Author dancing at AWS Festival
First Experience in Egypt
I have always felt a pull to visit Egypt to experience the
history and culture of this dance I love so much. The chance
came about just recently and it was so worth the wait. My trip
to Egypt was a whirlwind of sightseeing, cultural intake and
one amazing experience after another. I’ve been to Turkey on
contract to dance and instruct but this trip was different.
I went with my husband and more than 20 other people on a
tour group with the amazing Lucy of Scheherezade
for a total of 18 days and in that time experienced so much
of the Egyptian culture. We traveled throughout Egypt including
Cairo (Downtown, Old and Coptic Cairo), Giza, Aswan and Luxor.
Each area of Egypt held a different way of life. You can read
books or watch the travel channel for a glimpse into Egyptian
history, but you have to be there in person to truly get the
grander picture and awe of history. Even though this was my
first trip, I felt at home in Egypt, almost as though I’d been
The middle of our trip was spent at the Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival. This was an overload of sparkles,
baubles and bling. There were vendors everywhere trying to
lure you into their booth promising to have exactly what you
need and featured instructors like Momo Kadous and Amir Thaleb surrounding you and the ever present
lure of performing with a live Egyptian band each evening.
Being a nightclub performer and having my start with an Egyptian
band myself, I felt excitement to have that same experience
in Cairo. As I took the stage, I could see in their eyes, the
audience was taking me in just as I did the previous dancers.
The band played my favorite song, Leylet Hob, and I allowed
the music to take over. It was freeing as my dance and trip
came full circle. Although this trip wasn’t just about seeing
the sights or dancing, this was an experience I did not set
out to have, but glad I did.
If you get the chance to go to Egypt, go. Going with a great
group like I was with made the trip much more fun and memorable.
Don’t go simply for the festival. Go experience Egypt in its
entirety – that is where you will connect with the culture.
This is a country rich with history. Go to a Nubian village,
have tea and get henna with a Nubian family and take in the
brilliant house colors. Take a cruise down the Nile and walk
through the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Go to the Egyptian
Museum and see King Tut’s treasures up close. Visit the Temples
and Mosques and feel the awe of such ancient works of art.
Try the local food; my favorite was Kosheri. Learn how Papyrus
paper and silk rugs are made. Attend a wedding where the entire
town celebrates. There is so much to see and experience. Just
remember to pack your patience, adventuresome spirit, do your
research and enjoy the ride!
Some of our Cairo sights….
St Sergius church is considered the oldest Coptic (Christian)
church in Cairo and where
the Holy Family, Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus stayed in the crypt below the church.
Muhammed Ali Mosque is sometimes
referred to as the Alabaster Mosque
for its extensive
use of the stone. Muhammed Ali
is considered the
of Modern Egypt establishing Egypt as an independent
increased agricultural industrialization and
for the creation of schools
Hassan Mosque operated as both a mosque and religious
This is one of the original doors made
of copper, gold and silver.
You can see all three
Refai Mosque was full of these gorgeous designs
Gayer Anderson Museum which used to be the home of Gayer
a wealthy merchant who fell in love with the
culture and filled his home with Egyptian works of art.
is a hidden room housed behind a fake bookcase where
were able to
sneak in and watch the celebrations
in the room below.
also caught some fabulous Whirling Dervish shows
This man did amazing zill playing. He was the highlight
of the solos!
That’s me on the dance floor under the skirt
On to Giza, the
pyramids and festival…
Some of our group who braved the ride
from our room at the Mena House
This is a silk worm…the beginnings of a silk carpet
Our new carpet…the finished product!
These are the typical wedding lights strung
high for outdoor weddings
we flew 500 miles south to Aswan and Luxor & boarded
a cruise down the Nile
Nubian homes use brilliant color both inside and outside
Philae Temple on the Nile.
There is still gold inlaid
in the stone (hand is shadowing to see).
This is the first sight you see when entering the Valley
of the Kings.
It is an expansive and overwhelming view.
doesn’t do it justice.
The entrance to King Tut’s tomb.
We can’t take pictures
inside to preserve the art on the walls but his mummy
was just inside
These are minerals from the ground used
for painting the temple walls and makeup.
Our guide used
my arm as the canvas….new costume color anyone??
You can still see the original paint on the ceilings
as the shade has protected the color.
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