2 September 2013

A taste of Cleopatra's Lifestyle


When in the land of the pharaohs, one must try to live(if for a moment) like the kings and queens of Egypt. Renowned for her beauty and her lavish beauty treatments as well has her reputation for seduction, Cleopatra, a captivating, enigmatic and powerful ruler of Egypt has inspired many books and movies. Her suicide after learning of her husband suicide brought an end to Pharoahs ruling in Egypt. This country has such a fascinating history and its ties with  Rome made Cleopatra's reign even stronger as she forged a link between the two empires, having bore children to Roman rulers, Caesar and Marcus Antonius.





View from room terrace
Having spent much of my time in the Concorde Al Salam hotel during my stay in Sharm, I was let into a beauty secret of  this ancient civilization. Cleopatra's beauty regime! My body was bathed in oil and honey before being soaked in coconut milk flakes, feeling like the Queen of the Nile, as I lay in a breezy beach cabana getting the full Cleopatra treatment.. The lactic acid in milk is meant to be antiseptic and the humectant properties of honey left Bee feeling like a real Queen Bee. My skin from head to toe felt soft, hydrated and smooth like a baby's bottom that I returned again on the eve of my flight back to London.

Taking a break from scuba diving and snorkeling we set out to escape the hotel's compound and head out to the old part of Sharm El Sheikh. Taking the Taxi ride with Osama to the Old Market, Osama and I were fastly becoming BFFs as each time we took a taxi from the hotel it was he who would be available. A young and lively guy no older than 20 I am sure,  made sure he had on Tamer Hosny and Amr Diab having impressed him with my knowledge of Arabic musicians. I was actually introduced to Turkish and Arabic music by one of my friends from college and my love for Arabic music grow from there. Actually my music collection spans Spanish, Latin, French, Arabic, African(Ghanian, Nigerian, Zambian, South African...) and English of course! I believe music transcends and breaks the language barriers by connecting directly to the heart. You don't need to understand the language to understand and get the emotional connection to the music you are listening to. So the 25 minute drive to the Old Market, through long and extended roads with views of hazy silhouette of mountains with desert lands on the foot of the mountains, was sound tracked by Tamer Hosny and Amr Diab's ballads professing love to the ladies. Both who are coincidentally Egyptian.

The Old Market Entrance with Security
Arriving at the Old Market, we were left in the hands of Osama's friend, who run the Bazar across from the market. A shop filled with African masks and all the tourist trinkets you can think of. I was somewhat taken by these square magnets that were printed on thin leather and placed on wooden pieces that have magnets attached on the back. The images on the leather just as captivating, mostly of veiled women with just the eyes revealed. Living the Bazaar and dashing across the road in a quick pace to avoid the relentless sun as well as to avoid my boyfriend burning to a crisp. You see, Mr Awesome is as pale and ginger as they come. After making a stop to find him some factor 100 sun lotion(we found it!), we still had to take refuge in the shed every now and then. I wonder how he will manage when we visit Zambia next year.

Strolling through the quiet markets we haggled our way through bags of fresh and sensationally aromatic teas of lemon grass, guava and mango leaf tea and Sinai black tea, apparently the tea of choice among Bedouins. We must have come out really early in the day as the market tends to get busy in the late hours when the sun sets on this hot desert town. With closing times extended into the very late hours  it came as no surprise that my boyfriend an I were like meat baiting a lion's den. With each step we took we were called out to come into each and every shop we passed. After blowing a ridiculous amount on fresh tea we decided on just browsing, which also came with its own dangers. I was asked to take pictures with shop keepers as if some of these folks had not seen a brown girl before. Remember my experience in Hong Kong? Well, it came close to that. I was called out as Naomi and called Spicy girl among other names as I walked through the market. I have been called many things but Spicy girl is a new one, we couldn't help chuckling as we browsed. One little man in an attempt to put an arm around me while taking a picture with me came too close for comfort next to my girls(lady bumps ;-). I am sure he didn't mean to, I guess that's what I get for being tall as he was eye level with the girls. This was the same at the resort, I must have taken pictures with a few resort workers.


