Taking lunch with us, we went to a nearby park. Very hot in the sun, but found just enough shade to sit and eat without being cooked ourselves. Met another acquaintance of our hosts, a true local girl whose interests included belly dancing!
My younger male colleagues, taking no notice of the heat, took up the challenge of playing football with local footballing talent. With a football at one’s feet, there is no shortage of friends to be made here. The influence football has is not confined to the neat white lines of a formal pitch, anywhere that is mostly flat and with a bit of space is the scene of many a kick-around.
All this running around worked up an appetite for an Ice Cream! Egyptians take their ice cream seriously. We stopped at an ice cream shop just down the road, which operates a home delivery service. I wondered how far they could deliver before the heat reduced the precious cargo to a mere sticky mess.
So far from home, you do not expect voices from behind you calling your name, but half an hour or so later, while we were down the street buying supplies for our homeward journey tomorrow, a voice came from behind, calling my name. It was one of the guys I talked with earlier. People will talk to you here. Even though language is a bit of a problem, anyone who can speak any English loves to try it out on any English speaker.
Later a few of us went to see a couple of brothers who ran a shop selling plumbing parts. The older brother is very devout, taking his religion very seriously. During our entire visit, if he was not speaking, he was silently praying.
They insisted on giving us a drink – Coca Cola, no less! This would be for me, the first coca cola for at least 5 years. One of the brothers disappeared down the road for a few minutes, and came back with four bottles of the stuff in his hands. Very sweet, but much as I remembered it. I swallowed it along with all my reservations, and found that I was still alive. I understand that it is good for cleaning toilets!
What with a few customers coming in, and our host’s conversation, we listened to a lot of arabic. To English ears, once the unusual sounds have lost their strangeness, Arabic is a language of fascinating rhythm and charm. Having been here nearly a week, I find the sounds of the language much less aggressive than at first. It all makes me wish I was better at languages.
This was about 8.15 pm. and it is hard to describe just how busy everything is at this time in the evening. The roads, for a start, were as crowded as ever: the traffic particularly, refusing to die down. The sheer number of people who were buying, and selling was staggering. There appears to be no fear of crossing roads that in England would be fenced off and have bridges and subways for pedestrians. To see the young, the old and the in between, stepping out with calm deliberation into the rare and fleeting gaps in the flow of traffic, is a wonder.
Back to base for a bite to eat, before heading back to our little ‘home from home’ our beloved Hotel. This is to be our final night in Alex, and it will be a short one as we have to be up at 5.00 am. in order to catch the ‘Suberjet’, back to Cairo.