Friday, August 25, 2006
Old Cairo and swindling
Cairo is crazy! Cairo officials decided to move a statue of Ramses from Ramses square to the Giza plateau, at 2 in the morning. My roommates and I were sittng around talking (yes, at 2 in the morning), when we heard racuous shouts, screams, and general noises of excessive revelery. Apparently, moving the statue was a good excuse to party. Unfortunately, our window does not look out onto the street, just a creepy alleyway with weird men in the rooms across. Before the wild street partying, I finally did some shopping! Alright, I was rather coerced into the shopping, but it was still fun. Some guy talked us into looking at his shop, and suddenly we were sitting down in a really cute perfume store sipping mint tea. Actually, it was flower extract he was selling, supposedly the pure essence of the flower without any added alcohol. Needless to say, I ended up buying a fair amount, but at least I have the beautiful, hand-blown glass perfume bottles to show for it. Then, of course, Hassan, our good friend who has a brother in Minnesota (he calls it Minne-snow-ta, a thinks himself very clever), leads Annie and me back to our hotel, but, oh, his friend's papyrus shop is along the way, so we stop there. I had been to the Khan-El-Khalil bazaar earlier in the day, and had been contemplating buying some papyrus, so this just increased my desire for some. I feel a little embarrassed telling this tale, but I'm learning, and soon it'll just be one of those "onetime, when I wasin Cairo" stories.
Today, we visited Old Cairo, well, me and 23 other girls from the dorm. First, we stopped at a mosque, where we donned green robes with hoods to cover our sinfulness from God. Actually, though, the Amr mosque was indelibly peaceful, quiet with soothing white marble and carpet beneath our bare feet. The women's section was fascinating; it seemed like a gathering place for women, to talk about faith, family, and anything else on their minds. It was my first time in a mosque, and very pleasing. The rest of the day we putzed around the narrow alleyways of Old Cairo, ducked into numerous churches and a synagogue, saw the well where (supposedly), Moses was discovered, and explored the absolutely beautiful Coptic graveyard. Then, we visited a grocery store and stocked up on essentials. It's funny, American goods are so expensive over here, but everything else is dirt cheap. I spent a little over 20 dollars on three bagfuls of goodies.