It's a pretty intimidating drive. From the Cairo airport to downtown. Hours through hundreds of people sardined together and as many cars and busses just as close. The buildings raise up from every direction, most half finished and surrounded by rubble and sand.
This is the time of year when pollution swarms through the city and gets trapped between brown cement buildings. Combined with street exhaust, transatlantic jet lag, and car sickness, my first foray into Cairo was a little overwhelming. Where will I get food? Walk the dog? Get fresh air?
When we reached our new apartment, I took a bath, lay down and fell immediately to sleep. There is only so much you can take in in a day.
But I woke up just after dawn and made my way to the balcony. The streets were empty, but I could hear Cairo slowly waking up. Small radios flickering to life, buckets of water sluicing over sidewalks, motorbike engines sputtering.
And birds chiriping. When I looked up into the trees framing our street I saw flocks of birds soaring between branches and resting on rooftops. Birds. Lots of them.
And I remembered the look on the face of the Egyptian woman sitting across the isle from me in the plane as we made our descent. She beamed with pride as she gazed out over the city. Fierce pride. For some reason it almost brought me to tears.
The birds flourish and the people are proud. Certainly, I too can thrive.