This story is part of my “photo story” series. See the end of this post for where you can find more photo stories.
Even back in 1990 it was hard to find a place on earth that has been untouched by MacDonald’s or Nike and was not swarming with tourists. I was always travelling to some remote area in the Middle East but it always seemed that even the most remote places on earth had been tapped as some sort of tourist trap. Siwa was one of those “almost untouched” places I found in 1992. Well, I didn’t actually find it. It was mentioned in all of the Lonely Planet Guides and was on the map. However, it was so remote and hard to get to that very few tourists actually took the time to visit and when they did, it was briefly and not very often.
This is probably because Siwa is on the very edges of Egypt, on the Libyan border.
So I arrived in Siwa in 1992 with an Egyptian friend and was the only non-Egyptian in the entire village. Everyone knew I was there – especially since I was tall with red hair. The residents all seemed very fascinated with me when I first arrived and many people were eager to show me the area. However, after a few days word about who I was and why I was there had spread and I was able to take some photos without disturbing anyone.
One thing that was fascinating to me about this village was that all the married women were required to be completely veiled in tent-like cloth. Because this was akin to going around with a blanket over your head, it was hard for them to manage in public, so usually the children would do most of the public tasks like shopping or driving the horse carts, etc…Men would be working or “hanging out” in the village cafes. It was amazing to see such small children functioning in their adult roles – doing the weekly shopping, driving, etc…I took a lot of pictures of children in the village. They all seemed to enjoy the tasks they had. It was like they were “playing house” – they were having fun! And they had a lot more freedom than children do in America today. These children had a few tasks and chores but when they finished them they were allowed to roam and adventure in and out of the village as they liked.
This photo is of a young Siwan girl on the way to market.
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