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March 29, 2010
Egypt: Remembering a cab driver’s kindness
The towering Pyramids of Giza … the enigmatic Sphinx … the massive pillars, etched with hieroglyphs, of Karnak Temple. It’s almost impossible to describe how I felt during my first visit to Egypt, to (finally!) find myself standing in front of the ancient wonders I’d been dreaming about since I was a little girl. Yet, while seeing these legendary landmarks was every bit as magical as I’d expected it would be, the generosity and kindness of the Egyptian people was even more impressive.
I’ll never forget the enthusiastic young cab driver Alan and I met our first full day in Cairo. Because we’d arrived in Egypt late the previous evening, it had been too dark to see much of the city on the drive to our hotel, so we’d woken up early that morning determined to explore as much of Cairo as we could.
As we drove around the city, marveling at the whitewashed churches of the Coptic Quarter and the crowded, narrow streets leading to the legendary Khan el-Khalili bazaar, our young driver kept up a running commentary about all of the passing points of interest. He clearly relished his role as tour guide, and I was touched by the obvious pride in his voice he spoke about the city.
I also appreciated the vibrant, rhythmic Egyptian music he played in his cab; to me, music is an important part of any culture, one that has a unique ability to bring people together. So when our driver brought us back to our hotel, I told him how I’d enjoyed his music and asked for the singer’s name. To my surprise, the young man promptly ejected the cassette tape from its player and handed it to me; when I protested, he simply smiled and said, “Please, please, it’s my gift to you … so you will always remember your time in my country.” Now, whenever I hear an Egyptian song, I think back to this young man’s sweet and sincere gesture—and the music is made even more beautiful by the memory.
Have you been similarly moved by a stranger’s kindness during your travels? If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences at email@example.com.
And if you have stories (and pictures!) to share from your Grand Circle trips to Canada & the U.S., Russia, and The Great Rivers of Europe—the destinations we’ll be featuring in future updates—email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.