Walk Like An Egyptian

Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
Trip End Sep 11, 2010

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Flag of Egypt  , Al Qāhirah,
Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sooo I decided to take a side trip :)  I have been in Egypt for the last 3 days!   It turns out Cairo is one of my favorite cities I've ever been to.  It seems the farther east I go the more welcoming the people are and the more they love me because I am American.  Today I was in a high end pastry shop and 2 of the guys wanted photos with me when I told them I was American...and then all of the men working wouldn't let me pay for my treats.  They refused to charge me.  There are hearts in this world bigger than I ever dreamed.  I also love how dirty this place is.  No one seems to mind that I smell like crap and havent bathed in about a week and havent washed my clothes in as much time.  No one is worrying about things I would normally be afraid of here - black feet and smelly alleys and mangie cats.  Even the non stop car honking isnt bothering me - I think I hear a car honk 8 times in 10 seconds here, just a friendly warning usually to the pedestrians crossing or walking in the street...which as it turns out is one of the scariest things Ive ever done in my life.

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 think I could die of happiness.  

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).
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Blythe Adamson on

That sounds like an amazing side trip! Are you going to visit Luke Reimer's family? Isn't his dad a professor there?

pinkfloyri on

They arent around right now :( But i made some wonderful new friends!!! Peace be with you Blythe!

lesley Stern on

What an awesome side trip! You go!!!!!
It took me three days to leave the hotel in Cairo (and then I grew to love it...once I learned how to say no in Egyptian" (la ah). You're very brave.

lesley on

PS: Aswan is gorgeous!

pinkfloyri on

I heard that Lesley! But I don't think I'm going to have time, I have planned another detour which takes me out of Egypt!!! Can't wait to share it....I'm keeping it a surprise for now.

And as far as Cairo - I think it's a total misconception! It's sooooo safe. And yes, I use La-ah to the "cab" drivers here in Dahab every time I walk out on to the street, and the girls selling bracelets, and I've even had to use it on the cats.....

lesley on

Oooo, can't wait for the next detour. I'm gonna guess Jordan.

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