Monday, February 2, 2009

Letters from Egypt: Got Shobra?

I still have yet to see the pyramids – even from a distance – but I can now say that I’ve been to Shobra. Shobra is an area in Cairo, and as you may click on the link to its origins via Wikipedia, it doesn’t go in depth on what Shobra means to residents. The suburb is known for a hard life (for lack of better words). Earlier, most criminals had the background of being from the area. It is a poor area although there are very nice homes in certain parts. As a friend of mine who has lived in the US described, coming from Shobra is viewed as “being from Compton.” Sometimes on Saturdays I like to take little adventures and this Saturday, I decided to travel to Shobra. The handprints ward off the Evil Eye It was my first experience on the Metro, and quite surprisingly, it ran frequently and efficiently. Andy and I looked on the platform for families so we could ride together, but I have to admit, at one point we couldn’t find the family car and well – we rode separately (only one stop). He did admit it was like playing “testicle ping-pong” while my car was virtually empty. We got off on the Missara stop via the advice from my Shobra-born coworker, Mario. The difference between Road 7 in Maadi and the area in Shobra that we went to was that no one hassled. Another friend explained that it was probably one of the first time many of the residents had seen foreigners. As we walked down a crowded street selling vegetables, women cleaning fish and people pulling rickshaws galore, we were always greeted with friendly smiles. I get a little nervous snapping photos, but no one seemed to mind. In fact, people approached and asked us where we were from. I replied, “Mexico” and they always said, “Welcome.” We walked down an alley that led to yet another alley and watched kids play. When I would take their picture and then show them, they went crazy. No one begged for money, no one hassled us to buy any items, people were just genuinely friendly. We went into a Coptic Christian Church where I found some stairs and just began walking. I thought at any moment we were going to be yelled out. However, the stairs led to the upper deck of St. Mary’s and we were able to view the sanctuary and beautiful artwork all around.
For those of you traveling to Cairo, I don’t suggest going to Shobra unless you know someone that can help you. Although my experience was a pleasant one, use your best judgment and always be safe. As a side note though, I might possibly return next weekend with my coworker so he can show me more areas.

1 comment:

  1. I love Shobra... its a huge Christian neighbourhood...the people are so nice...and you can see the little shops with icons on their wall. I'm glad you liked it there