Now, you may wonder what happened after my trip to Mount Sinai – or not. Well, I’ll tell you anyway. As Mubarak resigned and things started to get back to normal in Cairo, our school reopened. Isabelle, my flatmate, came back from Canada on Friday 25 February, only to pack her bags and leave for good the next week, as she had experienced modern civilisation back home and couldn’t stand to come back to chaos and dirt. I couldn’t really blame her, even though I was quite sad to say goodbye to my shortest flat share to date – 1 month! Ouch. Anyway, things have been really quiet here – what a surprise! My only highlight every week has been my trip to the gym to attend a body combat class – not your idea of a fun place to be, right?
Last week, we had a bank holiday weekend and Mario and I decided to go and have some fun somewhere – real fun I mean: drinking and partying all weekend! Obviously, we had to leave Egypt for that... and we didn’t want to waste time on long flights, so Europe was a no go. We compared prices and decided to go to... Beirut, Lebanon. Many colleagues had told us it was a real Middle Eastern gem and a great place to party, so off we went for a three day weekend of booze and fun, or so we hoped. When we first arrived at the airport, we were pleasantly surprised, as the whole place was slickly modern and spotlessly clean, unlike what we experience on a daily basis in Cairo. And our experience of Beirut just confirmed that we both made the wrong choice when we decided to go and work in Egypt: Beirut rocks! This is such a great city, a mixture of East and West, with a very liberal crowd: there were women wearing skirts in the streets – when you’re looking for women behind headscarves and burkas in Cairo! –, there were bars at every corner – when only two shops are authorised to sell alcohol in my Cairo borough! –, there was a genuine variety in the architecture of the buildings - when all the blocks of flats in Cairo have these dull brownish looks!... Beirut basically offers everything Cairo doesn’t!
As we were walking on the pavement – yes, another thing Cairo hasn’t got! – we felt like we were in any modern European city – except we were not in Europe – and it felt great. Now I have to be honest with you, and what really made me fall in love with this city is its beautiful people... Ok, objectively, they’re not more beautiful than in any other Arab people, but unlike Egyptian people in Egypt, they actually look clean and neat, and it does make a difference!
At some point, we were in a bar and I was eyeing the waiter up, when a gym queen came to me, said I was handsome and asked if I fancied going back to his place later on... Please, why do you bother with the handsome bit, when all you want is my arse?! Anyway, I politely turned his offer down, when he told me “my boyfriend” could join in if I wanted to... Oh my, he actually thought Mario and I were a couple, and yet he tried to pull me, what a dirty little slag! After a second polite negative response from me, he went to a waiter – not the one I fancied –, chatted to him and eventually came back, saying the waiter was ok for a foursome... OMG, out of all places, who would have thought I’d be offered a foursome in Beirut?! I had to say yes or he would have kept up asking people around for a gigantic gang bang!!!... Only joking, I said I wasn’t interested and he got the message, well at least he didn’t speak to me after that. But it was a funny experience, and the funniest thing is that when I told Mario – oh yes, because he was chatting someone up at the other end of the bar while all this was happening – he actually said I should have agreed, as he quite fancied the gym queen... What a dirty little slag!
Anyway, we had a fantastic weekend, and I must say I was very sad to leave wonderful Beirut and go back to boring Cairo... but the positive thing is that this whole trip completely changed my opinion about the Middle East and made me realise there are some great places out there!