clothes, only my bikini, which isn't really suitable to wear outside of the Marriott hotel pool arena...

overall Ismailia really impressed all of us; we were not expecting to experience so much in just the several hours there- it was also cool to see their trash cleanup system, considering it was the first form of trash pickup/maintenance that we had seen since being in Egypt. our drive back was just about as interesting as the city though, partially from seeing the huge plethora of oil headquarters all aligned along the LOOOOOOOONG highway the whole way back, but also because of the sirens that started coming from infront and in back of us while drivng back to Cairo. we didn't know what was going on, and then all of a suddent the security car infront of us slowed down, making us stop, and the guards (hired by the state who are stationed throughout streets/highways/the city by Mubarak) went out onto the highway and made the rest of the traffic. they then went up to our window and talked to our driver for about five minutes, all of us COMPLETELY confused about what is going on, and then when they gave us the signal to go we noticed we were the only vehicle that started up, and we looked behind us as our van sped off, and the guards continued to hold this four lane traffic stopped in the dust of the desert, until we got out of sight. when we asked our driver what the heck was going on he said it was because of security reasons since we're America. they said they usually do such measures whenever they run into Americans on these outskirts because Egypt can't afford to have any Americans die/get hurt while touristing here because of Egypt's dependence on their alliance with America. It was seriously silly though how much of a situation we caused, i felt like the president of some country getting traffic to stop like that!

speaking of presidents, the beloved Bush (cough cough...) apparently landed in Cairo today...WHO WANTS TO GO WATCH HIM MAKE A SPEECH TOMORROW?? not i...

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