My gosh this has been a long day! Hope you're still with me!
After we got back from the museum, I went on a water run. At the end of the orientation talk, we had received the Great Water Secret. It seems that if you drink the hotel minibar water, they charge you £12 - about $2.75 - a bottle. However, if you go through the entire hotel and out the back door at the far side of the other tower, and then go out the gate and cross the street, there's a little dude in a 4-foot square kiosk who will sell you two HUGE bottles of water for a dollar. You have to kind of smuggle them back through the hotel, but it's worth it!
Changed for dinner, then headed back downstairs to hear a talk by an American expat who's been living in Cairo for 15 years and has an Egyptian husband and six Egyptian sisters in law. She was hilarious, and very interesting. One nice thing was that we could talk about things we'd feel rude discussing with the Egyptians themselves.
For instance, a lot of us were very interested in the women's clothing, especially the Islamic dress. There's a huge amount of variation - lots of women, for example, just wear Western style clothing. Then there's a lot of women in their mid forties and up wearing long straight tunics and veils that frame the face closely. The younger generation have developed a very interesting fusion of styles: jeans, heavy belts and cropped tops, topped with a filmy hijab decorated with brooches and other jewelry. The speaker called this "islamo-chic", or "I'm cool, but I'm a good girl."
We also occasionally sighted the full megilla:
which, we are told, is kind of a Saudi influence rather than a particularly Egyptian fashion.
Tonight was our Home Hosted Dinner. The company arranges with local upper-middle-class families to have maybe 10-15 tourists to dinner on a semi-regular basis. This was a really nice opportunity to meet some local people informally.
Not everyone from the Blue Bus decided to come. Most of us are still pretty jet-lagged, so some of them just needed to crash; still, about 20 of us piled on at around 7 PM and were divided into two groups so as not to have too many of us descend on each family.
Cairo traffic doesn't get much better after dark, either!
Our hostesses actually were two sisters-in-law who lived on the third and fourth floors, respectively, of a large building in the city. This is a nifty arrangement - the building was owned by the parents-in-law, who have the bottom two floors, so the whole extended family lives in the building. The cousins must have had a nice time growing up together. (By the way, the reason we just had "hostesses" is that the husbands had nipped off to Tunisia to watch a soccer game that weekend!)
It turned out to be a Xerox reunion - our lovely hostess and her husband work for Xerox, so she and Dad had something to talk about!
The food was lovely (turns out every culture makes some kind of cabbage roll!), the flat was lovely:
and the rooftop terrace garden was lovely:
One of our group members was a little less lovely, in that he kept asking our hostess to belly dance for us...
On returning to the hotel, Dad and I sat out on our balcony for a while, enjoying the air, until we were driven in by the fear of
(cue scary music: da DUM)
THE 5:30 AM WAKE UP CALL