I think it’s important to pause and reflect before, during and after every adventure. While I did some of that because it was mandated for Egypt, I also did a decent amount of that for this blog. More often, though, I tried to make this a way of reflecting in a sort of “together” academic sort of way. Post-Egypt I hit the ground running, so here is a look back at what I’ve learned, whether it be for my next trip to Egypt, travel in general or writing this blog.
When I go back to Egypt:
- Cairo Jazz. I tried often, but never made it, and I hear it was a blast.
- Alexandria. We were the definition of gilded cage while there, and I barely got to see any of the great Euro-Arab hybrid city.
- Speak more with locals. I’ve got a lot more confidence about my ability to intimidate/tell off strange men or hustlers, so I should stop whining about how the boys get extra practice and just get some myself.
- Take more pictures. This gets into a bit about traveling as well, but there’s a lot of my experience that I didn’t capture, whether that be Egyptian friends or the khan el-khalily market. I have a million pictures of ancient things, and I think it kind of burnt me out.
- Sinai Peninsula. This place is wicked important historically, politically and scuba-ically. We all wanted to go but weren’t allowed to because of our security detail, and I’ve heard from many that it’s must-see.
- Pictures again. I want to take more pictures of people, and less of stuff, as well as to try to avoid picture burnout. It should be neither an obligation nor a chore.
- Pack lighter. I will always and forever say this.
- Wander around more. We were so busy in Egypt that I didn’t explore nearly enough. Luckily, with Havana being much safer and my time frame much longer, this should be easy.
- Plan ahead. I didn’t realize how little time I would have once I was there. This meant that I didn’t know how much I wanted to do something until my time was almost over.
- Collect local music. Every day in our vans we listened to some great music, but unfortunately only Wa wa wa made it back. Cuba is world renowned for its music, and is in fact one of the aspects of Cuban culture I’ve researched before, so I plan to pick up some great CDs.
- Plan souvenirs ahead. Buy throughout, instead of mostly at the end (so stressful!)
- Think in the local currency. After all, that’s where you are. If you don’t heed Miss Asha Fierce’s wise words, you’ll go broke.
- Carry pen and paper always, and don’t be afraid to take notes. In fact, I want to go one better and bring a voice recorder too for when my thoughts get going too fast for my pen.
- Buy smart. This applies to everything, but I thought of it when it comes to myself. The Egyptian skinny jeans and the handmade mirror I bought are among my favorite souvenirs, and they aren’t silly knick-knacks, they are things I will wear and decorate with for a long time.
- Pictures! I know it makes a big difference when I’m reading the blogs of strangers. Unfortunately, my internet and computer situation in Egypt made this basically impossible. I hope to go back and update some old posts with pictures, as well as to post WAY more pictures from Cuba
- Loosen up. Sometimes I need to just show the basic, emotional part where you’re processing a million things at once, instead of just the polished academic. The downside? It makes my mother nervous.
- Be honest. There are some things I couldn’t be honest about in Egypt, and some things that just would’ve given my mother and Gram a heart attack. But really, a lot of it wasn’t so bad. I’d like to show people a more realistic picture, if I can.
- Take video! I took one or two videos but they were awful and I never posted them. I have the power, so I figure why not? In the near future you may see a youtube account with some rough videos off of my canon still camera.
- Encourage comments. I know how many people read this, and I have a vague idea of who. At this point, it’s mostly me just saying whatever I want, or occasionally answering questions I’ve heard in person from friends and family or reacting to relevant news pieces. For those of you family members who are not quite so into the internet, reading a blog without ever commenting/making your presence known is called lurking. And yes, it’s meant to sound that creepy. I KNOW you have questions and things to say–people email me or they ask my mom or, more often, they will tell me months after I return. So comment! an interactive blog is a fun blog! I’ve been making an effort lately to encourage comments, which is something I never really did or thought about in Egypt.
What about you? If you have been to Egypt, travelled or blogged then you should have some suggestions! Also, since you’re here you read this blog, and doubtless have some suggestions for what I could improve. For example, Eena requested captions for the pictures, since the few from Egypt don’t really have explanations. So when I’m in Cuba and all my photos have great captions, you can thank her. As for the rest of you, what are your suggestions?