This will probably be my last post for the next week or so, because I’M GOING TO ISTANBUL TOMORROW! I’m so excited. It’s been a long few weeks full of midterms, papers, and everything else that Egypt could throw at me. I can’t wait for a little vacation, especially in Turkey!
Again, we have school off this week for Eid al-Adha, which is kind of like an Islamic Thanksgiving, but not really. The story has to do with Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son, and God allowing him to sacrifice a ram instead. Families gather and sacrifice an animal (usually a cow, goat, sheep, etc.) and are traditionally supposed to give one third to relatives, one third to the poor, and keep one third to eat themselves. This has resulted in some interesting sights around Cairo- there are sheep running around the streets of al-Rehab (the small town near campus) waiting to be picked up by families. I’ve even heard that the ones that have already been purchased are marked with pink paint. Festive!
So, I have a vacation from November 12 to the 22, and will be departing for Istanbul with five friends tomorrow. Most of the international students are traveling pretty far outside of Cairo- some popular destinations include Beirut, Lebanon; Amman, Jordan; Dahab, Egypt; and Israel. I have yet to go to any of them! All I want to do right now is travel. I love hearing stories about my classmates’ trips, but I just end up adding more destinations to my wish list!
The study abroad students aren’t the only ones traveling right now. Emy, my roommate, returned to her home in Cairo today, after gleefully telling me about how they are planning to sacrifice a cow and have the entire family over for Eid. Eid al-Adha is also the time of year when Muslims are expected to participate in Hajj, which is a pilgrammage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. All Muslims are ideally supposed to make this trip at least once in their lifetime if at all possible. The result is that millions of people flock to Saudi around this time of year, making travel a little hectic. I’ve talked to a couple of people here with families in Saudi, and one lamented about how difficult it was to get a plane ticket home for this break. I can only imagine!
As for now, I’m off to pack and read up on sightseeing. Expect a hearty post about Istanbul next week!