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Cairo Update

Date Written:
  5 October 1998
  Out and About Like Tourists
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We were sad to see my Mum leave at the end of September, she had been with us for a month and Hannah was glad to get to know her Grandma better. During her stay we visited many of the sites that tourists go to. For Alison and I it was the first time we've been back to the tourist areas since we first came to Cairo 5 years ago for a short visit. This time we went to the Egyptian museum, tourist bazaars, pyramids and the Sound and Light show at the pyramids at night. These places are certainly impressive but if it is the only part of Egypt that is seen then it is only a partial picture. We took advantage of locations to get some good family photos for the album! We discovered that Hannah doesn't like camels which is a bit of a same because there are loads of them at the pyramids for the tourists to ride on. We had to continually ask traders to leave us because the camels were upsetting Hannah!

Part of Egypt which tourists rarely see are the poor areas of the city which really have no comparison to anything in the West. There is no proper road system and ideally a jeep is needed to get around the streets. Children have few possessions so they play in the dirt outside. There is malnutrition and psychological problems too. Meetings in areas like this are still difficult but are becoming increasingly rewarding.

Few tourists experience real Egyptian food, some of which is unpalatable for foreigners. We've recently had some Egyptians round for a meal, they brought their own food with them (maybe because they don't like English food?). The main course consisted of bird tongue soup, stuffed pigeon and mulekheya. Out of the choice of the three Alison and I preferred the soup. Mulekheya is the stuff that I've nicked-named "mucus" in the past because that's exactly what it looks like. On the stuffed pigeon it was difficult to find any meat, but the Egyptians seem to enjoy nibbling between the smallest bones to get out the tiniest morsel. The pigeons are cooked head and all, something I didn't realise until I turned it over on the plate! The head (with the eyes in tact but the beak graciously removed) is actually eaten, it's put in the mouth and crunched like a gob-stopper . . . but not by me. OK I admit it- I got squeamish, I just couldn't cope with getting brains between my teeth.

Family news: It's finally happened- Esther is on the move!! She can now crawl at will to wherever she wants, so nothing is safe at floor level. It happened about 2 weeks ago and she keeps on getting faster. She continues to sleep well at night but hardly any sleep during the day. Hannah is now moving her toys out of crawling distance to stop little hands from getting to them, I seem to remember doing the same when she started crawling in the not-so-distant past.

Hannah is not far from writing her own name. She can write the letters individually but it takes a lot of concentration to write them out one by one. She's coming out with some impressive pictures though, some of which she has copied from by sketchboard ideas.

We've recently taken on responsibility for a group of about 20, doing the same type of work together. We have regular meetings to plan and attend for the next three months while the previous couple who did the job are out of the country. Please think of us at this time.

That's all for now,

Toodle Pip,

Jason, Alison, Hannah and Esther

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It's a Fact!

Facts about Egypt:

  • Egypt's population is 66 Million

  • Egypt is four times the size of the UK

  • Only 3% of the land can be used for arable crops

  • Cairo has 18 million people and is growing by 1 millon each year.

  • Cairo is the Largest city in Africa and the Middle East

  • Official literacy rate is only 45%

  • A total of 11 languages are spoken in Egypt

  • Public Debt per person is $790

  • Average annual income is $630

  • Unemployment is estimated to be 17%

  • Religion: Approx. 85% Muslim and 15% Christian

  • Most Christians are affiliated to the Orthodox Church, less than 1% of the population are Protestant

  • There are an estimated 100,000 street children in Egypt


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