Days 4 and 5: dancing in cairo and visiting the pharoahs

Day 4 was a relatively quiet day after day three. Our antibiotics were effective and although we were weak and whiney we attempted part of a workshop with Randa. She is such a high energy and spirited dancer. I could barely keep up with her for an hour before Melissa and I were wiped out. 

I snuk into the ballroom next door to practice my choreography for the competition and then went to get ready. I should have waited to get ready. My call time was 9:30pm. I went to the ballroom early to watch the dancers before me, but they were late starting. So late I actually went to the room, took a nap, and came back and was still able to watch a few performances before I took the stage at 1:30am. 

The events here typically start when they start. My American need to be on time and the Egyptian need to be free to start when they wish and when they are ready are constantly at odds. I’m working really hard to not be annoyed, and I don’t want you to read this the wrong way. I’m entirely aware that my need for things to start on time are part of my culture and the way my own society has shaped me, and their own time is shaped by theirs. I came here to question my views and assumptions about life and I am. Perhaps if I were able to take a more easy approach to my schedule instead of constantly pushing myself to conform to a set schedule I’d be a much more easy going less stressed out person. The long nights are getting to me though. But back to the dancing bit. 

My contest piece went ok. Dancing on the stage made me really nervous but also really happy. I got a video and will post it when I get home.

Melissa and I also scored way too many costumes this weekend. I feel like it’s the biggest selection of costumes I’ve ever been privileged to own.

Day 5 was free day. Melissa and I hired a car to take us to the Museum of Cairo. Today’s driver was Mansour, he was much more graceful about breaking in cairo traffic. He also spoke great English and was willing to point out the sites along the way. Mansour was gave us mini history lessons like the events of the 6th of October in the 70s marking the revolution of Egypt with Israel. We asked him if this is during the time in which Umm Kalthoum used her music to inspire the Egyptian people. He smiled and said “you know Umm Kalthoum? This is the music an Egyptian listens when he needs to feel. I love her.”  I felt small goosebumps raise up on my arms at this shared moment.

Mansour made us want to come back and see more of Egypt. He said we were less than an hour away from an oasis with black sand and just a day trip away from sunning on the beaches of the red sea. We were convinced.

The museum of Egypt is in a large historic building built in the last 1800s. General admission is 75 pounds. Before you enter, off to the left of the building on the pavement you can purchase headphones in your native language. We missed this bit and had to go without.

The bottom floor is mostly large stone pieces cut out of various monuments and digs, statues, and hieroglyphs. Of note is the large Pharoah and queen, in the center of the ground floor and the side room dedicated to Akhenaten, most of the better exhibits are on the second floor. For another 100 pounds you can see the royal mummies. This room is small and the mummies are side by side. Ramses II is the most interesting with his white hair and perfect teeth. It may not be worth it to see otherwise. The rest of the floor is dedicated to all the other mummies and the treasure hoarde of King Tut. You do not have to pay extra to see anything from King Tuts tomb. You can see his canes, chairots, and royal masks. The jewelry and gilded clothing alone is enough to make you breathless. 

The museum has a pretty good gift shop with more than reasonable prices that don’t require haggling. I purchased most of the gifts for loved ones back home from here. They have a special team that recreates miniatures of artifacts in the museum for you to purchase.

You notice I don’t have many photos of the museum, because it costs about another $10 usd to take photos and I’m working with a budget.

As an archaeology major is school visiting the museum was one of the highlights of my trip. I really wished I had refreshed my knowledge of Egyptian history before my visit because most objects are not labeled. But the museum is still worth at least a trip. If you visit bring a hand fan, because there is no airconditioning except in a few small temperature controlled rooms. 

That night each of us had a performance in the show. I did my first ever performance with live music which was such a change. The song was true but because it didn’t sound like what I rehearsed like I almost felt lost on stage (that could also have been from lack of sleep and not enough water). I was glad for the opportunity but know I have so much work to do before I climb the steps to that sort of spot light again.

Another late night in egypt. Another day of adventure passes and on to tomorrow! 

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