November 6, 2009


So yesterday E had a meeting in Cairo and asked if we wanted to come for the day. I love a little spontaneity, so the kids took the day off school and we headed for Cairo. The drive was a long 5 hours but we're used tot he 8 hour drive to where my husband is from so it wasn't too bad. Most of the way is boring desert but there are some pretty sights driving through Ein el Sokhna.

We passed 2 stretch limo and trucks with sound equipment going the other way in the Red Sea direction and decided maybe it was Beyonce on her way to the concert she was giving in Porto Ghalib tonight.

Finally when we reached Cairo, and not 15 minutes into the city, I already was thankful I lived in Hurghada and not Cairo. Seriously? The city looks like there is a coat of black dust over everything. This is just going into Giza and passing through Tahrir. In Hurghada we have dust and litter but not like this. The air is cleaner of course. The traffic was bad and the fumes were gross. Here's my drive by shot of the Nile.

We thought the zoo would be a good place to spend some time. It's one pound to get in but it's really a sad place. I don't think it was this bad last time we were here a couple of years ago. We love animals but the conditions there were unspeakable. Most of the animals were not out because it was near closing time and some zoo guys kept wanting to show us some animals for tips. There were people trying to sell stuff and one woman came toward us and said to me "come here I want to tell you a secret!" I was like "Come on kids!" There are weirdos at every turn! I don't know what she wanted.

It's pretty big and there aren't any clear signs or directions. Lots of empty cages. They have cats and dogs in cages there, you guys. Long haired cats are a rarity here I suppose but not a zoo animal in my mind. There are more stray cats than anything. The cages were small and filthy. It's depressing. The only animals that We felt looked ok and actually got to see were these below. the pic in a new window cause they are the same color as their habitat.

These little dessert foxes.

This elephant passed us on his way somewhere all I could say was "there's an elephant right in front of me"

There are some cool looking old trees there though.

So we got shooed out of the zoo half an hour before closing time and got some snacks from a street vendor and walked a bit while the kids finished eating them. Unfortunately the urine soaked floor of the zoo wasn't were this animal behavior ended. We saw a guy pee on the street. It was disgusting. The street is lined with trash and I refuse to throw trash on the ground. Dawood was like "what's the difference?" It's the principle! We kept walking. No trash can in sight. We finally came to the "Faculty of Engineering" I guess it's part of the Uni, and threw our snack wrappers/drink bottles in the dumpster inside.

We decided to spend the rest of the time at the Mall. A nice clean, non smelly place. Thankfully the first cab I hailed stopped. The new white checkered cabs are cleaner and have a working meter so we were so glad to sit for a while till we got to Nasr City. There was traffic but Tahrir has lots of sights to look at from the street vendors to the billboards so it was ok. I even got a pic of the Cairo tower on the way.

So from the dirtiest place in Cairo, to the cleanest, we got to City Stars Mall. I think it's the biggest one in Egypt. It's nice but most stuff is expensive. We had lunch in the food court and walked around looking at shops, people watched. I've never seen so many skinny jeans/ballet flats/carina top hijabi's in in one place.

We saw these tiny turtles for sale at a kiosk and I thought they were so cute. 75LE each. Too rich for my blood but so cute.

The kids thought the fountain was a good photo op.

There are no benches in the mall. The only way you are sitting down is by buying something. We even got scolded for sitting on this little bench-like ledge by the stairs. You're not allowed to lean on the glass railings that goes all around the center of the malls floors either. Later we stopped to get milk shakes at Mcd's just to sit for a while.

We played around in Toys R Us for a bit.

BIG Piglet!

Cute Lemur!

Finally we had dinner at Papa Johns. We were all tired.

I didn't even realize Dawood was making that face till I uploaded the pics!

All in all, a long day but a change of pace. It was really striking to see the big difference between the people at the zoo and the people at the mall. Makes you think about the haves and have nots.


  1. I absolutely love the last pic where your son is making a face - so cute and funny!!

    Your kids look lovely mashallah.

    Is that green turtle, that someone is holding, real?? It looks like a toy.

  2. Heh, Ms M, I like it too! We thought they were toys too! Then the started moving!

  3. Looks like you had a great day in Cairo. I love the picture of your kids in front of the fountain, they look so cute. MashaAllah!

    Rabena ykhaleehom leekom inshaAllah.

  4. Thanks Amina! They do love to pose.

  5. I was in City Stars last night toooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!

    Glad you had some fun!!

  6. OMG, No way! I swear every time I saw a niqabi I would think "that could totally be UmmTravis! We were walking around from 6-10.

  7. Mashaa Allaah looks like you had a nice time! We were at the zoo too yesterday! Probably crossed paths, lol! Two sisters in black niqab with like 8 kids running around us, that was us!

  8. Asiya, What the?? What are the chances?? SubhanAllah We went like 320 it was pretty empty and they were starting to close up shop. What do you think of the zoo?

