Oscar the Grouch

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Would love it here!

As much as it pains me to write this, it’s very dirty here.  And after 6 months of cycling, living in a tent with only 4 pairs of underwear…my standards are not high!

Traveling on the train from Cairo (not the night train this time) I was able to see some more of the ‘real’ Egypt.  Unfortunately, this was an Egypt covered with garbage.  All along the sides of the tracks, mounds within the towns, and cascades trailing down the banks of the canals.  Yuck!  Try as I might, I looked for cattle with 3 eyes and 2 headed ducks, but thankfully didn’t see any. 

Instead, looking beyond the garbage, I was amazed by scenes of agricultural lands and ways of life, where donkeys so layden with greens their legs barely showed.  Then in the far background I could see the bent pyramid, step pyramid, the great mustabahs and others. 

However, arrival in Alex didn’t keep the fantasy alive for long.  More trash in the already torn up streets.  Receiving directions to our friend’s house included the landmark of: ‘turn onto our street when you see the two large overflowing dumpsters’!   On the way I bought an orange and simply tossed the peel onto the road along side everything else that had landed nearby. 

A city built along the Medeterranian has such a beautiful vista, but walking closer, you can’t help but notice all the garbage rising and falling with the waves.  Lovers walk and children play along the water’s edge, stepping carefully over the broken glass and blowing bags.  Are the people oblivious?  Do they not see?  Do they even care?

I don’t quite understand how a culture that so values the way things look can miss out.  Store windows show beautiful furniture and household objects.  Taxi cabs are carefully decorated.  Men have pressed shirts and trousers with shining shoes.  Women are always dressed with beautifully matching skirts, sweaters, coats, shoes and scarves - nothing is out of place.  What a strange juxtaposition to see finely dressed people walking through garbage.

But on the positive side, there are no hassling totes trying to sell me ‘garbage’.  I don’t feel like a magical bank machine, and I don’t have to fight people off just to walk down the street.  Instead, there are a few calls of ‘hellos’ and ‘welcomes’, strangers on the street will help without baksheesh, and children will shyly smile and wave behind the shelter of their mother’s skirts. 

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