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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Walking Like an Egyptian


Sunday 24 July

By now I should have started my transformation from working class career oriented radio salesman to adventure motor cycler and full time travel blogger. But alas without a motorcycle, I will have to put this ambition on hold.

So our other big plan for today was to visit the Egyptian Museum. We decided to spend the bulk of the day at the Museum and then because Tahrir Square is in the same neighborhood, spend the rest of the day investigating the epicenter of the 2011 Revolution.
Tahrir Square

The museum matched every expectation. The collection is vast and mind-blowing, but it looks as if it was put together by an eccentric old man who assembled it just as his Alzheimer’s started to set in. Most exhibits are not labeled and what labels exist are on scraps of paper, typed up in the 19th century using very poor English and pots of Tippex. The labels usually explain something completely different from what’s in front of you. Thankfully, most of what you’re looking at is impressive even when you have no idea what it is – especially the Tutankhamen artifacts which are incredible. The Mummies also leave an indelible mark, perhaps because these people died five thousand years ago but their bodies are still here fully preserved for us to stare at. It’s hard not to imagine their ghosts wandering around the room resenting the staring and wishing we would just leave them alone.

From there we walked the streets where the revolution took place.  From first-hand experience, we can report that calm has returned and we got some great pictures of the camp out on the square and managed to chat with some of the protestors. Those on the square and the couple of taxi drivers we have chatted with all know what they want: an end to Mubarak, and end to the emergency laws that have strangled political expression in Egypt, a civil government with a new constitution guaranteeing elections and the limitation of political power and trials for those involved in the massacres of the protesters.
Tahrir Square

Walking the streets of Cairo, there is hardly a superlative too extreme to capture the epic scale of this city of 20 million people that sprawls in all directions. It is crowded, over stimulating, and amazing and the traffic, the people, the chaotic rhythm of Cairo all reinforce this impression.

We wrapped up our days walk along the bank of the Nile. This legendary river lives up to the hype.  To think of the historical events that took place on its banks is overwhelming. With a Felucca drifting past and a little imagination, you can easily picture what life was like thousands of years ago.

But the day had made it very clear that Cairo is no longer just a peeping hole into the past, a place to contemplate history and the ancient pharos. Today, Cairo’s history is in the making. After having suffered in the hands of Mubarak for thirty years, the Egyptians have had enough. They want change!

Us too. Tomorrow we hope to be able to hit the road on our bikes and head south to Luxor and then Aswan. Keep your fingers crossed!

 Rivak

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