Egypt has been the most incredible trip in my life.

It's is the exact center of the world’s land mass, perched on the corner of Africa, Asia, and Europe; the people, music, and culture are a perfect blend of the three.

It’s the place where it all began for this age of humanity.

I booked a three week trip, but I stayed for two months because I fell in love with the great beauty and vitality of the culture. I feel so comfortable in Egypt; the people feel like family. They have such warmth, especially when they greet each other with ‘Habibi!’ -- Sweetheart….-- something that men say to each other, too. People are warm-hearted and helpful in a way that is missing in the West.

I came because I believe we have been lied to about our ancient past, and that the truth is important. I expected to love the archaeology of Egypt, but along the way I also fell in love with Islamic culture. The sound of the language, with its long rolled r's and deep gutteral sounds, is beautiful to me me. The prayers broadcast from the mosque loudspeakers can be invasive, but they can also be profoundly mystical in a way that the West has lost. Everyone, almost every single person I met in Egypt, is devoutly religious and also very honest. Arab traders were successful specifically because they had a reputation for honesty. After a few weeks in the country, I never bothered to count my change anymore. You can leave your bag in a public square and hours later it will probably be right where you left it.

Then there’s the extraordinary hospitality and helpfulness of the people. Desert cultures needed to be that way; if you didn’t help your neighbors they could die. This hospitality borders always on the annoyingly pushy, but it’s still heart-warming. It’s also kind of nice that Islam forbids alcohol, as there are no drunk fools stumbling around. I have never felt so safe in any other country in the world.

Men treat me with more respect than I get in America or Europe. I never get creepy looks as I sometimes do in the West, or lustful stares like in India. Of course, the local women don’t get the free pass that foreign women do; they are forced to stay in their cultural lines. Men sometimes harass women for uncovering their heads, for walking alone in the street. A rare young Egyptian woman I met who has bucked convention, who lived alone in a hut on the sea, got kicked out of that backpacker resort and banned forever for daring to be independent … and that was from the most worldly and Westernized men.

This extreme patriarchy deliberately confuses protection of women with control. That has always been the patriarchal devil’s bargain for women: behave, and you will be taken care of. Submit, and you will be safe. There is, in that, a type of female privilege, to have men carry your bag and do things for you and pay for you. I felt that in Egypt, how alluring it can be, and how nice it could feel to cover your face and disappear. You don't have to support yourself; if your husband dies, a male relative will have to marry you and support you! The polygamy system is a safety net for women. The only women who fall through the net are the ones with no male relatives left, and those few are the only people you see begging on the street. But the flip side, of course, is that you can’t support yourself, walk freely, dine alone in a restaurant, or choose your sex partners. By the time they are middle aged, a lot of women seem unhappy and unhealthy, walking with a lumbering gate as they never get any exercise, fixing me with a baleful eye to shame me for my freedom.

The big story in the world today is the conflict between the two cultures, the West and Islam. The one place in the world where the veil between these two worlds is thin is in Sinai, the peninsula between Egypt, Israel, and Jordan. Israeli hippies have been coming for decades and the two cultures have created a new synthesis, a new style of music. There is no hate in Sinai.

And then there’s Cairo — the most mindblowing city I have ever seen. It’s huge but not in a modern Dubai way — ancient huge. It looks like a futuristic city, skyscrapers-deep. The smog and the half-built buildings (never finished to avoid paying taxes on them) give it a post-apocalyptic air. It’s like Arrakis, the desert planet in sci-fi Dune.

There are classic vintage cars and cool antique machines everywhere, reminders of a past era of wealth and style. In fact Egypt is the most in-your-face example of one of the biggest lies we are told: that human culture has been evolving constantly. Actually, human civilization has been in decline for millennia, until recently. In Egypt you see the remains of a golden age of technology far beyond our own, colossal statues and massive structures made from perfectly precise monolithic blocks that we can’t move with our modern machines. After this came the age of the dynastic Egyptians, who covered the older structures with beautiful hieroglyphic graffiti and built simpler but still grand structures with perfect harmony. The Middle Kingdom was less grand than the Old, and the New Kingdom paled in comparison with their ancestors.

Then there's the incredibly psychedelic geometric art and architecture of the medieval era, less advanced than the ancient era but so much more advanced than their counterparts in Europe. The medieval mosques are so huge and beautiful compared to the later 18th century baroque ones, which seem garish in comparison, but still finer the 19th century downtown buildings.

