Nana asked me at the end of the Egypt trip, "What has been different than what you expected on this trip?" Really it was just that it all came together so easily and that nothing major went wrong.
I'm not a pessimist by nature but there were any number of things that could have gone wrong. Egypt can be a tough place for first-time travelers; things don't always work the way you expect, schedules get delayed, it's polluted far beyond most western cities. But it all went swimmingly for us.
You know why? It's not because everything we planned got executed according to plan. It's because I was traveling with a fun group that all acted like adults. No one got frustrated or upset by the dirt or the occasional mummy-tummy or inexplicable rules that prevented us from doing something we had planned. No one was demanding or psychotic.
No, everyone laughed a lot and adjusted and went with the flow. Which is, I think, how the Egyptians keep their sanity in a world designed to frustrate their most cherished ambitions. As our friend Hussein said in Aswan, "Living in Egypt is like digging a hole in water."
Somehow the Egyptians get through with patience and humor that belies the reality of their current situation. Perhaps it's from more than 2,000 years of occupation (from the Persian period-7th Century BC-until 1952). I don't know. But it makes them among the most likeable people in the world. I really love the Egyptians that I know. They're just as flawed as the rest of us but they exude such warmth and good humor that it's easy for me to forgive what would infuriate me back home...sometimes.
I have had experiences in Egypt that were less-than-wonderful (not surprisingly some of them involved westerners). But those experiences are so overwhelmed by truly lovely experiences that the bad experiences have become amusing anecdotes.
One positively amusing anecdote from this trip involved one of the archaeology team members, Rian Flynn. When he found out I worked at Microsoft, he begged me for a copy of...get this...Flight Simulator X! I was surprised and pleased and just happened to have two copies with me. He's a happy boy now.
More adults at play...