'Egyptians have hearts of diamonds'

Trip Start Sep 29, 2012
Trip End Jul 01, 2013

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Friday, October 12, 2012

6/10 -

Out on the balcony enjoying the cool of the early morning, the only sound is the chirping of birds, and the dusty street is deserted except for... - Eoghain and Nick?! I may be half awake but leaning out to get a better look, it's unmistakably the two intrepid and slightly confused classmates trudging wearily in the direction of the metro. What are the chances? The offer of a cup of tea is met with a relieved 'alhamdulilah'.

Having been picked up by the amiable and sweetly smiling Osama, (Sammy, he prefers, to cut the link with an unfortunate namesake) after a few hours seeing downtown through the eyes of a local, the 3 jump in a taxi on the invite of Sammy and head out to have chai at his place in a rundown suburban district, then at the coaxing of smooth talking Sammy, return to the centre to jump on a felouka boat and sail up the nile as night falls. It had to be too good to be true, and Sammy, having struck some deal with the boatman, suddenly turns and demands an extortionate amount for the boat trip and a day's worth of (mainly unjustified) expenses. The two manage to pay him off enough to get back on dry land, but are persued back to their hostel by an angry Sammy threatening violence. By fluke, outside the hostel he's beckoned down an alley by some kids, and realising he knows where they live now, the two sieze the oppurtunity and bolt down the street and into the nearest metro station, surfacing in maadi to sit out what remains of the night with fellow classmates in our neighbourhood.  

Being ripped off for a water melon later that day doesn't quite compete... But we have a great time exploring further into the metropolis of streets and alleys of Maadi. It's market day and everyone's out buying and selling. We rack up a bill of about 2 quid in a spice shop, coming out laden with cumin, cinnamon, hibiscus flower (popular in tea), a sack of chick peas and more. Straying off the beaten path we walk through narrow streets of friendly ramshackle brick houses, painted (as tree trunks and bridges often are) with the white, red and black of the Egyptian flag. Chickens and kids run around in the streets, and TVs blare from open paneless windows. Out of one such house appears an elegant lady with a brightly coloured shawl draped about her shoulders. 'I am Nour, which means light' she says, eager to learn our names too. Delighted that we're here to stay, she invites us back for anything we need, anytime. Amusingly accurate of our early morning visitors' tale, her dark eyes smile as she says, 'Egyptians have hearts of diamonds.' Oh, we know! '...but in every country there is a little bad for every good'. Suddenly her soft voice changes and she shoos off a crowd of boys who are gathering round to jeer something. Right on queue.
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