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Cairo visit - Part 1

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hello dear Sparkfriends,

My Sunday in Cairo started with a gift. As my colleague Mumtaz and I arrived at an Orthodox Coptic church in a very poor neighborhood of Cairo, this lady gestured for me to approach and gave me some 'holy bread'.

Wasn't it a great welcome gift? I had the bread for dinner later that day, and it was lovely!

Mumtaz, who is the photojournalist on our projects in Egypt, treated me like some kind of star and took many pictures of me! Here I am outside the church!

And here is the view from the church on the neighboring building:

I had never seen that kind of cross before. It was like a double cross.

Inside the Church, men sat on one side and women on the other.

The paintings on the ceiling represented the Christ and the 3 Evangelists.

Mumtaz explained to me that the window was typical from a church in Egypt. It represented Mary, Joseph and Jesus fleeing to Egypt on a donkey. I thought the donkey was fun!

My Arabic is non-existant, so I looked around a lot and apart from looking at the paintings and windows, I looked at the children!

The little girl below was baptized on Sunday. She is wearing a 'bride's veil'. She was so cute!

This one was patiently waiting for her mother to end her phone call!

After the service, I spoke with a nun who works in a school we work with. She explained to me that the school was funded by a famous French nun, Sister Emmanuelle, in one of the poorest areas of Cairo. At the time there were a few dozen children. There are 2,500 today.

After church, we stopped in a garden where there is a very old olive tree. Only the trunk is left. According to the Egyptian tradition, Mary, Joseph and Jesus stopped under that tree during their time in Egypt.

I just thought it was nice to see some flowers and trees and to be able to enjoy the sunshine!

Nothing very exciting today I am afraid, as I spent the day in our office meeting with the directors. More meetings tomorrow, but I'll also visit a literacy class in the evening, so that should be great!

When I got back to the hotel tonight, I followed my colleague Ramez's advice and decided to look for a restaurant in the neighborhood. (Don't worry, it is a safe neighborhood and it was only 7pm.) I am not too impressed with the hotel's food, so it was a very welcome change. It was nice to walk a little too. I had some hummus and some grilled chicken with rice (with cinnamon and raisins). It was all quite tasty, a good choice!

Now I am back at the hotel and going through my notes from today, getting ready for tomorrow. On Wednesday and Thursday, I'll be able to do more 'touristy' things, visiting old Cairo and the Pyramids especially. I'll post more blogs then. :) I hope you are having a great week. As for me, I am very thankful for the warm welcome I am receiving from my Egyptian colleagues. As I often say, it is a truly a privilege to work with such wonderful people! Thank you for reading dear Sparkfriends!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    1056 days ago
    You take the most wonderful trips!!
    1845 days ago
    Oh my goodness. I am so behind with my spark friend's adventures. I can't wait to read the rest of your blogs. You look wonderful, and look like you are having a good time. The children are adorable. The Church is beautiful. I too, like the Donkey!
    1870 days ago
    Just now coming across your blogs and am loving them! We haven't been to Egypt yet but its on our Bucket List!! Thanks for sharing!! I love the pictures of the children - on our travels we love seeing children in different cultures!! emoticon
    1874 days ago
    Oh, this is fascinating to read - and to see through your eyes! I had seen the Coptic cross but not in 3 dimensions - I think it looks different on a page. And only 3 evangelists? It must be Matthew, Mark, John (boo, he's my favorite). It gives me chills to see the olive tree. and also to see the beautiful faces.
    Interesting that they separate men and women. I wonder why...although to me it does not seem like a bad thing, just different.
    I was in Paris when one of the important Coptic priests was murdered - that was Epiphany 2011 - but didn't learn much since the homily was in French. And of course so were the newspapers...
    Now on to the next blogs... emoticon
    1879 days ago
    Thank you, Claire, for sharing the pictures and stories from the first part of your trip to Cairo. The church that you visited reminds me a bit of the Ukrainian Catholic Church where Peter and I were married. The icons and the windows are beautiful, and I love the expression on the donkey's face. The dinner that you photoagraphed in the restaurant near your hotel looks and sounds delicious. I've never thought of putting cinnamon with chicken, although one time by accident I used cinnamon instead of chili powder when making a big pot of chili. My kids didn't let me forget that one for a long time.

