Super Jet Bus
At the Bus Station, I’m Up For The Adventure
Farmers, They Are
Kat and Grandma
Precious Little Children
Me and Family
Some Family Members, Upstairs
Back in my Element
Dinner After Returning
As I Kat Track around the world, it’s always been my mission to learn about and bridge the gap with other cultures some of which are off the beaten track; just as I’ve brought you Palenque, the community of west African descendants of slaves near Colombia, South America and to also share my experiences with those of you unable to physically travel and look forward to my blogs.
I was invited by friends to travel to a village in Minya, 152 miles south of Cairo on the western bank of the Nile River, which flows north through the city. In this day and time with so much hatred and discrimination of one group of people to another, not just because of skin color but religion as well; I found it refreshing that I was so embraced. Personally, I respect all people, their customs as well as their religion. I choose not to offend but to blend so I made a point to be dressed “culture appropriate” for the village complete with hijab and abaya. Here we had a coming together of Christian and Muslim, English and Arabic. No, I’m not converting, just respectful.
It was decided I would travel by Super Jet Bus. It turned out not to be so fast. It actually took 5 hrs but the train or taxi would have been about 3. After arriving, it was necessary to then take a taxi to the hotel. The village would be the next day which is located 1 hr away by car.
They had been waiting for Kat to arrive. Plans changed a bit in that believe it or not, Security police at the hotel is required to inquire about your plans in leaving the hotel and in most cases, escort you. I had actually read this posted by someone but thought theirs was an isolated case. I quickly found out that was not isolated and also that I was not only the “only” black American but possibly the only American in Minya but definitely in the village. Grandma who is blind had been praying for my safe arrival. Alibaba, who thought I wasn’t coming left to go to the fields. The men are farmers, the women stay at home. The little boys stuck to me like glue. They had never seen a black American but were clearly attracted. I later found out after my return to Cairo the little ones were crying because I would not be there that night to sit with them. The women had prepared a meal of baked bread, lentils, boiled eggs, and salted potatoes (that easily gave McDonalds a run). Remember the people of Upper Egypt eat with their hands not forks. They did everything to make me feel at home and they succeeded.
The home appeared to have about 4 stories, each level occupied by a family member and their offspring. The lowest level was basic and un-tiled, where grandma feels most comfortable but the upper levels were nicely tiled and decorated, with a nicely equipped kitchen, flat screen tv’s and the Internet. I didn’t stay long but it was a visit I will not soon forget. My departure was filled with kisses on my hand, prayers by grandma and blown kisses by the women and children as we drove off. Later baba called to say he was sorry he missed me but the entire family loves me as their own.
In 3 hrs we were back in Cairo at the Hilton. Hungry? Yes, I was. The choice was between Mexican, Lebanese and Italian. Italian won out only because they offered a nice baked sea bass with mussels, shrimp, and cherry tomatoes. The starter was minestrone soup, a pasta dish and dessert was a molten lava cake and a cheesecake with an orange sauce both accompanied with vanilla ice cream.
Tomorrow will be Lunch with my longtime guide, Mo. He thanks all of you that send positive thoughts his way.