Belly dancing on the Nile: the ultimate cliche?
Tonight, I teamed up with John and Mohommad again to discover new ahwas (cafes) and brought along Juan, a Spaniard who's also staying at this pension. I love the carte blanche that being with Mohommad brings. The cafes are down back alleys, through the slimmest streets and in the courtyards of apartment blocks. Most have a tv, though this one, my new favourite for its cardomon-scented coffee, has elegant timber bistro chairs with the cafe owner's name, Abdul Karim Osman, carved on the back rest and Cleopatra on the seat. So I'm parking my backside on her face. Nice.
We walked down to Doqqi to talk to a man about apartments, but it's still holidays, so tomorrow (Sunday) everything kicks back into life after almost a week's break. I feel Cairo's heading for one mother of a hangover tomorrow.
Cool things: the metro has women-only carriages until 9pm each night, though foreign men are tolerated (they don't appear to understand the red sign with the woman's picture on it, or perhaps they know that it will be less crowded than the carriages for the great unwashed.
We walked along the Nile this evening, promenading as Egyptians do. There were little boats that do a quick 20 minute spin up the Nile for less than a dollar - definitely a local scene as the foriegners were all going into the big ships for those corny cruise meals (of which, I might add, I did in Dubai). The outboard motor stinks, the PA plays tinny Arab pop, but a couple of kids got all excited and one little girl jumped up and gave us a surprisingly good belly dance, then a boy about the same age did a traditional men's dance that's normally done with swords. We all clapped along while the kids danced. It was a quite wholesome, totally charming cruise.
On another note, this pension is interesting - it is such good value and a really good vibe that a lot of people prefer to stay here instead of the faceless five-stars (well, yes). But there are two girls here who butter wouldn't melt in their mouths (you can play guess the nationality). But every time the ice queens enter the room, like the white witch of Narnia, they freeze all conversation. So imagine my delighted surprise to find at the front desk yesterday afternoon the two biggest, roughest, nastiest looking Saudi blokes (ok, we're conjecturing here), asking for them by room number (no names, didn't know...) Dirty girls!
I tried to get you a nice pic of me up on the very British lions on Qasr el-Nil bridge, but Mohommad isn't the best photographer. I have suggested a trade of Arabic for photography lessons. Here's his effort... (God, that means I'm going to have to climb up there AGAIN while the cops aren't watching!)
Tomorrow, I am going to a performance by the Cairo Opera Ballet at the Opera House - can't wait!