Monday, March 30, 2009

Cairo: Day Two



There are Tourist Police everywhere we go. (We've seen bomb dogs every day, too.) Their job is to maintain a police presence and keep the tourists safe. Tourism here is big business, and "incidents" cost Egypt dearly. My dad asked one for a picture and he agreed - "for one American dollar." I had to capture this one on the sly.
The Citadel was amazing - it was built in about 1100 and is the only fortress that didn't fall during the Crusades. Apparently it is a popular place for Egyptian school groups. It seems like every middle schooler we passed had to say, "Hi. Where are you from? What is your name?" Some of the boys would add, "I love you." These girls were very sweet and said I could take thier picture as we were walking in.

Within the walls of the Citadel is the Mosque of Mohamed Ali. It was beautiful - the walls inside are all made of alabaster. Our guide told us that it is not typical of the mosques in Cairo since it was built in the Ottoman style. I just loved the lights...

After the mosque we went to the Egyptian Military Museum. I bought a camera permit for one Egyptian pound (about $0.20) but didn't get any decent pictures. The lighting was awful and the displays quite far away. The most interesting thing, for me, was learning about the revolution in the early 1950s. A number of high ranking military officers dethroned the king and exiled him - making Egypt a republic. It is obvious that modern Egyptians hold these men in high esteem, as many people stopped and took photographs of them.

Then we went to the Pharonic Village, a kind of campy version of Greenfield Village. We were with my mom's friend's family which included a three year-old, so we ate lunch first. After we ate the most delicious bread for lunch, we found "the bread lady." She had hand-baked all the bread we had devoured at lunch. It was so good! Imagine fresh thick pita-like bread still warm from the oven.


Apparently you aren't supposed to eat lunch first. So we got a little off track. Instead of getting on the boat to take us through the Pharonic Village we ended up on a Nile River cruise. It ended up being the highlight of the day!

While cruising down the Nile a nice yong Egyptian man, sitting with his wife, asked us where we were from and we all started talking. Later he suggested we go down to the bow of the boat because, "The girls are belly dancing. Not professionally - just for fun." Were they ever a hoot.



We went down and found a group of teenage girls (maybe 12-15 years old,) on a trip from Alexandria, all dancing and having a wonderful time. At one point one of the men got up, went into the cabin and started dancing. We could see him through the windows, but it was very clear that he had separated himself from the girls. It is those things that seem so foreign to me. And the poverty. There is such a stark difference between the "haves" and the "have nots" here. Right across the river from million pound apartments are people washing their dishes in the river.

Today (Monday) we are off to the pyramids. I'm so excited I can hardly sit still waiting for Mohamed, our driver, to get here...

7 comments:

The WoodLand School said...

WOW, Liz! The photos are great, and the descriptions are even better. Wonder if your mom has room for one more person??? ; )

misschris said...

Thanks for the daily updates, Liz. I'm loving your posts; it's all so exciting. The photos are wonderful.

Ack, I can't wait until you get back from the pryamids!

nicolette said...

I always dreamt about going to Egypt. I love to read your stories and see your wonderful pictures. Thanks for making it possible to ‘visit’ Egypt from my Dutch chair!

Betts said...

I'm enjoying this vicarious trip to Egypt. I can't wait to get to the pyramids, too!

Indy Mom said...

Amazing trip....keep the pictures/info coming!

Molly said...

WOW. Beautiful photos. Lovely bright colors on the school girls. And that bread looks yummy. Glad you are able to share all this with us while you are on vacation. Blogging is amazing.

cinnamongirl93 said...

Can you imagine breaking into belly dancing?!!! Wow, how interesting this is. I bet it's hard to soak it all in. So cool!!!