When you walk or drive around the long and oddly crisscrossed streets of Cairo, these days, you will find yourself unwillingly smiling at the relatively empty streets.
The disappearance of the traffic jams that had been blocking almost every crossroad and every entrance of a bridge or a ramp is so refreshing. It makes you ecstatic to see the beauty of the ancient buildings and bazars spread all over Cairo, that you have not been unable to see while struggling to find your own space among other thirteen million humans who live in Egypt’s giant capital city.
Then, a question will hit you: where did the people go? Well, they are on vacation!Look at the insanely crowded streets of Alexandria, El-Sahel, Marsa Matrouh, Ismailia, Hurghada, or any other coastal city along the Mediterranean or the Red Sea, to find them. Going away to the beach, during the three months of summer, is one of the stable habits of Egyptian families, from all backgrounds. As an individual, you cannot escape no matter what is happening in your personal or work life. You cannot afford being blamed, for years to come, for breaking the family’s happy time.
Like the case in most of Mediterranean countries, Egyptians revere vacation time above all else.I still remember the strong debates about the Arab Spring revolutions that people had at the beach, a few months after the fall of Mubarak, in 2011. I still remember when the local media blamed the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohamed Morsi against the secular, Ahmed Shafik, in the first presidential elections after the revolution, in 2012, on the absence of Shafik’s voters, who prioritized going to sea resorts rather than poll stations. Perhaps, for that reason, the current state avoids convening presidential or parliamentary elections during the summer season, or giving employees a leave on voting day.
This summer, too, the Egyptians have decided to mute the news about the global food and energy crises and pause their worries about the inflation and the economic crisis, and go on vacation. That is why I hate vacations! In my culture, taking a vacation is merely another form of citizen apathy. The Egyptians use it as a scape from real life miseries, until someone comes with a miracle wand to solve the problem so they can come back to normal life. That is why I hate vacations.
I hate vacations because it is a waste of life time and creative energy. Every creature on this planet is here for a purpose, that includes humans, animals, birds, mosquitos, and even plants. Humans, despite being the most smart and powerful creatures, are the only creatures who seek vacations and see luxury in doing nothing. I believe the Italians have a saying that goes something like “there is beauty in doing nothing.” For me, that is the interpretation of death.
So, my friend, if you dislike vacations and find no excuse for taking a time off from your assigned mission in this world, do not feel guilty about it. You are not alone. There are many creatures like us in this world. They include people who managed to do great things that made our life better. One of them is the famous American novelist and travel writer, Paul Theroux. He traveled the world, for his job, and he got the courage to say out loud that he dislikes vacations. In an interview with the Atlantic, nine years ago, he said: “I hate vacations. I have no fun on them. I get nothing done. People sit and relax, but I don’t want to relax. I want to see something. Sit down and have a massage, have a spa, have a cupcake—I go nuts. If I want to relax, I go home.”