February 18, 2002
Our taxi driver, Mohammed, was surprised at our request to go there, but eagerly agreed to take us. He appreciated our desire to see the real Egypt. When we arrived, the disappointment was apparently obvious on our faces. The village was tiny and filthy. Mohammed offered to wait for us, and pointed out the shopping area. There was one main street about three blocks long. Again, no other tourists.
We walked along the street, noticing the smelly, littered garbage scattered everywhere. Quaint? Locals stared at us as we smiled and kept walking, looking for shops to enter. Most were closed. We did go into the few that were open. There were gowns for sale in bright, loud colors and designs. When we came to a littered creek which emitted odors strong enough to make our queasy stomachs hurl, we turned around and headed back to our taxi. We attracted a group of boys who trailed us, laughing, pointing, curious why we were there. We practiced our Arabic on them, which led to more giggles, looks of surprise, then fast-spoken strings of Arabic replies that we couldn't begin to comprehend. When David said, "Mish Quas Ow Araby" (I don't understand Arabic very well), a man riding a donkey cart in the street began laughing out loud. It was a nice moment. Bantering back and forth with the boys was the most interesting memory I have of Kerdassa. We didn't buy a thing.
Our taxi driver suggested that he take us to a carpet shop in Giza. Having been to his aunt's papyrus shop a couple nights ago to "just have a look" we knew the visit would invariably conclude with a hard sell, and forcibly declined. Then he offered to take us to his favorite café "because you're my friend, you requested Mohammed Renault." He wanted to thank us for consistently requesting him for our taxi driver during our four day stay at the Oasis Hotel.
Mohammed brought us to a café in Giza where pastry shops and cafes sat side by side. Inside the dimly lit room, men sat solo at tiny tables holding water pipes to their mouths, making gurgling sounds (like kids blowing bubbles in soda pop). It was nice, sitting in that café, talking easily with Mohammed as a friend and enjoying the opportunity to see a non-touristy slice of life.
From journal Honeymoon in Cairo