I arrived safely, thank you for the thought! <3
It's going to be so difficult to sum up what's been happening in the last two days here, but let me start with the man situation - unlike the Emirates, most of these men are pretty respectful, as in when you tell them no, they take this as a no and leave you alone. I haven't and will not touch any alcohol here, because I think perhaps that once things get loose with liquor, that might change.
It is however completely impossible for me to walk anywhere with any kind of pace because every single person on the street will try to stop me. How are you? Where are you from? Excuse me, excuse me? Are you Russian? Can I look at your tattoos? For the most part, it is very friendly and I think they just want to have a chat... Or more likely to get me into their store to buy something. It is very sweet, but kinda annoying. I can understand though that they might not see something like me everyday. And it's friendly. So I'm pleased about that.
Yesterday, I went to the beach and got mobbed by people wanting to take a picture with me. Pulling on my arms in every direction, completely oblivious of other people pulling me. It was about thirty people trying to get a picture. I asked my scuba buddy, Sadam Hussein why and he said that its unusual for them to see blonde hair and tattoos, so for them it's nice to have a photo. I mean, I'm happy to oblige, I just find it strange. And particularly as I really do enjoy the English way of being left alone, it's strange to me.
I met a lovely, very large Egyptian family and hung out with them yesterday. There must have been about twenty family members across three generations and I had dinner with them. To say that I find how they are a bit strange would be an understatement, but only because it's not familiar. They insisted that I sit down all the time and that I drink and eat everything they gave me. So I did, it was very kind.
My observation is that Egyptians love a good sugary treat. I discovered hibiscus tea which is OUT OF THIS WORLD, but with a ton of sugar in it. I ordered it and assumed they'd ask if I wanted sugar, they didn't. I don't really think I've had too much in the way of calories each day, but all the fucking sugar it's hard to tell.
My Cairo family kept shoving cakes into my face and if I tried to say no, they'd say "please" and so of course, I had it.
I'm not the biggest fan of the food here, except the flatbreads and yoghurt stuff - like omg. But the hot food is quite bitter, particularly this brown dish which is served with everything, it's beans and some other indecipherable stuff. Tons of potatoes. Apparently it is really difficult to get hold of fruit and vegetables here because surprise, desert. So they eat a lot of starch basically, which would also explain why most of the Egyptians I've seen are a little chub. Not huge, but a bit larger than normal.
The biggest surprise has been the Islam factor - it isn't regimented or strict, but everyone just kinda does their vibe. When you read those articles about Islam being oppressive, I feel like that couldn't be further from the truth regarding Egyptian women specifically. The children don't wear headscarves, but the older women do. Some choose to wear the full hijab, but that's an exception to the rule. The women swim in modest bathing suits, but aren't completely submissive to their men. Their wives are respected and it's beautiful in the dynamic. The wives seem to have the role of family matriarch, looking after the kids, but the fathers do help out. The fathers of my Cairo family kept very proudly telling me about their children, how old they are, how smart they are. I think I had a very wrong idea of what it would be like. And certainly very different from my impression of Emirates - which I would describe in hindsight as more of a baller culture.
Most of all, they don't care about me or the way I look and dress. It is very welcoming and very accepting. It's kinda like... You do you and I'll do me.
So in a nutshell that's my impression thus far of Egypt. To any Egyptians reading, you guys are super awesome and sorry for sounding like an ignorant westerner.
I wish I had a scale and some fruit, but otherwise I'm happy as a clam here. I also wish I didn't have a persistent headache, I suspect it is the heat.
Peace & Love from Egypt