We ended up having people over on Friday night for dinner! Faria and I made stir-fry, much to the confusion of several of the guys. Both Paul and Ibrahim were in charge of chopping vegetables, but since they didn’t know what stir-fry was, they had no concept of what was happening to their vegetables. Paul kept trying to get us to boil them. Neither of them could conceptualize that the sauce that we were using needed to be put in near the end, and that the chicken also could not be boiled for this. The fact that Faria and I weren’t cooking with a cookbook was making them both nervous. It wasn’t until the very end they were won over. I gave them each a bite, and they had the same reaction: “ahh.. wow, this is nice!” After that, neither of them tried changing our recipe, and, after dinner, they both asked how to make it again. We had our stir-fry over rice with some Egyptian wine. For desert, we had fruit and an Egyptian sweet (I’ll have to ask the name of it, because Ibrahim provided it, but it was very good).
Yesterday wasn’t very productive. We woke up late and didn’t get going anywhere until the afternoon. We ended up going to Zamalek, a nice neighborhood on the end of Gezira, the island in Cairo. Zamalek is known for being among the richest areas, so it is full of large parks and lots of trees along the roads. We walked along the eastern side of the island from Opera Metro station up to the third bridge.
We passed by the Opera House, Museum of Modern Art, and Cairo Tower. I could never have told this to any Egyptian, but Zamalek immediately reminded me of Tel Aviv (Israel). It was very, very European and many of the buildings were built in the 1950s. While the architecture was still Middle Eastern, it had a definite modern twist.
On the other side of the third bridge, there was a good pizza restaurant called Maison Thomas (Victor gave me a hard time for pronouncing this “Mason” Thomas… I thought it was a name, but, apparently, it’s a French word). It looked and felt like a place you would find in Paris or New York City, so we loved it even more. Sometimes, it’s nice just to go in somewhere and forget the fact that we’re in such a huge, crazy city like Cairo. (Did you know that Cairo takes up half the space of New York City, but has twice the number of people?). It was a pricey dinner by Cairo standards (I paid 6 dollars for my meal, what a shock!), but well worth it.
We went back to Maadi for the next couple of hours. Then, about 11 p.m., we took a bus to a place in Giza and had a midnight ride on horses in the desert next to the pyramids. It was my first time on a horse since I was really young, and it went pretty well. I was very nervous about it, because the last time I was on one, it rolled me off. It was really nice to see the pyramids at night, because, although they have no lights on them after 9:30 p.m., the moon and the lights of Cairo sort of illuminate them. Even from a distance, they are massive! Much, much bigger than the pyramids we saw in Saqqara or Dahshur. I’m excited to go see them up close and personal! By standing very, very still, I was able to get some nice pictures. The view was much nicer in person, though. It’s funny how your eyes can pick up on things that your camera sensor can’t!
We got home this morning and went straight to sleep.
I’m not sure what is going on today, because everyone else is still sleeping. I would like to go to Coptic Cairo, but I’m worried about running into Sunday mass. I hope that we are productive today, because I have less than two weeks left here! I don’t want to miss seeing any of the things on my list. Shubhi is leaving tomorrow, and she still hasn’t gone to the pyramids! I have everything scheduled into a calendar, though, so I’m going to make sure that it all gets done!