I'm currently in the process of returning to the US and I'm going through all of the emotions that a big move like this entails. So while I'm trying to figure out how to live in the US again, I decide to share about the trip I took to Cairo this spring. Spoiler alert: it was excellent.
Seeing the pyramids had always been a dream of mine and I knew that going to Cairo while living in Beirut would be the best chance I’d have for a while, being such a short and inexpensive fight away. I went with one of my expat friends, through people we know in Cairo we were able to stay in an empty flat for free and had folks who live there showing us around the entire time. My time there was too short, and went by very quickly. I now feel left with scattered impressions and stories and I think it will be best for me to share them with you that way rather than in a traditional narrative:
On our first day we went to the pyramids of Giza. They are huge and truly amazing. We even went inside one of them – really cramped walking down. All of the adornments, statues, and paintings have been removed from the pyramids (they are in the Egypt National museum, Smithsonian, British Museum, etc.) and I found myself wishing that there were at least some replicas there so I could have a better sense of what things were like when they were discovered.
The National museum was amazing, but there was just so much stuff everywhere! My favorite parts were the King Tut exhibit – so much gold! – and the mummies, which were a little creepy, but just SO COOL.
I was surprised at the number of people who wanted to take our pictures just because we were white foreigners. I know this happens in other countries, but I wasn’t expecting it in Egypt. One day we were visiting a very big and important mosque. There were many children there on field trips and nearly all of them were asking for photos with us, or “covertly” taking photos of us without our permission (to be honest I felt some sympathy for celebrities who have to live their lives like this – we got impatient after about 5 minutes!). While in the courtyard of the mosque three girls around 10 or 11 years old in hijabs approached us (three 20-something women). Before they could say anything we said, “Sorry, no pictures.” They replied, “We don’t want to take a picture with you, we wanted to know if you would like to race us.” After clarifying that yes, they were in fact challenging us to a race we couldn’t say anything but yes. So that’s how I ended up losing a race to three young girls (basically) inside of a mosque.
The Nile does not disappoint. We rode in a sailboat at sunset and it was magical.
Egyptian food is delicious. But if I were forced to choose (thank goodness that I’m not!), I’d still pick Lebanese food over it.
Cairo was crowded, but not nearly as crowded as I expected.
Riding the metro was quite an experience and rivals my days in Honduran buses for crowded-ness. However, it was much more timely than any public transit in Baltimore.
I would love to return to Cairo some day, I did quite a bit in my short time there, but I know that I just scratched the surface of what that city has to offer.