Saturday, April 3, 2010

Egypt 43: Cairo before we leave Egypt.

As we drove back to our hotel from the Giza plateau, Melony made a game out of photographing license places.  (It was nice of her to do that because she was sitting next to the window in our van and I was not.)

Notice the roman numbers below the Arabic ones.  That allowed us to learn our Arabic numbers while we were there.  We made a game of it.  This and the photos that follow will allow you to get an idea of how the game works.  She did really well getting these photos in some of the most chaotic traffic I have ever seen.  Sadly, she missed the Arabic seven and zero.

This was the view from our hotel window when we got back.  Cairo is huge. As you can see, it goes on for miles in all directions.  The traffic circle in the middle left was an absolute nightmare to get through.

I thought Los Angeles is gridlocked.  Los Angeles at its worst is wide open compared to Cairo traffic.  (Okay, Santa Monica and west side traffic often gives Cairo a run for its money.)

Since there were so few of us on this trip. John said that we should go out to the best place in Cairo to eat his favorite meal.

We hailed a taxi, all 6 of us piled in and drove across town to this table in an alley where we feasted on pigeon.
Pigeon tastes sort of like chicken,

(Melony says Cornish game hens) though, truth be told, there wasn't all that much meat on them.  The stuff in our drinking glasses that looks sort of like gravy is guava juice.

Right around the corner from where we ate was a fabulous market that was absolutely huge.  It was very easy to get lost in the labyrinthian network of passageways.  They had everything.  It was 8 PM at night and the place was  jammed with locals doing their shopping.  We saw folks from all strata of Egyptian society.

We have mentioned our Egyptian trip to many.  And the single most common reaction is, "How could you go there?  They have terrorists over there.  That place isn't safe."

I have to say, and I can speak for both Melony and me, that never at any time did we ever feel anything but safe.  Even alone in the depths of this market, with so many folks crushed into such a small space that the LA Fire Marshall would have immediately shut the place down if he had juristidiction, we felt absolutely safe.

Mohammad, one of our guides told us that after the terrorist attacks a few years ago, the Egyptian economy nearly collapsed because the tourists all stayed away.  He said that the Egyptian people hunted the terrorists down and turned them into the authorities.  Now the Egyptian government and the people both know that they cannot afford another terrorist attack.  As a result, protecting the tourists is a high national priority.  We saw that to be true everywhere we went.

One of the passageways ended in the courtyard of a mosque, where it wasn't quite as crowded.

Melony had purchased a Turkish coffee pot at the market so John took her around the corner from the restaurant where we ate to a genuine Turkish coffee store.

John said this was the best place in all of Cairo to buy coffee.  The guy had everything.  She had to make her choice from a number of different blends--all of which smelled divine.

The next morning it was time to put these walking shoes on an airplane and fly them home. 

This ends our journey together.  I want to thank you for hanging in there with me on this endeavor that turned out to be just a bit larger than I first imagined.

And also for all of your positive, encouraging comments and feedback.  They were very much appreciated. 

I have very much enjoyed sharing our journey with you and I hope, if nothing else, that you have a fuller, richer understanding of Egypt than you did before we began.  And I hope that some of you, at least, have made a decision to put Egypt on your list of places to visit.

I hope that because, even though it may have seemed like I spent most of my time pontificating, I have barely scratched the surface of what we saw and what we learned.

If you have decided to add Egypt to your future travel plans, I highly recommend that you contact John Anthony West while he is still able to do his trips and travel with him as we did.  You won't be sorry.


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