23 July 2007

EG "Presearch": An Elephant Story

With a little over a week to "D-Day" (Departure Day), I've been doing more pre-trip research into what to expect when I get to Egypt. One thing I've learned from doing various trips to far-away places is that no amount of research can replace the experience. It's kind of like in The Wizard of Oz when the movie changes from black and white to Technicolor...that's a hint of the difference between the research and the actual trip. But still, I do the research because I find myself feeling a little calmer if I know something about what to expect.

I'm finding a fair amount of information on Cairo and Cairenes (what people from Cairo are called). So far, most of it has been from other people's blogs or travel discussion boards. One of the issues I'm really seeing is that anyone's perspective on a trip is just that...their perspective, their apocryphal experience.

As I read various people's accounts, I'm reminded of the story about the blind men and the elephant. The blind man who has the trunk says, "My! An elephant is like a great snake." The one at a leg says, "No! An elephant is like a tree." The one at the side says, "No! You're both wrong. An elephant is like a wall." The one at the tail says, "Silly men! An elephant is like a rope with a frayed end."

The thing is...they're all right. They've all had an experience of an elephant and their experience has shown them truth...they're just missing the bigger picture. Everyone's experience of everything is like that. So, while it's interesting to hear what other people's experiences in Cairo have been like, that doesn't really tell me much about what MY experience will be like. Only going there myself will do that.