We had tried to go to the market area in Garbage City, APE, the day before, but our driver told us that the van would get stuck in the mud.
It rained randomly a few days before, which is pretty disastrous in Cairo – everything becomes a bit of a muddy pond. Cairo is quite a flat city, without any noticeable sewer drains, so the water doesn’t really have anywhere to go.
So, it turns to mud.
Anyway, he promised us that another driver would take us the next day in ‘a proper car’ that wouldn’t get stuck in the mud.
The drive through Garbage City was just as interesting the next time around. All of the buildings have big garage-like areas at the bottom in which they store the big garbage bags and then sort them. Each family is in charge of a certain type of material: one area will do only cardboard, whereas another will do a certain type of plastic, and others will do the less –than-appealing (in my opinion) task of recycling cat carcasses. For reals.
We had driven with our windows up the day before, I think our driver was a bit snobby, but we went through with our windows down this time and it actually didn’t smell that badly. I can only imagine what it gets like in the heat of the summer. It is crazy to imagine growing up in this type of environment, but humans are amazingly able to adjust to different circumstances.
We made it all the way to APE only to discover that it was closed for Egyptian Christmas time.
Our driver was extremely sorry that he didn’t foresee this, and asked if there was anything else that we wanted to see.
Khan Al Khalili Market
Khan Al Khalili market, typically called the Khan market (as opposed to the ‘con market’, which I thought everyone kept calling it) is a big area in Cairo where you can buy all sorts of goodies – lamps, obsidian candle holders, bags, clothes, jewelry, bags, scarves…the list goes on!
We spent forever wandering around the tiny alleyways filled with all sorts of treasures, with Egyptians yelling things like “you dropped something…my heart”, “come take a look in my shop…looking is free!”, and “you want to spend more money here, my friend?”
Again, we were kind of like a walking circus as the only tourists in the area, but everyone was very nice and we were able to haggle with a few nice shop owners and got some good deals.
We then had the bright idea of taking the metro back to Ma’adi.
My Mom and Sherri brought it up as an option as if they had done it before, but turns out they hadn’t haha so, as per usual, we relied on the kindness of strangers to point us in the right direction.
The next thing we know, we’re packed into the back of a mini bus with two teenaged drivers who didn’t speak a word of English and thought that we wanted to get to the Metro grocery store, so lots of hand motions and chug-a-chug-choo-choo sounds later, they dropped us off in the middle of a crowded square and exclaimed ‘metro!’
This is where I start to wonder why we listened to complete strangers.
Then I see a big ‘M’ sign and tell Ryan to walk towards it like he owns the place. We push our way through the crowd and turns out it really was the metro – Halleluiah! We even somehow figured out how to buy tickets and get on the right train all by ourselves, although we all piled into the men’s car since we didn’t want to leave Ryan by himself in case he got off at the wrong stop or something while we were on the women’s car.
Another eventful day ;)