Nov. 2, 2007 – Hotel Cosmopolitan – Midnight

Egypt Travel Blog

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Today I went to the Cemetery of the Dead, which oddly enough has become home to thousands of very much alive locals. They are a mix of low income families and the homeless who first took up residency here more than five centuries ago. It is also a place many families choose to live so they can be close to their dead relatives’ graves. My friend Amuda and his friend Mahmood (an archeologist and a tour guide for the cemetery) gave me a full-day tour, which included everything from a visit to the royal tombs to tea with some of the families who live there. I enjoyed talking the locals and trying to understand them and their mentalities. All of them are extremely religious and have many children (which of course is not unique to this area but true of the poor globally).
The poor look to God/Allah for inner peace and support in dealing with the harsh experiences life throws their way. I found the community at this cemetery to be one of the poorest I have ever visited, and yet their attitudes were very positive.

I asked some of the locals questions such as what they would like to change about their lives, if they had one wish what would it be, how did they imagine the afterlife, had they ever really been in love and if so, to tell me their love story, and so on. The overall responses were that they felt very lucky in their lives and that Allah has blessed them with much love. They didn’t have money but they had family and close friends, and a huge support group among their neighbors in the cemetery. They had enough food to eat, albeit simple (beans, rice, water and tea are their staples). When they finished expressing themselves they would kiss their palms, then the backs of their hands, and then their palms again while saying insha’allah, meaning God willing they would continue to have a good life.

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