CAMELS IN CAIRO, BEDTIME STORIES FOR MERRICK AND ATTICUS

MERRICK and ATTICUS from the moment you get off the airplane you know you are somewhere you have never been before. Have you ever flown on a an airplane?

When you land in Egypt you know right away this isn’t Miami. This isn’t Maui. This isn’t like anywhere else in the world. Cairo is a city of activity, and a lot of it at night because it is so hot during the day. When you get off the plane you are scanned for a fever. All the security feels a bit nerve-wracking!

We had a guide named Mohammed picking us up for our over night layover. It was dark when we walked outside. “Get in my car,” he said. The air was hot because it was night so we drove with the windows down for a bit. HONK HONK everything was an accident waiting to happen! There are some crazy drivers in Egypt. It’s like playing a game of chicken. We drove to a perfume factory and were shown a warm Egyptian welcome. Every scent smelled soooo good. “Have tea!” they said. “Try this scent,” they said. “Come outside and tour the city,” said Mohammed. “I won’t go with you,” he said. “Don’t get off the camel.” HE SAID!

We stepped outside and met our Egyptian tour ride. Moses 2000, and Obama! Not the president nor the prophet, but two very large, very tall camels. They are the kind with one hump. I say this because I had met a large herd of two hump camels in Colorado and they aren’t as big. Our camels were fitted with colorful Egyptian saddles and they were instructed to kneel down so we could climb on. And when they stand back up you rock forward and backward. Lucky for me I had a good grip.

We rode through the streets at night. DO you think there was a lot of activity? There were people coming up to our camels and waving. I felt like I was in a parade. We passed older men lounging smoking pipes and children running in the streets. We even passed a wedding.

AND THEN we were told shhhhhhhhh. We are going through a Muslim graveyard. Ohhhh creepy. After the graveyard was a dusty sand strewn road and we ran those camels fast! I threw my arms open wide and enjoyed the thrill of it all. I thanked God for protection and the amazement of riding a camel in the same desert the Israelites had their exodus in so many years ago. Moses 2000 was taking good care of me!

We left the city lights behind and the desert was darker still. And our guide told us to get OFF the camels. HE asked to hold our things and told us to stand over there. Then HE asked us to put our hands up.

OH MAN WHAT IS GONNA HAPPEN? Well he had our camera and redirected our hands to form a point and that’s when we saw one of the Seven WONDERS of the Ancient World! The Great Pyramid of Giza, was lit by lights at night. We smiled and our guide took our picture.

On the way back the guide told me Mohammed’s wife has been cooking an authentic Egyptian dinner for us. He said tonight you will eat camel meat. It’s a delicacy. SHOCKED because I had not eaten meat in over 10 years and double shocked because I was riding Moses 2000 and had no desire to eat him or his family. This is the face I imagine of Obama when he heard the news.

We made our way back to Mohammed. We toured an a Egyptian calligraphy storefront. Afterward we were back in the car honking our way through the streets and away from the tourist area of Cairo. NOW this is when I realized I had no idea where the airport was or if something happened how we would make our way back. The mosque’s were calling the people to prayer over loud speakers and the women were all covered with headdresses and some you could only see their eyes. I took my colorful scarf and wrapped it over my head as a precaution. Mohammed pulled the car over ran into a store and came out with a couple of bottles of Sprite. We drank up and prayed for no car accidents on our way to his home. There were no Americans where we were headed. The car pulled in an alley way and a large gate slid open. Mohammed pulled the car in and the gate closed behind us. The buildings were close together and we followed Mohammed. He led us to his front porch where his children were lined up to welcome us from oldest to youngest. They all were dressed super nice and had warm smiles. I love kids and there were plenty of happy young boys and one beautiful daughter.

The time we spent in their home was restful. We sat on pillows at a low table the kids were playing in the same room. The plates were set and the meal would only be Mona, Mohammed and myself. None of the children, nor his wife would sit and eat at the table with us this was their custom. No one felt left out, Dad’s just eat first. Does your dad eat first at your house Atticus?

I looked at the table full of foods I didn’t recognize. The camel meat was served in the center in diced steaks and I was invited to take a portion. I gulped and respectfully took a small portion after Mona had kicked me under the table. Mohammed said, “You are skinny here take more,” and with a generous smile HE placed more of the camel meat on my plate. My senses were overwhelmed. I HAD TO DO IT! Would you eat camel steaks Merrick?

I took a bite. Not bad I thought. Tastes like roast beef. I can do this. And then it hit me. The kindness, the hospitality, the safety, the wonderful welcome. Mohammed a muslim and us two Christians headed next to South Africa and on to Mozambique and the gift of a meal and the shared value of family. His home and kindness was wonderful. I took my colorful scarf off and gave it to Mohammed for his wife to thank her. I had tears running down my face and thanked them on behalf of my husband and children for taking such good care of me. I felt like family in that moment. I determined to try and finish my plate but I couldn’t do it. I ate as much as I could and even dipped the steak in the mystery sauce.

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