The Mom in Cairo

Following our successful cat-transport adventures, Mom and I settled in at home where Ron was waiting for us. We had intentions of going out and “doing the town” our first day, but as is typical, the jetlag had other ideas. I was up from 2:30 to 11:00am, then finally back to sleep to awake at 3:30pm and Mom had similar experiences. We did manage to finally leave the apartment when we picked up Ron at the embassy, along with packages from Uncle Amazon, so Mom was at least able to feel the grit of Cairo air on her face.

Upon waking that first day, Mom stood at our living room window staring out at the small street behind us, the guard shacks, and the enormous dilapidated house across the way surrounded by piles of dust-covered rubble. Her observation, “It looks Biblical,” gave me new insight. I thought it was just dusty.

But then again, there are some sights around that definitely have a “Biblical” feel (if I can claim that), and with Mom saying, “He looks Biblical,” and “That looks Biblical” throughout her visit, they quickly became all the more apparent.

Our second day, we still didn’t sleep well, but I did drag Mom into the embassy for my morning Arabic class. Again, our intentions were to wander afterwards, but a clogged drain and impending rendesvous with an embassy plumber altered those plans, so we walked home. Along the way we had two “offers” to help us cross the street. One was extremely persistent, even following us into the Opera House complex where we inquired about tickets for a ballet. I was pleased that I had to use rudimentary Arabic to learn that the ticket machine was down and we’d have to return later. As we exited the complex Mom pointed out the same man hanging out near the entrance. As we passed he started chatting again, and I brushed him aside and said, “Sakna hena.” (I live here.) His response, “Aw, just smile for me,” set my teeth on edge and my finger itchin’ fer a trigger. I fail to see why strange men around the globe mistakenly think this is charming. I see it as the pedophile’s phrase of choice.

After we ditched him, we continued our walk without any further “aid.” Mom did manage to utter at least two “Why-Would-They?” phrases throughout the day, which goes to show that even the slightest interaction with Cairo cannot be done without such observations. As with all guests, we explain the rules of the “WWT” game and will not stand for any attempts to slip by with a “I find it interesting when…” or “Isn’t it funny that…” Those count too. The more points you accrue, the more you have to pay up. It’s very difficult NOT to play though, as Cairo routinely offers so many examples of WWTs. It’s a game of Diplomatic tongue-holding.

The plumber arrived eventually, declogged the sink and attempted to show me what he extracted while I tried not to flinch or vomit (drains and dead band-aids make me run for the hills, give me a pile of cat poop or an autopsy any day). Mom and I then succumbed to the power of the “Cairo nap” which takes on an other-worldly depth. We did manage to awake for dinner at Kababgy with Ron and our friend Ben. We ate wonderful Egyptian food and drank Egyptian beer (Stella Gold and Sakara are the two main brands), while dining outside at the southern tip of Zamalek island looking out onto the Nile and the city lights around us. If you ignore the debris floating in the water, it really is quite beautiful.