To start the day yesterday, we visited the Grand Egyptian Museum – GEM and saw the King Tut mask along with various other sundry artifacts from 0 to 1,400 BC. I’m not much of a museum person, but the dates on these artifacts were hard to fathom. On our walk from there, we were absconded twice by locals wanting to just show us stores with great deals. It was harmless and we went along for the short walks, but since we have little to no desire to purchase anything, we politely excused ourselves. (The lack of tourists here is clearly devastating the economy. I’m considering what we can do in place of not fulfilling the roll of spendy tourists.) Next, we headed for the Cave Church, but it was completely miss marked (by many miles) on Google Maps. We abandoned the search and instead headed to the Abdeen Palace Museum. Unfortunately, it turned out to be another museum – and the one seemingly gilded room I had wanted to see was closed. Oh well! Next on our list was a quick trip to the Mohammed Ali Palace.
We decided to get back on track with our search for the Cave Church via an Uber, but our driver repeatedly missed turns and drove way off course. Once we entered Manshiyat Naser, “Garbage City” in English, because of the people’s work, we ended our ride and proceeded on foot.
To navigate our way back to the main road after visiting the Cave Church we took a tuk-tuk. From the main road, we hailed a taxi (intentionally trying an alternative to Uber) and got parked in gridlock. We decided to travel the rest of the way on foot. Unfortunately, the taxi driver insisted on charging us more than double what the Uber ride would have cost (the gridlock was irrelevant as Uber had accounted for that already). Grr!! We returned to our luxury hotel (feel free to gag in disgust here), hung out in the lobby until it was time to head to dinner. For dinner, we headed to a local Italian affair before walking the rest of the way to our train. At the train station, one of the station attendants called to us just as we were trying to determine our platform. He then proceeded to take us to the correct platform (which was actually helpful this time). When our train finally arrived, the same attendant then helped us board the correct carriage and find our seats. (We tipped him.) The train was moderately full and very old – what I would affectionately call 3rd world first class.
We set an alarm for 7:30 AM (Egypt) and headed to a wonderful hotel breakfast. Following that we headed to Giza to see the Great Pyramids of Giza and Sphinx (obviously). We ended up walking around all 9 pyramids and had fantastic views. Aside from the camel (desert) taxis, there were relatively few people around – and none of them Caucasian. After about 3 hours and almost 4 miles of walking, we decided to be done and head back into Cairo. We took an Uber back to Cairo, specifically the Khan el-Khalili bazaar. Miles (well km actually) and miles of mini-stores seemingly randomly ordered into topics – clothes, perfumes, watches, jewelry, fruits, shoes, washing machine repair, fish, chickens, bread, pigeons, and on, and on, and on. And throughout the market was dotted with feral dogs and cats. We covered about 3 miles before heading towards the Zwuwala Gate. The cornucopia of smells was amazing: cumin, licorice, urine, manure, perfume, putrid mud, incense, fresh bread, burning car exhaust, ….Next we headed up to the Citadel where we walked around the Salah Al-Din Al-Ayoubi Castle and Mosque of Mohammed Ali. The views over Cairo from here are spectacular Much to the chagrin of the local taxi drivers, we continued on foot, walking to the Al azhar Park and perusing that for a while. (In combination of here and the Citadel, we must have seen the photographing of at least ten wedding parties.)Our next stop was the Ramses Railway Station. On the way we reentered the bazaar and I purchased a cheaper than cheap-quality ball cap next to nothing. At the station it took a while to figure out what and where to buy the train tickets, but we eventually had two tickets to Aswan for tomorrow night. We paid $11 for a 13 hour train ride in first class (2nd class was $3 cheaper).After a brief stop at our hotel, we then headed to dinner at a superb Turkish restaurant.’
In total we walked 20 miles for the day and covered most of our priority items in Cairo.
I assume the current animosity between opposing political perspectives is causing everyone concern regardless of which side of political spectrum or squarely in the middle? I have kindred spirits in both camps. In spite of this, I confess, I have failed to fully comprehend the hatred and disrespect that I see online. More importantly, I genuinely don’t grasp so many of the views held by a significant percentage of the US population.
With that in mind it is time for me to to make a more concerted effort to understand those I disagree with, to spend more time listening. The ultimate goal it to develop mutual respect and understanding such that I am no longer flabbergasted by what I read. Instead, I can empathize and put myself in their shoes, walk a mile (or more), and understand. I can see the consternation they are experiencing. Notice, there is no intent to persuade or to change someone’s mind. I think that is asking too much. Understanding is all that I ask.
However, I have recently realized it is not sufficient for only me to understand you. It turns out that understanding needs to be mutual. You also need to try put yourself in my shoes and understand my perspective. Without mutual understanding, true connection doesn’t happen, reconciliation won’t occur, and respect will not develop.
With that in mind, anyone who disagrees, perhaps even vehemently, care to hang out with me in order for us to bring about mutual understanding, reconciliation, and even respect?
P.S. It turns out I have noticed the same need for understanding in my own family. If (hypothetically of course), we have a disagreement in my family, I both want to understand and want to be understood. Unilateral understanding is not understanding.