We opted for a brutalist structure called the Ramses Hilton-built in 1981
one site describes it as the ‘ugliest building in Cairo”
(appropriated and altered stock photo)
It was perfect for our purposes. A well known landmark- you could see it from a distance . We created a catalog of landmarks from buildings, traffic circles, stores, bridges…
We were downtown near Tahrir
And every time we’re doing this-several times a day and night
we can’t believe we are-
doing this this sing song, walk, run, try a matador’s twist…
threading through -against the grain -of 10 lanes of African traffic
no stoplights-you had to walk like an Egyptian.
We’d head up Sherrif Street at night like locals- walking in street with men in robes, student types, a few business men in suits, shop keepers outside having a smoke
with the few cars finding their way around you on this still- old- Cairo-feeling street.
Downtown is a Neutral Zone in today’s Cairo.
You saw things like the graffiti below-things we never saw anywhere else in the city.
From a random corner of an alleyway wall.
women without head scarves
hanging out with young men in western clothes-student-looking
at the sheesha place we went to.
a stranger says “Salaam” as he passes on the sidewalk
the three places we we alternated with for dinners- where we scored Stella the perfect locally made beer
A Neutral Zone where we felt at home.