Good day to you dear reader! I am writing you on a cozy Sunday afternoon and I had this idea that I have written a lot about what I find strange/amusing about Egypt, but not very much about what I actually ENJOY about life here, so please let me enlighten you about the very many positives that come from living in such a unique country.
1. Amazing Winters
While my parents are often buried in snow throughout the New England winters, I now frequently look forward to winter and argue that it’s my favorite season in Egypt. Because the temperature by day is like a warm fall afternoon in most other places, you can get away with wearing a light jacket most of the time, and maybe some leather boots or sneakers. The houses however, are not usually equipped with heating so the outside is often warmer than inside, and it can get quite cold at night. In winter we also don’t need to shower 3x a day, so that’s an added bonus for your skin.
I’m not really sure why, but fresh produce is SO expensive in New England, and in other parts of the World, and though prices are rising, the quality and price of the produce here cannot be beaten. Shopping locally grown produce is also seasonal with fluffy, big heads of lettuce, and amazing bright orange citrus things in winter followed by giant bulbs of garlic in the spring, and juicy strawberries in June ending with the best mangos on the planet in August. Sometimes because things are really just pulled from the ground and driven into Cairo, most things need a thorough vinegar wash. Shopping locally might mean that you can’t always get broccoli year-round, but that when you do get it, you enjoy it all the more so
3. Services for Everything
I know that’s a broad statement but I’m not really sure what else to call it, but I really Iike it. Every time we go to a gas station, there are many men ready to pump the gas, and several more offering to clean the windows. In the bathrooms at a nice mall, there are ladies who wait until you come and they clean the stall that you will go in before you go into it. If you want someone to come and style your hair at home, there are many apps and companies that offer it, and it’s no more expensive than taking yourself to a salon. If you’re on a certain highway, they have a sign-up with a number for a company you can call while on the highway that will deliver food to you while you’re stuck in traffic. Egypt is all about finding services to make your life more convenient not as much of a do-it-yourself kind of society. I recently learned of a cobbler company that will pick up your shoes, clean them, and drop them back off to you. Very handy for staying home!
4. Affordable Experiences
Another thing I really love about Egypt is how affordable having a cool experience can be. For example, we just booked tickets to go see a ballet at the Cairo Opera House for about $12 each. Granted, they can be more expensive if you want to sit really close, but still, you can have a very nice experience for a very affordable price. One summer in Sharm El Sheikh which is a little town by the Red Sea full of resorts, we went on a boat for a day with a group, and went free diving around several coral reefs all day with lunch included for about $60 for the two of us. That’s not to say every experience is so affordable, but if you search around, you can find really good deals for fun.
5. A Bible Land
For sure this has to be the main reason that I love to live here. When you can see the area where Joseph lived, and know that Abraham, Jeremiah, and Jesus passed through here, you feel as if you are standing on Holy ground lol. I’ve been to the exact area that the Israelites landed after crossing the Red Sea, and gotten to really imagine it. Even culturally, many things here remain the same as Bible times with a big emphasis on traditions, family, inheritances, etc. In fact, I understand many things in the Bible much more because of now understand the culture. Like David and Nabal and Rachel lamenting the twins fighting in her belly.
6. Sweet Talk Society
Another thing that is very pleasant and cute about Egyptians is their overall warmth and friendliness. They frequently call each other “dear”, even if it’s just the guy who is fixing your car. Flattery will get you EVERYWHERE in Egypt, and the saying: “You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” definitely applies here. Many times when I go into a shop, the women who work there will call me “honey” or “moon.” You can feel there is more of an emphasis on personal interaction and ‘how is your family/business doing’ than in more fast-paced western societies.
7. Business Opportunities
The Western World is truly saturated with entrepreneurs, new ideas, concepts, and self start up’s. This concept has really only just begun here in Egypt, but it’s really fun to watch it develop and learn about new coffee shops/ businesses/ retailers that pop up everywhere. For instance, they do have Cold Stone here, but one Egyptian girl decided to take the concept of Cold Stone and just make it her own, and now her branding is very popular in Cairo. It’s called Dara’s Ice cream and is just as popular as Cold Stone. This is happening all the time here now, ideas and concepts from overseas that Egyptian entrepreneurs are starting here, locally made. Karim’s brother also started a business custom making doormats, and pour paintings, if you want to check out Instagram, they’re called apieceofart_eg.
8. Coffee Shops
This next one deserves it’s own article because American coffee shops have got NOTHING, on the amount, variety, or even experience of going to a coffee shop in Cairo. Egyptians LOOOOVE their coffee shops, and in Cairo, there’s always room for more of them lol. They have coffee shops from all over including the U.S. Canada, and several countries in Europe. I think because many people will sit and talk, and study in those coffee shops, they are just very pleasant places to be for hours on end. I have so many favorite coffee shops in Cairo and each place I will go for a particular dessert.
9. The Red Sea
This is another one of my favorite things about Egypt, the Red Sea has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen and for a fraction of the cost of going to a resort in the Caribbean. It’s about an hour and a half from Cairo, and 5 hours to the really beautiful snorkeling beaches. The water is almost always a perfect temperature, refreshing but not too cold, and the gradient of blue-green is truly stunning! If you come to visit Egypt, it’s definitely a must-go-to for a few days!
All in all, Egypt is many things, but boring is NOT one of them! I’ve loved the experience of living here, and I’ll always cherish and carry the things I’ve learned from here wherever I end up next! Til next time dear reader!