Everyone has told us that if you’ve never been to Egypt before, to expect to be grounded at least one or two days with intestinal distress. Day 3 was our day. We’ve been washing our hands, and drinking bottled water but somehow Melissa and I both managed to get sick. It hit her really hard in the morning and me about 6 hours later. Thankfully the front desk delivered extra toliet paper and bottled water to us “with pleasure”.
On the advice of a registered RN back home we split the antibiotics I brought with me and it has now subsided for both of us (as of the morning of day 4). We remain fairly weak and sore and are going to have to be even more vigilant about what we eat or drink to stay healthy this trip.
Even with this unfortunate bout of illness I managed to make it to 1 hour of a class before I got really sick and after that slept for 4 hours.
I was feeling well enough in the evening to walk over to watch some of the dancers with the orchestra and contest members, but when I arrived at the ballroom they were behind on getting started (and didn’t officially begin until hours later). I took time to wander back through the booths, and so many of the vendors remembered me from the day before and inquired about Melissa. I explained she wasn’t feeling well and they all gave her tons of well wishes and wanted to know if they could help.
I’ve enjoyed talking to the vendors. Most of them are running on few hours of sleep for weeks now due to vending during festival season. They practically live among their costume creations, heating up water for tea in outlets in the ballroom or taking short naps while switching out with their vending partner. One may lay under a table covered in an unpurchased melaya veil fast asleep while above, you browse through piles of hand beaded costumes.
Melissa and I both appreciate the opportunity to talk to real people and ask them about their jobs and their lives. Many of them speak great English even though our arabic is terrible. I think they really appreciated talking to us too. It can be intimidating with the language and cultural barrier but I try to always remember the humanity we share. I can’t imagine working at a booth all day and selling costumes to dancers and no one wanting to speak with me like a normal human person. They are quite funny, and have lived colorful lives beyond the colors of silk and rhinestones hanging in their shops. One was once a pharmacist in Minnesota, another was training his very young 7 or 8 year old sons to approach customers and convince them to strike a deal. It’s so neat to watch them work their craft. I ended up running into the conference organizer, Sara and explained Melissa was still feeling too unwell to dance that evening with the orchestra. She immediately produced atinol, the widely recommended cure for our experience. She said if I also started feeling sick again to return and she’d have another supply. I thanked her profusely and headed back to the room to check on Melissa. She was awake and just attempting to see how much activity she could handle.
As the sunset a live band with an Egyptian singer started a concert on the pool patio of the hotel, just outside out room. We sat with the sliding glass door open and listened to the music while sewing rhinestone and snaps on costumes for performances later this week. We both agreed that although we had a hard day we didn’t feel as if we’d missed out, especially in this moment with the music and our shared jokes about Pharaoh’s revenge.
After a few mosquitos got in and had to be hunted, we closed the door and flipped through the Arabic tv channels catching glimpses of life here from music videos, sitcoms, and movies on tv. I found my eyelids growing heavy with sleep, so I turned off the lights and tv and fell into dreams of Egypt.