Egypt: A Culture of Contrasts

Started off with a lot of apprehension today, but it evaporated like the fog after an hour wandering around Coptic relics in Cairo.  There are so many things I wonder about here, about how much of it is rooted in Greek influence, and yet how completely different the culture, the people and the place are.

We finally had a full, sit-down Egyptian meal.  Baba ganoush, falafel, kefta, chicken shwarma, all dishes we have in the States.  But they don’t compare.  Maybe it is the charred, smoky blackness, or maybe it is our tired feet and overstimulated brains.  The food is tender, succulent and plate after plate keeps coming, six attentive waiters tending to our needs at the Giza equivalent of Steak n Shake.  After that, we head over to an outdoor cafe for tall white frothy glasses of  sahlab, which smells deliciously like coconut and almonds.  The heady scent of shisha smoke steals up our nostrils and releases its fragrance into the night.  The atmosphere is relaxing and peaceful despite the endless cacophony of cars, vans, buses, motor bikes, pedestrian cries of “Allah!” and of course, the requisite car crash.  Everything is a study of contrast.  The mosques facing mecca, flanked by soldiers in tanks, strolling around with machine guns.  Women shrouded from head to foot, their Western garbed children lugging Mickey Mouse backpacks.  En’shallah.

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