Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Other Girl: A Travel Journal Part VII: Cairo, Egypt

We're trying to to wrap up all The Other Girl fucking praise over here and get her travel journals posted so we can move on to other stuff, more interesting stuff, not stuff that dumb bitch wrote.  
We're gonna go skip around, and paint, and do whatever...

...haven't read Part 1 of The Other Girls/our travel journal?
Read it here:
...haven't read Part 2 of her/our travel journal?
...missed Part 3?
Read it here:
...didn't catch Part 4, the one we posted right before this one?

How about just some pictures from Germany without words (of course you'll miss out on all the photos included in the actual journal entries, but that's your choice) - Wanna see picture of Germany click here>>>> (<- there are pictures from the Medieval Torture Museum in Rothenberg, Germany!)

Of course we were in Amsterdam, Holland too...ya need to stop somewhere between Europe and No writing got done (lots of pot smoking though), a lot of photos got
Don't know who The Other Girl is? Read about her here:

Original blog post date: 11.09.09

Berlin to Munich, Germany: October 5 - 8, 2009

October 23rd - Friday 

I know I have skipped far ahead in my stories and I will, of course, back track with my following stories but for now I wanted to write about my experience today in Egypt. Having said that there is no way I can describe the experience I had today but I will try my best.
We arrived yesterday evening to fairly cool weather and after dropping our luggage off at [Significant Other]'s dads house we went to an authentic Egyptian restaurant and had an amazing meal, one I will describe in detail in another note. The cab ride there was a trip in a really old taxi at night navigating Cairo traffic listening to Arabic dance music bumping from the radio. Older vehicles here only occasionally use their car lights in traffic at night to conserve battery power. It was a pretty interesting evening and after dinner I tried Shisha, a tobacco product, from a hooka ( - very nice tasting a relaxing.
Today is the first day of the weekend and a holy day for Muslims (95% of the population), so this morning was very quiet as we headed to Cairo Tower to have a look at the city.
I don't know where to start...words escape me, adjectives run through my head. Words like overwhelming, intense, sad, filthy, alien, unsanitary, unbelievable and surreal.
The temperature today was on the cool side for Cairo, we just missed a heat wave last week of 38 C (approx. 106 F) so today's temperature of 28 C (approx. 96 F) was considered a very cool day. [Significant Other]'s dad said it was one of the coolest days since he got here at the end of August.
Cairo has a population of 20 million and is the most polluted city in the world, beating out LA and Mexico City. At the top of Cairo Tower today we were lucky to have a "clear" day for Cairo and we couldn't see the pyramids though we did see an outline of one.
Traffic here is disordered order, what works for the Egyptians would never work the same way in North America. We did see a couple of traffic lights today but they were continuously yellow and blinking. Crossing the street is some dangerous and bizarre game of Frogger, pedestrians have no rights and cars are not likely to stop. One ways turn into two ways with budges of other cars, every trip is constant near miss accidents, horns are honking all day and into the night as it is the way the vehicles communicate, instead of using blinkers and break lights. People on bikes are transporting everything from empty baskets, to food. Woman carry laundry on their head among the cars and pedestrians roam among the bumper cars of the moving traffic. Having said that the train system/subway seems incredibly efficient...
We also went to the market today, something I have seen on countless programs, movies and in books. It dates back to the 1400's and is gigantic. This is not a place for the faint of heart. It is not close to what they show you in books, tv and movies. I consider myself to be a pretty tolerant strong person but by the end of the it was too much. The people who work in the market are incredibly pushy, if you have ever shopped in Mexico I can honestly tell you they have nothing on the Egyptians. The pressure is so great that it makes you dizzy and by the end of the day incredibly annoyed. You can't sit and have tea or eat a meal (not that you would want to eat here...) without people approaching you trying to sell you everything from beaded headdresses to "Gucci" watches and Kleenex...yes, Kleenex. I have to say, if I don't bring you back a gift from Egypt at this point it is not because of a lack of wanting too. You can't look at anything without Egyptians hounding you. They even have men yelling and competing to get patrons for restaurants.
The men here are incredibly forward to the point that it is not flattering. They openly stare at you, which eventually makes you feel, for a lack of a better word, uncomfortable. They try to talk to you, touch you, wink at you, tell you they love's all too much. On the bus, walking around the street you can feel everyone staring at you.
We went to the spice market, which takes you through the areas where they sell food. It is a sanitation NIGHTMARE. Nothing is refrigerated, everything iis covered with flies, meat and animal parts (hooves, intestines, etc) are out in the heat with nothing covering them. Live chickens peck at corn while stary cats roam the streets looking for food (possibly one of the sadest parts). The smell is pungent and reminiscent of rotting fruit, rotting vegetables, rotting meat, animal feces and a whole other array of smells you have to experience to understand.
Food gets picked up directly from the ground and transported to restaurants and markets and then eaten. We observed this with pita bread today and later, when we attempted to eat at the market, we could not eat the bread. [Significant Other] was shocked because he considers himself an adventurous eater and he couldn't stomach more than a bite.
Having said that the Egyptian people themselves are clean, fairly well dressed (both traditionally and modernly), there is much Western influence, and it shows. They are technologically savvy with computers, cell phones, etc.; are very nice and friendly people and it is hard to understand with the advances they have why they choose not to regulate food more, or sanitation - the city is covered in garbage despite the fact that they DO have garbage service.
I know there are so many of you who said you were jealous about the Egyptian portion of my trip and all day I thought about you. I strongly think there are very VERY few people who walk away from this city in love with it. I feel fortunate that I get to experience this while at the same time I am very sad that the romanticism of Egypt has been stripped from my mind.
Tomorrow we head to Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea and I have a feeling I will enjoy it more and it will being back some of the images I have long held in my mind.
Needless to say today was a very overwhelming, sobering experience that even now as I re-read my story still does not bring to light the entire experience of my day.

Cairo Tower and Views:

Khan el Khalili Market in Cairo:

General Pictures From Cairo:

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