Oct. 23rd, 2007 – Groppi Café

Cairo Travel Blog

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I’m sitting at the Groppi Café, doing my Arabic homework and writing in my journal. I like this place. It is sparse and offers meat, chicken and cheese sandwiches (nothing flashy, just cheese and bread, no condiments; or just the meat and bread). They also serve an assortment of cookies, tea and coffee. But I like it because it’s the closest thing I have seen to Starbucks, where I usually go for coffee and writing in LA. At least Groppi is clean, it has large tables and a functioning air conditioner.

I’ve been here less than a week and already have developed a love-hate relationship with Cairo. At times I am so ready to leave, and at other times the thought of leaving makes me sad. The air pollution, traffic, bad hotels, poverty, the sadness on so many faces, the desperation, are all getting to me. I want to rescue everybody, which I know is impossible and not my job anyway. I do believe everyone has their journey and will ultimately be okay. With that said, I am helping one new friend create a website and another to develop an Arabic 101 downloadable class to sell on my website so she can make extra cash.

There is so much to see and do here, I feel I have just touched the surface. I haven’t even seen the Pyramids yet. My few days here have consisted mainly of getting settled in and dealing with challenge after challenge.

I asked my Arabic teacher why she wears a head scarf. Do her parents make her wear it or is it her free choice? She says that two years ago, before Ramadan (the holy month), she was staring at the sky to see if Ramadan would start tomorrow or the next day (it depends on what the moon does). If it started tomorrow she wouldn’t wear a scarf and if it started the following day, she would. Needless to say, it started two days later, and since then she has been wearing a scarf and will for the rest of her life, she says. An interesting combination of free will and destiny.

She also says she enjoys wearing a scarf because she has long silky black hair that moves when she walks, and she did not want to be hit on by men anymore. She said men didn’t respect her and whistled at her and that made her feel uncomfortable. She felt that if she wanted respect, she needed to start by respecting herself.

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photo by: vulindlela