Walk Like An Egyptian
Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
20Trip End Sep 11, 2010
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Crossing the street in Cairo: you know when you stand on the street corner waiting for the traffic to clear so you can cross? Usually wait about 20 seconds at most? Well let me tell you about Cairo. You stand for about 60 seconds before you remember that there are some 20 million people living in this city and apparently all of them are out driving at all hours of the night.
Today it was 105 degrees or 39 Celcius. I pee about 3 or 4 times day because I sweat so much.
I went to a Sudanese Refuge Mission at a Christian Church downtown; like everyone else, the girl working asked me if I was traveling alone with no friends. The more I have to answer this question as the journey unfolds, the more I realize that no, I am not alone. In fact, I am with all of my brothers and sisters out here. Our Father is Allah and unless someone is trying to scam me (which happens ALL THE TIME here - the pyramids were a disaster of camel pitches - one women even took my scarf off and put on a traditional Egyptian scarf and then asked for my necklace!) then I have 9 times out of 10 become their friend. Today I asked a young man where a particular store was and he left his workplace and walked around for 10 minutes with me (Cairo is the safest city in the world people say - there are cops on each corner with huge guns and so many people EVERYWHERE that everyone sees everything)
My newest friends are Americans studying at Cairo University who I met on the street - I simply was asking for directions and tips and they so generously invited me along to the market, then to Sufi Egyptian drum and dance performance (where I basically fell out of my chair - the best drummers I have ever heard in my entire LIFE), then to a private boat ride on the Nile with about 10 other friends from America, Canada and London (who for lack of a better reference point could at first glance pass as WIlliamsburg hipsters) who as it turns out have traveled a lot of the Middle East. Some of them were throwing down some serious Arabic to locals as well.
The currency here is INSANE. That boat ride cost us about 18 US dollars split TEN ways. I took out 1000 Egyptian Pounds and my bank showed a withdrawal of $176. Hello people. My lunches of falafel are costing me about 20 cents. Last night I had a pesto pasta dish, fancy chocolate crepe, and a hooka of apple and canteloupe tabacco (BIG in the Middle East) while sitting on a top floor terrace overlooking downtown Cairo - all for 9 US dollars. The down side is since Ive been traveling and post "Food Inc" I am now vegetarian and most menus are in Arabic = today I settled on Pizza Hut. Tonight I am invited with my new friend Meghan to go with her and her Egyptian friend Hassan to an Arabic Pop concert
I am still in the magical swirl of learning Arabic words and phrases here and there, and fascinated 100 times over by their dedication to Allah. Today in the cab ride to Giza the call to prayer came on the mosques and loud speakers and the cab driver turned off the Pop music and tuned to a radio broadcast of the prayer and mumbled some prayers to himself for about 3 minutes. I smiled at the Universe and Allah for making his Creation so wonderful. Later I saw a police officer face down on a prayer rug on the side of the road. Last night after an Arabic lesson at the hotel a friend explained to me that he had to burn the paper he had written out the name of God on for me in Arabic....they never throw out the name of God into the rubbish especially because they don't know what someone would do with that paper. The Quran is also always placed on the top of everything - I bought something with a chapter of the Quran and in acordance with Islam I should pack it on the very top of my bag since nothing can be above God's word.
Alhamdulillah (all thanks be to God).