Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Khan al-Khalili (large market bazaar)

Brrr. Who knew it got this cold in Egypt? I've got the heat on in every room. I think it's the cold, hard floors that have no rugs on them. I need to go rug shopping, but if it's anything like my curtain shopping today...well let's just say it was an adventure. I was bummed that I forgot my camera, so these crappy cell phone photos will have to do.

I seriously considered ordering what I wanted on jcpenney.com, but where is the fun in that? It was much more fun to sort through all kinds of gaudy Egyptian fabrics with two whiny hungry kids, all the while gesturing my wants because no one speaks English. My driver does his best, but we still don't communicate very well.

It's hard to describe what I see here everyday. So many people, so much poverty. Today we were at a bus stop (loosely used term) waiting for the curtain guy to take us to the fabric market. The buses here are just large vans. They slow down, the door slides open, you hop on, even if there isn't a seat, and the van continues on...all the while never stopping completely. They cram so many people into one of those. I watched in horror as a pregnant woman, obviously in labor on the way to the hospital, used this mode of transportation. Her husband and two sons were with her.

Me and mine watch comfortably from our Dodge Durango, equipped with carseats. I have to just remember that I didn't grow up using one. It makes my heart ache to see these kids without restraints on these crazy roads. I also cringed as I saw a woman darting across the busy freeway holding her infant. I just have to remember that this is their way of life, I guess, and they're just glad for a ride.

I'll post pics of the curtains once they're made. I have no idea what I'm getting.

Once I got home, I looked in my travel book to see where I'd just been taken. It is one of the biggest bazaars in the Middle East called Khan al-Khalili, built in 1382. The book describes it as "an oriental bazaar of fable, where gold, silver, brass, and copper goods glitter enticingly in the cave-like interiors, and sacks overflowing with exotic spices fill the air...It's maze of narrow, canvas-covered alleyways is crammed with shops selling a huge variety of goods. Here, too, traditional Egyptian crafts, such as dyeing, carving, and sewing and practiced as they have been for centuries." Yup, that was the place.

I was mad I forgot my camera, but in the photo below, my driver, Ibrahim is on the left pushing Ethen, and the guy with the sacks of the material I just purchased is going to sew them.


Nicc said...

Pretty cool and sounds a little crazy!

NO JCPenney shopping!!!! Enjoy the fine fabrics of Egypt :)

Sharla said...

I SO wish I was there to go with! We could have exchanged "looks" and I can actually picture what you saw. And THANK GOODNESS for Ibrahim (not to mention the durango)!!! oh.. and I can hardly wait to see your curtains!!

p.s. let me know what you ever need me to send! :)