As the airplane banked for final approach to Cairo International Airport, I looked out the window over Mary Ann’s shoulder and pointed excitedly, “…look, the pyramids.” This was it; we were finally landing in Egypt. Entering the arrival area of the terminal, we were met by a man holding a sign with my name on it; that was a first for me. He provided us with our entry visas and guided us through immigration and customs. After so long in transit and, of course, not speaking the language, this was a great relief. As planned, we reconnected with our AFS son Abdelrahman and took a van, courtesy of the Fulbright Commission, to the train station. A few hours later, his mother, Eman, picked us up at the station in Alexandria; after 32 hours in transit, we were finally at our destination.
We are clearly in a different culture. Periodically, loudspeakers carry the sound of daily prayers throughout the neighborhood. I can’t describe the variety of foods that were prepared for us for that first dinner, but my favorites were mahshi and katayef. Eman’s mahshi are grape leaves wrapped around a filling of rice, tomatoes, and onion. Katayef is a filled pastry made only during Ramadan, similar to our only baking cookies like pfeffernusse during Christmas.
Because of fasting during the day, the meal routine includes a first meal after sunset and another meal sometime in the wee hours of the morning, depending on how late one stays up.
We have mostly rested these last two days and have gotten to know Abdelrahman’s mother and sister better. We are also starting to learn a little Arabic.