March Gratitude the Fifth Day

I am grateful for many things the begin with "e": elephants, eggs, eggplants, endings, energy, and so on. But today I am particularly grateful for Egypt.

In a metaphorical sense, Egypt was always the place of slavery that the chosen people escaped from. I feel very uncomfortable with the concept of "chosen people" so I don't really like to think that one through much. But I do like the idea of moving away from a place of slavery. And I love the story of the midwives who continued to accompany mothers through birth, and chose not to follow the law that required them to kill the male babies.

But in my own story, Egypt was a wonderful place. We landed up in Cairo after a rather disastrous "meet the family" episode in Israel. I realized that I might be forever entwined with a narcissist, but I didn't realize it consciously so I tried to be polite. Cairo was full, smoky, sweaty, smelly. It was lovely. It evoked everything. We were only there on our way south, but Sudan was proving difficult to go to, so we stayed in Egypt for six weeks while we waited for visas. We stayed in Cairo for a while, in an awful decrepit "guest house".  Poets, drug addicts and travellers hung out there, waiting for the next adventure.

We went to see the pyramids. Some women gave us fresh pita they'd cooked on the walls of their bread oven. Then we went into the Sahara. I remember at a truck stop, we sat on a bench and waited while the men prayed. The call to prayer was coming from a little transistor radio. A dog was chained to a tree. The sun was light blue.

We were dropped off at an intersection by a gravel pit. The truck left as the sun was setting. The old man who guarded the two huts gave my husband a big rock to put on the inside of our door, in case he tried to come in during the middle of the night after me.

We made some friends in Assiut, where we had to go because I had caught a terrible desert cold. We spent every day together, from early in the morning until very late at night.

I am grateful for the fact that I have those memories of travelling the world, together with my love, and that I can remember Egypt and the desert and the prayers and the minarets and the hash and the sun and the cold and the striped cucumbers and the sweet oranges.


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