Updated: Jun 3
Alarming Aswan, Egypt...A Story from the Road to Sacred Sites
By Karen Tate
It wasn’t unusual to find armed guards throughout tourist sites in Egypt. They’re there to protect the tourists from thieves or terrorists. We saw them riding atop camels in Abydos, outside tourist hotels in Cairo, at major tourist and archaeological sites and in airports. Some had guns that looked like they were probably remnants from WWI and others looked to be brand new machine guns. After awhile seeing the soldiers no longer phased us. They were part of the local color.
Well, as I sat in the Aswan airport waiting for our flight to the next city to visit sacred sites, suddenly a loud alarm went off within feet of me and it sent the nearby guards into a frenzy. They rushed over toward me with machine guns drawn and it was all I could do to hold up my hands and smile the sweetest and biggest blonde-haired girl smile I could muster as I looked them in the eyes. With the alarm still going off they were getting more nervous and looked at each other not quite sure what to do. Still wearing my “pretty young thing face” I made innocent gestures pointing toward my nearby luggage. I moved toward the luggage, reached into a zippered pocked and produced my alarm clock. I showed it all around to each of the machine-gun toting soldiers. A big sigh was shared by all followed by nervous laughs.
I learned a lot over the years about smart packing on all our sacred journeys - like bring one pair of pants and buy souvenir t-shirts along the way instead of packing shirts. That day I learned to always turn your alarm clock off if you’re going through the airport, especially in a third world foreign country.