That 19th century architecture is, in turn, grand and gorgeous with their carved rounded facades, epic compared to the Art Deco buildings of the 20th century, which are elegant and rich compared the ugly concrete shacks of the last few decades. Classic cars and antiques from a few decades past speak of a wealthy recent era, but since the rise of religious fundamentalism in recent years, people have become uneducated and poor. In 2011, with the Arab Spring Revolution, things got even worse. Tourism has never recovered and people are poor.

This land has endured millennia, each age like children compared to their ancestors. Faded glories of stone and marble are occupied by feline squatters.

My goal in writing this is to convince you that there was once a civilization more advanced than our own.

I’ll go into more detail in all of this in this article Everything You Know Is a Lie, but the first thing that needs to be understood is that truth is suppressed in academic circles, because experts' careers are invested in the current paradigm.

The evidence points to a global civilization more advanced than our own that was destroyed at the end of the last ice age by a massive catalysm, around 9700 BC. Evidence for this cataclysm is found in the geologic record. Some people ask, if this were true, why don’t we see evidence for it? The evidence is everywhere. Wood and metal remains would be long gone, but stone remains. All over the planet we find stone remains that archaeologists can’t explain, made from enormous single blocks of granite that we can’t move with our current technology, that were moved hundreds of miles; cut with perfect precision that we’re not capable of, with evidence of advanced machining. The Great Pyramid, for example, is created with a precision of two ten-thousands of an inch. Also, it’s oriented towards true north, in alignment with the geometric golden ratio, and is located at the exact center of the largest land mass on earth. The ancients had knowledge we didn’t have until very recently. Another example of this is the knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes. These things are seen not only in the pyramids but in structures around the globe such as Puma Punku, Saqqara, Goblecki Tepi, and many others.

Questions about these things are met with ridicule. The archaeology orthodoxy continues to pretend it knows how these things were made even though its theories don’t made sense. More disturbingly, the major news outlets suppress new discoveries that don’t fit the orthodoxy.

Why does it matter what happened all those years ago? First of all, we should know the truth about human origins. But even more importantly, if the ancients had some kind of anti-gravity technology, as well as clean energy, which is evident in the lack of traces of torches or oil lamps in dark places, those technologies could save the world.

It all started when my Egyptian friend Mustapha messaged me to say that he was working as a dive instructor in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt, that the weather was perfect, and I should come visit. We’d met in Cambodia the previous year right before I’d left, so I didn’t know him well, but it had been a deep connection; we'd stayed up all night talking on the beach after a party. With my intense interest in ancient civilizations, I’ve always known I would go to Egypt, but I’ve been waiting for a like minded companion. I have been afraid to travel solo there, although I’ve travelled solo in Asia and South America. With an Egyptian friend there to meet me, I felt confident.

I'm not the sort of traveller who needs lots of time to get prepared or to plan my trip. I don't plan more than two days ahead. I don't carry a guidebook. I follow my intuitions, listen to other travelers, follow the synchronicities. Of course, this means I spend a lot of my time when I'm traveling researching where to go and how. Being my own tour guide is a full time job. That, along with keeping my stuff clean and writing about what I'm experiencing, takes up most of my time.

I've decided not to do too much research. I want to experience it without too much information to guide me.

Once the idea of a trip catches hold of me, I really have no choice. I’m as good as gone. I obsessively pore over every conceivable option for flights. I weigh the cost of different flight options with the pain involved. Until I press the buy button, I’m consumed with decision anxiety, and then when I do buy the flight, I’m in limbo until I leave. I lose interest in what’s happening at home.

When I look at flights, I find that the prices this week are the cheapest of any time in the next year. When I got a fortune cookie that said ‘A couragious act will propel your next adventure’, that&rsquo was the sign I was waiting for. I pressed the buy button for a flight with an 8 hour layover in D.C., and a longer one in Istanbul. I figured I would go meditate in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and in DC I’d find a friend or a museum. My father’s wife had told me she went to the Burning Man art exhibit and loved it. “I had no idea!” she said. “I thought it was just a bunch of hippies propping up a straw man.”

I had a plan.

The Burning Man exhibit is awesome; it’s amazing to see this kind of art in a beautiful old museum: giant moving mushrooms; a massive wooden jigsaw temple where people write notes to commemorate lost loved ones, massive colored prisms; and a Gameletron, an automated gamelan orchestra. I barely make the flight.

