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Perhaps it was my mother who first inspired me to visit Egypt. It was later in her life that my mama grew passionate about the country and loved visiting it. Although she was initially drawn to the nation because of its epic history and the remnants of the culture when Egypt was a powerful empire, it was the gentility of its people and the beauty of the Nile that really captured her. She often talked about her journeys there, but as it happens when one hears someone speak about a topic we know little about, I did not retain much of her anecdotes. I did, however, want to visit where she had gone. I had never before been to the country, but late last year, a friend suggested we go together.

My friend and I decided to visit Cairo first, then fly south to Luxor where we were to board a small private river boat and sail up the Nile. Our first morning in the teeming city, we visited its most alluring attractions—the pyramids, of course, but also the mesmerizing Egyptian Museum, full of the wonders of the country’s ancient history. The immense metropolis of Cairo is an amalgam of all the good and bad that characterize cities of this scale—a vibrant and thriving culture, an endless array of shops to visit, buildings to see, cityscapes to take in, as well as traffic, pollution, and crowds.

And yet even on that first day there, I was able to see what my mother would often mention when talking about the Egyptians—how the city’s people went about their daily lives with great friendliness, easy smiles, and generosity.


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This story appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of MILIEU