Migrant in Moscow

By Migrant

Cairo Dawn

The first thing that strikes one when exiting the plane in Cairo is an overwhelming smell of what I can only describe as 'humanity'.  It's a slightly fetid smell significantly enhanced by the humidity and breeze. A mix of today's life and yesterday's life.  More yesterday than today.  A comparative that comes to mind is that of a pile of rugby jerseys left in a heap in the changing room from yesterday's game.  It adds a 'vibrancy' to the city as the guide books might describe it.

The second impression is one of Cairo being the leading candidate for billboard capital of the world;  the road into the city is lined (quite literally in sections) with some of the biggest billboards I've seen.  Lionel Messe and Cristiano Ronaldo are currently prominent (there are hundreds of billboards featuring them in every shape and size - see the extra blip). The taxi driver said these were promoting a TV show; they are definitely getting that point across (I had Lionel all the way to the pyramids the next day).

Another aspect that strikes one is the litter.  There is garbage everywhere.  I constantly saw people tossing away paper wrappers and other stuff with abandon.  Students, professionals, 'people who ought to know better'!  There are street sweepers everywhere so I assume that the litterers assume that everything gets picked up.  Unfortunately, it seems that the sweepers can't cope and the effect is one of garbage everywhere.

My blip has of course to be of the great Nile River - in this one, the view at dawn. It's just amazing to think that the water has by this point on its path to the sea passed through one or several of 10 countries:  Tanzania - Kenya - DRC - Burundi - Rwanda - Ethiopia - Eritrea - Uganda - Sudan - and Egypt.

The bridge is the Qasr Al-Nil Bridge, which I read means "Palace of the Nile" in Arabic.  It is Cairo's 'oldest modern' bridge over the Nile.  As imagined has seen lots of life in its 150-odd years of existence.  The four famous lions, which stand on each corner of the bridge, were initially intended for a monument in Alexandria but ended up on this bridge.  At one point, there existed a toll arrangement with a schedule of fees for crossings, variously, by camels ("owners of old camels paid two piastres and ¾ piastre for young camels"), cattle, sheep and other livestock.  A few extra blips from the famous 26th July Street in Zamalek - named (somewhat ignominiously) for the day that King Farouk left Egypt after the revolution in 1952.

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