Trip Start Sep 28, 2005
Trip End Jun 24, 2006

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Miles travelled: 9408

Salaam Aleikum from Cairo!

Beep beep, honk honk, beeeeeep.
All-lo, beep beep, where you from? honk honk,
You speekie English? beeep beep, Taxi?
honk honk, You my friend, here let me show you ...
beeeeep, You need taxi?

We arrived in the capital of Egypt on Monday after 3 flights. And our luggage made it fine too! The traffic has to be seen to be believed -- nice clear lane markings but no one seems to care -- the rule is, if your car will fit in a gap, take it, and wait until someone sounds their horn before backing off. Overcrowded buses, people hanging out the door, bicyclists with a tray full of fresh bread balanced on their heads... At least in the city, a few less animals on the streets than we expected, though there were some donkey-drawn carts.

On Tuesday we were on our own, so we just wandered the streets of Cairo. It's a third-world country, but the city dwellings we saw seemed pretty decent -- reasonable construction materials, water, sewer, & electricity. Little storefronts sold everything from live chickens to nice furniture, heaps of spices to cell phones. A true juxtaposition of the new and the centuries-old. Lots of people trying to sell you stuff, but off the beated tourist track, we found lots of friendly people who were excited to have us walk by and just say Hello.

Wednesday we visited the Great Pyramids of Giza. You've seen them on TV, but going up to them and touching them, seeing how big the blocks are and how straight the construction is, is pretty amazing. We also visited the Egyptian Museum, packed with artifacts and mummies. A fascinating thing we learned is that one of the mummies we saw was examined by medical doctors from 3 countries, DNA was extracted, and it was discovered that the person had natural immunity to leukemia. The gene has been isolated and it could be a tremendous breakthrough in cancer research, from a mummy thousands of years old. Keep a watch for an announcement and National Geographic special to air around Christmastime.
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