    The children you photographed are beautiful, and have such lovely eyes.

    Thanks again; I'm looking forward to hearing more about your trip to Cairo.
    1881 days ago
    Wow, very nice! You got to see a completely different part of Cairo than we did in fall of 2000. Sounds like you might have visited longer? We were only in Cairo a few days a d our 3 year old was sick from the water...
    1883 days ago
  • KAREN91
    "Great pictures! It was great to see how happy you are in the pictures of you. I can see why they treat you like a star. Your pictures are lovely and so are you. I'm glad you are enjoying your trip! I hope the weather is good there. It must be a blessing to enjoy your work and travel to all these beautiful places. Karen"
    1884 days ago
    Nice mix for the day, a church with stained glass windows, I love stained glass windows, cute kids, bright flowers and a very delicious looking and nutritious meal at the end of the day !!
    1884 days ago
    "Thanks for the very interesting blog. I agree that the donkey is wonderful and the little girls are adorable. The photo of the grilled chicken is making me hungry!!"

    1884 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your blog and the lovely photos! I like the stained glass -- but my favorite photos are the little children! Adorable!
    1885 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    What a wonderful blog and the photos are beautiful. I especially like the fact that you are in a few so it is so nice to see you in the warm sunshine and such a beautiful smile on your face!~ Can't wait to see more of Egypt thru your eyes. The church was lovely, interesting way of constructing that cross and how awesome that the school has grown to be so full of children. Beautiful children and it is so neat to see that no matter what part of the world we live in, the beauty of the child is always so prevalent! I hope the rest of your trip is wonderful and the food really does look good. Stay safe! Holly
    Glad all is well and you are back home safe! emoticon
    1885 days ago
    That was a lovely blog! I love the donkey's face too. The sweet children are nice to see as well. I'm glad the school has so many students now, it is really serving the community and offering something that is forever useful, an education! The food looks yummy, and I'm glad you feel safe. Praying for you!
    Love from MN,
    1885 days ago
    Thank you for sharing! You look lovely! I liked the photos of the children very much!
    Enjoy your stay in Cairo and take care!
    1886 days ago
    Merci de partager vos expériences avec nous! Je vois que Soeur Emmanuelle a laissé son empreinte en Egypte, quelle femme admirable!
    Vous avez raison: ce petit âne est bien amusant! emoticon
    1886 days ago
    and it's a privilege to share it with you! i'm surprised (but glad) they didn't mind you taking pictures during the church service though. the donkey was cute! and so are the kids.

    glad you're having such a great time.
    1887 days ago
    A repeat blog emoticon the hummus still looks delicious emoticon
    1887 days ago
  • DNRAE1
    A wonderful trip and pictures, Claire!
    1887 days ago
  • JACKIE542
    Great pictures and a beautiful church. Always love that you give us such great information to go along with the pictures.
    The people of Cairo look happy, and you look great Claire. Can't wait to see more. Take good care. emoticon
    1888 days ago
  • YIWEN39
    Beautiful, as always :-)
    Have a great time,
    Take care,
    1888 days ago
    hi claire! I love your perspective. so glad you introduced me to spark people! ! So happy to get to know you better!
    1888 days ago
    bread = manna from Heaven !

    What a lovely church. You look wonderful. Enjoy the rest of your travels. I'm looking forward to seeing photos of the pyramids and the old city.

    I'm totally envious. So, I'm just going to have to live vicariously through your wonderful blogs.

    1888 days ago
    I love the pictures of you, Claire!! You are beautiful!! And, the pictures of the children are precious! I love the "brides veil" on the one being baptized!
    I hope the rest of your trip is just as wonderful. Can't wait to see more pictures.
    Sending you lots of love and prayers for safe travels!!
    1888 days ago
  • BAKER1009
    Thank you, as always, for sharing your pictures with us! I love them!

