Two friends recently traveled to Egypt. I’ve never been there. I think both friends told the truth about the Egypt they visited, although their stories couldn’t be more different.

Jane loved the place, except for the heat, and even that wasn’t unbearable, she said. The tombs were crowded, yes, but her small group had a wonderful guide who led them to the tombs less traveled by, and the experience was awesome. Even the crowded big tombs were filled with an indescribable atmosphere of antiquity.

Incomparable museums in Cairo, brilliant sunshine, incredible food, pleasant cruise along the Nile, etc., etc., etc.

Joan, on the other hand, said she never wants to go back and she wishes she hadn’t gone, her time in Egypt was so
stressful — the indescribable depth and breadth of Cairo’s poverty, entire villages encamped in cemeteries because they’re so much nicer than such alternatives as landfills and trash heaps. Squalor and illness and misery on every hand.

Her first-class cruise on the Nile was like a slow slog through trillions of discarded plastic bags and other trash. And the promised green pastures along the waterway were only narrow strips, beyond which lay the arid plain of desert stretching to the horizon. The heat was unbearable. For her, the fabled tombs were not worth the misery of getting there.

It’s not easy being a tourist.