We Egyptians are creatures of habit. Which one of these vacations are you on?
Whether you celebrate Easter, Sham el Nessim, don’t know the difference between the two (as far as we can tell, Easter has coloured eggs, Sham el Nessim has feseekh), or don’t give a crap about either, we all, as a nation, collectively look forward to the days off we are given courtesy of these two back-to-back holidays. We plan and primp and prepare for these two measly days off of work months in advance. For several weeks in the run-up to Easter the words you hear uttered the most are 'what are you doing for Easter?' So, here are the four things Egyptians do every Easter break, because essentially, you can break it down to a grand total of four types of holidays.
Obviously, no list of Egyptian holidays would be complete without the inclusion of that place of all things naughty and not nice; Gouna. Gouna Easter break is basically the poor man's version of Miami Spring Break. All the privileged kids of Cairo head there, like clockwork, every 'holiday' that comes up. This type of holiday entails an endless round the clock party, but an evening nap between 9PM and midnight is optional as naturally, one needs to regain their strength in between 17 hours of consecutive drinking. It's fueled by alcohol, it’s makhbout central, it’s also incidentally, the ultimate make out place. It’s parent-free, unless mommy and daddy are there and treat you to dinner at Chez Chantal's; if they aren’t you end up paying through the nose to feed yourself. It’s pretentious and pretty. If you don’t hit up every party you are Not Cool. People don’t hit the beach until 3 PM because they have to sleep off the hangover/drug buzz from the night before. You spend the day socialising with people you don’t give a crap about. You spend copious amounts of money on copious amounts of alcohol, Gouna’s silly 2AM closing time rule has done little to deter party hungry people of Egypt and cocaine runs rampant in after parties which also run rampant. It’s where the girls grasp at the opportunity to finally wear as little clothing as possible; shorts are short, the bottom of one’s ass should ideally be visible and cleavage has a damn field day. Its boats are fully stocked with mind altering substances parked on islands. It’s that place where people get so demolished they crash cars on completely empty streets in what is essentially a glorified village. But hey, it’s an all-around good time.
The second holiday option is a Sinai-style, beach-camping type. Basata, Ras Shitan, Marsa Alam, that kind of thing. Essentially, it’s where the rich kids head out to live like hippies for a few days before they come back to their lavish compounds. The catchphrase here is: “ana mesh ader 3ala gouna.”They’re too cool and hipster (while simultaneously despising the word hipster) and off the beaten path for Gouna. They want to be ‘free’ and ‘chill’. Aladdin-style pants are a fixture at these things and most frequenters inevitably come back with some form of braided hippie bracelets, a testament to their cool, chillaxed hippie holiday. They all wear hats and bring guitars, because they’re just that cool, and engage in stupid hippie-dippy activities like drum circles. It is the ultimate cliché. The fuck do you know about a hippie lifestyle? You drive up there in a Mercedes that mommy and daddy bought you. At least the Gouna kids own up to their pretentiousness. These kids want to continue giving the illusion that they’re all so one with nature and far too evolved for Gouna ridiculousness.
The third type of holiday is heading abroad, to one of three places which every Egyptian ever chooses to holiday in; London, Spain, Dubai. It’s been placed in our constitution that all holidays abroad must be to one of these three nations and to stray from this principle is unlawful and subject to heavy fines or even jail time. If mummy and daddy are willing to fork out the cash for a trip to one of them, this is where the kids will go to. Their mantra here is “I’m so sick of Egypt begad. I need to travel.” Yeah, poor you. So they catch their flight and proceed to go one of these places for a shopping-fuelled getaway. It’s a pricey little holiday because a shopping allowance is a necessity; they always return with an entire wardrobe that costs the same amount it would to feed everyone under the poverty line for the next year. It’s also not complete with some good old fashioned Egyptian-abroad partying; every night till dawn because finally, they get to party at places that don’t have everyone they’ve ever known in, which translates to they can get as shitfaced as they like and do all sorts of things they wouldn’t do in Egypt. Despite this though, they don’t actually want to get to know people from the city beyond sexual gratification; they only want to hang out in groups of Egyptians.
The last type of holiday is The Last Resort. It’s Sukhna or Sahel because you didn’t have the organisational skills, time, or funds to plan a trip to any of the above. Or, you were genuinely sick of all of the above and wanted to just chill on the beach with a few good friends whose company you actually enjoy. It's not Sahel season yet, so the beach is virtually empty. There are no guitars involved in this trip; just some good old fashioned booze. These people either admit the trip was essentially the best option after staying in Cairo, or get on a high horse and say “Ugh makontish ader nass weh bta3 fa tele3t Sahel."
FYI everyone in our office is doing one of their four trips. So no judgment here.