Last year around this time, I was spending a quiet Saturday exploring the wonders of the internet. This day, my meandering led to Groupon. I clicked on the site’s “Getaways” section and that’s when I saw it. A picture of the Sphinx advertised an 8 day tour through Egypt. Instantly, my heart started pounding. Historically, that type of physiology reaction is a clear sign from the Divine that I need to take action. So I knew at that moment, one way or another, I was going on this trip.
When I ran the idea by a close friend, he reminded me that I didn’t have any money and therefore, wouldn’t be able to go. That was the last, little push I needed. If I went for no other reason than to prove him wrong, I was going. When I told people I was going to Egypt, everyone assumed I was going with my sister or several of my friends but I was going alone. I had to go it alone because no one had the money/desire to go when I wanted to leave. While I would have loved the share the experience with someone else, I couldn’t forgo the experience by waiting.
After some borrowing and negotiating with the travel agency who posted the deal, everything was set. I was going to Egypt. I was set to leave in November, around Thanksgiving.
But then ish went left. About three months before my trip, the political protests increased and in the eyes of many around the world Egypt became synonymous with smoky streets, screaming protestors and aggressive military personnel. My family was concerned. Everyone who had heard about my trip called and asked me to postpone it. I wasn’t happy about it but eventually I obliged. My new trip would be in April.
When the time came I had my anxieties. As yet another black girl who can’t swim, I felt a little uneasy flying over the Atlantic Ocean for hours on end. But as soon as I got on the plane, a sense of peace came over me and I knew that I would be safe and protected throughout my journey.
The trip exceeded my expectations.
Looking at temples and statues that were still standing nearly 4,000 years after construction was awe inspiring. Sailing down the Nile, a river that watered and nourished the original man, the first civilization, was breathtaking and at times a bit emotional. Staring at the pyramids trying to figure how the ancient Egyptians moved and stacked blocks weighing several tons was baffling. Seeing the opulence and grandeur of all the treasure from King Tut’s tomb was amazing. Kanye was really onto something when he told us it’s in black folks’ soul to rock that gold.
But more than the exploration of history traveling to Egypt, as leaving the country often does, even gave me an opportunity to do some reflecting about myself. I remember the first time I went to Africa, Ghana to be exact, I was surprised to learn that the people there didn’t regard me as black. In Egypt it was the complete opposite. People were sure that I was Nubian, or Sudanese or even Latina. I realized, that while in America brown skinned people might be “minorities;” but in the global context, brown skin is the norm. And while I smiled or chuckled at their inaccurate guesses, I realized that I could have been any of those things. It was there in Egypt that I recognized my “brown girl privilege”: the ability to travel and blend in with a variety of people.