by Luna

by Luna



Blog Intro

Hello, I'm Luna, and I'd like to welcome you to "Kisses from Kairo,"* my blog about living and working as an American belly dancer in Cairo.

Life in Cairo isn't easy for dancers, foreigners, women, or even Egyptians. It is, however, always exciting. That’s why after living here for seven years, I've decided to share my experiences with the world. From being contracted at the Semiramis Hotel to almost being deported, not a day has gone by without something odd or magical happening. I will therefore fill these pages with bits of my history in Cairo—my experiences, successes, mistakes, and observations. Admittedly, my time here has been rather unique, so I want to stress that while everything I write is true, my experiences do not necessarily reflect the lives of other dancers.

In addition to my life as a belly dancer, I will write about developments in costuming, performances, festivals, and, of course, the dance itself. I will also make frequent references to Egyptian culture. I should note that I have a love/hate relationship with Egypt. If I make any criticisms about the country, please keep in mind that I do so with the utmost love, respect, and most of all, honesty. Egypt has become my home, so I want to avoid romanticizing and apologizing for social maladies, as most foreigners tend to do. Nothing could be more misguided, patronizing, or insulting.

I hope you find this blog informative, insightful and entertaining, and that we can make this as interactive as possible. That means I'd love to hear from you. Send me your comments, questions, complaints, suggestions, pics, doctoral dissertations, money, etc., and I will get back to you. Promise. :)~

My Videos

Friday, September 27, 2013

Egypt: Reasons for Hope

We all know how much of a pessimist I can be when it comes to Egypt.  And with good reason.  For a while, it seemed that rottenness knew no limits.  Not only had a demonic, Islamist/Nazi regime hijacked the country, but the quality of life had quickly deteriorated (not that it was any good to begin with).  The economy had imploded, unemployment went through the roof, huge lines of cars wrapped around the city, angrily waiting for a few liters of gas in the 100* heat, fights broke out everywhere, the traffic was impossible, and the heaps of garbage rivaled the tallest pyramids.  Then, as if things weren't bad enough, the country broke into a mini war, with one side attempting to bring down the Brotherhood regime, and the other attempting to preserve it.  The rest is history.

Three months later, I'm strangely happy to report that my signature pessimism has turned into optimism.  Yes, me, ever the naysayer, has found reason for hope.  Let me share with you why.

The garbage. 

That's right, the garbage.  You see, it's disappearing.  Slowly but surely.  And THAT, my friends, is a reason for hope.  

My obsession with Egypt's garbage is well known, and has even gotten me into trouble. Egyptians don't like people talking about their, um, garbage. :) And since moving here five years ago, I've done nothing but that. Talk about the garbage, write about it, complain about it.  Because it bothers me and amazes me at the same time. Because I've never seen so much of it in one place.  I've been to some pretty poor countries around the world, but never have I seen heaps of trash the likes of which exist in Egypt.  For anyone who's seen the real Egypt (not just the tourist areas), you know exactly what I'm talking about.  These are heaps of rubbish that deserve to be considered one of the 7 wonders of the world.  Documentaries have been made about them.  Cats and dogs feast on them.  As do the goats and sheep which line certain thoroughfares, and then wind up on someone's dinner plate.  Funny, ask Egyptians why God forbids his followers from eating pork, and they'll tell you it's because pigs eat garbage.  Well then I guess that makes lamb the new pork. 

When Morsi came to power through a stolen election a little over a year ago, he swore he'd clean up the garbage in 100 days!  I couldn't blame him.  If I were this country's president, the very first thing I'd do is clean up the place.  Believe it or not, I've secretly wanted to be the president of Egypt so I could do just that.  Imagine the psychological effect that would have on people, let alone on public health. 

Lo and behold, inability to clean up the trash was amongst Morsi's many failures.  Which is too bad.  He would have been drowning in his own popularity if he had started Project Cleanup. Even if he took more than 100 days to do it.  Heck, even I would have supported him, and I H.A.T.E., I repeat, H.A.T.E. the Muslim Brotherhood. 

So imagine how I felt when I got off the plane last week.  It took me a good two and a half hours to get home, but sitting in traffic gave me a chance to really get a sense of my surroundings.  The first thing that hit me was the noticeable decrease in garbage.  I couldn't believe it.  It was as though a major part of the city's landscape was missing.  And how beautiful it was!  I even saw sanitation workers doing their thing.  People, this is groundbreaking. Historic!  Basic sanitation hasn't occurred in this city for a long while.  Or at least for as long as I can remember...

