I've been in Egypt for one full trip around the sun!
Interesting, as always. Looking forward to your post on Jolene's Substack, Sam.
"I have a full-page rant about “traveling like a local” that might deserve its own post someday,"
"here’s the short version: being a tourist means you are merely passing through a place, and no amount of riding public transportation, hanging out in dives, or eating street food will allow you to experience it like locals do."
Reminds me of this quote and comment I wrote awhile back:
"In Coréens, Chris Marker observes that there are different ways of travelling: 'the Barnabooth way, the Genghis Khan way, and the Plume way.' In other words, those of the gentleman travellers, the conquerer and the one who humbly accepts the random upheavals of the journey. Marker writes that his own preferred method is to submit, Plume-like, to the haphazard events that befall him: 'to accept in their disorder the rhythms, waves, shocks, all the buffers of memory, its meteors and dragnets.' This approach is reflected in the aleatory character of Marker's travelogues, which flit spontaneously from one fact or observation to another, without attempting an ordinary narrative account of the place being visited. The intensely personal quality of Marker's response to other countries brings out the subjective, imaginative dimensions of travel, captured in the Romantic poets Gérard de Nerval's famous maxim that the purpose to travel is 'to verify one's dreams.'"
--Catherine Lupton, Chris Marker: Memories of the Future, p.43-44.
Reader's note: At nearly the same time Thomas Pynchon writes about the fourth way, now world dominant, known as Baedecker-land: the commercial and consumer class world of tourists and expats that has increasingly become a lifestyle magazine industry. These differ from the Barnabooths because the Barnabooths became what The Economist dubbed "Davos Man," the globe trotting transnationals that effectively founded a borderless meta-nation of their own, for which geography is roughly beside the point. They differ from Ghengis Khan because they swapped resource extraction with wage service industry. It's not enough to call them post-modern Khans because real Khans still exist.
Most Baedecker-land travellers think they're Plume travellers, but their strange gravitational attraction to beaches and scheduled, blocked out festivals betrays them.
Lastly, I feel you on expat friendships. The two years I lived in Dubai, I was instant friends with a wide variety of people who wouldn't have even bothered acknowledging me or me them in a public space in New Mexico or New York, being otherwise just completely irrelevant to each other. But in Baedecker land, Anglophone network means survival and resources.
So excited to post your gorgeous piece on Friday, Sam! ✨ Loved this post, wow, a year!
Fun to see how far you've come and how - as always - observant and self aware you are. I wonder if being an expat lends itself to slowing down in a way your other "at home" cities don't allow.
Such a great post, Sam! Always fascinating to read about other cultures. I learned so much - until I read your words all I knew about Egypt was what I've gleaned from the Peter Ustinov film 'Death on the Nile', and the English translation of 'Astérix et Cléopâtre'!
I need to read this to my son (age 5) who one day recently has been obsessed with wanting to visit Egypt. I think it's completely random (or not!) that I have my son's bucket list item as Egypt and I have a connection like you living in Egypt!