Travel To Egypt. Is It Safe?
May 26th, 2007 · 17 Comments
Before I left on my trip, literally every single person I told that I was going to Egypt asked me if I thought it was safe. I would reply that although it was true that Egypt has been unfortunate enough to have had some recent terrorist attacks, so has Bali, England, Spain and the United States.
I didn’t feel unsafe when I flew through London last year on my way back from South Africa. I spent two days there and never once thought about the possibility of being attacked. So why should I feel differently in Egypt?
The truth was though, I did feel differently about going to Egypt. Some of it had to do with fear of the unknown (being a woman in a Muslim country). Some of it had to do with the reality of the past attacks (the last attack was a year ago in Dahab, which was one of the cities on our itinerary). And some of it had to do with a dream I had in college where I was gunned down by masked men in an Egyptian subway tunnel.
Now, this last one was wholly irrational, but it had made a huge impression on me way back when. One of the reasons I had not yet gone to Egypt was because I wanted to see a lot of other places before I died. So as my own fears danced around in my psyche and mixed with the panicked expressions of well-meaning friends, acquaintances, and checkout clerks, I was sad to admit that I embarked on the trip with a bit of dread and hesitation (and also a Egypt-specific relaxation MP3 made for me by my awesome hypnotherapist, Angie Choi).
With all the buildup that I’d created for myself, what actually happened then after I landed in Cairo seemed like a bit of a letdown.
Not only was Egypt NOT the scary lawless outpost where Muslims slit your throat for having the gall to be from America, the people were downright ingratiating. On a whole, Egyptians are friendly. They are kind. They say hello and mean it. They welcome you to their city (even if they don’t have anything to do with the travel industry). They help you out if you’re lost. They sit you down for tea and chat with you in their shops. They play with your children. They wave at you from atop camels as they caravan home after a long day.
Within a day of arriving in Egypt, I actually felt safer than I do in my own city of San Francisco. A lot of this had to do with the wonderful way we were taken care of by Egypt 7000, the company I’d hired to help us put our trip together. But a lot of it also had to do with the many people we came in contact with during our five-week stay.
I couldn’t help feeling that if all those worry-warts back in the U.S. could spend just 24 hours in Egypt, they would never again need to ask the question about safety. If they would visit a mosque and talk to people about their faith, they would no longer equate being Muslim with being a terrorist. And maybe if we all took the time to better understand one another, we wouldn’t be having any of these problems in the first place (yes, I’m a wacko San Francisco liberal).
Egypt is just as safe or unsafe as our own country. There are certain risks for which you take precautions. If you don’t want to get hit by a car crossing the street, try crossing with a local. If you don’t want to get your money stolen, don’t stuff bills in the front pocket of your jeans. If you don’t want a wiener fluke or worse, don’t swim in the Nile.
It’s the same common sense you use on a daily basis at home. Except you get to use it while seeing some of the most amazing sights ever created in the history of mankind. And while interacting with some of the most gracious people in the world. And that’s not scary at all.