Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dancing, Veil, and Bazaar

Hi everyone. I hope all is well with you. I am still having a GREAT time in Cairo!

Last night after I sent you my message about my visit to the Great Pyramid, Kristin and her group had a private dinner at the home of a local journalist. Many people were there. Kristin told me many important people including the Ambassador of Israel to Egypt and CNN's Cairo reporter were at the dinner. I don't know who they are but they sure looked important!

The dinner included a live band playing traditional music and a woman who performed traditional dance. The music was cool and the dancer can dance better than anyone I've ever seen dance before. Kristin says she is a belly dancer and she had to train for many years to dance the way she does. I really wanted to dance with her for just a few seconds. I didn't think Kristin would let me but she told me she talked to Aunt Lynn and Aunt Lynn said it was OK. So, here I am with the belly dancer.

I was so tired from dancing I fell asleep on the way back to the hotel and didn't wake up until just before Kristin's group had to leave the hotel this morning for their first meeting. Today they also met with a very important person. His name is Ali Gomaa. He is the Grand Mufti of the local al-Azar University.

I had NO idea what the Grand Mufti does but he sure looked and sounded very smart. Kristin says his job is to help determine and decide the rules of the Islamic religion. Most of the people who live in Egypt are Islamic.

Kristin and all of the women in the group had to wear a scarf before they could go into the building where the Grand Mufti works. I've never seen Kristin cover her head and I thought she looked really funny. But, Kristin told me that wearing the scarf, or veil, is very serious here in Egypt. So she and the others were wearing their scarves as a sign of respect. I think this is similar to the reason why I have to take off my cap when people sing "God Bless America" at a football game. So, I took off my cap today for a little bit to also show respect. Here I am with Kristin on the bus with her head covered (I still think she looks a little funny....but don't tell her I said that!).

Kristin says she won't have to wear her scarf most of the time we are here but she is keeping it in purse next to me just in case she must wear it when visiting with special people like the Grand Mufti.

Late this afternoon Kristin's group visited the shopping district of the old part of Cairo. This place is Old Cairo and the shopping district is known as a bazaar. There I had coffee at a very famous local coffee shop called Fishwali's. It was very good!

Kristin and Loren also walked around the bazaar for a little bit. Guess what? It was just like the souk I visited with Kristin and Keith in Doha. People were even selling spices on the street just like in Doha. Very cool!

Kristin says her group is going to have several business meetings tomorrow and she was worried I might get bored. So, she kindly bought me a new stuffed camel made of leather and a wooden camel puzzle. They are SO cool. I love camels. I am going to name my new stuffed camel Cairo. Here I am getting ready for bed with Cairo and my puzzle.

That's all for now. Until next time.....