I read a book written in French, Poil de Cairote, and that is exactly how I felt in Egypt!
My 1st trip to Cairo was in February 2004 and that was an experience. I was studing Arabic at the time and we had decided all together to arrange a trip and put in practice our learnings. I arranged the flights with Alitalia, and there we go !
I left 2 days earlier with Sacha to visit friends and arrange the last details.
Mohamed, our teacher, had been looking for an appartment to rent for a week, he arranged the price and, when I arrived, I started to clean it, hunt the various insects around, fix the fridge, and make the beds because, for some reason, they all had one linen and a blankett but no sheet in between. We had 2 flats on 2 floors for 14 persons. Totti and Makiko had gone along with us, it was a multicultural trip, one Japanese from Osaka, one Chilean from Santiago, 2 Egyptians from Beni Suef, and 10 French!
1st day : arrival at 3.00 in the morning, then, Wahid, a friend of a friend, came to pick me up in the morning to show me his work in poor areas of town as a doctor. Sacha left by bus to Beni Suef with Mohamed. I went to Shobra, Imbaba and Moqqatam. Moqqatam was impressing by its extreme poverty, rats, dirty kids, smell, I visited a room where ladies were making tee shirts and shirts, and saw many people recycling boxes and any kind of rubish
Imbaba, 1st impression, I thought, this is it, this is where they shoot those reports on islamists, there were hijab shops everywhere, men in black, women covered in black, I was definitely not at my place even though I was decently dressed.
We visited ladies that were baking aich (bread) and they were breeding rabbits in the bedroom. It was a shock, I remember the traffic in the narrow streets, my face when I saw a bus coming opposite way in this little lane.
It was hard to discover how those people live but instructive and I often think about it, especially those days when I see people fighting for rice.
Back to Iran Street. The next day, I finally manage to reach Gamal on the phone, he is in Tunisia for another day but sends me his wife Shaheera. Between my broken Arabic, and her little English, without knowing each other, we spent a great day together, walking around Cairo, visiting Al Azhar (I love this place), khan el khalili, she drives like crazy in town, the kids sing behind!!! it is so funny
Have ou ever drunk Kuka kula or bebsi kula? shopped in a Karéfoor? a must!