Lost and Found

After dinner at our resort by the Red Sea, my dad and I decided to take a walk on shopping street reminiscent of the boardwalk. We walked for a bit and I bought a nail clipper keychain for my best friend, a surprisingly easy to find item that I buy for her on most of my trips. After walking down the lively, tourist packed street for about a mile and a half, I asked my dad how close we were to the mosque. I had spotted the beautiful building in the distance from the resort and my dad had ran past it that morning. He thought it was just around the bend, so we journeyed a little further, though we were both ready to turn around. We turned onto a side street and the number of tourists dwindled. Soon, it was fairly obviously that we were the only tourists around. We passed a block of fish shops and made it to the mosque. On the way back, our plan was to avoid the side street and the corresponding crazy traffic. Slowly we both became less sure of where we were; we weren’t entirely sure we were going in the right direction. I turned my phone off airplane mode and pulled up a map. It managed to find our location, but we struggled to begin the route as there were no street signs…and the streets didn’t follow a grid plan. The distance to the hotel inched from 1.9 to 2.5 miles. We were lost. 

We stopped for some photos before we got lost.

A young girl was walking near us in the dirt street and we decided to ask her to point us towards the sea. She spoke “small English”, not enough to understand what we were asking. However, she directed us to the man in front of her. He spoke English fluently and was happy to help. We walked with him, explaining where we wanted to go, and he insisted on getting us a taxi. We continued to walk with the man, Mohamed, and he stopped us outside of a pharmacy. He explained that he was a doctor and that it was his work, and that we would wait there. We went inside and he introduced us to a young girl who was working. Mohamed immediately found us stools to sit on and charged his phone to call us a ride. As we sat, the pharmacy got busier and busier. The sounds of customers speaking Arabic mixed with the muffled soccer game coming from the small tv perched above the counter. It’s hard to say since I don’t speak Arabic, but Mohamed seemed to be giving medical advice in addition to filling prescriptions. Mohamed asked us why we were there, in the neighborhood, and we explained that we wanted to go for a walk. We wanted to see what the culture was really like outside of the tourist areas. My dad tried to slip him some American money as a way to show our gratitude. Instead of accepting the money, Mohamed gave his phone number and asked us to call him should we ever need his help: in Hurghada or in Cairo, the last city we would visit on the trip. He explained that it is his dream to come to America but that he can’t because he is Muslim, because he is Arab, because he is afraid of Trump. We told him that he still can, that he should visit just like we chose to visit Egypt. Prejudice and media should not inhibit your desire to travel. Mohamed jokingly said he’ll get on a plane to America tomorrow. Before we left, Mohamed explained that the driver was not the friend he had originally said would drive us. He told us a reasonable price to pay and to call if we had any problems negotiating.

We were the first American tourists the driver had ever met. He asked how we knew the doctor and how we were friends with him. The driver told us that he was driving us because the doctor called his brother, who then called him. He wanted to help us because it was good for his heart. We told him that we would tell Americans to come visit Egypt, to go to Hurghada. He was so happy to hear that we would share our stories, because spreading the word that Egypt is safe is best thing for his country. Egypt is safe. Egyptians are good people. There is no need to be afraid. 

Our Red Sea Resort in Hurghada, Egypt

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