Siwa – The Culture.

The time in Siwa is going very well. I am recovering from the shock of Cairo. All the mosquito bits are healing, my digestion is getting better and I am finding some good chill, quite time. Tonight I am going on an overnight safari into the great sand sea desert, only 160LE and that is with the permit. There are only 10 sand sea deserts in the world and 4 of them are in Northern Africa.

We will drive 4×4’s on the sand dunes to this hot spring and have dinner for the sunset and then spend the night in tents on mattresses with blankets. The great sand sea is no place to wonder around unless you want to end your life, plus it is against the law, a person has to have a permit from the police to go into the great sand sea. An army of 50,000 disappeared in the great sand sea in the past.

Yesterday I spent the day out at the Cleopatra spring. At the spring the have a restaurant and cafe, the guy that runs the place is from Alex and is very cool, he likes western music and is very opened minded. We had a wonderful deep conversation, plus it’s a place to meet tourists from all over. The pizza is awesome and they have BBQ in the evening, I might pre-order the BBQ Camel. Basically, the spring is about
3km out of town, I rent a bike for all day for 10LE, it’s the best way to get around Siwa for the money.

The Siwain culture is thick and old. It’s basically simple, once the child is sixteen, the boy’s work, the girls stay home. They all get married at 18, 19 years of age, which is through familes, and have kids. Once married the woman are fully covered (even the eyes) when they go out, they stay at home and raise kids and do the work at home. The family I met, I only met the men and kids, boys and girls, no women. The work the men do is hard work, they work 6 to 7 days a week. It is no easy life, along with the boredom people experience. Within town all you see is men, unless there are a tourist. It’s the culture, and it goes way back since the founding of Siwa. Everyone out here in Siwa is ultra friendly. They can’t believe I am staying for a couple of weeks. Most tourist stay three days and move on. It’s nice to have a lot of time. The farming work is ultra hard for the men.

When I think of the people back in the USA that are an extreme environmentalist or this women liberation movement; since I have been out here I laugh when I think back. There is a good chance that these people haven’t traveled anywhere. If so, they would not have these extreme views on life. Sure California might be a clean place, but how about spend few days on the streets of Cairo, one full day on the street is like smoking 25 packs of cigarettes. Good luck changing it, even the garbage problem would be an enormous project, and the government has no interest in spending the money on garbage removal or buying clean gasoline, or helping people purchase clean cars. All the cars pollute. Then the perception that people have about the so-called miss treated women in the middle east. It’s a different culture and from my observation, women, at least in Egypt are very much honored and respected. The media in the world are filled with lies, brainwashing both sides.

According to the culture the way of life in Siwa is normal, old, but normal. According to the west, yes it is very different and messed up. The guy at the cafe has been living here for a year, he is married to an English gal and they have an organic farm that they export out. He said for the whole year he has never seen a Siwain woman. It is kind of weird seeing them all covered with a black vale. I mean totally covered, not even their eyes show.

The Canadian gal has traveled through Syria with an American guy and said it’s no problem, I meet two girls from the Prague that has traveled through Syria and said it was wonderful. I met a couple from Lebanon and said it would be OK to visit. At this point in time I have no plans except to stay in Siwa for awhile, at the moment I am contemplating which direction I should go from here. I am getting the sense to go through the desert to the Bahariya Oasis then swoop on through Dakha and Al-Kharga and head north to Cairo through Asyut and then Minya. Once I do the Cairo thing I could catch a sleeper train down to Luxor. This is a tentative plan.

Wondering the most thing I miss??? My homemade breakfast, I am going nuts. Over easy on the eggs, nice fried, crispy hash browns and lets not forget the bacon. Sounds like heaven to me. Although all the food cook out here is cook fresh. Ordering a bowl of soup? might take a half hour, because they don’t have it pre-cooked.

The biggest adjustment??? The bathrooms, what a difference. It will just take time to get just to them. Long story of the infrastructure of the bathrooms.

The talk of the town is the guy from Denmark, what a crack pot; he is 75 and travels on his pension from being a fishing boat captain. Total white hair, bearded type of guy, smokes cigars. Everyone cracks up, the problem – he has really bad manners, everyone also rolls their eyes regarding the crack pot danish guy. He decided to pitch his tent in a palm grove. Although at his age it is commendable traveling at the age of 75, just learn some manners. He is certainly the talk of the town.

There is only dial up out here in Siwa, it might be awhile until I can post lots of pictures.