I was waiting for the perfect time to launch this blog. I’ve been writing, compiling content and even created the blog months ago but I was waiting for the right moment to actually open it to the public. I’m happy to say now is the time and I came to that conclusion after my recent trip to Egypt. If any of you follow me on Instagram, @tatyanajalisa, I shared my 10 day trip to Cairo and Luxor Egypt with a substantial layover in Dubai via my story and on my wall. That experience was truly humbling and life changing. I could never be the same after all that I was exposed to. To actually see the ancient civilizations that I studied through books, documentaries and internet sources up close and personal was mind blowing. To walk through the beautifully and brilliantly constructed temples, tombs and pyramids covered in hieroglyphic texts and statues gave me goosebumps. This stuff is actually real! It is not fiction. It is not something over exaggerated in movies. These are actual artifacts of ancient civilizations that are still in tact and some still preserved with original color for some, 4000 years later! For a history buff like me, I was like a kid in a candy store. I literally held on to my tour guides every word and soaked up the history he spat out still subconscious of truth that I have researched on my own. He told the story as I imagined I was present in these locations when they were in their prime, and believe it or not, I felt like I was home.
The ancient civilizations and artifacts weren’t even the best part. What truly touched my heart and warmed my soul was my interactions with the Egyptian people. From the moment we touched down on Egyptian soil, we were welcomed. They greeted us as cousins often telling us that we looked Egyptian. I have never met a people so warm hearted, joyful and welcoming as the Egyptians I encountered while on my trip. From Cairo to Luxor, I felt like I was amongst family. From the joy they carried, you wouldn’t be able to tell that they did not possess even the basic luxuries we take for granted in the states. For example, clean water. Prior to even reaching Egypt, we were instructed to not drink the water and to not even use it to brush our teeth. We had to buy sealed, bottled water every chance we got. Not only to consume, but even to use in everyday tasks such as brushing your teeth or rinsing dishes. To consciously remember to use the ‘safe’ water took some major adjusting. To us, it was an inconvenience. To them, this is their everyday life. I didn’t even look further into if native Egyptians also use bottled water or if it is only something tourists are encouraged to do. But could you imagine either option for them? If they had to use bottled water too, imagine how costly that could get. If they had to use the ‘natural’ water, imagine what kind of toxins they were exposed to, and even consumed on a daily. These are the kind of thoughts that ran across my mind when I studied their unexplainable joy despite their living conditions. Even the worst poverty that I have seen in the states, did not compare to the poverty I witnessed in majority of Egyptian communities as we traveled between excursions. Garbage, dirt floors, no roofs, scarce variety of clothing, and families traveling by livestock only barely scratch the surface of what I witnessed and that still only speaks to their living conditions. Their peace, joy and tranquility explained a different story. Despite their under par at best living conditions in my eyes, they were at peace and still treated each other and us with respect, warmth and love. I didn’t see arguing, complaining, fighting, jealousy or bickering. I only saw love and acceptance! That was amazing and humbling to witness.
I lived for 10 days in a land where race didn’t matter, age didn’t matter, gender didn’t matter and religion didn’t matter. I know this sounds crazy because when you think of Egypt what comes to mind is a male dominated, predominantly Muslim country where women are largely expected to be conservative but this wasn’t the Egypt I experienced. I walked down the streets of Egypt a multiracial, not typically considered a conservative woman, wearing a gold cross around my neck where 25 Christians were recently murdered in their place of worship months before. I felt no danger, I felt no apprehensions, only love, protection and acceptance. This was so humbling and I was very grateful for this experience because I know this isn’t the reality for most, especially native Egyptians. I am not naive or insensitive enough to assume that there are no dangers present but all the warnings and potential threats I was advised of prior to my trip were not true to my experience. I didn’t experience any danger nor see anything dangerous happen and I was down in the villages and slums not just in the cultivated tourist areas.
I needed this trip. I learned so much about the world, my roots and me. I’ve never felt more accepted by a group of people than I did with Egyptians. The people were truly beautiful. Not only their outer appearance but their spirits as well. They were living in pure poverty but didn’t know it because of their joy. If I didn’t learn anything else on my trip, I definitely learned that less is more. More love, more peace and more opportunity to enjoy the simplistic beauty of things and life around us. After sharing this experience with a friend of mine, he commented, “We don’t realize just how blessed we are.” I replied, “that, and also how polluted we are too.” I realized how our unnecessary excess can be toxic. What we consume, physically and mentally. The entertainment we are intrigued by, the news, the social media. Although I was able to get on Instagram, I found it ironic that I could only post. I wasn’t able to scroll down my timeline nor did I want to. It was literally like a fast for me. I was essentially forced to experience life from a new perspective, their perspective, and to learn to appreciate life and the lives I encounter from a different viewpoint, through the lens of love and acceptance for all mankind. I was able to detach from my phone, which is like my life line, and also from social media, which is how I majorly communicate. It was so nice to disconnect and witness how Egyptians lived their lives with minimal and so much joy and peace. I definitely learned to appreciate life for what it truly is and to cherish what is around me and the people closest to me. At the end of the day all that extra stuff doesn’t matter. Just give me love, joy and peace and there I will find happiness. This is the Egypt that I want to share with you. This is the Egypt I will remember. This is the Egypt that changed my life. This is why, now. I hope you enjoy my experience as much as I enjoyed actually experiencing it! I truly could never be the same.