Yesterday, we escaped the big city and traveled the Desert Road north to the Mediterranean Coast, to Alexandria. Immediately, we could tell the air was fresher, the mood lighter, the streets more accessible than Cairo. This is where we will be spending the rest of the semester. Along the way through the desert, we saw some interesting things:
Our apartment in the quiet and pretty Kafr Abdo neighborhood, near the British Council complex. The apartment itself is massive, and I mean massive–you’ll see when I put up pictures later, probably meant for a family of 5 or 6. Our adviser said it belonged to an officer of the navy before us, so there is all this ornate furniture and things in glass cases. Since the program is quite small this year, we just get more space to stretch out.
Tonight we went to the opera house for a showcase of traditional Arabic songs and orchestral arrangements. I was a big fan of the tambourine player, apparently widely recognized as the best in Egypt. I find it hard to find the appeal in some of the music, as it often has so many trills that I can’t tell whether the singer is singing or just doesn’t know what note to stop on. One of the singers, though, was very adept at keeping a melody even while sustaining haunting trills and long, mournful cries. Everything seems to be about longing for someone or something, like everyone with a voice is lovelorn or praising the eyes of someone beautiful and mysterious. I’ll wean myself off the western stuff soon enough.