Reflection – Alexandria, Egypt

After an hour or two of lecture on Alexander the Great, we went on a two-day excursion to Alexandria. Compared to my experience in Luxor and Hurghada, I didn’t get hassled much here as a tourist. In other words, I wasn’t pressured by shopkeepers to go into their store and buy their stuff. Furthermore, this place reminds me of home. Despite the sand and dust covered buildings, Alexandria is pretty westernized. The food, the stores, the way people dressed, etc. In a sense, the culture here is different from that of Cairo. The vibe I receive from here is different: the rich Egyptian tradition kind of feeling is somewhat hidden. In fact, this was my first time being in an actual mall since I left home for Global Semester. (The mall consisted of five floors with a food court, movie theatre, shops, grocery store, etc).

Though the hassling wasn’t much of a problem for us here, other Globalites did experience something unexpected- the level of hostility towards those who are perceived as “Americans”. There were hissing and toy guns (that were hand gestured) pointed at some of us while exploring the coastlines of the beach located across our hotel in Alexandria. In a sense, some of us didn’t feel welcomed or “liked” here.

Despite all the negativity that went on, I’m sure we as a group learned a lot from our tour guide as she presented us information on the historical sites we visited. One of the places we visited was a catacomb, an underground cemetery, called “Kom El-Shuqafa”. This catacomb consisted of three floors, a tunnel (a passageway to bring down dead bodies for burial), and many rooms with holes dugged out from the walls in rows of 3 by 4. A total of 12 coffin-sized holes in almost every room.

One thing that struck me the most on this visit was the fact that the floor we were standing on was a place where a tragedy I thought would never happen took place. As I was listening to our tour guide preaching the history of this catacomb, I couldn’t believe my ears! If I remember and heard correctly, the Roman Emperor at the time heard news about some Egyptians who held grudges against him. And because of this, the emperor decided to wipe out the people who contained such feelings. His strategy? He set up an ambush by inviting them to a meal. The killing then took place after the feast. Luckily, some Egyptians escaped and went into hiding. But where did they go? They ran and hid here in this underground cemetery. Unfortunately, the emperor found this area and lives were taken. How? The emperor had them buried alive. Yes. I said it. Tragic and devastating, isn’t? This same area, this same ground where I was standing on was the same exact place where many unfortunate lives were buried alive. For me, it was definitely something hard to believe, but … it really did happen.

Can you imagine yourself being buried alive? I’ve never felt so alert hearing such story. And as much as I love watching horror films and listening to ghost stories, nothing has ever spooked me and saddened me at the same time as this.

– Kia Chiyoko Vang (Click my name to visit my blog on our adventures!)


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