Khan al Khalili Revisited

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

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Weekend

Friday 12th

Still not used to the upside down weekends. People of all different faiths meet on fridays here, and in the evening I discover an awesome international church a few leafy lanes away from here, who meet in a permanent open tent lit with little multicoloured bulbs that glow as it gets dark around us. The church has loads of stuff going on and I meet people of all ages from all round the world with different stories of what brings them to Egypt - could be a good place to get involved.

Later that evening we host the temporarily impoverished Jack and Gabriel for dinner, who're running on a couple of quid per day having just emptied their bank accounts to their scary simsar (estate agent) for the first rent. We introduce our guests to our current favourite music video channel on tv, which always provides good comedy value 'acting', questionable outfits and autotune to the max, peppered with advert breaks for skin whitening cream (:s) and - I kid not - burka blackening dye for the reverse crisis to that yellowing white shirt Vanish boasts to brighten up.

Saturday 13th

In the morning we return to Khan al Khalili, the famous labrynth of souk markets in Old Islamic Cairo. The trickery of a hundred narrow alleys and glittering market stalls doubled with my swimming conciousness on last visit increase the maze-like feeling of having been there before at each turn. At one point we are beckoned by the doorman of a mosque to come and climb the tower to look out over the busy souks, a higgledy piggledy jumble of crumbling rooftops and market stalls. A contact of Megan's, the lovely egyptian Salma studying at Cairo University, has agreed to take us round and train us up in the art of egyptian bartaring. With the luxury of a year here to make the most of the incredible markets, we decide to take today to start getting our eye in. Salma's apprentices, we waddle down crowded walkways oggling at everything as the merchants call out to encourage us into their Aladdin's dens, some shrewdly, others getting straight to the point with 'You want to spend money here? yes? yes?' 
Winning shout-out of today, a line of 5 white girls plus Arthur forging a path through the throng, goes to 'HEY SPICE GIRLS!'
Arthur: 'What does that make me, your manager?'

In the evening we finally succeed in taking the generous Ahmed for a meal as a gesture of thanks for the amount he's done for us over the last couple of weeks. It's the same journey as we did a few weeks ago led by our walking taxi, the unshakeable Omar, and as we once again crash our way through markets set up in the middle of busy roads and plough onto the dual carriage way on foot, I note how it's beginning to feel normal. Still no less exciting. The spirited 'Welcome to Egypt!!'s are coming so thick and fast tonight I'm still laughing when we reach the restaurant.  

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Elisabeth Cook on

Thanks for sending these interesting and amusing accounts of your daily adventures. It's reassuring as well to know that you are being looked after by kind people and taking sensible care of each other. lots of love from
G and G

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