Egypt Beyond the Headlines
Some might think a trip to Egypt is daunting, but for Andrea Boland, it was a trip she has no regrets about taking.
The year before had been the Arab Spring. Cable news was wrought with headlines about the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak from power. Protests were still going on when the Toronto-native arrived in May of 2012. But rather than finding a country in disrepair from infighting, Andrea said the people of Egypt impressed her with their hospitality.
“They’re not weird or uncomfortable,” Andrea said, “They’re just nice people.”
Andrea saw the extent of that hospitality while she was traveling in Cairo with her traveling partner. He had introduced Andrea to his friends while they were backpacking across Egypt.
“They always looked out for us,” Andrea said. “They made sure that we were OK, at least I felt that way.”
However, Andrea said she did witness some of the uprising against then Prime Minister Mohamed Morsi while she was in Egypt’s capital city.
“There were times that I had to leave Cairo because there were huge riots in the streets,” Andrea said,” and there was tear gas everywhere, so I could barely open my eyes.”
But traveling outside Cairo led Andrea to discover some of her favorite spots inside Egypt. There was scuba diving in the Red Sea, then there were the oases, including Siwa.
“It’s just amazing,” Andera said. “It’s a conservative town. There are all these lakes and hot springs in the middle of the Sahara.”
Andrea said she coincidently ran into a group of travelers she had met in Turkey, then rented some bicycles to ride around town with them.
Aside from the scenery and people, Andrea also spent part of her time in Egypt as an extra for a film.
“Basically, it was just a big gala dinner party,” Andrea said. “We had to wear these tacky 80s turquoise dresses. It was just so tacky. That’s all they had.”
Costume criticisms behind her, Andrea said she enjoyed her time in the film, but probably won’t be signing up to be an extra anytime soon.
Instead, Andrea left Egypt after two months of traveling with some amazing stories and an understanding of a different culture.
“Egypt was unique for me,” Andrea said. “I don’t ever have to go back, but I want to go back because I made really great friends. I would still do everything that I did.”