Everyday it seems we learn something new about this hot (except in winter) and strange land, and some of it simply boggles our minds! Egypt has been getting a really bad rep in the news and media, and it is so easy to have a small, shallow perspective of what kind of a place Egypt really is. Here are 10 quirky and unique things we’ve learned about Egypt.
1 – Egyptians are LOUD
They yell when they’re happy, and yell when they’re mad, and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, It starts from when they are young! Egyptians are very animated when they talk, and to foreigners, might seem like they have no concept of ‘indoor voice’, and you might be right! Not only do they talk loud, but they make loud noises and are big fans of drums. The gas truck that comes through the neighborhood will come clanging against the new tanks. The fruit man has his unique hollar, and tuk tuks will blast hip Arabic music at night with flashing lights and fireworks are often let off a residential roof to celebrate a wedding.
2 – Toilet Paper
This is originally something I thought I would never get used to, but I did! Here in Egypt, the piping system works with gravity, as opposed to pressure. Much like in old Europe, this means that toilet paper can cause blockage much easier, which leads to flooding. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you do not flush your toilet paper. I also recommend bringing your own roll, but that’s a different issue.
3 – Sheep, Goats and Cows. Oh my!
I”ll never forget the first time I saw three cows in the back of a regular truck near downtown Cairo! If we got close enough and rolled down the window, I could have petted one. Sheep and goats are fairly common to see outside the city center. They’re in and around traffic and neighborhoods, occasionally picking out garbage from the street. You may think they don’t belong to anyone because they seem to be roaming freely, but they do! So don’t think about taking one home with you.
4 – The Staring
Whether it’s because of the culture, or the fact that you’re clearly a foreigner, get ready to be stared at like someone thinks you stole something! I know I get stares because I look Egyptian (according to some of the locals) but am dressed in a Western way and have my hair cut off, but my husband Wayne…well he’s white, blond and blue-eyed, so he clearly sticks out! So unless you totally blend in, you will be started at. Just deal with it. You will eventually notice it a lot less, I promise.
5 – Tipping
There is quite a tipping culture in Egypt that is unlike in North America. Usually it is common to tip people who help you with your bags, private drivers, cleaning lady, etc. Also, while you get a service charge on your receipt at a restaurant, that all usually goes to the kitchen staff, so leave some extra for your waiter. Please keep in mind that most people in Egypt live with a monthly salary that is the equivalent of 50$ US a month, so while you may want to travel cheaply, chances are, you are vastly more rich than many of the locals. So be generous!
6 – Delivery
There may be a day when you want to stay in and order food. You can order almost anything to be delivered! Not just Papa Johns, but KFC (yes they have KFC) McDonald’s, and a whole slew of other restaurants, and not just fast food ones! Sushi restaurants and places like Butcher’s Burger also deliver. Get this, even some grocery stores deliver! I have ordered from the popular Gourmet a handful of times. It really makes eating out, without having to leave your home, that much easier! And when a teacher is doing report cards, it’s heaven-sent!
7 – Traditional Expectations Vary
8 – They are Proud of their Heritage
9 – Egyptian Cuisine is Delicious!
We all know Indian food, Japanese Food and Thai food, but I never knew what Egyptian food would be like. Amazing. Egyptian food is pretty amazing. I highly recommend their staple dish called Foule. It is relatively simple, but it is extremely yummy and high in protein from beans! They also have an amazing dessert known as Zalabia, which looks like ordinary doughnuts, but when if you pop one in your mouth and bite down, there is an explosion of juicy, sweetness that will make you an instant addict! And let’s not forget their refreshing and flavorful drink of hibiscus! You cannot leave Egypt before having one. Egyptian cuisine is not as world-known like Indian or Japanese food. But it is not any less worthy to be world known! There are so many delicious dishes to try in Egypt, all full of flavor that will blow your taste-buds away! And if you can get a taste of it home-made…well then you hit the jackpot!
Just think about. The history aspect of Egypt alone is one of the most renown in the world, which is why it is home to the famous Pyramids that is on every traveller’s bucket list. There are amazing desert sunsets, gorgeous blue waters teeming with exotic fish, the sweet smokey smell of shisha, and grand temples to be experienced! What are you waiting for? Come, ride a camel, bargain at a bazaar, and absorb this unique and fascinating culture.
I know there is still so much to learn, so many more places to discover, foods to try and culture to explore! Can’t wait to see what we’ve learned in the coming months!
Have you lived in Egypt? What do you love about it? What amazing country have you loved living and exploring in? Let me know in the comments below!