A taste of Cleopatra's Lifestyle - Sharm El Sheik Egypt


With many little shops serving freshly made juice it was time to sample one of these. Perfectly timed as we were in need of a mini break, sitting down under the shed once more we were served the most amazing glasses of Guava smoothies. Like voracious little birds high upon a nest receiving mama's feed, we were quick to ask for a second round plus a third one just for luck. I haven't had Guavas in years and don't remember them tasting this good!...



 


Market A taste of Cleopatra's Lifestyle - Sharm El Sheik Egypt


Just like the resort, walking around this quiet yet atmospheric market, I noticed the fact that there were hardly any Egyptian women working in the the shops at the market. I failed to spot any (bar one, the daughter of the cafe owner at the market) I didn't see any women walking(part from a few tourists) around or shopping, walking or even working! Where were they?. Even on the resort. All the waiters were men. There was one eastern European hostess and a few Russian female entertainers as well as 3 Egyptian working in the Spa and Beauty room but that was it. Even the person who did my nails at the beauty spa was an Egyptian guy!...I wonder what they did with all the women?!

My observations even in the little time I spent in Egypt, and some will go as far as say that I didn't see the real Egypt having only been to Sharm. I hope to be proved wrong when I return to see other parts of the country but until then, my observation leaves me to wonder what on earth happened to Egypt/the women? It had strong and powerful female rulers in its history in what was and still is a male-dominated society. Cleopatra held the country together and proved to be just as powerful as her male counterparts. Nefertiti, another powerful female  figure to ever rule had a husband who went to great lengths to display her as an equal. Much like Cleopatra's era as in today's, women are viewed as inferior to men. Back then still enjoyed great independence. They were free to serve on juries, buy sell properties and receive equal pay for doing the same job as the men while other countries like Greece at the time had women effectively owned by their husbands. So the why do things feel as if they have stayed much of the same or some cases seem and feel like times have not regressed?! It also didnt help having a discussion with one of the waiters in on of the hotels restaurants who told of how he wants to get married, but at 26 he hopes to marry a girl of 15(a child in my eyes) because that way he would be able to instill the values he wants her to have. I cant help but wonder if he was just threatened but an intelligent and independent woman having mentioned his dislike of how his previous girlfriend chose to study at university than be with him. I realise that not all Egyptians are like this but its this attitude that then means if a women takes any other route that finds them not married by 20-25 there must be something wrong with them. There are deep traditional and cultural roots to this but that's a topic for another day.

This is the same country that has one of the earliest surviving peace treaty(Egypt Hittie treaty) accords of which a copy hangs above the entrance to the UN's security Council Chamber in New York. So then why is this great nation still witnessing such unrest and inequality in many of its days with the great and vast history inherited? We pondered on similar discussion as we passed time people-watching in one of the cafes in the old market. Seeing different cultures and learning about the history of different countries as well as how it influences how we live today is what really fuels my need to explore other countries.

After a few hours in the heat, like clock work, having dropped off some people at the market Osama had sent me a text  to see if we wanted to head back to the resort. Back in an air conditioned taxi and enjoying the views of the old part of Sharm listening to Hosny as we drove back to the hotel.

Below are some pictures from the Old Market. I am also looking at piecing together all the diving footage into one single video. I will upload this next week sometime.




 

Market Sharm El Sheik Egypt



A taste of Cleopatra's Lifestyle - Sharm El Sheik Egypt


So have you been to other parts of Egypt? How did that your observations of the places compare to mine in Sharm El Sheikh?


4 comments:

  1. Hello, Bee. I came after you at the Make My Sweet Saturday blog hop. Wow, sounds like you have quite an exciting life, with all of your travels! I love all of the unique displays of art and goods from the land of Egypt!
    Blessings! Ann @ Christ in the Clouds
    (http://christintheclouds.blogspot.com/)

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  2. Bee - I like the new look of your blog. And I really enjoy how descriptive this piece is.The spa treatment you had sounds amazing. But now you have me curious about where all the women were?!

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    1. Thanks Dana, I am glad you enjoyed it. Yep I think on the next trip I will go and seek out where the women are :)

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