Stories from Egypt, Part 2
It’s not as though I dislike Egypt.
But I must admit that the moment we landed in Amsterdam, my heart leapt spontaneously.
I’ve set foot in many countries, and I instinctively feel in each a definite sense of basic compatibility such as, “This kind of fits me,” or, “This sort of wears me out.” Oddly enough, this quality doesn’t necessarily correlate with the measure of how much I enjoyed myself and whether I had fun.
For instance, in my case I find Europe to be a perfect match, and just going there gives me a tremendous burst of energy. It’s as if my body won’t object to any sort of jet lag, crowds, or food. On the other hand, whenever I go to the U.S., for whatever reason I often fall ill, I go on exciting sightseeing walks around town only to feel sudden pangs of loneliness, and when I get back to the hotel I feel dead tired. Of course I have a lot of good memories from those times, and while I’d like to visit many cities I have yet to see in the expanse that is America, I do wonder if someday I’ll rise above this basic incompatibility.
Anyway, I’ve digressed somewhat, but when it comes to the sense I got from my first trip to Egypt, I honestly can’t say it’s a perfect fit. On the physical side, the sun was terribly harsh, and as someone who isn’t fond of UV rays I was always forced to cover my skin, and I had to fight off mosquitoes everywhere. There’s also the fact that while walking through the streets, people constantly called out to me and gave me no chance to relax. Japanese women especially (and me with my black hair in a short bob) have that Oriental aura that Egyptian men find irresistible. I’m sure they didn’t all have ill intentions, but my number one concern while traveling is my personal safety. Whenever I left my hotel room I always had to put up a mental shield, which made me feel completely drained.
And one more thing I couldn’t get used to were restrooms with a “restroom attendant”. There was a restroom attendant at every restaurant we went to, and the system is such that you tip the attendant to get bath tissue. In any case, though you’re in a private restroom you can’t find any sort of calm knowing the attendant is sitting on the other side of the door. Of course I think when you’re in Rome, you should do as the Romans do. But while I had thought I was the kind of woman who could grit her teeth and take on any situation, in the end this was one thing I never could get used to.
Though I was engrossed in the thrill of viewing the ruins, it may have been that at the same time I spent those three days in a constant state of nervousness.
As with on the way there, on the way back we changed planes in Amsterdam. But on the return flight we had nearly seven hours of stopover to kill, so I was able go for a walk through the city. A plane ride of mere hours had brought us from the sand and smog of sepia-toned Egypt to the city of Amsterdam, with its glittering canals lined with trees, like a sparkling painting. The world is such a fascinating place. A place of many countries with many people. Each one has its charms and its culture.
Wow! Even though I’m just looking at the scenery through the window, what’s this sudden jump in my mood?! I guess Europe really is my most favorite place… This I’m sure of. With my spirits high, I set out on the “extra chapter” for my trip to Egypt—my first sightseeing trip in Holland.
The stories from then I’ll save for another time.