It’s by the last light of day that the plane lands in Istanbul. Out the window I see the Bosphorus Strait and think: here we go, heading out of the land of clean bathrooms.

I arrive in Istanbul and remember that Turkey wasn’t a good country for me. The airport has no signs whatsoever, no way to let you know how to get out. By the time I finally find the exit, through the food court and down a sketchy stairwell, I realize that VISAs to exit are $30 even for transit passengers. It’s cold and rainy, and Istanbul isn’t my favorite city. The long queue for passport control to get out is the final factor in the decision. It’s safer to stay put than to figure out the public transport system and hike around with my computer.

So I have 9 hours in the airport. I can’t get on the airport WIFI without a working cell phone — an idiotic requirement. Luckily I have a good book. I stake out the only place in the airport with comfortable seats. Finally the flight leaves, and in a few hours I arrive in Cairo. I grab my luggage, which is soaking wet, a sim card, and some money from the ATM. An auspicious start. It’s nice to be greeted by the hotel driver bearing a sign with my name.

The external building where the hotel is located is falling apart, though I can see it used to be a very grand structure, with white marble and fine tile now in ruins. But when we enter the door to the hotel itself, I brighten. The room is beautiful, with lovely furnishing and paint, and a comfortable bed. I sleep happily after the long trip.

I wake feeling amazing. The nice woman at the hotel tries to talk me out of going out for coffee, which is always my first mission in a new country. Is it really so dangerous? Or is she just trying to keep me around and sell me instant coffee and tours? But I can’t be penned in, I emerge onto Tahrir Square, a vast open urban space.

It feels like most anyplace in the developing world that I've been. A bit more developed and European than Asia. The streets are a bit cleaner than Asia, and less crowded, at least in this area. I follow my GPS to the nearest coffee shop. On the way I’m approached once or twice and asked to visit shops. I find the cafe and the coffee is decent. I feel perfectly safe. The neighborhood isn’t too atmospheric but not too ugly either. Whenever I arrive in a new place, all I want to do is walk and get the lay of the land. Now I want to walk to the Nile and make some offerings. A kind man helps me cross many lanes of traffic, which is like a sketchy game of Frogger, and I catch my first sight of the sacred river. I greet her and offer a prayer.

I stroll along the Nile korniche, the walkway along the river that, I would later discover, most Arabic cities have. Then I try to catch a taxi to Khan el-Khalili, the tourist souq (market) in the Islamic area of Cairo. I realize that transportation in Cairo is a serious problem. Many taxi drivers don’t speak English, won’t admit that they don’t know where you want to go, and try to take you somewhere random. Later I would realize that taxi drivers are the only Egyptians I don’t like, the only dishonest ones. Uber drivers are a smart bunch and speak English, but only show up about half the time.

Along the way we pass through a hectic, crowded area brimming with local stalls selling clothing and bags.

The sun sets over the the desert mountains just outside the city. We arrive in the old Islamic area. Hussein square is huge and brimming with people. There are a few cool outdoor cafe’s offering shisha (hookahs) and some live musicians.

I suddenly feel like I’ve arrived. I look around me. These are gorgeous people: every shade of skin, black hair of every texture … wearing Western clothes or khalifiyahs, the long robes. They have huge, liquid eyes, and seem happy, proud, vigorous, full of life. I feel safe and welcome and happy.

I’m starving and there isn’t really much to eat around here. Unlike India, the Middle East isn’t a foodie culture. Eating out is not really a thing. People eat at home with their families. I find a shop that sells honeyed cakes by the pound and buy a bag full, and look for a place in the crowded square to sit and eat. A woman sitting on a blanket pats the space next to her in the universal sign for “have a seat” that is even understood by cats. She speaks no English but it feels companionable next to her. The cakes are yummy, made from filo dough and honey.

And then a chorus of voices booms over the mosque loudspeaker, chanting "All-ah! All-ah! All-ah!" It's sufi trance, building slowly in intensity, ecstatic. I get chills. It's so beautiful.

Then I venture behind the massive mosque to the winding alleys of the souq, and I’m utterly charmed. Such ancient, atmospheric places, such style. Of course the shop touts constantly talk to you as you walk; I guess I look Spanish because most of them speak to me in perfect Spanish. Of course Arab traders are experts, so it’s damn hard to look at anything without buying even though I have bargaining experience. But there are so many incredible things I want to buy. Since I only plan to stay for three weeks, and I brought a large suitcase half full, I can do that. But when I first arrive in a place I just window shop and see what’s there.

