I wake before I’ve slept enough, and climb the stairs for breakfast. The lounge opens onto an eighth-floor view of Midan Tahrir, and I stand on the balcony looking out. Under a hazy blue sky, a metropolis spreads out before me; a grey chaos of roofs cluttered with junk, broken awnings and twenty million satellite dishes. In the narrow street below, two men work at silent-movie speed to feed a cluster of customers, administering soup and flatbread in newspaper twists. A cacophony of car horns and old motors laps around everything.
When Billy joins me, we drink Egyptian coffee and point at things, planning to walk to the Mayfair hotel where Baba and Jamie are.
Out of the door, and Cairo feels enormous. The Ismailia House hostel is on the edge of a roundabout the size of Spain, where constant honking cars ignore a multitude of lanes. Somehow (policemen here are generous but not in English), we find the Nile. Ancient verdant history aside, it looks like a slighty wider version of the Thames. We laugh that our expectations could’ve been for anything different, and cross Blackfriars bridge to reach the other side. I stop to look down at the water, and a man with no uniform moves me on.
After a walk through parks where young couples hold hands, down streets where horses wait with elaborate carriages, and beside flyovers, we’re nearing the Mayfair, and who should I encounter by a row of sheep carcasses but Jamie, the Rebel Cell DJ, with Tracy too.
Hugs, bigups and questions.
How’s things? Good to see you.
How was your flight?
Yeah fine, painless. I listened to my iPod, and Tracy snored. How was your trip man? How was your trip?
Um, well. It was…