When I booked my ticket the only way to get a flight from Bangkok to Paris was to change planes in Cairo. I figured, if I’m going to change planes there, why not see the pyramids?
I’m being hosted in Cairo by the Evangelical Theological Seminary, which has many connections with the Presbyterian Church, USA. It is great to be part of a ‘connectional’ church!
After a bit of settling in, resting, and a traditional Egyptian breakfast of beans, pita bread and cheese, I headed out with Mina, a member of the seminary staff and my tour guide for the two days, to the Egyptian Museum. I did get interviewed on ‘Nile TV’ so if anyone happens to get that channel, I’m pretty sure I’m famous.
The Egyptian Museum has more sarcophoguses (does that make them sarcophogai?) than you can believe. It is also the location for the King Tut treasures. This was actually my second time seeing them, as I had the opportunity when they came to LA to see them as a young child. They were no less stunning this time, though minus the La Brea tarpits…
Cairo is an incredible city. I feel almost like I am in a movie, it is so completely other than anywhere I’ve been before.
A few Cairo impressions:
• It is ‘cold’ here…I say that because I think it is probably in the low 70’s, but compared to the high 90’s of Bangkok, low 70’s feel cold enough to wear my fleece. Just wait til Belfast…
• I’ve yet to see one woman on the street, other than myself, walking around with her head uncovered. Most are just covered, not veiled, but I did see one woman without even so much as an eye opening. I feel a bit naked with an uncovered head.
• Cairo is a dirty city. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way—it is simply a description. When you are surrounded by a dry, sandy/dirty desert, it seems inevitable that buildings, roads and sidewalks would wind up covered in dust and dirt.
• I think Cairo may be the most ‘foreign’ feeling place I’ve been yet. (Actually, it’s not foreign here, I am.) I’m not sure why this is. I think part of it has to do with the covering of the women’s heads—I feel as though I stick out not only for being white and blond, but also for being uncovered. Also, at least in the parts I’ve been in so far, it seems to be much less taken over by Western or global franchises. That said, the place recommended for me to get dinner tonight did happen to be a Pizza Hut. But, I had to walk about 15 minutes to get there, and past nothing else recognizable to my western sensibilities. Except for Pepsi.
• Coke has lost the battle to Pepsi in this part of the world.
• Mosques are everywhere. I love the sound of the call to prayer, though I’m guessing when it happens early tomorrow morning I might not love it as much.
Tomorrow Mina is going to take me to the pyramids, as well as to some Coptic churches, and hopefully to Old Cairo. Should be fun, and hopefully some good photo ops…