3 Countries, 2 PCVs

Cairo, Egypt

From Islamic and Coptic Cairo

When we got home last night, I had a message waiting on Facebook from my old Peace Corps friend Andy, whom I also visited in Israel/Palestine. “Guess who’s in Cairo?” he said, and he’d be leaving in the wee hours of the 2nd, so the window to catch him was very small. I sent him my phone number, and all morning today, in Islamic Cairo and Khan al-Khalili market, I kept thinking, “When’s he gonna call?”

So Gwen and I were trying to get into a jewelry store, but there was this big American taking up all the space. We finally squeezed in behind him and his female companion, and were looking at jewelry when I thought I heard my name. Now, I often think I hear my name when Arabic is being spoken, but I turned around anyway … and there was Noureen! Turns out the big American taking up space was none other than Andy!

So we went to Al-Fishawy Coffee House, a staple of every tourist guide to Islamic Cairo, for tea and coffee. Andy told Gwen the adorable story of how he and Noureen met. Gwen finally had an Arab woman cornered who was willing and happy to answer all her questions about having and raising children in the Arab world, with Andy and I taking turns translating. Noureen understands a lot of English, but she’s not so comfortable speaking it yet. (I’m sure that will improve with time, just as Gwen has become so much more confident and fluent as a German speaker over the years of her marriage!) We were having such a good time together, that Gwen and I took them out for dinner, too!

In the evening, Gwen and I went to this really cool piano concert by an international group called 12 Pianists. Some of the numbers were pretty standard, for example, played on 4 pianos by 8 hands. Others were far more creative, with 2 pianos played by 6 hands, and even one number where all 12 pianists played the same piano at the same time! It was so cool, and such an unexpected delight in Cairo!

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