I have always wanted to visit Cairo, to see the pyramids. I have heard about Egypt, that mysterious place that people in the Bible ran to whenever there was trouble, ever since I was a tiny child in Sunday School. As I study the Old Testament, and learn about Moses, and the Hebrews living in Egypt and then miraculously leaving, it makes me want to visit even more. Our trip to the British Museum, to look at all the stuff the English took from Egypt in the past, and my knowledge of Pharaohs and how they were buried, has all fueled this longing. So, when Husband suggested a trip to Cairo, I leapt at it!
I prepared by downloading the Duolingo Arabic app, and practising my Arabic every day. I mainly wanted to know how to ask where the toilets are, and to be able to recognise which door has ‘Ladies’ written on it. Unfortunately, neither Duolingo, nor the CD I bought, ever got to this essential information. I set off for Egypt able to say things like, ‘Hamid is from Oman’ or ‘The house has a new door.’ Not as helpful as I had hoped.
I read a few guidebooks, and chatted to friends who have visited Egypt, and packed things they recommended. My case was full of long skirts, chaste shirts, and tatty bags to carry a water bottle and an umbrella, without appearing ‘rich.’ I took my money-belt, as apparently pickpockets are common in Egypt. I also ordered a hijab and hair cap from Amazon. In Dubai, I disliked being stared at, and found the best thing was to dress like a local. I decided I would watch from the taxi from the airport, and see whether most women covered their hair or not, and then I would copy. Warned Husband I would not be looking my best during the trip. I showed him my hijab, and he laughed, told me I looked exceedingly grim, and no one would dare to come near me with that face. I’m sure he meant it kindly.
I also bought some books, mainly about the Exodus, and whether it could possibly have happened or not. They were hugely interesting, but too heavy to take, and I only read a little before it was time to go. Might have to plan another trip. Many of the places mentioned were several hours drive from Cairo, and this was slightly less secure. The travel advice was that touristy areas were safe, but possibly not other places. We decided we would stay in the city, and see what we could. (I secretly told myself I would visit again if I like it.) Husband booked The Sheraton, which also has a casino, so I hoped it wouldn’t be too tacky. It was walking distance from the Nile (Oh wow! Can’t believe I am going to see the Nile!) and right next door to the Russian Embassy (which perhaps wasn’t quite so good, given the current politics).
We arrived Friday evening. As we drove from the airport, I saw faded villas that had once been beautiful, mingled with ornate minarets and tall concrete apartment blocks. Cairo is busy and noisy and has a faded charm. I loved it.
Our hotel room was lovely, with a tiny balcony that gave a glimpse of the Nile. Oh wow! I am looking at the actual NILE as I write this! When I was a child in Sunday School, listening to stories of Egypt, I never imagined I would actually see the river Nile. Amazing.
I will tell you more about our trip in another blog. Thanks for reading. Stay safe.
Love, Anne x