BootsnAll Travel Network

Of Minaretes and Men

We said goodbye to K and B with whom we spent a week in Dahab, and P, M, and I traveled back to Cairo by flying from Sharm el-Shek (I had had enough with Egyptian buses at that point). I am back in Cairo for the day and leave for Morocco tomorrow.

Today P, M, and I meandered around the city and visited two old Mosques. At the first one – Al Ghuri — we had really nice guides who were very helpful and kind. The mosque was beautiful and we went all the way up the minarete and had amazing views of the Cairo, though we didn’t feel like the railing at the top of the minarte — the tiny, ancient pieces of wood stopping from us falling hundreds of feet to our deaths — was all that stable (addendum: P, who works in contruction, has since informed me we were only 60 or so feet up). The stairs were a bit trecherous and at one point there was no light and M and I were not exactly being “mosque-level modest” with our skirts hiked up our thighs to avoid tripping down the steps. Oh, and fashion note, big skirts and headscarfs make you look fat in all photos. Or at least, they make me look fat.

The second mosque, Al-Azhr, the larger and older of the two, was OK, but we were ‘latched on to’ by an old man who spoke decent-enough english and who wanted to give us an extensive tour even though we didn’t want one. We only have 5 EP on us, which is really too small for the expected tip, so we didn’t want a tour, but we got one anyway.

The guide endeared himself to us first by asking where we are from and we say “Canada” for P and M and then before we can say anything else he says “Canada great, only America terrible”. He then railed on about America throughout the tour. It was actually the first bit of anti-Americanism I experienced, though in part I also get in the chance of saying I’m from the US early on, and if someone wants your money, they don’t tend to insult you.

But, this guy was not just prejudice against Americans. He was showing us a room an he pointed in 3 directions and said two things I didn’t understand, then the 3rd direction said “Sunni” and then said to us “but no Shitty. Do you know what this means?”

I, ever the quick one, say “do you mean no Shiites”? He says “Yes, exactly, no Shittys” and then he tries to give me a copy of the Koran. Throughout the whole time we kept telling him we had no money (bad planning on our part, I grant you) and he said “no problem, free for Canada only costs for America.” In the end, we give him the 5 pounds we have and of course he is not pleased, but I can’t say I’m too fussed. I think I’m more pissed at the “Shitty” comment than the American comments, actually.

Just sick of everyone hating each other.

Photos of Al Ghuri and Al Askar mosques

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-3 responses to “Of Minaretes and Men”

  1. Kendall says:

    I’m loving your blog, Snarky. I just terminated my blog, but I’ll keep on reading yours. Thanks for the pictures and all the good times!

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