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New Dawn in an Old Land: Reflections on a Pilgrim’s Journey

New Dawn in an Old Land: Reflections on a Pilgrim’s Journey Jeri Castronova

Out of the chaos of modern Cairo came a new light into the lives of its people. The hands reached out to us. We thought they wanted baksheesh — tips or handouts — for whatever service or ware they offered. We soon realized they were reaching for something else, something that had no monetary value — they reached for our light. They wanted us to place upon their open palms a new coin of the realm, whatever it was we brought with us that would make their lives easier in some way — an Egyptian pound, an American dollar, a smile, a blessing, or a moment of hope. They grabbed it in gratitude and desperation.

Before we left on our trip with Archangel Metatron and James Tyberonn’s Earth-Keeper group, I had a dream of empty hands thrusting themselves toward me, reaching out for alms — no body attached, only brown arms with tiny hands, delicate hands, and coarse hands, all somehow connected to me, my family, and my friends, who could not or would not help them and whose leaders would not or could not help them either. I awoke in a panic that whatever I could do would not be enough, so it was useless to do anything. Why attempt to fill a hole in the ocean?

The Aftermath of Egypt’s Revolution

Since the revolution of 2011 and the removal of Mubarak, the 99 percent have become poorer, more desperate. They have always sold small statues, papyrus, Tut replicas, and other souvenirs to tourists at temple sites and monuments. This year their zeal has turned a shade more frantic and at some sites actually pushes away the very buyers they want. Most of us eagerly bargained for the Nefertiti replicas, the cat goddess Bastet statues, and the Egyptian cotton shirts and tablecloths.