Say ‘Egypt’ and most people think -Pyramids, the Nile, maybe even Tutankhamen.
I’m not ‘most people’. Say ‘Egypt’ to me and immediately I’m inspired by images of big hair, dark eyes in smudged kohl and a certain catchy tune that takes me right back to the 1980s, when I was a Kiwi school girl.
Of course that’s not the first time I’d heard about Egypt. As a young reader, during my Secret Seven phase (Enid Blyton) I had devoured historical novels that weaved plots around scarab beetles and secret hieroglyphics, not to mention a walking mummy or two! During Latin classes in middle school I read about Roman times in Alexandria and Cairo. The fact that Alexandria still exists as a bustling modern city kind of blows my mind!
One thing I never dreamed about was actually going to Egypt. It seemed so far away from the Pacific Ocean, and going there seemed about as likely as joining my idols, The Bangles, in walking like an Egyptian. Back in the 198os, I was still stuck in a school tunic, knee high socks and garters kind of rut, waiting for my life to begin. Exams loomed and beyond that nothing else really existed. It wasn’t until after university (where I studied North African and Egyptian history) that the idea that I could go to Egypt – or anywhere outside of New Zealand – started to seem, even vaguely, realistic. By then I was sporting big hair and dark kohl eyeliner too.
I did travel quite a bit in those backpacking years, but it wasn’t until I moved to the UK did it seem likely that I would see any of those things I’d carefully added to my ‘Must See’ list as a schoolgirl. Since arriving here in 2007 I’ve crossed off:
Paris Las Vegas Grand Canyon Cyprus Israel Tenerife Amsterdam
Egypt is next on my list.
I want to see the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. (Secretly I’ve always wondered if they are real or set up on a Hollywood sound stage somewhere, like the dusty surface of the moon in the Moon Landings!)
I’d like to snorkel in the warm waters of the Ras Mohammed National Park, in the Red Sea and see how it compares to the tropical waters of Fiji and the Great Barrier Reef. What’s more I’d love to take my Englishman out to feed the fishes. Not kill him off obviously, that would be a shameful waste of a romantic occasion!
I mean hand feed the fish with him whilst snorkelling, as I once did as a much younger backpacker on the Great Barrier Reef. If there’s one thing I miss more than anything here in rural Hampshire, it is the ocean.
Of course I have some land based activities in mind too – riding a camel, sharing tea with the Bedouins, star gazing in the desert, not to mention a little slouching around a souk or two. I’d like to see if I can find a carpet – maybe even an Ali Baba styled flying carpet?
Do they stock flying carpets that can manage the long haul to Down Under?
But most of all, I feel inspired by Egypt. By that sense that it is the cradle of civilisation, that I’ve studied all my life, in one way or another. I want to go and see how a place so old can be so freshly inspiring, and life affirming. But most of all, I want to go and recapture some of that youthful school girl enthusiasm for life, under the Egyptian sun… and I want to:
Walk like an Egyptian!
NB/I bet you can’t listen to that song without smiling, remembering a more innocent time in your life! This post was written as my entry into Easyjet’s fantastic Inspired by Egypt competion.
Easyjet holidays: Fantastic holidays Inspired by Egypt
Image: Flickr CC – Shelby PDX