Friday, August 20, 2010

Independent traveler, more fun

The city of the dead in Cairo. Housing is very expensive in Cairo and the wages are low that a lot of people can't afford to live in regular apartments. So it is estimated that some 500,000 people live in cemeteries. Muslim cemeteries are large and spacious and often the relatives spend nights sleeping in the cemetery just to be close to their loved ones. Others hire or rent out these extra space to families who lives there and takes care of the place. It is a fascinationg phenomena and we hired a taxi who took us to see it and visit with a family there. They live under the most appalling conditions but can you imagine that I actually wanted to see it? I was that curious and came away with a greater appreciation of my life here in the USA. One needs to see these things in order to beter appreciate what we have at home.
Zabaleen, or garbage city in Cairo is a poignant story. While some lives in cemeteries,  others eke out a livelihood from the city's trash. There are some 20 million people living in Cairo, there's not enough housing and a lot of apartments are illegal. The collapsing of these buildings are pretty frequent. I have friends living in the USA who are originally from Cairo and they are scared to death of visiting Cairo because they are christians. The christians are second class citizens and are never allowed any jobs. A lot of them resort to collecting the city's trash and bringing it back to the Muqqatum hills just outside of Cairo. Here the trash is sorted, they retrieve the recyclables, the food scraps is fed to their animals, mostly donkeys and pigs. the rest is incinerated. This proves a very environmentally effective way of trash disposable. However these trash pickers or 'Zabaleen' lives with trash all their lives, they sort in their homes, store them in their homes, the place reeks of trash. It is a very poignant way of life. It was hard for us to see it at first, considering Egypt was such an advance society in ancient times and modern Egyptians have been reduced to this....
How can I ever forget Sicily? Villa Casale de Romana, Villa Palagonia, Caltanisetta.......
My favorite is Villa Palagonia.
One can only see these places as an independent traveler. That's why hard as it is, I'll still be an independent traveler. Though sometimes when we get so tired, we wished we had a tour bus waiting for us.I don't think there is any saving in terms of money being an independent traveler. I think it cost more money but the thrills are different and much more and that makes up for everything.

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