Egypt’s past and future jostle against one another when traveling down the side streets of Cairo. Taxis, mopeds, and old pickup trucks share undivided roads with camels that rest under the shade of tall red brick buildings and donkeys loaded with goods or people that bump along hard packed dirt roads. When these two sides of Egypt meet, mopeds veer off onto sidewalks, trucks honk and brake, tall camels pull up their long necks and flutter their eyelashes and donkeys lower their heads, stare at the ground, and trod along in stubborn disregard to the strange machines that now live beside them.
A boy stands in the shallow water off the coast of Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam in the village of Rạch Vẹm and plays with two other children. Styrofoam containers and other debris float close to the shore in the crystal clear waters and lap the white sand beach. Fishing net partitions a section of the sea to trap the locals’ daily catch, and in the homes hugging the coast, old people sleep in hammocks while others process fish and crab. A few satellite dishes poke out from the three-sided corrugated metal buildings that sit on wooden stilts, and incense wafts through the air from the sticks that sit smoldering in front of small shrines. Roosters peer out at us from under wooden cages that sit in front of houses. A red powder dirt road leads to this village. Jungle presses in us from all sides. We try to speak to some of the locals, but not one knows a word of English. Other than the satellite dishes and garbage, the only sign of modern civilization comes from the older children who arrive later in the afternoon dressed in school uniforms and curious enough about us to say hello, giggle, and run away.