The trip was educational both professionally and in the way it opened my eyes to how culturally removed Cairo and Alexandria are from the rest of the country. Cairo is so crowded and overwhelming that one often forgets that its residents, and its commuters, are in fact a minority of the larger Egyptian population. I'm among those who complain about the enforced social conservatism of Cairo, and, like most, I usually attribute it to religion. I had forgotten all about straight up traditionalism. I guess that's easy to do in an enormous, mostly Muslim city setting. The following is an email I sent to some friends mid-way through the trip, pointing out various things I had learned about the s3eed by that point :
I did indeed make it to Kalbaz, and it proved to be the cheesy, brightly colored, lard-smelling, flourescently lit place I had imagined. Other highlights of the trip included:
- Walking through a village and hearing about how they had to enlarge the police presence after a case of taar (revenge killings) left 3 people dead a few months ago.
- Quickly realizing that unless you specify otherwise, any cup of tea that is given to you will be unbelievably sweet, and dark to the point where it looks thick. It makes Lipton seem like some sort of baby-faced pre-pubescant whose voice hasn't yet cracked.