Wednesday, July 4: Today, we have class at Al Azhar as usual. And as usual, it’s hot, stifling, filthy and uncomfortable. We sit through our interminable classes and then sit outdoors at the courtyard and sweat some more.
We can’t wait to get out, and when we do, some of us have planned an outing. Lisa, Kevin, Clint, and I have decided to go to Ma’adi to smoke shisha at the Grand Cafe on the Nile, which my friend Jerry in the USA had highly recommended to me.
We take a taxi there and sit at the lovely outdoor terraced cafe that sits on the corniche alongside the Nile River. It’s a beautiful cafe, with hanging lanterns, strings of tiny white lights, and terra-cotta walls. The cafe is crowded and lively with beautiful Egyptians and foreigners partaking in shisha, mezze, grilled platters & fresh fruit juices. A large screen shows Egyptian singers like an Arab version of MTV. It’s quite an atmosphere. Lisa’s friend from the Carrefour, Mahmoud, comes and meets us at the cafe and we all talk and smoke shisha together.
We all have a grand time in this atmosphere, talking about our impressions of our first week in Cairo and our feelings about Dr. Jones and the Al-Ameen program and Al Azhar University. Most of us are pretty disillusioned already with the whole program. Still. Now that we’re away from the school, we’re having a grand time…at the Grand Cafe.