I nearly gasp when I find a shop with gorgeous inlaid mother-of-pearl furniture, dumbeks, and jewelry boxes.

The 5-sided coffee tables with Islamic geometric patterns are commonly seen, but there is one with Pharoanic designs: ancient Egyptian gods fashioned from mother-of-pearl and precious stones. I ask the price and of course that involves tea and chatting. The guy is really nice. I tell him about coming to see Moustafa. After a while it turns out the price is almost $100. It’s about 100 years old, and they don’t make Pharoanic designs any more, so I have a feeling that’s a good price. I walk away and he doesn’t stop me, so it must really be his last price. But I need to find out about shipping prices. I struggle into the madly honking street to get a cab home.

I get a message from Moustafa that he’s on a bus from Sinai to Cairo. By the time he arrives I’m too tired to meet up. I fall asleep early, despite the constant honking in Tahrir Square below.


After breakfast I cross the busy street to the Egyptian museum, ignoring the guy trying to tell me that it won’t open for another half hour, so why not come for tea in his shop in the meantime? Sure enough, it’s open. I go through the security and bomb detectors that they have at all the tourist sites in Egypt. The museum is massive but, once you enter, disappointing: it’s loud and disorganized, with no atmosphere and very few descriptions. It’s more like a giant warehouse than a museum, with rows and rows of dusty sarcophagi, and packed with schoolkids shouting and wanting to take selfies with me. My favorite things are a plaque showing a magic mushroom, and a lifelike statue of Akhenaten that is very androgynous.

Then I meet up with Moustafa. We hug and catch up, then take an Uber to Giza. I never thought I would be using the words ‘Uber’ and ‘Giza’ in the same sentence; Giza is anotherworldly place for me, a pilgrimage place, a symbol of the mystery. But of course, it’s also just a hectic modern city. It takes about 45 minutes to get there from downtown. Along the way I notice thousands of half-built buildings: miles of concrete shells. It turns out you don't have to pay taxes here until you finish the building, so instead people just rent them out half-built.

When we arrive at Giza I’m underwhelmed by the ugly shacks that sell tickets. With such high expectations, I find Giza to be the most overrated sight in the world. We succumb to the touts who take us in a horse carriage to the top of the hill, and enter the smaller pyramid of Menkaure, climbing down the chute into a little room packed with Chinese people. We sit down to meditate but some local guys in Western clothes tell us that meditation is not allowed! Next time we’ll say we’re praying to Allah.

Then we enter the Great Pyramid and climb up the long chute. Being inside, it seems obvious that this structure is a gigantic defunct machine. There are no inscriptions or decoration, just smooth shafts. In the King’s Chamber, a man in long lavender robes motions us to climb into the sarcophagus. I believe these to be not coffins, but orgone chambers, built to enhance life energy to raise consciousness. When I meditate in there, I feel a definite buzzing in the 3rd eye. From what I understand, the pyramids are no longer very effective at energy raising since they are no longer active and no longer aligned properly. After a while some Europeans enter and tone together. Finally it’s closing time so we climb back down the long chamber.

Outside, a cop tells us to leave as it’s closing time, and I feel sad I that can’t see the Sphinx. Then a camel guy comes along and chats with Moustafa and basically forces us to sit on the kneeling camel so he can take a picture. The camel stands up, and we’re riding. Moustafa explains that the camel makes it possible to go away from the exit and toward the Sphinx. If you’re on a camel with a local, you can do things you can’t do on foot.

The Sphinx actually looks strangely small from nearby, but with the sun setting behind it, it is stunning. We don’t have time to walk up to it. Sadly, we also don't have time to see the Valley Temple at the foot of the Sphinx. This is one of the most ancient megalithic structures. It's interesting that the most mysterious, most advanced structures in Egypt are the least known: The Valley Temple of the Sphinx, Saqqara, Abu Gorab, the Osieiron of Abydos, and the Khnum Temple of Aswan. We exit and Moustafa talks to the camel guy while I talk to the camel, Colombus. “Give me a kiss, Colombus,” the man says, and the camel kisses his cheek. Both of them are total characters.

Then we leave Giza and go to a sufi music and dance show I’d heard about … it may the best show I’ve ever seen! It’s in the beautiful courtyard of an ancient mosque, the full moon hanging above. I feel transported back in time. The sufis feel like my people … they are all about the trance. It’s all men of course, but they’re in touch with their feminine in a way straight Western men rarely are: they shake their shoulders with big flirtacious smiles, skirts twirling. The dervishes twirl one skirt around their waists and one above their heads with sticks!

