Cairo is known as “Um al-dunia” – mother of the world. It’s not hard to realize why. Cairenes inhabit a space present in millennia of literature. They live amongst the pyramids, the only remaining ancient wonder of the world. Glorious empires sustained themselves on the riches of the fertile Nile valley, a sliver of abundance on a map of hostile sand. Cairo served as a metropolis of learning and culture, the seat of empires, and today, is home for anywhere from 20 to 30 million people, depending on who you ask, depending on the time of day. I’ve heard 5 million people enter each day as they commute to work.
The city doesn’t sleep. While there, we got swallowed up in the excitement, and often crashed well after the sun had risen. When crossing the road, I can’t tell if it’s better to do so with your eyes open or closed. You literally have to walk into oncoming traffic if you ever hope to cross. The pedestrian crossing lights show a little green man running for his life. Amazingly enough, Cairo has a metro system. You need to position yourself in the middle of a wave of people, and shove your way onto the car. The smog is so thick it soon forms a blanket on your tongue.
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Tagged Arabic, Cairo, Egypt, Fire, Fulbright, Giza, Hatshepsut, Karnak, Middle East, Pyramids, Student, Sunset, Temple, Travel, World Heritage Site
Behind us lay labyrinthine, garbage-strewn alleys through which we had just maneuvered the beasts. Ahead of us, the the flickering lights of a bonfire, the desert’s own lighthouse. And to either sides, no one knew.
“Don’t worry, Cate,” I offered to she who had just observed that falling off the horse would ensure certain death by trampling, “if your horse took off into that dark unknown,” I pointed off to my left, “I’ll chase after you. I was a horseman last summer, don’t forget.”
The horse was so enthusiastic, my saddle so improperly fitted (my knees sometimes bumped into my chest), and I’m such an amateur that I rubbed part of my ass raw riding to The Pyramids at 4am that one fateful morning. Then again, a horsewoman at Yellowstone told me once, “If yer not bleedin’, yer not ridin’ hard enuf.”
Sarah’s mom actually warned Cate against this. “Sarah’s going to try to get you to ride horses to the pyramids late one night.” As if it’s something we had to be persuaded to do, something to avoid?