Flying into Egypt, I was given a one-month visa, which I got right at the airport for a small fee. One is allowed to overstay for two weeks, however, so I'll likely take advantage of this. I'm getting more comfortable in Cairo, and why not?
In any unknown neighborhood, you must figure out where you can drink coffee, eat affordably and buy the basics, and if you're partial to green bottles with cheery labels, where you can get buzzed for just a slurry song.
A conservative Muslim country, Egypt is not exactly a bar hopping paradise, but there are hoppy joints. Being right downtown, I have options.
Since my hotel receptionist is an Armenian, he has no qualms about boozing, "But I don't really socialize. Prices have gone up. I go home and stay home." He lives near the Giza Metro Station.
"Let's go to Stella!" My treat, of course, except I haven't been able to find it. It has no sign.
Although alcohol consumption is allowed, it must be discreet, so no loud music or butt flossed bartenders, such as they have in even frostbitten Michigan. Nothing like Hooters, in short. (Hey, there's an untapped market here. Go for it!) Most of Egypt is bone dry.
Prowling around looking for elusive Stella, I have been approached by unctuous strangers who began their pitch with "my friend." In any country, it's never a good sign.
When I replied to a dark, scrunchy faced man in English, he blurted, "Ah, you're an American! My wife is from the Windy City." Yeah, right. "What do you do?"
"I'm a writer." I wanted to see where this was leading.
"Fantastic! I'm an artist."
"Yes. My studio is right there." He pointed. "Let me show you."
Following this fellow, I was led into a small souvenir shop jammed with miniature pyramids, sphinxes, cats, nefertitties, pharaonic icons luridly painted on supposedly papyrus and body oils with exotic or concupiscent names, such as you'd find in American ghettoes. There's none tagged "Barack Obama," however.
"Would you like a cup of coffee?"
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