how to run outdoors in cairo

Last night marked the start of our first official weekend here in Cairo. Last weekend was filled with school work at the school, and previous weekends of jetlag and marathon shopping for our apartments don’t count as weekends in my book. This one, so far, certainly counts.

Around 8 last night, Ashley and I headed over to Valiha’s house where we talked about artwork, traveling, and Argentina (Valiha was there all summer, too). We then headed over to another house, met up with some people from Valiha’s school who are doing the Pharaonic Race in November, and I managed to get onto one of their teams. We spent the night at a party two places down from my apartment in a flat that looked like a palace. If our apartment looks like a palace, then theirs looks like paradise. We spent the evening mingling on the massive balcony overlooking the smoggy streets and blinking lights of Cairo, and I rolled in around two in the morning.

Somehow, I awoke around 6:30 to a blip from my cell, and found a message from Judson asking if I was still down for a run. I debated heavily, but it’s hard to resist when a) it’s an outdoor run and b) your text message reads “get your ass out of bed.” So I went.

We ran at this place called Wadi, which is apparently Arabic for a dried up riverbed. The ol’ dusty trail, pitted here and there with rocks and stones, snaked through canyons into some invisible vanishing point ahead, and the only time I’ve ever found the world so silent was when I hung suspended in zero gravity during our skydive. We chatted and logged 5k, I think, and then hopped in a van and headed out to New Cairo to register for a touch rugby league with Simon, a snarky Irishman I met at the party last night who’s a friend of Judson’s.

We registered and played a game of touch, which revealed the extent of my ability to play rugby. I somehow landed on the ground twice, trampled by some massive Brit and a sprightly little fellow who darted about the field untouched, a little cleat-wearing leprechaun. I managed to tag him a few times, but this was after he’d impaled the top of my foot with his studs as Simon called them.

After sweating profusely beneath a mid-morning Cairo sun, we went for a swim. I do not have a bathing suit still, so I enjoyed the comfort of cold water in my running shorts and t-shirt. We lazed around all morning until 12:30, when Simon and I headed to the Carrefour (which is like a Wal*Mart) to buy some household necessities. Simon is an asset to have while shopping. He scored us some free food and, always innovative, managed to locate the mop and bucket aisle by drawing a neat picture and showing the nearest employee. He disregards rules that he feels might be a hindrance to him and has something witty to say – in a brogue – about most things. I practiced my Irish accent with him and exchanged basic greetings. We both noticed that Gaelic and Arabic have many similarities – him more than me, obviously – and then parted ways.

Tonight I am faced with a decision I did not think I would have to make at all here: where to go out tonight? Instead of having one option, I have two, each with equally amazing people. So for the first time in Egypt, I’ll be attending two “Welcome Back” parties at the expat clubs tonight, inshallah, and enjoying every minute this weekend has to offer.

PS – It’s still sort of unfathomable to me that while you’re all starting your day, I’m reflecting on my own and getting stoked to start the night. Weird!

Categories: Egypt

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