When I was a young lass, my mother had this great idea to promise my sister and I a trip of a lifetime for our 16th birthday. We had a few years to think about a destination and whatever we chose is where she would take us. Alright. What kid would ever say no to a vacation? I’m not sure where she thought I would choose: Mexico? Hawaii? Maybe the Caribbean? Nah. She should’ve known better. Egypt. I chose Egypt as a 15 year old girl.
BLLLLEEEECCCCHHHHHHHOOOO (that’s the sound of my mom’s mind being blown) followed immediately with “No”. Well, stubborn (probably bratty) little Brynn said “then I don’t want to go anywhere”.
Well, spoiler alert, mom caved and we were on our way to Egypt in October of 2007.
Now, at this point in my life I had traveled a bit, but I was never quite old enough to fully filter everything I was experiencing. The culture, the people, the authenticity of a world very different than that of America. Throughout my journey I kept a journal explaining what we did that day and my feelings about what I was experiencing. One of the only entries I remember from the diary was on the plane ride to Cairo. I remember writing “I’m not sure what to expect when I get there. Will it be a third world country? I think they’re pretty commercialized, so maybe second world country?” I was deeply interested in what I would encounter and the types of situations I would experience during this trip. The trip was more than just a 16th birthday trip–it was an eye opener.
I had always (since 5th grade) been intrigued by ancient Egypt. Their belief system, their engineering feats, their writing. It’s so foreign, fantastical, and otherworldly. Some people can go through life possibly knowing some facts about ancient cultures, thinking maybe some of the monuments are cool, but not much more than that. I dive deep into antiquity. Come on! These people were real! They had thoughts, they went to the store, they pooped. Some of them may have been funny, some may have been real jerks. They were definitely sports fans, they were mothers, fathers, politicians, artists, free thinkers and hard workers. Yet their world is vastly different than the one we live today. For me, I can’t just read about–or even see a picture of–an ancient person without my mind going wild.
Mom and I were gone for 10 days, 7 of those days were on a Mediterranean style cruise boat sailing atop the Nile. We started in Upper Egypt (southern) in the city of Aswan and cruised all the way to Luxor in Lower Egypt. Along the way, we saw incredible sites. We visited the Aswan dam, the island in which the temple of Isis was constructed, Valley of the Kings, the mega temple of Karnak, the Egyptian Museum, and of course, the pyramids. Every day we were busy on excursions in new cities along the Nile, learning and attempting to understand the lives and customs of the ancient Egyptians. We stared in awe at the colossal columns of all temples and were stunned by the intricacy of the artwork covering every inch of the tombs of the Valley of the Kings. We crawled through tunnels inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu and rode camels through the streets passing equal parts of structured buildings and banana tree plantations. The Nile is a fascinating ecosystem. It is no wonder the Egyptians relied (and still do!) so heavily on her fertility. I have a picture that will show how the vast desert is divided in two by the lush banks of the Nile.
Like I mentioned, we learned many facts about the ancient culture. One that stuck, and is a point of frustration today, is about the highly regarded goddess, Isis. I want to make this very clear to whomever is reading this: there is a HUGE difference between the goddess Isis and the terror organization ISIL. First of all, they’re not connected what-so-ever. Isis was the Egyptian (and later Roman as well as Greco-Roman) goddess of wisdom. She was their protector of the dead as well as guardian of children. I think this should be clear that Isis is the exact opposite of everything ISIL stands for. Just wanted to point that out. Polytheism is one thing, terror and extremism is an entirely different one. No matter what religion this extremism resides in. Enough said.
Mom and I had the pleasure of meeting many great people on our cruise boat and gained great respect and knowledge towards a foreign culture. To say we came back from that vacation unchanged would be a lie. Through the eyes of sixteen year old Brynn, I saw the inside of the tombs of once great rulers, gawked over temples dedicated to gods, goddesses, and a Queen who ruled as a King (even wore a false beard–Hatshepsut was a badass), and experienced being followed around by the “tourism police” wielding machine guns for my protection. Not to mention we were escorted around one of the greatest museums in the world, the Egyptian Museum, seeing relics most people will never get to see in their lives: King Tut’s death mask and 95% of the treasures he was buried with, the mummified bodies of Seti I and Ramses the Great, as well as other Egyptian antiquity gems.
I am eternally grateful that I have such wonderful parents for providing me this opportunity to see a troubled part of the world, and raising me in a way that allows me to see the beauty within these people. We need to protect this area of the world! It’s chocked full of our human history and serves as a remembrance of our very important past.
Anyway, here’s some more pictures from our trip! 🙂