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 Ã…rhus.


Shery said...

you're obsessed with downtown buildings;-).

La Fille En Blue said...

I knew about the mosque by complete accident when i was reading on islamic architecture.. none of my friends ever noticed it even though we all drive on autostrad daily. could you tell me how you tried to get up there? what route did you take?

Anthon Jackson said...

I looked at googlemaps before heading out, then just guessed my way through the cemetery from the highway. To get past the walls at the base of the mountain you'll have to climb over or find someone with a gate key. Looked like quite a steep scramble to the top, but certainly doable. best of luck!