Saturday, July 08, 2006


It’s been a busy day—Jason and I visited the last two places in Cairo we wanted to go before leaving: The Citadel and the Coptic Museum. The Citadel houses one of the most famous mosques in Egypt, the “Alabaster Mosque” of Mohammad Ali. It was truly beautiful, with lots of hanging lamps, a wide open space, and no one “giving us a tour” for baksheesh. The rest of the citadel is more mosques (we visited one other), two museums—the national police museum and the national military museum (we visited the military one…it wasn’t great but was okay)—and some other stuff, I guess…and a lot of vendors trying to sell you “coke sprite fanta ice cream mango juice!”

The Coptic Museum has been closed the entire time we’ve been here, and only recently reopened after 9 months of “one more month!” Their website is still for the old museum, but it's cool anyway. The Museum has been in the news a lot lately because of the Gospel of Judas, which supposedly was/will be returned there. We did not see it today. We did see some really old Coptic manuscripts though, including a fourth century psalter—partially still bound as a book! It was incredible. We also saw frescoes from monasteries and churches around Egypt, stone and wood carvings, textiles, and even toys from the Coptic period (about 100 to 700 AD). I was really really glad we got to visit this museum!

How did we get to all these places? You might be wondering—especially since you probably know already that I don’t enjoy going out and about in Cairo too much. Well, we know a taxi driver who is really incredible. He is a Muslim man, he went to university and graduated, he speaks pretty good English…and he’s a taxi driver. He sometimes shares the car with his father, and together they are the income for their family. Our driver, Sabray, has a wife and a beautiful baby boy named Amr. You may remember him from some photos I took back in October—when the family invited us over for iftar, the dinner-time breaking of the fast during Ramadan. Sabray has been driving us various places whenever we need someone to wait for us while we do things. He’s been our driver for Trudie’s house (Trudie was our counselor these past few months), and he has patiently driven us long distances and waited in the heat, then driven us wherever else we wanted to go—including supermarkets! He’s incredible. I really like him. He’s friendly, he speaks some of my language and I speak a little of his, he’s a good driver (I never feel near death in his car—an unusual experience in a Cairo taxi!), he’s normally prompt, and he doesn’t overcharge. Sabray is one of the few Muslim men I have met in Cairo and don’t have a bad feeling about. So, Sabray, thank you. Thank you for being great and friendly. And to Egypt, I say two things: why can’t more people be like Sabray, and what’s wrong with a system in which a university graduate scrapes a living by driving a taxi?

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