Advice from an author who knows how to travel the world: Meet Lydia Crichton
Today I get to welcome Lydia Crichton, author of GRAINS OF TRUTH (Barringer Publishing/May 2013), to my blog. A native Texan, Lydia has traveled all over the world in her twenty-plus year career as a marketing and fundraising expert for nonprofit organizations. A trip to Egypt in 2002 turned into a life-changing odyssey, which led her to discover a passion for telling stories that entertain as they explore complex and controversial social and political issues. She currently lives in California's Napa Valley--the inspiration for a second book in the Julia Grant Series, woven around the shambles of illegal immigration in the U.S. For more information, visit: www.lydiacrichton.com.
And for a truly amazing video about GRAINS OF TRUTH, scroll down this page... and watch out for that co-star who's so very eager to steal the scene.
GRAINS OF TRUTH is an action adventure starring a a devout pacific, Julia Grant, manipulated vy US Intelligence into joining a covert mission to foil a terrorist plot. The story's set in the Bay Area and in Egypt, a country which is, of course, very much in the news at the moment. So I asked Lydia to share something of her experience of the country. Over to you Lydia, and welcome to my blog.
Lydia Crichton -
Women Traveling to Egypt Today:
PROCEED WITH CAUTION
Egypt in revolution is a dangerous place, especially for women. Although I experienced unsettling moments during my travels there a few years ago, I did feel safe most of the time. My first trip to the Land of the Pharaohs in 2002 fulfilled a long-time dream: to explore an ancient land of mystery, rich with centuries of a glorious past. Admittedly, the stark contrast of contemporary life in a patriarchal society under the thumb of a decades-old authoritarian government struck a jarring note. One aspect of the harsh practices of that heavy-handed regime, however, made my travels easier, even if not fully appreciated at the time. Crime was not tolerated, and severely punished. Armed guards were everywhere—hotels, museums, sites of antiquity—there to protect tourists and the essential revenue they brought to the Egyptian economy.
Returning several times over the next few years, I became more adventurous, going places “off the grid,” sometimes with a guide, often on my own. One summer in Cairo I hired a car and driver to take me across Sinai to the resort town of Dahab on the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba: just me, alone with a male stranger, for many long, sweltering hours across the stark and mostly uninhabited desert. This astonished my Egyptian friends and now I understand why. Even back then, it was clear that Egyptian men held Western women in contempt. We were all regarded as “promiscuous,” if not out-and-out whores. This grew increasingly tedious over time. I was always careful to dress conservatively and do nothing to draw attention, but there was no escaping the insulting leers of the local male population. All the Western women I met there told the same story. Regardless of circumstance, every conversation or encounter with an Egyptian male always came down to the same thing: sex.
Today Egyptian women are being sexually assaulted, even those following the Islamic custom of covering themselves from head to foot. They stood beside their Muslim brothers to demand more freedoms—and now find themselves the victims of those “brothers.” These are the daughters, sisters, wives of their fellow countrymen. It would seem the male contempt for women is not limited to those from the West. There are many theories as to why this is happening and who the perpetrators are. For women in Egypt all that matters is that they are not safe.
My heart goes out to the majority of the Egyptian people in their quest to realize their dream for a more democratic and secular state. But, “bold and adventurous” as I tend to be, I would have grave reservations about traveling to Egypt today. My advice: If you absolutely must go, don’t go alone. Travel in a group, or at least with one other person—someone you know and trust. Limit activities at night to well-lighted and protected areas. The ancient Pharaohs may be watching from on high, but they cannot protect you now.