Oct. 17th, 2007 – Presidents Hotel – Restaurant 7am

Cairo Travel Blog

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I wake up with a stiff back from a very lumpy, worn out mattress, but for some reason I have slept like a baby. No interruptions. I had put my head to the pillow and was out until 4am. I meditate in bed for a while and then write in my journal. I pull on my jeans and a long-sleeve, loose top and a saffron colored shawl (to respect the modesty of the local culture). Soon I’m at breakfast enjoying “fuul” (mashed beans), one of their main dishes here, goat cheese and day-old bread. I wash it all down with warm black coffee while I listen to the melodic “call to prayer” that happens five times a day, and watch flocks of birds swirl through the hazy, drizzling gray sky above the hotels and apartment buildings with their filthy rooftops cluttered with satellite dishes, wood, metal, and garbage. (I am told that the rooftops in this area are home to many squatters, which explains the large black trash bags and other odd things that clutter them).

I move my chair closer to a large open window to breathe in the fresh air that last night’s long rain has bequeathed us. I am the only guest here, except for an elderly New Zealand woman. I engage her with a warm smile and she returns a “sabah al-khair” (good morning), then walks over to me. She is wearing an all-white outfit – nurse-type pants and a loose fitting, long-sleeve top.

I ask her if she is traveling alone. “God no. Not in Egypt! Or anywhere. It’s too dangerous. Besides the danger, I wouldn’t know where to go or what to do.”

“I understand.”

“I’m traveling with an Australian/New Zealand tour group. But there is one woman in our group who is 74 years old and she travels alone all the time to foreign places and teaches English. Could you imagine doing that? Especially in a Muslim culture?”

I smile. “I would like to meet her.” It makes me think about my future, because I always feel like I have to travel now before it’s too late — before it becomes really difficult to leave the States with the ever-increasing travel restrictions, and before old age sets in and it simply gets too tiring to leave home and deal with all the challenges. But here is a woman who doesn’t seem to let those things stop her. It’s encouraging.

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photo by: vulindlela