Kickin’ it in Cairo

Posted by sue on January 15th, 2007

We’re in a strange limbo period right now, staying in a modest hotel in Zamalek, which is probably the nicest and most European-feeling part of central Cairo, just walking around and studying in cafes. Today we begin in earnest the search for language programs and neighborhoods we feel that we could be happy living in, which is a rather daunting prospect, because Cairo is a VERY big city, and the various language institutes are all over the place.

So far it strikes us that Egyptians are more gregariously friendly than Moroccans, which takes us aback a little, because in Morocco you generally ignored people who came up to you, speaking English, asking you where you’re from, because they were invariably hustlers of some kind. In Egypt, such people might just being friendly, so you want to be friendly back, though still a bit on guard against “touts,” people being nice just to get you to come to their perfume shop or sell you a tour or something. (None of which is dangerous, of course, just a bit annoying.)

In Middle Eastern countries it’s hard to be the kind of traveler I am, one who likes to read maps and guidebooks and then find my way around on my own, seeing what there is to see without having too strict of an itinerary, because it seems like every time I stop and look at something, or stop to consider which way to turn next, someone invariably asks what I’m looking for or if I need help. It’s charming at first, but after a while I just want to snap at people to give me a minute, already! I don’t, though—I’m getting used to it, and once we’re settled and I have classes to go to I’ll develop that “I have a purpose” look in my eye to replace the “clueless tourist” look.

3 Responses to “Kickin’ it in Cairo”

  1. Daniel Says:

    Hey Sue,

    Its nice that you have some time for more analysis. I like reading it. That look in your eye you expect to get when you have a purpose is an interesting idea. I think, though, that there is really something to that. When someone seems purposeful, or at least not slowing down and looking like they are considering, people generaly let them be. This may be true of many cultures. So, is your purpose then to be come Teacher proficient in Arabic, or to learn enough Arabic to teach English to people who speak Arabic? Any more “purposes” bubbling up to the top of your subconscious?

  2. Cat Says:

    hey. i just emailed u then decided to check ur site. but i felt like the street hustling was worse in cairo cuz in morocco they get to the point that they want something from u first so they are easier to brush off. in cairo they pretend like they want to be ur friend and if u brush them off they take huge offence and get angry. it takes them like 10 minutes of convorsation to get to the hustling. lol. anyways, i am sure you guys will like cairo a lot better than fez. i hear damascus is also a real city and i think i will be happier there too. though i will miss some things about fez. later

  3. richard Says:

    < a href = “ trellises@coiled.pretexts“>.< / a >…


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