Saturday, April 11, 2009

Arriving in Egypt

Arrival to Cairo 1:05AM. Exit plane to bus, which takes us to the main terminal. Immediately upon entering the building I am greeted by the first 2 (of many!) Mohammeds I will meet. They give me my visa and direct me to the customs line. As I am waiting in line, they wait for my bag… which ends up being the last one to come out of the conveyer belt (50 minutes after the plane landed).

We depart the airport at 2:00 AM and head to the hotel. It is about a 45 minute drive since the traffic is “light” (relatively speaking). We pass a lot of buildings with the word “MISR” which I learn is the Arabic word for Egypt. Cairo is huge. It is the largest city in all of Africa and the Middle East. The population is 12 million people and there are civilizations dating back 6,000 years ago.

By the time I am checked into the hotel and in my room it is after 3AM. I’m completely exhausted but sit out on the balcony for a few minutes looking at the view. You can barely make out the shadows of the pyramids in the darkness. And it is completely silent right now, which I don’t imagine will last long in Cairo.

Thankfully I don’t have an early start Saturday and I am able to sleep in. When I wake up and look outside it’s incredible. I am in Cairo looking at the Great Pyramid from my hotel balcony! The hotel I am staying in – the Mena House - is gorgeous. It was an old hunting lodge that was enlarged to host the princess of France in 1869 when she visited for the opening of the Suez Canal.

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