Cairo notes: from the rooftops

I’m reluctant to start posting, given that my husband hasn’t uploaded any of the illustrious photos he’s been snapping at every second.

But I can’t resist.

There’s too much to tell.  From the haunting, piercing call to prayer that rings out through the dusty alleyways, the taxi rides through the crowded streets, the echoes, the shadows, the beauty of the mosques, and all the street food, bloody sides of meet hanging in the shops, pigeons circling, and peddlers rushing through the streets on donkeys that come with that whole crowded city-territory.

Before we touched down, my husband and I mused that Cairo may be the biggest city we’ve ever visited (apart from Shanghai, that is).  With approximately 14.5 million people, Cairo ranks number 15 among the world’s most populated cities, and friends tell me that estimate might be seriously remiss.

From the tops of the minarets in Islamic Cairo the other day, we peeked in upon the way some of those 14.5 million live, raising pigeons on the rooftops, taking advantage of that extra space for social gathering, gathering garbage, or raising one’s goats.

Sampling the tamia and falafal outside the old city gates, we saw a man skillfully cup the mint-colored paste into is hand and plop it into the wok filled with oil.  Within an old mosque and beside a tomb, we heard a caliph sing praises to Allah.  And we sat in a smoky tea house by the road, where robed men watched the crowds rush by, geese clucked and cats meandered, and we took in sweet peach and cantalope-flavoured gulps of shisha.

It’s altogether another world.  

So far we’ve been in the ancient churches in Coptic Cairo, the old mosques in Islamic Cairo, and gathered for steaks and scripture with the expat community here at the local Episcopalian Church.  Later this week we’ll try to make it to our second of the seven wonders of the new world–those iconic pyramids.

But for now I’m enjoying a cup of tea and the view of Cairo’s rooftops from my friends’ apartment on a quiet day on which a sandstorm approaches, as well as the anniversary of their modern day revolution.

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