copy Excellent Adventures in Egypt

Enter here to share Joni's adventures living and working in Cairo courtesy of the U.S. Fulbright cultural exchange program. Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of our civilization. - Mahatma Ghandi


Greetings from murky Cairo. I’m perched at the dining room table looking out over the balcony at the lovely east-side view from Mary Megalli’s Garden City Flat. So far the elevator has not eaten me, the washing machine has not held me hostage, and the Masri door has not swung shut against my too-small tush. It’s been a rather dull existence so far - the only calamity occurred on the trip over when a baggage cart collided with my plane in London - the plane survived, I think the cart is on life support.  Posted by Hello

It’s a typical Cairo scene: sunshades for livestock and people on those breathless August nights, satellite dishes to keep in touch with the (Arab) world, and piles of “stuff” that will certainly be useful someday…all covered in the same thick layer of dust you can see in the air. It's khamseen season here, when the winds blow cold from the north carrying tons of sand in their wake. Some mornings are so murky you can hardly see down the block - fortunately, I haven't been yet treated to the full scale sandstorms that are a feature of the khamseen.  Posted by Hello

Mary Megalli's flat. Posted by Hello

The not at all scary washer. It even comes with an instruction book - how boring.  Posted by Hello

The oh-so-amazing kitchen. Posted by Hello

Reception room, looking into the large study cum extra bedroom. Posted by Hello

Sitting room. Posted by Hello

The small study. Posted by Hello

One of the joys of staying in this flat are all the little treasures Mary has collected in 30 years of living here. Bronze casket and mashrabeya screen.  Posted by Hello

Bedouin basket.  Posted by Hello

Geologic treasures from the Sinai & western desert.  Posted by Hello

West side view - not very different from the east side view. The Nile is only about ½ mile away over those rooftops. When the family first moved to this flat in the 60s, this west-side balcony overlooked an extensive complex of gardens and orchards stretching all the way to an unobstructed view of the Nile’s banks. Fortunately, there is still quite a bit of bird life here (not to mention 4 species of bats) - the usual list of European house sparrows, Palm doves and pigeons, supplemented by small falcons, owls and the Senegal Thick Knee, whose acquaintance I made just last week. It’s a wading bird, cousin to Stone Curlew, which lives along river’s edge and the rooftops of Garden City whooping a sad and eerie cry.  Posted by Hello

Down the very scary elevator. I have heard way too many stories from Fulbright colleagues about getting trapped in their elevators…and having to be tugged out through a 10” foot space between the elevator’s top and the floor above. En shah’ allah, not me!  Posted by Hello

Out the front door. Posted by Hello

Down the street. Posted by Hello

Around the corner. Posted by Hello

Garden City used to be an upper class European district - lots of glorious old decaying pasha villas, now converted into falts. Today it's a mix of commercial uses, embassies and middle class housing. Posted by Hello

Neighborhood flats. Posted by Hello

The very busy Kasr el Einy, a major commercial thorough fare just two blocks form the flat. Posted by Hello

Gas in Egypt costs about 60 cents a gallon - no wonder they drive everywhere! Posted by Hello

You can grab breakfast on your way into work. Posted by Hello

This truck's owner did not want me to take pictures because selling vegetables on the street is illegal - albeit commonplace all over Cairo. Posted by Hello

Near the Saad Zaghloul Metro station. Posted by Hello

The Metro higab blur. Posted by Hello

Just 2 days after I arrived, I had the opportunity to participate in a community cleanup event at Wadi Degla, the lovely little protected area that lies just outside Cairo. There is a dump (not landfill: read dump) about 1 mile away from Degla and the fierce winds are constantly blowing garbage into the wadi. Plastic bags are a special menace since they get caught on the spines of the tamarisks and can strangle the trees by cutting off sunlight. I met up with one of the Shoprite crews (one of the local grocery chains) in Maadi at 10 am… which inevitably became 11am, this being Egypt…when we clambered into a van for a trip to the wadi along the brand new Ein Sukhna. We hung out at the top for while getting organized, then trudged down into the wadi for the mission.  Posted by Hello