Egypt Day 6: Goodbye, Cairo; Hello, Severe Injury and Illness.

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After leisurely waking up we check the clock and discover, much to our chagrin, that it was 1 pm. By failing to set out our wake-up to breakfast tag on the door we just plain didn't wake up. So our big day of wandering Islamic Cairo (Al-Azhar mosque, Khan al-Khalili market and the Citadel) had been scrapped. It was late in the day and most of the shops in the Khan were closed on Sunday to boot (something we should have known had we checked the guide book sooner).

So we get ready to hit the pool for the day instead. We wander by the taxi desk to set up a driver to take us down to Saqqara and Memphis the next day and hit the pool. Or rather, don't hit the pool. It turns out they needed to drain most of it (I say most because there was about 6" remaining in the bottom of the pool), though the nice man at the towel hut assured us we could use it if we wanted.

Feeling thoroughly thwarted in our attempts to make the most of the day we returned to the room. There was a letter on the desk explaining that the pool was a 'little low' for the next two days and if we didn't want to use it at that level we could use the one next door at the Sofitel. So we put on shorts and t-shirts over our suits and decided to hike across the road. Big mistake on my part.

Up to this point I'd been out in Cairo only in either long pants or capri pants, but never shorts. Other than the rose seller jerk that grabbed me, I had no problems at all with being looked at lewdly or bothered. Until that afternoon. It was only a 5 minute walk out the hotel, across one of the crazy suicidal streets (no cross walks, you just wander between the cars) and into the next hotel, but it was the longest walk in my life. Everyone stared, many men made comments I can only imagine (as they were in Arabic, but clearly aimed at me).

Walking across the street, through the barrage of looks and comments, I thought someone spit on me, then I thought I might have stepped in a puddle, then I looked up and realized, it was raining! Rain, in Cairo, in June!!! I have been cold and wet (thanks to our awful winter/spring) since October. It started raining in October and I haven't been able to escape it since. Everywhere I go it rains, in Chyenne it snowed in June and Cairo it rained in June. Thank goodness this only lasted 5 minutes, and it wasn't cold.

Upon arriving at the Sofitel pool Grant tipped the guy who got us our chairs and towels a 5 instead of a 1, so he found a new best friend. While I lounged in the sun Grant got a tour of the gym, and the window in the gym that lets you see an underwater view into the pool. We went back to the hotel after about an hour and I had to endure another walk just like the first.

Feeling guilty about not having seen anything that day we decided to hit the Khan for dinner. We hired a driver at the hotel to take us there and bring us back 2 hours later. The drive over was beautiful, we saw many lovely mosques and drove right up next to the Citadel, it was amazing. Once at the Khan our driver pointed out a nice place to eat and we sat right on the square eating kebab and watching the locals go by.

After dinner we took a walk through the half empty Khan. There were still some vendors, but not too many. The winding alleys and old mosques were exactly what I had imagined Cairo to be like. We saw many more of the nice locals (as opposed to the hustlers) wandering the alleys. There was one particularly adorable little girl, walking with her family, who reached out and shook my hand while smiling and saying hello. It was the highlight of my night.

While waiting in the square for our driver Grant decided to wander and take a few pictures (as he has been want to do, just wait until the pictures are up, they are spectacular). I was sitting against the fence when I heard him yelp and saw him come limping back. Turns out he ran, full stride (since he didn't see it) into a pole. The pole was thigh height and had a metal flange around the top. He got one of the biggest bruises ever, his entire thigh turned purple and there was a swollen ridge where the flane had been.

Our driver appears and we head back to the hotel. Tomorrow would be our last day in Cairo, so we had to pack before bed. It was also time to fill out the comment card.

If my dear reader recalls, I made a remark in an earlier post about the toilet in our hotel. Let me say that it caused us much difficulty while we were there. I was so annoyed by it that I was forced to leave the following in the comment card:

"The toilet design, while being cleverly shaped to resemble a pyramid, was horrible. The seat was uncomfortable, the button difficult to push and there was not enough water to flush the contents. It would take five or more attempts to get the contents to flush away, usually only after throwing in a cup of water to propel the contents down. Everything else was fine during our stay, but I strongly recommend new toilets."

I do not exaggerate, nothing solid would go down without the aid of a cup of water thrown in at just the right moment (a technique that Grant developed), very frustrating.

We stayed up late packing and I began to feel unwell, but I chalked it up to needing to go to sleep. Little did I know how wrong I was. The next day would be much worse. To hear more tune to Grant's blog for Day 7: Mel's Memphean Malaise


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This page contains a single entry by published on June 23, 2005 7:23 AM.

Egypt Day 4: Sir, Yours is the Nicest Camel was the previous entry in this blog.

Egypt Day 8: All Aboard (The 80's Greek Love Boat) is the next entry in this blog.

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