Egyptian music, my favorite musical tradition, perfectly blends the influences of Africa, Asia, and Europe, where Egypt sits a the crossroads: African percussion, Indian clapping and rebab, and Andalucian rhythms. The exuberance reminds me of India, but with a bit more restraint. Tears stream down my face at the beauty of this music and dance. I feel proud to be a human, which is rare. I’m the only tourist in the packed courtyard.

Afterwards we stroll around there, in the vast medieval islamic quarter. The mosques are enormous, towering above us so high they seem practically to touch the moon. The beautiful tiled streets are so large compared to anything in the medieval cities of Europe. Everything is built in stone and perfectly preserved by the dry climate: pure white marble with psychedelic patterns, ancient wooden trim, oversized street lamps, gigantic copper doors. The shops are full of exotic beautiful things: antique hair combs, inlaid mother-of-pearl tables, embroidered pillows, hanging beds, alabaster treasures. A 500 year old lamp store completely blows me away with their psychedelic, glittering, geometric lamps.

The medieval quarter is a huge maze. We stop at a tea shop, so beautiful, not a cheesy Aladdin recreation but the real deal, with comfy rug-covered seats, a ceiling of intricately carved wood, marble walls, and beautiful art. I’m the only Westerner. I ask Moustafa where the other people are from, and he points out people he guesses are from Alexandria, Jordan and Lebanon. I’m starting to be able to identify people from this region.

There are excellent musicians playing, a Spanish-style guitar and an oud. It’s the perfect blend of western and eastern, this Andalucian music. The singer sounds like a flamenco singer. Like flamenco, it changes seamlessly between morose ballad to high energy dance. The men in the cafe get up and dance. Handsome waiters in Aladdin vests shake their shoulders. Arabic men are so attractive because of their blend of strong masculinity and sexy femininity. They sure can dance! Of course Arabic women don’t get up and dance in public, but it’s okay for us tourists. I acquiesce when the gorgeous waiter motions for me to dance with him.

Moustafa gets a call from an old friend, Karim, who is driving to Luxor the next day. We may as well join them rather than taking the train. It means leaving Cairo before seeing everything I want to, but I'll be back to fly out at the end of the trip. We have to leave at 5 AM. Moustafa promises me that I will have the back seat to myself so I can sleep. It’s annoying that after waking up on time, we end up waiting 2 hours for Karim’s brother, who will be joining us. The extra passenger means I won’t have the back seat to myself to sleep.

The highway is pretty empty. I notice the trucks here are decorated with pretty colors like they are in Mexico or India. Are Western countries the only ones with boring, undecorated vehicles? It’s an 8 hour trip along the desert road. We stop at the only rest stop, an empty food court. It’s clean and kind of beautiful in a mall sort of way, playing cheesy Arabicized versions of 70s songs like Barry Manilow. We use the bathroom and get a snack, then hit the road again. We only get about a half hour away before we pull over: the battery is dead. A turquoise truck pulls over to help us. Desert people are all about hospitality, and would never let even their worst enemies be stranded in the desert.

I notice how comfortable I feel with Moustafa and Karim. Among Arab people I feel like I’m with family, like I feel around Israelis. I guess they are ethnically close cousins to my Jewish and Greek ancestors. I think our common ancestors were probably the Neolithic Natufian people.

They jump the battery and we continue on, but the battery can only hold a charge for about 40 minutes. Then we pull over to wait for the turquoise truck to catch up with us and charge the battery. I stretch out in the desert to meditate. Finally after about 7 rounds of this we make it to the mechanic in Hurghada, the big tourist town. Karim feels bad on my account, and I keep telling him it’s okay. Such a nice guy. After an hour it’s fixed and we’re on the road just as it’s just getting dark.

Moustafa and I cuddle in the back seat, separating when we go through armed check points. It makes the next 5 hours pass quickly. Finally we’re in Luxor. Moustafa booked the modern Iber hotel and wants me to stay there too, because it’s the only way we can be together: it’s against Egyptian law for an Egyptian to share a room with a foreigner of the opposite sex unless you’re married. Hotels are watching carefully to see who comes in! The room is 60 bucks which is more than I want to spend, but I’m exhausted and filthy so I do it. It’s basic and ugly-modern but the shower is great and the bed comfortable. I pass out right away.

Next: Egypt Part 2: Upper Egypt