Friday, Dec. 13
For the first time since anyone can remember it has snowed in the higher elevations around Cairo. In my neighborhood it only hailed, Maadi being at a slightly lower elevation. In my 2+ plus years here up to this latest spate of moisture I have seldom seen rain, never this much and never this steady. It has now rained three times in as many days, the commute home last evening taking almost two hours instead of the usual forty minutes. Outside my window a car passes, sounding like it is fording a stream. Cairo dust has turned to muck, and there being no drainage system the neighborhood becomes a series of muddy puddles, wet trash, and street animals looking for nooks in which to stay warm and dry, as do I.
I decide to walk, something I haven’t done much of recently. I figure I’ll take some pictures of puddles, a phenomenon that doesn’t happen here usually unless a water main breaks, which happens occasionally. My short walk turns into a long one. Here, an hour after the rain the cats look amazingly dry, though the streets do not. Pools are everywhere and walking is an exercise in zigzagging across the street to make my way around ankle deep or deeper water. I pass motorcycles and cars, stalled in the humid day. They are used to running on dust. Three men push one casualty to a dry place out of the temporary lake in which it found itself stuck. I see my breath, inhale deep and realize I’ve just enjoyed taking a full breath of rain cleansed air. It’s not often that we can enjoy this kind of a day.
There is no wind and so it is not really that cold as I walk, comfortable in a jacket. I have no hat. I make my way along, then across tracks, through a gap in a hedge, then down along the water main project, more complete than my last walk, past familiar photographs and to Road 9. It starts to rain. The vegetable man is there, smiling despite the sky. An abandoned villa has partially burned. Is there a fire department? As I move along the road it seems oddly busy for a rainy day. Farther along there is some kind of event going on. Businesses have tables out on a section of cordoned off road, handbills are distributed, groups gather, friends run into one another and near the market a band is playing. In my opinion, they’re not very good.
The rain is now steady. I duck into the market for respite, then I make for home. As I leave the store I find myself appreciating the rain, reminded of an autumn day in Seattle, my hair wet, the random drop sliding down my forehead. By the time I reach my apartment I am wet. It feels good. I take off my jacket and turn on the heat.