I didn’t do much to prepare for my July of 2007 trip to Egypt as the opportunity came up quite suddenly and I didn’t have time. I had studied Arabic from the fall of 2005 through fall semester of 2006 (3 semesters) at Northern Virginia Community College, so at least I had some language skills and knew the Arabic alphabet. I was going to Egypt for an Intensive Arabic class, so this would serve me well.
The only guidebook I took along with me was The Rough Guide to Egypt (2005) by Dan Richardson and Daniel Jacobs.
I had been reading books in the years since 9/11 to inform myself about international relations, Islam, and the Arab world:
- Longitudes and Attitudes: The World in the Age of Terrorism by Thomas L. Friedman
- Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong
- The Arabs: Journeys Beyond the Mirage by David Lamb
- The Lexis and the Olive Tree by Thomas L. Friedman
- Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks
- The Wisdom of Islam: A Practical Guide to the Wisdom of Islamic Belief by Robert Frager
- Arabian Jazz by Diana Abu-Jaber
- The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
In addition to these, I was of course reading textbooks about international relations, economics, and political conflict in my Master’s program in International Commerce & Policy.
If I had found the time, I could have read any of a number of novels or non-fiction books set in Egypt:
- The Teacher of Cheops by Albert Salvadó
- Lifting the Veil: Two Centuries of Travelers, Traders and Tourists in Egypt by Anthony Sattin
- Café on the Nile by Bartle Bull
- Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
- Gazelle by Rikki Ducornet
- Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff by Rosemary Mahoney
- The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif
- The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
- The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
- The October Horse: A Novel of Caesar and Cleopatra (Masters of Rome #6) by Colleen McCullough
- The Yacoubian Building by Alla al Aswany
- The Cheapest Nights by Yusuf Idris
- The Collar and the Bracelet by Yahya Taher Abdullah
- The Trench by Abdul Rahman Munif
- Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie
- Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
- Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak by Tarek Osman
- The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
I might have also watched some movies set in Egypt. The ones on the list below that I did watch (indicated by a star rating) weren’t made until after I returned:
- The Nightingale’s Prayer (1934)
- The Flirtation of Girls (1949)
- The Ten Commandments (1956)
- Cairo Station (1958)
- Cleopatra (1963)
- The Sin (1965)
- The Land (1969)
- The Night of Counting the Years (1969)
- Death on the Nile (1974)
- Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
- The Bus Driver (1982)
- Terrorism and the Kebab (1992)
- The Yacoubian Building (2006)
- Cairo Time (2009) *****
- Asmaa (2011)
- Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
- The Night Manager (TV series) (2016-2018) ****
A friend of mine from Reston Runners, Jerry, who had worked many years for CARE, encouraged me to contact his close friend in Cairo, Mohsen, who would be valuable in introducing me to Ma’adi Runners and the Cairo Hash House Harriers. Jerry also gave me many recommendations of places to see and things to do, one of which was to ride a felucca on the Nile at sunset and to visit the Grand Cafe On the Nile.
“ANTICIPATION & PREPARATION” INVITATION: I invite you to write a post on your own blog about anticipation & preparation for a particular destination (not journeys in general). If you don’t have a blog, I invite you to write in the comments. Include the link in the comments below by Thursday, July 25 at 1:00 p.m. EST. When I write my post in response to this challenge on Friday, July 26, I’ll include your links in that post.
This will be an ongoing invitation, on the 4th Friday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂 If you’d like to read more about the topic, see: journeys: anticipation & preparation.
I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!