Art, architecture, history, travel

More on Egypt 1982

Cairo is a fascinating city it reminds me of Istanbul in a way. It is not my first time to an Arab country, that would be Morocco. Egypt was under the rule of the Mamluks in the 13th century.  Occupied by Napoleon and the French for a short time, in the nineteenth century it was ruled by the Ottoman Turks. The Maghreb begins to the west of Egypt.

Mohammed ‘Ali was an Albanian governor of Egypt, not the boxer of course. There is a Mosque (masjid) near downtown named for him. He is revered as the founder of modern Egypt. In the early twentieth Egypt was a British protectorate. The Suez canal was built in the 19th century with British and French financing. It shorted the trip to India considerably.  For a short time Egypt was an independent kingdom. Cairo is the most populous city in Africa. The most populous country in Africa is Nigeria. The continent of Africa is larger than North America.

Upper and Lower Egypt

Upper and Lower Egypt

In Egypt Cairo is known as misr, the Arabic name for Egypt itself. For as any Cairene will tell you’ Egypt is Cairo and Cairo is Egypt. Cairo is the center of the Arab film and music industry. It is the media center of the Arab world. Oum Kulthoum was a very famous classical Egyptian singer known as the star of the East.

Climate Cairo is a desert. I have known two Egyptians.

Jumping off the Bus. We have started riding the bus. Well the curious thing is there aren’t any real bus stops here. When you get close to where you want to go you just pull the cord and the bus sort of slows down and you jump off. One time we ended up in the middle of a traffic circle. I think cabs might be safer.

No one will ever give you the price for anything here. Ask for the price and the answer will be, as you like. Then the haggling begins.

The Khan al Khalili خان الخليلي is the famous souk or market. It is truly remarkable. The sell everything from gold to shoes, clothes and spices from all over the world. The Egyptian cotton is especially nice. I bought an inlay tile box there.

We went to the Ramses train station to buy tickets for Luxor, ancient Thebes. The train is overnight deluxe first class with little amenities like an airplane, but of course you can lie down and walk around. The staion was very crowded. We met an Islamic woman and her husband at the station. The had a small booth selling books and appliances. They were very friendly and anxious to talk to us. Curious about what we were doing in Cairo, the United States, did we have children and things like that. I think they had met few Americans. They especially wanted to look in KT’s purse. She wore a bright green jilaba with a white lining and a hijab. He husband was dressed in a dark suit with no tie.

I reached out my hand to shake hers. She drew it back. She wasn’t allowed to touch another man. We bought a green copy of the Koran, القرآن al-quran. I still have that. They invited us to the back of their store to watch Egyptian tv and drink tea. It was a small B&W version. They had never met an American who had studied Arabic.

The Pyramids

Giza Great sphinx

The great Pyramids are what everyone wants to see. They are truly awesome. We didn’t go inside or even ride a camel. It was just too hot. We did meet an interesting man, however. He waned to give me a haircut. His name was Mohammed Jesus. He Even had a testimonial letter in English. Mohammed Jesus has been my barber for fifteen years he has occasionally done a good job. Even the newspaper al-Ahram means the pyramids.

Saqqara step pyramid

The Saqqara step pyramid is another group of pyramids outside of Cairo. They date to the third dynasty and are much older than the pyramids of Giza.

When we told people we were recently married they predicted One year one baby boy, two years two baby boy .   .   .  .  One man offered me 100,000 camels for my wife. That’s a big compliment. One thousand is considered an infinite number. Blondes are not common here. They wanted to touch Katie’s hair. I brought a beautiful Irish Catholic girl to Cairo.


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