  9. I know, weird right? LOL! We went directly after jumu'ah prayer and got there I guess around 2-ish. I thought the zoo was a perfect example of the hopelessness of preserving anything beautiful in Egypt. My sister and I were admiring the designs on the walkways, made from all different colors of stones, etc. Our admiration was rudely interrupted by litter and food thrown about in every conceivable place. It was disgusting I tell you!

    The animals looked terribly uncared for it was so sad. We were looking at some sort of animal that looked like it could be a dear, and its nails hadn't been clipped in months it looked like. This one lion kept pacing back and forth looking at the crowd like juicy steaks (Alex in Madagascar, lol!), I swear, he looked like he wanted to jump out and wrap his fangs around the first person in sight. Feed the dog-gone thing before you put it out there in front! I was very uncomfortable. And the poor lion cubs, I swear they looked drugged up....high as kites. They had like 3 of them in one cage and they all kept nodding off. Then when they'd open their eyes, they'd be all glassy and what not. Oh don't get me started about the seals. Those poor guys were swimming around in what looked like a sewer! Same for the hippos. Oh dear, and the baboons! Nothing really wrong there, I just got disgusted at the sight of their big red butts!!!

    The Cairo zoo is terrible, stinky and poorly kept, but I liked that the kids got to feed the animals and the elephant who raised his snout up to take a pic with you, and the zebra who'd smile too! They were cute mashaa Allaah. Oh and the pigmy horses were so beautiful too mashaa Allaah.

    Some people may be offended at my commentary, but I'm a native Washingtonian, so you have to understand where I'm coming from. The National Zoo in DC is something spectacular, ask anyone. So that's what I have to compare too, no offense.

    And by the way, we saw that same guy pissing on the wall too! I started to stick my foot up his behind! There was piss was like a lake of piss in the middle of the sidewalk and we had to walk almost in the street to avoid it. Disgusting I tell you.

    You have to get in touch next time you come around these parts!

    We may be coming to your neck of the woods on winter break to visit my SIL...would love to meet up if possible, if you don't mind of course. I'll be in touch inshaa Allaah.

  10. I like the post! We were also in city stars yesterday and a had a big long walk by the Giza zoo! It's weird to think of the close proximity us bloggers actually have to one another.
    You're right about Giza zoo, it IS sad - and all the skinny cats wandering about and jumping into the enclosures can't be good for disease control among the animals.

    And I bet it WAS Beyonce, that's so cool! I love her!

  11. Hey Mona, thanks for sharing...My Mom, sis and I will be coming to Cairo next year insha' it's interesting to read about the real Cairo. Also it won't be such a big shock when we get there LOL...I hope we'll be there long enough so I can meet up my blogger sisters!!

  12. Those turtles are SO cute!!! SubhanaAllah. I love seeing picture of you and your family; Dawood is so funny in that last one :)

  13. Asiya, you hit the nail on the head. Nothing stays nice here. We had a "Susan Mubarak Library" open here, and it got ruined in months. I saw the mosaic on the ground you're talking about, it really is a shame the conditions there. They need more funding but no one cares. We didn't see the lions this time but I felt they were drugged last time as well. And YES all the animals looked hungry.

    No one should be offended, the Zoos in the west are superior in every way and there's no argument about that.

    I'd love to meet up next time inshaAllah maybe when the kids have their half year break we'll spend a couple of days there. I wouldn't go and come back in the same day again ever, tooo much. Thanks!OH yea we were there thursday, I wrote that post late last night.

    Jaz, I'd like to think it was her!

    Washi, Wow, at least you'll know what to expect inshaAllah!

    NoortheNinjabi, I know sooooo cute! Thanks!

  14. Nice post, Mona! I miss the dirt and grime of Cairo. :) Don't miss the zoo, though. SHocking...

  15. AbuDhabi/UAE Daily Photo, Really? It's here waiting for you whenever you'd like to come enjoy it again, lol. Yea the zoo is bad bad, I forgot to mention that the guy was shaking the gate of the cage to rattle the foxes to get them to move when I took a pic... I was like, not necessary.

  16. thanks for sharing your day with us :)
    its always nice to get out

  17. Wow, I'm kinda glad we didn't go to the zoo while in Cairo. I wish Egyptians would wake up and realize how much more amazing their country could be if they just put in a little effort.
    Your kids are so adorable Mona, MashaAllah.

  18. This was such a good post.

    Thanks for cheering me up :p

  19. Angie Nader, You're welcome! :)

    Stacy aka Fahiima, I wish a private company would buy the zoo and take care of it. Thanks Stacy!

    Abid, cool, Thanks.

  20. salam mona,

    hey, i have two of those turtles!! but mine have grown so big.

    one is as big as my hand and the other is BIGGER than my hand. we had to separate them cos they were getting aggressive.

    i haven't been to the zoo in a loooong time. maybe we'll go some weekend and take my daughter. i think she's old enough to like it.

  21. Kit! That's awesome! I bet they have a long life span. What do they eat?


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