Last week we had a 6 day break from school because of the Eid-al-Adha or ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’ which is one of the major religious holidays in Islam. According to Muslim tradition, it celebrates the sacrifice that Abraham was willing to make of his own son Ishmael when he was commanded to show his commitment to Allah. At Allah's direction, the angel Gabriel substituted a lamb for Ishmael after Allah was convinced that Abraham would indeed sacrifice Ishmael to prove his faith.
Although many of our staff members went off to ‘more exotic’ places in Europe, Cynthia and I decided to play it low key and spend time in Cairo exploring some of the local places of interest. We weren’t disappointed with our decision!
The day, Eid Al-Adha is a time when Muslim families spend time together, often buying new clothes, giving gifts to children, celebrating their faith and participating in a large feast. In preparation for the feast an animal is sacrificed in much the same way that Abraham sacrificed a lamb. One-third of the meat is given to the poor, and the rest goes to the holiday feast. During this holiday the crazy busy streets of Cairo actually slow right down to an ‘almost standstill’ as people take part in the above activities.
Did I mention animals being sacrificed?
Prior to Eid Al-Adha there are flocks of sheep and herds of cattle (to a lesser degree) corralled in squares, on major street corners and along highways around Cairo. They are usually painted with some words or numbers in Arabic, which I assume is the weight or price or both. On many occasions we saw animals that had been recently purchased in the back of every type of vehicle imaginable … not only trucks. Can you imagine taking an animal home in the back seat of your car? On the way home from one of our sight seeing adventures we got caught in a traffic jam because the cow in the back of a pickup got wedged under an overpass when the driver tried to cut corners. I won’t even mention the lamb that was kept in the basement of our apartment for a week or so. Each time we came into our apartment we could hear the “baa, baa, baa” echoing through the stair well as if we were in a barn in Chilliwack. This sound stopped once Eid was over …
Our local adventures were numerous and extremely interesting. As with the previous places that we have visited, we were in awe of the fact that we were again walking through not just history, but ancient history. I remember my brother, Doug once describing a similar feeling during his time in Jerusalem years ago.
Anyway, the list of places that we visited includes: a walk along the Corniche and lunch at the Grand Cafe overlooking the Nile, a tour of the Cairo Citadel which overlooks Cairo with the Giza Pyramids in the background, a walk through the City of the Dead (Cairo Necropolis) which houses a maze of burial plots and tombs, a drive through Garbage City and visit to the Cave Church, lunch in the beautiful Al Alazar Park, a walk with Mona and William through the Khan el Khalili Market, and finally, an ‘magical’ dinner at the Sequioa at the northern tip of Zamalek Island. I would have to write a book rather than a blog if I wanted to describe all these ‘Cairo wonders’ so I will add more detail in future blogs. The really neat thing about living here is that if you really enjoy one of these places of interest you can easily return and spend more time there. For instance, today Cynthia is returning the Khan el Khalili Market with a few of the teachers from BCCIS to focus on the fabric part of the market. I certainly hope that they don’t take Visa there!
Now for a new ‘participatory blogging strategy’ that just came into my ‘educator brain’ …
Which of the above Cairo experiences would you be most interested in learning about in more detail?
Use the contact form on my website to let me know!
Hopefully I will hear from at least one person.