10/06/2011

Back in Cairo

Just under two months after saying goodbye, I stepped back into Cairo off an overnight bus, having traced the Nile all way from its source in the highlands of Ethiopia. This time around I only stayed a week, just enough to settle back into my downtown hostel, stock up on Felfela koshari and visit a few old haunts, including shisha at Feshawi and a late night felucca ride on the Nile. I also picked up a couple large framed prints from my exhibit back in April 2010, packaging them carefully for the long flight.

On one of my last days I made a visit to the slopes of Mu'attam in search of the ruined 16th-century mosque of Shahin Al-Khalawati. Barely hanging onto sheer cliffs above the eerie silence of the city of the dead, it was an adventure just reaching its base, winding through a labyrinth of tombs guarded by rabid dogs. I spotted people on the roof of one crumbling high-rise and they waved me to come up and join them for the view. They said I was the first tourist ever to stop by.

That night, doing some last-minute shopping in the Khan al-Khalili, I saw the mosque again in a little shop stacked with old postcards from as far back as the 1930s. The minarets on the card were still capped with green paint. It was 50 pounds, so I just took its photo as a free souvenir. A couple days later I picked up my backpack and a couple shattered frames from the baggage carousel in Copenhagen and boarded the next train to Århus.