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Coffee and tea play a big role in Egyptian life. Tea can be normal tea, mint tea or karkade, hibiscus tea, cold or warm. With regards to coffee, the choice is either "Nescafe" or kahwa, which is called Arabic coffee or Turkish coffee, for me the choice is easy, as I don't think Nescafe even deserves the name coffee. Kahwa is "brewed" by softly boiling in a very small special metal pan with a long handle. sometimes with cardamom. It is served in tiny cups, with part of the coffee itself still on the bottom. It is invariably served with a large glass of water and always very sweet. If you order "mazbut" which should mean "little", the most optimistic thing you can say about it is that the sugar content is "normal". But the taste is great and it certainly helps you to wake up and put your mind in order in the morning.
Another food item, which you find everywhere, is koshary. It is sold on many street corners and costs next to nothing. It is full of carbohydrates and the combination of pasta, rice and lentils did not sound particularly attractive to me. Still, after I tried, it really tasted good. And I can imagine why people eat it, because it keeps your stomach filled for a very long time. Bread is often part of the meal, especially
pita bread, but the most famous bread is shamsi (sun bread), a bread, which is only available in Upper Egypt (Egypt roughly to the south of Cairo) and which rises in the sun on the hot desert sand. For breakfast, the Egyptians like bean soup or beans, with egg or as filling of a pita bread. Another loved dish is stuffed pigeon (hamam mahshi), and you will see many odd shaped houses throughout the country, which appear to be dovecotes, which house the pigeons before they get stuffed.

The grey building to the right above houses chickens, There are many of them in rural areas, and when I saw the first, I thought it might be a school. But unless the chickens are extremely intelligent, there will be no teaching taking place there. There are only chickens, sitting side by side and producing their eggs.
Graveyards are a special sight, they are almost cities in themselves and the graves may look like beautiful houses. Every dead body usually gets a room, underneath which he or she will find rest, and families may plan the whole operation way ahead. You can often see graveyards if you are looking at the desert while driving on the highway but then, that road has probably been built a long time after the first dead body was buried in that graveyard. Sometimes, people live in them, after their wife or husband died. Even whole families may live there, if they are very poor, at least it will give them a roof above their heads. But imagine having to live in a grave already whilst you are not even dead yet.

On the 25th of April, Sinai Day is celebrated. The Egyptians celebrate their victory in 1972 on the Israelis, at which occasion they obtained the Sinai peninsula, the biggest beach area in the world. Each year, Coptic Easter is celebrated by the Copts. About 15% of the Egyptian population consists of Copts, and they claim to be the descendants of the Pharaohs. They have to fast 55 days before Easter, meaning that they are not allowed to eat certain things like meat, fish and eggs. Of the Copts I have met, there was not even one who performed the whole 55 days of fast. Some did a week, some did one day, and some felt that God would not love them less for not having fasted at all. Nonetheless, the Coptic Easter Sunday starts for many at 12.01 midnight with an enormous buffet, full of beautiful dishes, almost all of them meat.
Click for larger size beautyYou can find public places to drink in the city which have the usual form of a metal tap, but often, Egyptians are very creative in offering their water to trespassers. Especially in the neighborhood of souks, you will find stands with numerous earthenware jugs of water, which keep the water fresh for all to drink from. And in the hot season, this may be very welcome, as it is almost impossible to carry around enough water all day, especially if you have to do shopping as well.
On the day after Coptic Easter,
Egyptians celebrate "Sham El Nessim". This festival probably already was known in the time of the pharaoh’s. It was then called "Shamo" and the old Egyptians dedicated this day to the beginning of life. Somewhere in history, the Shamo appeared to coincide with Coptic Easter, and the two were united; now Sham el Nessim is celebrated on the day following Coptic Easter, a sort of second Easter day. When the Islam entered the scene, the day was renamed "Sham El Nessim" meaning something like "a breath of fresh air". Nowadays, it is celebrated by all, Copts and Muslims alike. Where they can be a bit nasty too each other sometimes in daily life, on this day they are brothers. If you ask, people will tell you that the festival has a Christian background, but in practice, it has become a spring festival, much like Navruz in Uzbekistan. People go out to parks and nature to pick-nick. They eat salted fish, green onions and colored eggs. They make music and sometimes dance. Egyptians are good at partying!

Also in the rural areas, Sham El Nessim is celebrated abundantly, and families move to riversides and other green spots with their food, drink and kids. But on other aspects there are huge differences between urban and rural life. Even cities Cairo and Fayoum, barely 90 kilometers apart, are totally different. Where Cairo is totally full of cars, in Fayoum a lot of transport takes place on foot or by donkey. The pace of life is much slower and sometimes it feels like they are not only separated by distance in place but also in time. Cairo has large supermarkets, whereas in Fayoum there are only small shops, with an average size of 25 square meters, where you can buy bare necessities like rice, pasta, beans and sugar. My bare necessities (Dutch cheese, wine) are seldom available here. The dress code if different: whereas in Cairo you see women often wearing jeans and latest fashion, in rural areas many women as well as men were long dresses. The women often do their clothes and dishes in the rivers, the lakes and canals, which becomes a social event as well. It is a pity that the water is not always clean. Not only are their plastic bags and other solid waste heaped up on the border, there si also invisible pollution and from time to time you even see a dead cow floating past, its swollen belly discouraging you from looking at it, let alone washing your dishes..