23.11.2008 - 28.12.2008 -17 °C
Alexandria and Cairo
When staying in Egypt is wasn’t straight off the plane and onto a Nile cruise and trip to Jordan, we actually had a few weeks of downtime in Alexandria, staying with Mary (Rach’s mum). And boy did we need the relaxation after Europe.
And while it was awesome to lax out at Mary’s, some of the things you do in Alexandria would be considered thrill rides in other countries.
The roads for example, hail a taxi (beaten up old lada) and go for a nice drive along the water front. This bing a high speed chase along a 7 lane motorway where apparently lanes are just a suggestion. Or the backstreets where an intersection is controlled by whoever beeps first gets right of way.
Or cross the road don't use the pedestrian crossings as local drivers will speed up for you, (tourist = 20 points) just find a local pedestrian also crossing and use them as a shield as you weave through speeding traffic.
Or walk along the sidewalk, but watch for loose concrete paves and steel reinforcement poking out.
Basically the roads aren't all that great.
Kafr Abdo (upmarket alex), view from the apartment.
One of the main experiences of actual life we experienced in Egypt was the Islamic festival of ede. We didn’t really know what was going in the week on leading up to the festival days but there seemed to be an excess of livestock tied to peoples shops and milling around the streets. Mary then filled us in that they were to be sacrificed on the main celebration day.
On Ede eve we went out to dinner with john (from the nile cruise) and then a café afterwards where mary mistook the ‘ede’ decorations for a childs party.
Cow tied to a street sign
So on the actually slaughter day Rach decide to have a indoors day (good move) while Mary and I were keen to see what all of the fuss was about. Well a walk down ‘crazy street’ and we were hit in the face with blood, killing, celebration and children using blown up stomachs/bladders as soccer balls. Blood literally covered the street.
Decorating the mosk (don’t think they’re xmas lights)
Although we may not find the animal sacrifice thing all that palatable one positive is that a lot of the meat and dried skins are donated to the orphanages and the poor.
Getting back to something we do know about, Zachariah (visa guy from kens work) invited us down to support his rugby team. They were surprisingly good and the Alex boys totally kicked Cairo’s butt. There’s no way that I’d want to play on the rock hard field.
At the catacombs, only real touristy thing to do in Alex.
On the way back from the Sinai we had a couple of days stop to do all things Cairo. This includes Pyramids and Egyptian Museum.
Picture this, you’re on your way to the Pyramids in the back of a ‘1970 lada’ (read: taxi) and as you get close random guys on the street start waving and trying to hail your cab but you tell the driver to just carry on. One persistent fat man will not give up though and sprints about 200m before the cab has to pull over for traffic.
He then forces the drivers window down and starts yelling, ‘you going to pyramids, you like a camel or donkey?’ ‘you know the price, very good price.’ We then pretened to know Arabic and tell him to shove off and the taxi to keep going. He catches his breath gets his running shoes back on and sprints after the next car with a white face in it.
The pyramids themselves are a bit of a touristing conundrum for us. Sure they’re really impressive and old (understatement) and we should have just been slack jaw staring at them. But because you’ve seen pictures of them all your life you just know what to expect, and like everywhere else in Egypt you have to fend of the merchants and camel hawkers. As one travel writer said, ‘looking at the sphinx is like meeting a famous actor, you just thought they’d be bigger in real life.’
One positive is that if you’re willing to walk a few hundred meters (further that most tourists are) then you can look back at them in the peace and quiet.
Anyway we are totally over this part of the world and wanna go somewhere where the speak english and people don’t hassle at every corner.
America here we come.