They say that travel broadens the mind, and my recent trip to Egypt certainly proved that to be true. From the ancient wonders of the Pyramids of Giza to the vibrant culture of Cairo, I was immersed in a world that was both fascinating and unfamiliar. But more than just an adventure, my time in Egypt taught me some valuable lessons about life. I learned about the importance of perseverance from the awe-inspiring stories of the pharaohs, and about the power of community from the warmth and hospitality of the locals. I was reminded of the beauty of simplicity by the breathtaking natural landscapes, and of the importance of taking time to reflect from the peaceful moments spent by the Nile. Egypt may be a land of contrasts, but the lessons it has to offer are universal. Join me as we explore the insights that this incredible country has to offer, and discover how they can enrich our lives in ways we never imagined.
The view from the rooftop terrace at our apartment in Giza
Egypt is a 3rd world country. As a first world citizen, my life is supposed to be better, happier, and less complicated. But watching the people in Egypt, I don’t think that idea is entirely accurate. I was only in Egypt for a couple of days, but in my short time there, it seemed like people lived a much more fulfilled life. Every part of their day was just part of life. They didn’t separate work and family and me-time into separate blocks that have to be navigated and balanced throughout the day. Everything just existed all as one. And without having to compartmentalize every activity or analyze which bucket it belonged to or whether there was too much crossover or whether one bucket was getting more attention than the others or if they were really being fulfilled or meeting their potential, they were free to just live their lives and enjoy every moment, no matter what they did. They worked, they rested, they treated everyone they met like long lost friends. They LIVED.
View of the Pyramid of Chefren. At the base you can see other cave-like dwellings.
I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a world traveler, but my passport has a few stamps in it. Nowhere I’ve ever been is even remotely similar to my experience in Egypt. It is dramatically different from every other place I’ve visited - the sounds, the culture, the chaos are all a completely unique experience. But does Egypt care? Absolutely not. The entire experience was completely foreign to me, and in many ways if you tried to run life the way they do it there, it would be a complete disaster here. But it works for them.
The view outside of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, where they have 20 mummies from Ancient Egyptian kings and queens from over 3,000 years ago.
The entire time I was in Egypt I was in complete awe of the level of history that dotted the city. Ruins and artifacts that were thousands of years old right in their backyard. When I talked to our tour guide, I was sad to know that most people don’t appreciate all of the history all around them. They just take it for granted. It makes sense - I live in Arizona and I can’t tell you how many people I know around here that have never even gone to the Grand Canyon. So learn to step back and appreciate the beauty and uniqueness that is already all around you!
A collection of items in the museum. There was soooo much to see!
Egypt, and Cairo in particular is dirty. There is trash everywhere, most of the buildings are half condemnable (but the other half is still in use), there are stray dogs and cats on every street (and the puppies! I’ve seen stray dogs before, but not stray puppies, and they were everywhere!). It is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, without being a particularly vertical city. Essentially take NYC, cut all the high rise apartments to 1/3 their size, then get rid of half of them, and still figure out a way to squish the same people into the remaining space. But nearly everyone I saw was happy and smiling, proving that circumstances have no say in happiness.
Selfie with our amazing tour guide in Memphis. He shared so many amazing insights and facts and took care of every detail of our trip!
When we first arrived at our hotel-apartment in Cairo, the owner of the building was there to greet us. He gave us a tour of the building, taking us up to the rooftop terrace where we could see the silhouette of the giant pyramids in the night sky. He told us how he was born and had grown up in that exact building and told us about his wife and family. Then, learning we hadn’t eaten dinner yet, he offered to treat us to his favorite authentic restaurant. He loaded our whole family up in his personal car and drove us 20 minutes away so we could get a non-touristy experience (and it was AMAZING food!). Then after dinner, he took us to another place and bought us some delicious Egyptian rice pudding for dessert. I have no idea if he does that for everyone that comes, but it was one of my favorite experiences as I got to experience the true culture and we felt so special.
Getting friendly with a camel ;)
When we were at the restaurant enjoying delicious koshary, I was highly aware of the fact that we were the ONLY tourists in there. Probably the only tourists in that part of town at all. But no one showed us anything but sincere love. In fact, the owner of the restaurant (who did not speak English) stopped by our table numerous times to ensure that we were enjoying everything and knew exactly how to eat it. He was particularly fascinated with our kids and kept kissing them on their heads. It was such a memorable experience!
Camels fold down their front legs and then their back legs to get all the way to the ground. It is mildly terrifying to be on them when they do this!
When you are driving here in the States and someone cuts you off, it is rude and irritating and offensive. If you got offended over the same thing in Egypt, you would literally always be offended. People are constantly running around and weaving in and out of traffic, and no one gets mad about it, because they know that it’s just how it is. No offense is intended, and none is taken.
The Sphinx was quite a bit smaller than I imagined, but still amazing.
It absolutely blows my mind how long some of the artifacts in Egypt have been around. My mind can’t even really comprehend what a few hundred years is like, let alone thousands of years. But one thing is absolutely true - Egyptians knew how to make things that would last forever. The fact that the mummies still look essentially like the people they once were, that they still have their clothing and other belongings intact after thousands of years is downright incredible.
Close up of one of our camel buddies that was kind enough to take us on a ride all afternoon. I was so sore afterward!
I’ve always thought that #firstworldproblems were all about how we have life so easy that we have to complain about all the little inconveniences. After spending time immersed in a third world country, I can say that isn’t necessarily true. It is much more about how we over complicate everything, and find problems with all the little things that a third world person would never even stop to complain about. It is that a simple life can be much happier and more fulfilling than what we have now.
Of course, this girl had to do cartwheels in front of the pyramids!
