I know hate is a very strong word, but it's the only word that I can think of as my eyes gaze on the remote Abu Simbel Temples and my feet touches the hot sandy desert. I'm "hating" the fact that I hadn't visited this great country of Egypt sooner. What was I thinking?
It's Ramadan 2016. The scenery is breath-taking. I can't get enough of watching the little children dressed in their abaya garbs chasing donkeys and cows around with a stick simply hoping to get the animals to behave. My eyes are fixed on watching several pre-teens kicking up dust playing soccer in the middle of the road. Mind you, it's 3 am. LOL! Cars fly by, oblivious of what's going on around them. Drivers scurrying to get from place to place.
I take in a deep breath. Trying to take it all in. I can't help but reminisce about my nine day excursion traveling through Egypt. I feel so proud! The natives holler "Nubian" as my niece, La Tonya and I nervously run across the street. There's nothing like the feeling of being away from home but feeling like you're "at home".
Right now, I'm sitting in the window seat of a train heading back to Cairo. La Tonya and I spent five days visiting all of the goodies Cairo has to offer. For instance we road a donkey and camel in the desert sun to The Pyramids of Giza. We visited the Saqqara Burial Grounds, The Great Sphinx of Giza and of course the world's famous Egyptian Museum. We spent one day visiting the White and Black Deserts and the remaining three days cruising in luxury aboard a five star cruise ship from Luxor to Aswan along the Nile River. We stopped at various historical places in between.
As I reminisce, La Tonya sleeps soundly as the train quietly makes stops from town to town. We're saddled up for a very long ride. It's fourteen hours from Aswan to Cairo. That's where we will board our flight back to the states. It's bitter sweet. Although, we don't want to go home, we are excited to be able to share our experiences.
I didn't know what to expect when La Tonya and I booked the trip. Oh yeah, I knew about the antiquities of the country. We knew about the Giza Pyramids, Sphinx and the museum. Who didn't? What I wasn't expecting is to feel like I just stepped back into time. It was 1279 BC. A time when King Ramesses's the 2nd ruled. Or approximately 1273 BC...that time when Moses was placed in a papyrus basket along the Nile River by his mother to escape the pharaoh's death sentence against Israelite baby boys. Scholars believe the area of the Nile where this happened was between Cairo and Giza. I was there!
I fixed my eyes on the River Nile (that's what the native calls it). I'm unable to truly grasp that this really is that place I learned about in bible study. I would whip out my bible and re-read Genesis over and over. Reading Genesis will never be the same because I was there.
I also "hated" that I was ignorant most of my life about who the Egyptians really were. Like many, I figured they where lighter skinned or white people inhabiting the land. Well, it had to be right? Why would I doubt it because that's what I saw at the movies, on TV and what I learned in History class. Man was I wrong...so very very wrong.
It feels good to look truth right in the eye. The monuments don't know how to lie. The truth was always there, I just had to look for it. The etchings of ancient Egyptians in the granite structures and walls tells a fascinating story. You can clearly see the full lips, nose and high cheek bones. Features of a black culture. It's funny because Nubians (black people) to this very day still inhabit the land. They live off of an island near the coast of Aswan. I was too frightened to take a boat ride over because they handle crocodiles. And yes, I wasn't trying to be up close and personal with a crocodile. LOL!
Furthermore, King Ramesses II was important to me because of his significance in scripture. Although it's not for certain, it's believed he was the pharaoh that Moses petitioned to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.
To see the King's temples and to learn of his wives (arguably 35 wives and 130 children) were mind blowing. I wasn't prepared to hear that his favorite wife was a black Nubian woman by the name of Queen Nefertari. He loved her so much that he built a temple just for her. The temples of Abu Simbel were built with complete life sized images of her. He even built statues of her in his temple...features that don't appear anywhere else in antiquity. I learned that she was proud of her black skin, earrings and nubian features. She boasted and wouldn't think about changing it. Kudos to this Nubian Queen.
I got a kick out of seeing Ramesses the 2nd mummy at the Egyptian Museum and his tomb. Mind blowing is an understatement. The vivid colors on the walls of his tomb still holds its stain and the hieroglyphics are etched deep within the stone echoing its hairy past.
I'm fascinated at the style of mummification that held these bodies together for thousands of years...a feature that can't be duplicated today. I think of the vastness of the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Saqqara and the various tombs scattered throughout the Valley of the Kings. I'm speechless!
But last but not least is the boy King that went by the name of Tutankhamen. To see his solid gold death mask that weighs an astonishing 24 pounds. Whew! To see the vast jewels found in his small but elegant tomb. But to see his mummy will take your breath away. To look at a 3000 year old boy's body and still see his teeth, toes and head is just fascinating. I'm looking at a kid that ruled Egypt for only a few years. Although he wasn't as great a ruler as King Ramesses II, he still holds his own with what he offers to modern civilization.
As a Christian, I don't agree with King Ramesses II worshipping style and the building of over 100 temples to multiple Gods. But, you have to admit they were intellectual geniuses. No one can figure out how the pyramids where built or how the bodies were mummified to last so long. This makes me proud! To know that I'm part of a culture of people that were so darn smart and offered something to the world no other civilization could.
Finally, I think about my "brothers and sisters" of Egypt. These are my people. I'm in deep thought about how they're living right now. It's a poor country. They live in mud brick homes, their teeth aren't healthy and they are forced to work in the desert heat in order to survive. I see how they get around. Some have beat up cars, many ride donkeys or horses while others walk.
Many only dream of visiting another country. The locals contend that getting a visa is very difficult because of the politics of the country. I then compare their living to my living in Los Angeles. I am able to chase my dreams as an actress and am blessed to own a USDA certified organic skin care company.
I think of my complaining about what I don't have instead of focusing on what I do have. Visiting Egypt makes me grateful to live in a country where I can practice my religion without a threat of being gunned down. If I'm hungry, I know a great group of Christians who would feed me. For the most part, I can be lazy and not risk a catastrophe.
Many around the world aren't afforded these luxuries...especially in Egypt! Although there's so much more I can write about, I'll leave it be. You have to visit the country for yourself to truly get a feel of what I'm saying.
The moral of this story? America wake up! Black people, be grateful for who you are and be thankful for what you got. We take so much for granted. Remember, Egypt was once a powerful nation and ruled the world. Now, it's a third world country! Meditate on that!