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Ahlan w Sahlan: Born and Raised in the Sands of Egypt

-Ahlan w Sahlan, or welcome!

A defining aspect of my character is the somewhat odd fact of me being born and spending a chunk of my childhood overlooking the imposing “Bibliotheca Alexandrina”. This is actually a complete exaggeration, put in solely for dramatic effect, seeing as our apartment was nowhere near the library, and that the library was still in ruins when I was born. However, I was born one warm, sunny day (as most are in Egypt), on the 30th of May in the Alexandria Medical Center.

For the next eight years I would call this beautiful city and this land of contradictions my home, and even to this day I can feel my mind wandering and pulling me back to those scorchingly hot days, the smell of spiced coffee and the sweet taste of freshly squeezed mango juice.

While my father was fresh out of high school and contemplating his next big steps in life, my grandfather was given the opportunity to relocate to Egypt and work there. After much deliberation (I presume, it would be a while yet until I came into the picture), they moved to a culture vastly different from their own. Working side by side with my grandfather, my dad enrolled into a university in Cairo and slowly (as we would all later on), fell in love with the intricate complexities of the Egyptian way of life.

Now, I’m not too sharp on the details, but at some point after graduating my dad went back to his hometown in Bosnia and fell madly in love with a blonde-haired forest-fairy of a woman (my mother if I wasn’t obvious enough), and they started their love story and engagement soon afterward (it runs in the family apparently). Fast forward a tiny bit and the young couple is married, has an adorable little girl (my eldest sister) and they bravely decide to move to Egypt so my father could work on building the family company. I sometimes try to put myself in their shoes, seeing as they were about my age at the time. I try imagining the fear and risk in moving your family with a small child to a completely different continent, not knowing what awaits and how you’re going to adapt. I can only say that they were very brave-and that I’m glad they were.

With one suitcase between the three of them (half of it filled with baby diapers), they found themselves in Alexandria, building a completely different life than most of the people they knew.

Soon afterwards they had a second addition to the family, my rascal of a middle sister, shortly followed by yours truly (the cherry on top if you will #humble).

It was a charmed life and childhood that much I can say. I often find people asking me how did I adapt, but I don’t think they realize that for me there was no adapting, I was home and I belonged. I loved the heat, the sun, the language and the food. I loved how nursery rhymes and counting games sounded in the sweet lull of Arabic tunes and how the “difficult” Arabic letters rolled off my tongue with ease. I remember waking up in the mornings to the sound of the mosque calling people to prayer, and warm buffalo milk and fitir (Egyptian pastry) waiting for me on the kitchen table.

I was always surrounded by friends, family, and laughter that made the magic of growing up in Egypt at that time forever indescribable, no matter how much I try to type it into words (and trust me, I will never stop trying).

When we decided to move back to Croatia, I felt heartbroken, as most children feel when changes of those proportions occur, but now, looking back, I am happy we did (all the reasons and pros and cons will be discussed in detail throughout various posts). We still visit very often, my father and sister the most, due to work, but the rest of us out of love and sentimentality for the first place we truly called our family home (and where my husband proposed, yeah see how I just slipped that in there sneakily).

Given that this is an introduction post I just wanted to let you know how I came to proudly have my passport stamped with many Egyptian visas (no unfortunately I don’t have citizenship), and let you know that I will be writing a series of blog posts regarding Egypt, discussing various cities, best travel options, food, safety, traveling on a budget, tourist vs. local attractions and any other topic that may come to mind. If there happens to be any topic you’d like me to write more about, please feel free to contact me and let me know!

Ma’a salama!

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