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Saturday, 19 April 2008

A little bit of heaven in the middle of Cairo

Yesterday, I had a Cairo sandwich.

I had a lovely day out yesterday, experiencing two contrasting Cairos - a lovely, quiet, peaceful Cairo sandwiched between the big, brash, noisy Cairo.

I set off after lunch, making my way via microbus - squashed into a tiny seat with my face pressed against the door, and metro to Tahrir where a friend and her children met me in her car. She drove me out to the northern outskirts - Shubra area - where I met her family and in-laws who made me very welcome.

We took the ferry across to one of the islands in the Nile - lying to the north of Zamalek. It was beautiful, very green, peaceful, clear air - growing wheat, bananas etc, quite reminiscent of some of the areas around Luxor.

Mats were spread on the ground, the men lounging in their galibayas, and some more women - some family, some friends - came over on the next ferry with big trays of food balanced on their heads and we had picnic there, with children running about, people peacefully gossiping.

Then we went for a walk between the fields. Returning to the picnic area, a big commotion was heard and a crowd of people had come off the ferry with a young man dressed in a suit - an engagement party. There were drinks, a suitcase, food all balanced on people's heads.

They made their way to the other side of the island.

A handful of us went on a small motor boat for a short trip up the Nile - under the Ring Road Bridge and watched the sunset, then came back to the island.

When we came back, the children all started playing a game which seems to be something like 1,2,3,4,BOOM, 6,7,8,9 BOOM. Then all the women started playing it as well. I didn't get the game at first and thought it was a bit like 'Mornington Crescent' - a wierd game you get on Radio 4 in the UK.

The atmosphere was wonderful. Such a peaceful, green, rural, place, right here in the middle of Cairo.

We left and returned to her home for mashy and rice. Then she drove me back to Tahrir and I wended my way home via a very crowded, and that time of night after a long hot day quite smelly metro and bus, getting home after midnight.

What a beautiful, peaceful day and what a lovely family.

Edit: 4/5/2008 - just came across this tours website - check out tour 12 - Geziret el Dahab (Gold Island) - I think its the same island - amazing - they refer to it as 'a slice of heaven in the middle of Cairo' almost my words exactly - its so true - it really does strike you like that!

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