Monday, October 10, 2011

Cairo Cats

Danny; Cairo, Egypt

We landed at the Cairo international Airport after a few hour flight, feeling exited and amazed that we were entering out last country of our Mid East tour. I remember feeling similar when we got Malaysia, which was the last stop on our South East Asia tour last November.

We drove from the airport into Cairo towards our hotel. I was immediately struck by the lack of traffic patterns, there seemed to be no rules of the road. I would be hesitant to drive here and I'm a New Yorker.

As we got into downtown, I recognized the square where the protests had been centered during the Revolution in the Spring. Tahrir square was crowded, but seemed quiet as we drove past. I could see the television building that got burnt down during the revolt.

We got to our hotel and I was happy to go to my room and rest for a little while before venturing out to get local sim cards for our phones. The hotel was quite beautiful and my room had a balcony that overlooked the Nile river.

We rested for a bit and then ventured out on foot to find the Vodafone store, which was supposed to be right by the square, not too far from the hotel. Well that walk became quite an adventure and eventually two of us staid the course and accidentally found the store. Asking directions here with a map that is in English is not an easy task. People are do friendly and helpful, but no one really knows where anything is located, unless it is a big square or hotel etc. We asked on such helpful person and he said he would show us where to get sim cards. Of course it became apparent that he was leading us somewhere else and even though I knew that, I was too polite to protest. We ended up in a small salon that sold natural fragrances, made from plants in this shop owners garden. He made us drink tea with him and tried to sell us bottles of these essences. It was clear now, that there wasn't going to be any phone sims.

He was actually a nice guy and the bottles we bought were quite beautiful. The fragrances were so subtle and clean. I tried to haggle with him and failed miserably, which set the precedent for the other guys. Well at least my girlfriend and the guys wives will have some more very nice presents from our tour. Sorry to ruin the surprise ladies;)

We left his shop and struck out again in search of this elusive store. As I walked around I was really getting a sense of the city and it's commerce. It was obvious that they have been doing buisines for thousands of years. The streets are like mazes and you can buy anything and everything imaginable. I saw some magical Cairo cats and thought about how long the cat species has been around in Egypt. They certainly don't hold the same stature as they did during the time of the Pharoes, but I'm not sure the cats care;)

Two of us kept on dwarfing for the phone store and we finally got our sim cards, but unfortunately they didn't work out for us and we had to go back out the next evening and try another company. All in all, it was quite an adventure and at least we got a feel for the city and it's streets.

On the way home we took a cab and driver was talking to some traffic police while we were stopped. He told us that there was a big disturbance a few blocks away.
We had heard the chanting and shouts of the crowd earlier, but thought at the time, that it was a nearby group demonstrating for better wages. By the time we got to our hotel, we found out that things had turned quite serious and if you have been keeping up with the news, you know what has been going on here in Cairo. We stayed in for the rest of the evening planning for our trip to the Pyramids the next day. We had a scheduled day off before we begin a rigorous schedule of traveling, workshops and performances. I love sight seeing on the rare days off, but I really do miss the music and connections we make during our shows and workshops. Well I'm sure I'll get my wishes soon;)