After that run around day to get the medical, visit to U.S. Embassy for Affidavit then to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Authentication Office; I was in need of some “me” time so off I go to one of my favorite hotels in Cairo for the next 3 nights at “The Intercontinental Semiramis” which by the way is where the KATTRAX upcoming groups will spend several days. I will catch up on work, enjoy my Nile view, and last but not least get rejuvenated at the spa. Hamada will come at 5pm each evening to take me to Iftar at one of his favorite spots.
Ramadan is about family and friends enjoying a meal together and sharing the rewarding struggle of balancing a normal day of fasting – no food or water from the pre dawn meal (suhur) to the meal at sunset (Iftar) when the Maghreb is called. There are several hotels that offer an upscale Ramadan Iftar and my hotel is one of them so it only makes sense to enjoy it here. So picture this: It’s a buffet, and everybody male and female goes to the bountiful buffet that is laid out so beautifully to prepare their plates but not Hamada. He summons one of the chefs, has a few words and before I know it here comes the chef and two servers placing all these dishes on our table and we wait for the Maghreb call to prayer when the ears of Morocco are lifted and everybody begins to eat. So I ask him how is it that everybody except he and I go to the buffet. He smiles and tells me, “ They have to know Upper Egyptians eat differently”. We have several juice drinks served to us; one made from dried apricots called Qamar El Din, an hibiscus drink, and there was a server pouring a licorice drink called Erk Sous. It’s kept in copper or glass to keep it chilled. We had grilled chicken, lamb & beef kofta rolls with tahini sauce, baked turkey, rice, fresh vegetables, warm soup, dates, freshly baked flat bread (Baladi), macaroni bechamel (similar to mac & cheese) and an array of sweets. We end our meal with shay (tea). We say our goodbyes and then he’s off to Isha and then Tarawi prayers. Tarawi Prayer is performed only during Ramadan.
After Ramadan prayers comes nighttime entertainment. The lanterns adorn Cairo’s streets and everything is very festive. Tomorrow we go to the Ministry of Justice (office of Marriage of Foreigners) with all our gathered documentation and witnesses for the signing of the marriage contract. Among many other things, we agree he will only have 1 wife. Basically the contract establishes a series of rights and obligations between husband and wife. It is in Arabic and English.