Cairo has this uncanny way of pretending you never left it. Apart from the jet lag, I powered through the week with the notion that I’d done the same thing the week before.
On Sunday (or Monday), our bus was stopped on the ring road during the afternoon commute to clear a major roadway for a motorcade: Mubarak’s sons were en route to a trial. We eagerly awaited the procession, noting the scores of other cars and vehicles passing along the road. When the motorcade finally came into view, I’m not sure which was more surprising: the armed vehicle or the police car.
The week passed uneventfully. Susannah and I joined the gym down the street, which is equipped with a few sturdy exercise machines, a sauna, a steam room, and a jacuzzi. It’s also a women’s only facility, so you won’t find any beefed up guys growling at you from their bench press. Luckily, the gym is literally just around the corner from our apartment. Even more luckily, the street it’s on is studded with photo-worthy landmarks, like this gem:
Speaking of streets, halfway through Monday’s commute, while we all sat quietly listening to music, our boss suddenly turned to us and said, “Oh hey, I saw a notice at the Ace Club…be careful of poisoned dogs.” After removing our headphones and asking for clarification, he said, “They’re poisoning the dogs tonight. So you might see some dead dogs in the street tomorrow.” Again, I’m not sure which is more jarring. It’s not unusual for people – I have no idea who – to strategically place meat laced with strychnine on street corners for unsuspecting baladi dogs. I’ve never seen this happen, but I’ve read about it. Baladi dogs are very common all around Cairo; they’re wild, tough, and mangy. I’ve been told they chase you when you run (and I may find out on Monday), and I’ve had many a trip to the grocery store ruined by packs of them crowding around my heels. We were a bit skeptical of this plan to clean the streets, but Tuesday came along and not a dog was in sight. By Thursday, however, some surviving stragglers turned up around trash cans. It was not unlike a scene out of 28 Days Later. Still, I wonder who was responsible for this and when they came. It’s hard to imagine an organized group of Egyptians rounding up street dogs in the cover of night and having the streets cleared by morning. Simon suggested they dangled meat out the back of a van and herded them in. I suppose that’s the story we’ll go with.
In other news, in accordance with my resolution to take more pictures, I’ve started a blipfoto account here: http://blipfoto.com/nicx86. Blipfoto is a website where you can upload a picture each day and write a little blurb about it. What’s cool about the site is they don’t allow you to upload any old pictures; it checks the camera data to ensure the photo was taken on the day you’re uploading it. I like this because it forces me to take pictures every day and to upload them. Sometimes it’s easier to see a place through photos rather than words. Unfortunately, I can’t upload some of the shots I got from my commute this week, so here they are:
It took a lot of energy for me to fish through my bag and retrieve my camera for this shot. And of course, it looked so much cooler from my perspective.
Contrary to popular belief – including my own – it gets cold in Cairo. And because it’s generally scorching the rest of the year, the buildings are designed to keep heat out and stay cool. Susannah and I bought this space heater, which heats anything within a foot of it.
Anna and I went to a nice little cafe down the street from my apartment the other night. We were the only westerners in the place; everyone else was Egyptian. It was one of those times when we felt totally in Egypt. We hang out with expats and go to places that expats go, so it’s nice to sometimes get away from that and hang out in a more authentic place.
Now to look up travel possibilities for the end of January.