Doing the non-tourist thing in Egypt
Al Ashir min Ramadan or 10th of Ramadan in English, is a city about an hour outside of Cairo and is considered part of greater Cairo. It was founded in 1977 and is comprised mostly of high rise apartments and industrial complexes. My first few days in Egypt were spent in this city at a church conference center where I was honored to participate in Arab-led meetings.
I’m quite confident no tourists would go here for any reason.
I always enjoy a run through city streets to get the lay of the land when I travel to new places. I began along the dirt road that ran parallel to the main highway that headed towards downtown, passing piles of dirt and children walking to school and men and women heading to the workplace.
I got stares, but polite ones that weren’t at all like those in Malawi and Mozambique.
Surely I was a strange site, a foreigner running in shorts and a t-shirt holding a phone and small bottle of shampoo I picked up from a local grocery. I had hoped to land upon a quaint coffee shop in the early morning, but Egyptians, like much of the Middle East, are apparently night dwellers and not prone to early morning rising. The shops were not open, so back to the room I would go Starbucks Via packet at the ready if I chose not to go with local Nescafe packets.
Our meetings went very well. It was great to meet Arabs with whom I had been emailing but had never met face to face; hard-working people of experience intent on making the world a better place throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It was also a special opportunity to sit under the wisdom and experience of Arabs when I am used to being part of the very vocal dominant culture full of our own opinions.
This time it was me who was wearing a translation device so I could follow along with the discussions. I’ve already purchased a 2-year subscription to Arabic, Rosetta Stone.