Contemporary Egypt 3
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Almost all of the population lives along the Nile. Geographically and culturally, Egypt can be divided three parts: Cairo, Alexandria, and southern Egypt. We did not go to Alexandria. Cairo is very big (population 20 million) and has the social-economic diversity you would expect. Smog was very bad, but burned off somewhat in the afternoon. Traffic was scary - cars paid little attention to striped lanes and maneuvered as though there were no designated lanes. Gas costs only 25 cents a gallon! The cities to the south were smaller, cleaner, and the people much more religiously conservative.
Egypt's official religion is Islam (over 90 percent practicing Muslims). In Cairo and everywhere, the vast majority of women wore head coverings, The rest of their dress varied considerably in color and cover. Older women tended to wear black and be well covered, while younger women generally wore a silk scarf head dress that covered their hair and neck, what looked like a long sweater that went to just above the knee, and tight slacks. Actually, the young ladies looked very attractive, with nice colors and patterns. Most men in the south wore galabias (long night shirt).
We visited a self-sufficient farm (no electricity) and an elementary school west of Luxor. The school children were from the farms and would not go beyond basic, Islamic-oriented education.
Security was extensive, especially at the main tourist sites. Tourists were everywhere - it was hard to take a picture without someone wandering through. Every tourist bus had a security guard usually dressed in a suit and tie with a mostly-hidden but unmistakable machine gun behind his suit coat. He would ride shotgun on the bus and walk about the sites with us.
We stayed in some of Egypt's finest hotels, of which there are many. Tourism is Egypt's second most important revenue source. The Suez Canal is the first.
The food was good - beef, veal, chicken, veggies in kabobs and casseroles (no pork). Some restaurants served alcoholic beverages and some didn't.
We visited a Coptic church (a place said to be the dwelling place of the Holy Family during their flight to Egypt), synagogue, and mosque. Our guide, Mustafa (Muse) Aziz - a devout Muslim, gave us a personal view of his faith as he explained its laws and rituals at the Mohammed Ali Mosque.