Camel Market, Nile River, and Mosques

Trip Start Feb 10, 2005
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Trip End Jan 05, 2006


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Flag of Egypt  ,
Friday, April 22, 2005

About 30 minutes outside Cairo was our first visit of the day, a camel market. And I don't mean a tourist trap with buses pulling up, I mean "step in camel dung" and "brush off the flies."

We only walked a few feet in into the market and a teenage boy came up to Irene and asked me to take their picture. Irene happily oblidged, but a policeman came running out and threatened to boy with a whipping cane. It seems, he wasn't supposed to touch a woman. Notice the hand on her forbidden shoulder in the pic.

The camel market was pretty stinky, cuz you know, they're animals. After walking the market for about 15 minutes, we were invited for tea, which we accepted; but the it was constant work keeping the flies off us.

To and from the camel market we got to see the "other" side of Cairo. So rather than the overpopulated dirty city, we got to see the overpopulated dirty country side. Ok that sounds really politically incorrect; but there we saw real poverty. Real mud huts. It certainly made us appreciate the good fortune we have to call Canada at home. Through it all though, there were still a lot of smiling faces. Be happy with what you have and where you are. You only have one life to live!

Our driver then took us to a boat for a cruise on the Nile River. It was about as wide as the Fraser River and just about as murky. The Nile is much more polluted of course. In the country there are even crocodiles in it, but it is doubtful they would get this close to the pollution,...errr.. I mean city.

Our next stop was the Citadel in Cairo. All tourist places have police and military around them because of Islamic fundamentalists and the bombing a couple weeks ago. They routinely inspect cars and require you to step through metal detectors. They also carry machine guns.

They stopped our car and took a good look at me. At the time i was wearing my hutta, which is the red and white Jordanian head cover that you have probably noticed me wearing in other pictures. It is actually quite comfortable and effective in keeping the sun off my cue ball head. The soldier asks to see my passport (and nobody elses). I only travel locally with a photocopy; the original is back in the hotel safe. He wasn't too impressed by the photocopy and motions for my napsack. I start to get out of the car to pass him the bag and he sternly motions STAY PUT.

I give him the bag and he starts to rummage through it. Then he begins to laugh, hands the bag back to me, says something in Arabic to the drive and we are on our way. The driver told me that because of my hutta and facial hair, he thought I was a Moslem. When he discovered a BEER in my bag, he realized I was, in fact, a Canadian! (Moslems don't drink alcohol.) Thank god for beer!

We visited our very first mosque on the citadel. I was impressed how brave Irene was. She put on a cloak and came on in! A full day....but more to come tomorrow...
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