Before our trip, I had read that Egypt has a very strong tipping culture, and that people expect tips for everything. They were not wrong. Shortly after landing, I went to the restroom, and after washing my hands, a woman handed me a piece of paper towel to dry my hands. I thought she was super nice, so I gratefully took it from her, dried my hands, and threw it away. She then stood with her hand out and said, "Tip? Tip?" I felt terrible, because I hadn’t even had a chance to exchange any money yet, nor did I even have any cash on me, but I was also quite annoyed, because I literally thought she was just trying to be nice. People like this are everywhere in Egypt. They will offer to help you with almost anything, and then expect a big tip in return. I even read stories about tourists getting scammed when people would offer to take pictures of them in front of the various monuments and then hold their phone ransom until they gave them a big tip for the pictures (which were usually crappy pictures anyway, and fortunately there are plenty of tourists that are more than willing to exchange taking pictures with you). The tipping culture made it very difficult to feel like I could trust any local person I saw in the touristy areas (the local places aren’t like this), and our guide confirmed that we shouldn’t talk to or give any personal belongings to anyone other than people he specifically talked to us about. When your motive to help people is rooted specifically in getting a reward, people will know. It’s very obvious. Service should be for the sake of serving others, and if you get a reward or a tip, great, and if not, then that’s great too.
It was incredible to be able to experience all of this with the whole family!
Another aspect of tourism in Egypt is that all of the tour guides have "friends" that own shops, so they always steer you to particular stores to shop so that they can get a commission for bringing you there to buy things, often at a premium price you wouldn’t have to pay elsewhere. While in practice, this is pretty scammy, the theory behind it is actually pretty innovative and applicable to business in general. When you can build networks of people who all can help your customers have a better experience and solve their problems to a greater extent, then you can serve those customers better. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. If there is someone out there who does something better than you - whether it is providing a service or offering a product - instead of trying to copy them or reinvent what they do, especially if your copy is subpar, why bother? Instead, set up collaborative networks where you can earn a commission by referring people to their business. You can spend more time focusing more effort on what you actually do better, but still make some extra money and help them earn more money, too. Plus, they can reciprocate the same for you. And then, everyone wins.
The first shaft that you climb through to get to the chamber in the Great Pyramid. Believe it or not, that's a two-way street! Egypt doesn't believe in personal space.
The Great Pyramids are HUGE. So big, that it's nearly impossible to get a decent picture when you are standing close to them. You just can't get a handle on the size or shape of them until you go way out into the distance. But inside, there is nothing more than a tiny passageway. For most of it, it's too small even to stand up straight (about 4' tall and 3.5' wide), just a tiny shaft that brings you inward and upward toward the interior of the pyramid at about a 45 degree angle. Then it opens into a very tall narrow shaft (still only 3.5' wide, but now 28' tall). There are these cuts in the stone that run parallel to the shaft, but feel like they should be parallel to the ground, so if you stop to think about it or look at it too closely, you start to get dizzy and disoriented. Plus it is very hot and very humid and quite crowded with all of the other tourists. Then at nearly the dead center of the pyramid, you duck down and crawl under some large blocks of stone until you come to the King's Chamber, which is much bigger, but still only about 34' x 17' inside with a 17' tall ceiling and virtually empty and nondescript. Interestingly, everything is very mathematically specific in the room and throughout the entire structure, with ratios in pi and phi (golden ratio). But inside is just hot and bland, and that tiny room is encased in over 2.3 MILLION blocks of stone, each weighing about 2.5 tons a piece, that have all lasted for over 4600 years!
On the steps of the Great Pyramid of Khufu near the entrance. Each stone is HUGE!
Egypt was initially conquered in about 300 BC, but held on to some aspect of its own culture until Cleopatra was defeated by Rome in the first century AD. In the coming years, the entire culture was gradually wiped out and was completely lost until the Rosetta Stone was translated in 1822. That meant that for around 1500 years, everything in Ancient Egypt was a complete mystery, subject to speculation and hearsay on what any of it meant. Each period of time had its own set of rumors and stories, many of which downplayed the forgotten culture. In the middle ages, there was even a rumor that the pyramids were simply built by slaves for Joseph (from the Old Testament) to store grain in during the 7 years of famine. The pyramids, which originally were encased in smooth, polished, white limestone, with golden capstones, were pillaged, and the limestone was all stolen and used to build other structures nearby. Because no one understood the language, no one understood the significance of the pyramids, so they took the stones to use them for something they considered to be more worthwhile.
The view of Modern Cairo from the Nile River at night.
Historians have spent decades trying to figure out how the pyramids were built. One study showed that it took 4 workers approximately 4 days to excavate a single block of stone. Each of the large pyramids consists of over 2 million stones! However, Egyptians had extremely advanced technology for the time and knew how to optimize their work. An archaeologist discovered that if you wet the stones during excavation, you could cut them nearly 6 times faster. That meant that with about 3500 workers, you could produce 250 stones per day, meaning it took about 27 years to complete. Another study estimated that the average workforce was probably around 13,000 people. All of this work not only created a spectacular masterpiece, but one that remained largely intact for over 4500 years!
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Who needs a time machine when you can explore the captivating land of Egypt? It's like stepping into a whole new world that's bursting with valuable insights for both life and business. Trust me, this place will leave you spellbound!
I’m a wife, mama to 4, baker, creator, fitness enthusiast, & 7-figure e-commerce entrepreneur, dedicated to helping you succeed in your own product-based business.
I believe that every business, and every person for that matter, has a light within them, a spark, that they need to share with the world.
Something that is already there, waiting to be drawn out into the open.
And that the more we share our light, the more the world glows and becomes more beautiful than we could ever imagine.
My goal is to help entrepreneurs find their spark and let it shine.