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July 5, 2000:

 Sometimes when you travel like this you find yourself questioning your own existence. Is this really my life? You think. Besides a few expletives this phrase is one of most common things out of my mouth. Yesterday as I slugged around through the streets of downtown Cairo sweat and dirt clung to my body. Loud horns for the taxis and buses seemed dampened because of the humidity. And when I uttered those words they fell to the pavement, weighed down by all that hot moisture in the air. What caused me to say that phrase wasn't some incredible 3rd world experience, nor was it the usual swift move that I so often take part in. (Latest example: Asking an Egyptian the question "what?", when in fact I had really asked "prostitute?", a very similar sounding word.) No, this time it was a combination of the hot, humid, hazy Egyptian summer day; the crowds and traffic; and the mere fact that halfway across the globe my family would be waking up to my favorite holiday of the year: the 4th of July, Independence Day. Some would call this homesickness or a nostalgic longing for the familiar, and I wont argue with them. I missed my home.

(Two seconds after I took this man's photo he stuck out his tongue and crossed his eyes, then he laughed and waived, "Welcome to Cairo!")

(Cabs rule Cairo. Most, because of oil prices, don't make more than 10 Egyptian pounds (less than 3$ US) a day but the drivers are friendly and the music plentiful, a good thing since traffic in the city has only two speeds: "stop-and-go" or "stop".)

I spent the day thinking about apple pie and fireworks. It wasn't until dinner and the waiter brought me two sparklers stuck in half an orange that I snapped out of it. One sparkler burned down and then the other and, appearing through the smoke in the distance, was the Nile. Those little fireworks were a simple gesture but they summed up the big picture: Egypt is just so damned friendly. So, happy that this indeed was my life, I smiled back at the waiter and later ordered some chocolate ice cream to celebrate it all.

(A friend of mine told me that if you run into a wedding you'll be blessed for the day. So I felt pretty lucky when I came across this one -- a glamorous affair held at one of Cairo's oldest five star hotels, the Nile Hilton.)

(In certain parts of Cairo there are posh super markets, but if you're looking for a mini-mart this is what you'll end up with: the Egyptian 7-11.)

July 9, 2000:

I could count the times since my last update that I've been outside of this apartment on two fingers. I've been tucked away here in this little flat in Cairo working on the hard-copy of therewewere that's set to go to press in mid-August. Things are looking great, minus the permanent hunch-back I'll have after it's all done. As a distraction, I'm going to go buy and pick up my next set of airplane tickets today. Booking the tickets was so much fun. If you're ever bored try asking a travel agent to find you tickets from Egypt to Yemen to Australia, tons of fun. I don't think actually buying the tickets will be in the same ballpark. I recently sent an email to a friend I have in Sydney telling him that you could bribe half a dozen Olympic officials for what I'm paying for these tickets. But, after that short errand, it's back to work because tomorrow at 10pm I'm taking an even longer break. I'm taking the night train south (as if it wasn't hot enough in Cairo) to Aswan to check out Nubian culture for a week. I'll be sure to get some good pictures -- if my camera doesn't melt first.

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