First of all, I apologize for the post-drought recently, but I will remind you that I never promised to be consistent, or prolific. Second, thank you for the birthday wishes - I spent a lovely day relaxing, going to the local Episcopal Church (a little conservative for my tastes, but we'll see how walking distance competes with potentially more stomachable ideology at another congregation in Maadi), getting lost, and eating Chinese food. That last part wasn't what we originally intended, but on Fridays, basically everything local is closed down, especially during Ramadan.
Anyway, now on to the reason I have such a huge group of readers (seven followers - I'm touched): the thrilling content.
Last week, the Residential Life office organized several trips to keep students occupied in the evenings, and to make up for the very painful process of registration/orientation, which I will relate when I talk about my first impressions of class. I ended up going on three of these adventures, with varying degrees of satisfaction and success.
On Monday night, I went on a Nile Cruise, which was by far my favorite of the three. We arrived at the floating restaurant, and we were sent up to the top deck to watch the sun set.
This was ostensibly because Iftar (the meal breaking the Ramadan fast) can not begin until after sundown, but also, I imagine, because the views across the Nile are surprisingly beautiful, given that what you're looking at is a skyline dominated by billboards and chunky buildings, some of which are in serious disrepair, and a sun dyed red because of the massive pollution over the city.
These pictures doesn't do the beauty or the color justice, but they give you a sense of what we were seeing. Anyway, I sat with another Bryn Mawr girl, her roommate, and several other students from Zamalek. Our group was by far the largest, but there were also several families who joined us downstairs for dinner and another set of people who appeared to just be along for the ride on the top deck.
We had chicken (a quarter chicken each - huge!), cinnamon-laced rice, kuba (a sausage), and various condiments. We also had some pretty delicious desserts, all of which were soaked in syrup or honey, just to make them extra-sugary.
On Tuesday, we went 'horseback riding near the Pyramids' which was a fairly accurate description, in all the disappointing senses. Now, to say that the trip was a total failure would be quite an exaggeration, but it was far less exciting than I hoped it would be. We were several kilometers from the pyramids, and we were loaded on horses, dragged by small children through a village and up a very steep, very sandy hill, and given a few minutes to look at three pyramids in the distance, lit by colored lights, and generally impressive against the night sky. It was so dark, though, that no pictures were salvageable, but I suppose the upshot of this trip is that I've learned two things. First, the pyramids are a fifteen minute cab ride from my room, and second, those things which are overly touristy are best done in small groups.
On Wednesday, because I hadn't been out enough in the last few days, we went to what was advertised as a 'Bedouin Night with Sohour' which I think most people took to mean 'hanging out with some Bedouins who do a vaguely touristy thing on a regular basis and eating some new food late at night' but actually meant 'listen to late ninties pop and techno music while eating rice and chicken, then watch people dressed in carnival-like costumes frolic.'
Of course, there were other elements to the show, including a 'dancing horse' which was the most scared/abused looking animal I have ever seen, and some traditional dancers on stilts, and a whole slew of Sufi dancers often called dervishes, all of whom were moving too quickly to get reasonable pictures, so I promise to borrow some from other people in the near future to show you.
In the next few days, I have classes, and then Eid break from the ninth through the twelfth of September. It looks like we'll be going to Alexandria, but I promise to let you know where/when I'll be as soon as I know, so that you can worry about me.
I know this has been a long, somewhat vague post, so leave any questions/follow up that you might have in the comments.