Zabbaleen, the Citadel, Al-Azhar park, clubbing
Cairo Travel Blog› entry 7 of 11 › view all entries
July 13th, 2006 – by: mchesus
as we drew closer to the outskirts, passing the city of the dead, our bus climbed a steep dirt road, and as the road leveled our bus got stuck on an uneven rocky area. we all hopped out and within minutes thirty egyptian men had surrounded our bus, doing their best to help. we were in the zabbaleen, a poorer district of cairo. after 30 minutes of pushing and no success we decided to walk the remaining distance to the NGO.
our reasons for visiting this distract became apparent as we walked through the narrow dirt streets. Garbage. it was everywhere, pilled hill and extremely odorous in the heat. the brick and cement buildings all had little shops below, some with shisa and some with skinned animals hanging from the ceiling, and outside of the butchers would be piles of garbages, glimmering in the intense heat.
we made it to the Association for the Protection of the Environment - which serves the families of Cairo's garbage collectors (zabaleen). the people of district collect one third of cairo's garbage, and then sort it. i read that 80-90% is later recycled or reused. some of the recyclable products are sent to the APE where a few hundred women, who would otherwise be unemployed, create beautiful new products such as quilts and paper.
it was really inspiring to see these women working so hard, and so appreciative of the work they can get. at the same time it was quite depressing. foreign companies are trying to monopolize the garbage collecting in cairo. they have offered the zabbaleen jobs, but they would end up making less. on their own garbage collectors make 10 pounds a day (2 dollars), but with a corporation they would make only 5 pounds (1 dollar) . this was explained by a father of 8, who finds $8/day a living wage.
after visitng the working women, we visited the preschool/kindergarten. the children were learning to read and write, but wer were able to distract them and play for some times.
we left the zabbaleen and headed to the citadel where we took in the gorgeous view of cairo and ate lunch. we headed to the immaculate al-azhar park, which i TOTALLY reccomend.it's an oasis in the hot, dirty (but amazing) city. it's not the largest cultural event, but it's a sight to be seen. we drank hibiscus juice in a cafe inside the park , and debriefed on our first few days . the view was INCREDIBLE.
we reutned to amideast, where an egyptian girl invited my roomate and myself to go dancing on the nile with her and her brother. we headed out to a restraunt thats second level was a club. not to my suprise it was many men and few women. the club played a mixture of american hip hop, techno, reggaeton, and salsa. as american girls we got a lot of attention, that was sometimes bad. it was loads of fun anyway. another long, but fun, day!!!
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