Guide finds her past in timeless Egypt

July 30, 1997


Staff Writer

When Sandra McClure of Hagerstown went to Egypt, she felt that she was home.

The land was almost spiritual, the people heartwarming and the culture fascinating, she said.

"I felt a true connection. I knew I wanted to return to that country."

Two years later, she did - guiding six Hagerstown-area residents through Egypt's ancient wonders, including the Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx, the pharaos' tombs, the Nile River and the Sinai Desert.

With knowledge of and enthusiasm for Egypt that attracted three area travel agencies, McClure in 1994 launched a touring program in which she leads a handful of Tri-State area residents on an 11-day trip through Egypt each September and February.


After her first trip, three of the tourists repeated the experience, and her numbers have since doubled.

Delighted at the excuse to return to Egypt at least twice a year, McClure said she hopes to give Americans a different perspective on 20th century living.

Egyptians, she said, have retained practices, beliefs and traditions from an earlier era.

"I truly believe you can't experience the true Egypt without the Nile cruise - it's like you step back in time," she said.

In rural areas, people farm with oxen and donkeys, irrigate fields with water wheels and make family the center of life.

For McClure, Egypt holds part of her past.

After discovering a love for Egypt, McClure was told that her father, who died when she was 5, was Egyptian and her paternal grandmother hailed from Cairo.

"My mother said to me, `It's in your blood,'" McClure said.

To acquaint herself with the country, McClure rented a flat in Egypt in 1993 and studied customs, language and daily life for three months before returning and sitting for her travel agent certification.

Wisdom Tours, the same travel agency in Cairo that booked her maiden trip in September 1992, sponsored her program and made her its East Coast representative. She said she hopes one day to promote the program from Egypt.

"It's wonderful. I definitely advocate it for anybody," said Beth Beckner-Mills of Hagerstown, who has visited Egypt 14 times and is planning a third McClure tour with her husband, Doug.

"There's a sense of timelessness in Egypt - especially in those colossal statues that stare off peacefully ... across the centuries," she said.

Package prices range from $1,795 to $2,195 for international air, domestic air, five-star hotels, Nile River cruise, tour guide and meals.

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