The past few days have been busy buying winter clothes for my daughter and getting ready for an embassy appointment I had this morning to renew my passport. Lately it has been unseasonably warm, but the clothing in the stores is thick and wintry like we were living in north Canada. While I probably wouldn’t consider it cold enough here on any day of the year to merit wearing that sort of heavy clothing, I did buy her enough things to keep her comfortable in Atlanta winter weather, for whenever she returns. At this point I have to wait for my new passport to arrive for any tickets in that direction to be booked by her father.
Because I always bought my kids’ clothes at thrift stores in America, I didn’t want to spend too much getting my daughter new things. My husband took me to a small outlet store here in Banha. Mind you, this is not an outlet store the way Americans know them. Those exist, but not in Banha. No, this was actually a tiny store about the size of my bedroom here with different outlet-style offerings. I got her five pants sets, one set of pajamas, and two tee-shirts, which all came out to about 500 EGP.
There were still things I wanted for her, so after my embassy appointment we went to a market district in Cairo where there is a second-hand (balla) clothes area. Here is where people can sell their own items like a yard sale, or on racks like it was their own personal thrift store corner. The sellers are packed next to one another in narrow streets, which are further crowded by buyers and random toc-tocs driving through. Sellers from every direction are calling out the prices of their clothes, which for kids didn’t exceed 35 EGP apiece. So for 200 EGP I was able to get her 4 pairs of pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a jean jacket.
One of the new Egyptian things I saw today was on our way into Cairo. When traffic is thick, it’s not uncommon for people to walk among the cars on the highway selling snacks, pretzels, or even packets of tissue. Today there was a man walking among the lanes of traffic carrying an incense burner and waving it between the cars. I learned that according to some religious sects here, the incense is believed to bring blessings and protection from evil, so some people will go to places like stores or businesses (or apparently, the open roads) and swing their incense burners in exchange for bits of sadaqah.
When I am out in Egypt I love it here. Even though it seems like every Egyptian is dying to get out (and really, I do understand and empathize with why), I still feel it my home. Nevertheless, I don’t know what will happen with my living here as things still hang in suspension. Many days lately I have been thinking about all of the people I care about (whether I am in touch with them or not) and wishing I could have better access to all of them. Allah knows. He knows all these details and what I need, what aches on me. He will answer everything at the right time.