Monday, October 19, 2009

Experiencing Cairo

The rooftop party was full of other artists and felt very different than the touristy part of Cairo I had experienced just a few hours before. The party was actually held on a floor of artist studios, who were displaying their work for all to see and discuss. From the top we could see an energetic rooftop engagement party and the Citadel (Mosque of Mohamed Ali). Later a girl named Fatima belly danced to arabic music in her own belly dance apparel. It was fascinating to watch.

The past couple of days I have visited the Ahmad Ibn Tulun Mosque, building began around 800 AD as well as the only paper-making place in Middle East to make paper out of rice straw. I'd like to help further their business because in Cairo, all the extra rice straw that isn't used gets burned and causes much pollution. Also, if they had other buyers, it would create more jobs. We went shopping again in the markets of Khan Khalili and ate street food (which was delicious and worth the 1 US dollar!). Today we visited Saqqara, where sits the Step Pyramid built by Imhotep, and is the oldest stone monument. We were even able to go inside the tombs of Niankhkhnum & Khnumhotep, and the mastaba of Irukaptah. The mastaba had painted depictions and the others had statues still intact as well as pictures of daily life. Earlier we had gone inside a pyramid in Dahshur. Can you believe I went inside a pyramid?! The entrance/exit was very low and narrow, but quite exciting.

Life here is very different than home. Cairo is very polluted and depends a lot on tourist attractions. But I have had quite some entertaining taxi drivers! The majority have been very nice and try to speak English with us. Two nights ago we had a taxi driver who, after seeing Chris's tatoo of a cross, blessed us all with oils. Another taxi driver was helping us to better the few words we learned in arabic.

Ginger has taken Chris and I around Cairo and spoiled us with food, attractions and sleep. We are so lucky to have her here! It has been around 98 degrees the past couple of days, and it will be refreshing to go back to the cool weather. Tomorrow we are making last minute plans to go to Prague instead of back to London. We are staying with friends in Prague, which will hopefully take it easier on my bank account instead of paying for hostels in London!

Miss you all! Jump in some of those colorful fall leaves for me!

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