14 July 2008: Final Day and Departure

I woke up the next morning to say goodbye to Suzanne as she left for the airport. It was an abbreviated affair; neither of us is a big fan of goodbyes.

My flight not being set to depart Cairo until 3:30 the following morning, the girls were good enough to let me tag along with them through the day. I walked with them around the city, glad to be able to see areas that were new to me (though also painfully aware of the big blue hiking pack I was toting through the crowded streets). While they went off to a meeting, I hung out in a trendy café near the American University, drank iced lemonade with mint, and finished up my postcards. In the evening, I met back up with them at the center where they teach English, and their boss invited us to see their newest center on the other side of the city. My last image of Cairo was gathered as we drove with him across town at the close of day: a fiery sunset over the Nile silhouetting a commercial skyline, with two of the Great Pyramids just visible in the hazy distance.

At the new center, we were surprised to find a quaint little grassy backyard, where we were seated like VIP guests for dinner at plastic tables amidst the flower gardens. The girls' boss had bought us each a strand of jasmine from a street seller on the drive over, and we wore them in our hair and felt like perfect pixies as we dined on hotdogs, hamburgers, and hibiscus tea in our secret garden.

It grew late, and the girls and I finally parted ways, they to their home and I to the airport. Their work colleagues helped me obtain a taxi at a fair price, and generally showed unbelievable kindness to a strange girl that had stumbled into their lives for an evening. Along the drive, I chit-chatted with my driver, Mohammed, who was all smiles and so pleased to hear that I had had a wonderful time in his country. It was a long way from that first uncertain taxi ride into the city.

As I watched out the windows, the lights of Cairo streamed past me and faded into the night in the rearview. I felt truly sad to be putting it all behind me.

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