    1888 days ago
    Thanks for the wonderful pics! I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!
    1888 days ago
    So nice to see the pics. Great to see you in the them. Wishing you the best as you complete your trip.
    1888 days ago
    Wow! Your Sparkfriends look forward to sharing your further adventures!
    1888 days ago
    Thank you for the wonderful pictures which brought back
    many memories of my trip to Egypt many years ago. The Coptic
    Church has beautiful murals. I hope you are safe there as we
    saw the news last week of trouble between Muslims and the
    members of some Coptic church in Cairo.
    The food looks great - good choices. Be safe and God bless. emoticon
    1888 days ago
    Thanks for sharing this!
    1889 days ago
    I'm glad you're having such a nice time, Claire, and you have the opportunity to see so many interesting things. I hope those meetings aren't too tiring and you get the chance to enjoy every day of your stay.
    I'm looking forward to your next blogs!
    1889 days ago
    That hummus and chicken do look delicious! And the pictures of the children - just darling!
    1889 days ago
  • TREE57
    Thank you for thinking of us, waiting to read and see your latest journey, taking us with you as you travel!
    1889 days ago
  • DOODIE59
    That food looks DELICIOUS!! ... Do you know what kind of flowers those were? Such an unusual colour! Thank you for sharing (as always:))
    1889 days ago
  • NAN041
    Loved the flowers ( borrowed them)..
    faces of the children, lovely..many thanks, Nan
    1889 days ago
  • _BABE_
    Beautiful pictures Claire. Thanks for sharing. Oh yes and I love THEE dress on you.
    1889 days ago
    Thank you so very much for sharing.... your narrative and the PICTURES !! wow !!
    1889 days ago
    Thank you Claire, you always take us to the most interesting places,you never forget us. Take Care & enjoy
    1889 days ago
  • MAWMAW101
    Thanks for sharing--you are very good at making us feel like we along with you.
    1889 days ago
  • DALID414
    Thanks for sharing part of your trip! Great seeing you in photos enjoying yourself!
    1889 days ago
    The children have such a universal drawing power! I love stained glass and the double cross is amazing...What an unusual thing to see in Egypt (according to my biased and limited imagination) You might think your day is boring...but it's like manna to a dry land. thank you for posting! I'll look forward to more! Be blessed and keep Sparkin'!!!
    1889 days ago
    lovely pictures thanks
    1889 days ago
    Thanks, as always, for the beautiful pictures and the colorful desciptions!

    Now how do I learn to make a chicken look so good on my plate!
    1889 days ago
    It is so interesting, you have a way of making me feel I'm part of your travels, thanks for sharing!

    Take care!

    1889 days ago
    What a beautiful church, they have stunning murals, love the stained glass window and the old olive tree stump. Aren't people so interesting?

    Thanks for letting me come along.

    Love your outfit is it very hot after Paris?

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1889 days ago
  • RAMONA1954
    Beautiful photos as always! I enjoyed you sharing your visit to the church and seeing so many wonderful people. I feel like I've had a short tour of Cairo tonight. Thank you for sharing this. Hope you have a wonderful trip! Hugs,
    1889 days ago
  • DR1939
    Beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing.
    1889 days ago
  • LINDAK25
    Beautiful church. The donkey looks like he's smiling, doesn't he? Hope you enjoy your stay.
    1889 days ago
    Hi Claire,

    I'm glad you are having a great trip and seeing so many great things and meeting some wonderful people!

    I'm looking forward to the next update!

    1889 days ago
    What beautiful pictures! The pictures of the children are exquisite! what a wonderful greeting being given Holy Bread! Your supper @ the local restaurant looks and sounds delicious! A friend of mine introduced me to a tandori chicken dish that had that combination of raising, cinnamin, tumeric and other spices. I didn't think I'd like it, but the spice combination is delicious.

    Be safe. HUGS!
    1889 days ago
    Lovely! Thank you for sharing Cairo with us. I'm looking forward to more Cairo blogs. I wish I could smell it, too. I love the aromas of travel.
    1889 days ago
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