It's not just the lack of garbage that has restored my faith in this country, however.  Other things I've noticed upon returning are the absence of long lines of cars waiting for gas, and the surplus, not shortage, of electricity!  In fact I came home to a busted air conditioner due to an excess of electricity that ran through the city a few weeks ago!  I've never been so happy to have a broken air conditioner in the heat of summer before. :)

I'm really happy for Egypt, and inappropriately proud of its military (I say inappropriately because many Egyptians think I shouldn't take a position because this isn't my country).  Well, it may not be "my country," but it's become my home.  And I still consider General Sisi, the person responsible for the demise of the Brotherhood, to be my hero.  (Apparently I'm the latest in a long line of Egyptian women dreaming of marrying him. :)~) Say what you will about how the army handled the dispersal of the "peaceful protesters," but I can't think of any other person in current history who has remained steadfast, unequivocal, and uncompromising in the face of internal threats from the Terrorhood, and external threats from the US and EU.  This is a man who raised his middle finger to the world and did what he believed to be right for his country.  No being intimidated, no cowering to the US and its threats of cutting off aid, no pandering to an international community inappropriately concerned with terrorists' rights.  He singlehandedly saved his country from death, and laid the foundation for a secular, progressive, new Egypt.  Some have even compared him to Nasser.  I personally think he's better.  Perhaps not as handsome, but his enemies are scarier and more numerous than Nasser's enemies. 

Thanks to Sisi, the Brotherhood is no longer in power.  And most of the leadership and rank and file is behind bars, where they belong. There aren't even enough of them left to stage meaningful protests on Fridays (oh and the Court outlawed the Brotherhood too!). This is, in short a miracle, and a testament to the strength and moral clarity of the Egyptian armed forces.  I take my hat off to them.

Despite these nascent signs of progress, there's a lot of work to be done.  The economy is still lagging, and tourism hasn't really picked up yet.  Security is still an issue; Fridays are a disaster.  I wouldn't say that Egypt is dangerous at this point, but there's still a number of armed beards on the loose with weapons... and the possibility of terrorist attacks.  The biggest threat, however, is still from the Brotherhood and other Islamists.  The army dealt them a huge blow, but that doesn't mean that the organization is dead.  Think of it like this.  Islamism is like cancer.  It's a fatal disease that firmly takes root in one part of the body, and then rapidly spreads to destroy the whole.  What happened is that the army administered "chemo," and it worked.  The cancer is now in remission, but there's always the possibility that it could come back, especially within the next five years.  This is why it's incumbent upon the army and the new government of Egypt to "maintain a healthy lifestyle," so as to decrease the chances of the cancer taking root again.  In order to maintain that healthy lifestyle, it must indoctrinate its people against religious fanaticism (which it's already started to do actually-- there's been a crackdown on the many unregistered "basement mosques" and unregistered "skeikhs" who spew nothing but hatred and jihad.  The government's also established 150 new primary schools, and has reformed the curriculum to include classes on citizenship).  It must preach moderate Islam ala Al-Azhar, and teach tolerance and equality.  It must quell any and all eruptions of fanaticism, even the ones masquerading as protests.  And it must venture down the path of secular humanism.  Especially in the education system. 

In the midst of all that's happening, I find myself working, strangely enough.  Not as much as I'd like to, but the Memphis has had quiet a few sails, considering the circumstances.  I'm not sure it's the same for other venues though.  It definitely feels great to be back on stage with my musicians behind me and Egyptians in front of me.  Especially after a three month hiatus.  Don't get me wrong, I had the time of my life in the US these past three months.  I traveled teaching workshops, taught weekly classes and private lessons, performed a bit, and most importantly, had loads of fun with friends.  Basically, I compensated for 5 years of living a pretty austere life in Cairo.  But nothing beats the rush I get from performing to (good) live music every day.  I know this can't go on forever (for reasons of my own), but I'm definitely determined to enjoy it for as long as possible, or for as long as I'll allow myself to.  In the meantime, I've got some interesting projects brewing in my head that I'll be starting soon.  Stay tuned to find out what they are! :)


  1. Love the post! And I am excited to be back in Nov/Dec so I can enjoy the decrease in garbage, too! :)

    Keep dancing and making your magic, lady! :)

    See you in Cairo!

    1. Thanks so much Raksanna! Can't wait to see you here. :)