I have returned. Really. I've just been tragically sick for the past 8 days. The proverbial Mack truck ran over me, then backed up and ran over me again. Fortunately, the flu symptoms have gone - the fever, the chills, the incredible achey-ness, the sore throat - and now I'm mostly just a disgusting mucus monster with my head and lungs full of revolting gunk. Attractive, no?
But since I know you are just dying to see some pictures from our recent trip to Egypt and Jordan, I will oblige and post some for your viewing pleasure...right now. Well, in a minute...
We left JFK around 12:30 am, so the 12.5 hour flight to Amman was spent mostly in fitful, cramped slumber. From Amman we boarded a quick 1.5 hour flight to Cairo and arrived in the North African city of 22 million late in the evening. After what seemed like days of flights, we were taken directly to our hotel in downtown Cairo overlooking the Nile.
Our arrival coincided with the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the Muslim feast. So, everyone was off of work and school and delighted not to be fasting anymore. The city was electrified and buzzing with holiday glee.
Cairo is an odd mixture of old and new. You sort of expect an environment of revered antiquity, heavy with the weight of history. Instead, you are greeted with a noisy, neon celebration. The vehicular traffic is insane. It is joyous and unbelievable. There are no traffic lights, no traffic signs, no traffic cops, and seemingly no traffic laws. It is a complete and total free-for-all...and amazingly, it works. Mohep, our Egyptian guide, told us that in order to drive successfully in Cairo one must have good brakes, good horn, and good luck!
That first night, we just stood out on our 9th floor balcony, weary and dazed from travel, watching the traffic and wincing everytime it seemed death or grave injury was inevitable. Incredibly, we witnessed no accidents or pedestrian injuries.
The honking never stops. It's a constant symphony of every imaginable decible and intonation of a car horn. A language unto itself that is neither hostile nor aggressive but light hearted and even friendly. Mixed in with the traffic cacophony are the human sounds, the whistling, the laughter, the shouting. Cairo seems to be a nocturnal city and people fill the streets, the sidewalks, the bridges, and the waterfront each and every night. Up and down the Nile are flashing neon pleasure boats blasting music and skimming along the water with their passengers. Hovering above all this happy chaos is a night sky filled with glowing billboards.
And thus, we were introduced to Cairo.