09 August 2007

Aug 8 – Third day for training

Levaquin is the miracle drug! I woke up feeling much improved…not back to 100% but at least I’m not in pain any more. Food is still going to be a tentative proposition but I think I’m back in the game.

Training went well in the morning. The students entered more trials than any other training I’ve done. Woo-hoo! That means we should have a good amount of data for reporting tomorrow.

In the afternoon, we did some database reporting but kind of got bogged down in some statistical analysis discussions from one student. It kind of went on too long and if they come up again, we’ll need to table them for off-line discussion…it’s really outside the scope of this training.

But it was a successful day of training, all in all. We wrapped up around 5 and El Banna took Keith and me back to the hotel.

He picked us up again at 8:00 to go to supper. He took us to a place called Al-Azhar Park. It was absolutely gorgeous! The building was, as El Banna put it, a blend of Islamic and Andalusian styles. It’s set up on a small hill and has an impressive panoramic view of the city. The grounds are green with many winding, open paths with some lights scattered along the way. It costs 5 pounds to get in the gate and you have to drive there…it’s far to walk from about anywhere…so it’s out of reach for average Cairene.

It’s popular for weddings and there was a wedding party there while we were there. You can tell the wedding vehicles because of the specific way they drape white veil ribbons over the car and affix flowers to it.

There was a 3-piece traditional Egyptian group playing music. It’s similar to the music I was listening to with Shima and Tarek…but less ‘loud’, a bit slower and without the heavy beat. I like both.

El Banna said this music they were playing was from a very famous singer who died about 25 years ago. The traditional songs last an hour or two or more. There is a special radio station that plays the songs in thier entirety.

We had a table out on the terrace. Actually, all the seating was outside. In a place where it very rarely rains, you can get away with that. The night was absolutely perfect to be outside…the temperature was very comfortable with a light breeze, low humidity and no bugs. There were too many lights to see any stars but the city lights made up for that. From the terrace we could see the mosque of the Citadel lit up, the Cairo Tower, and other mosques and buildings I couldn’t identify. It’s a phenomenal view!

After supper, we walked in front of the restaurant building on the lit paths, taking the long way back to the car. It’s a very lovely, peaceful place with children playing…rolling like logs down the slope…couples walking hand-in-elbow, young people congregating on park benches, and people walking the paths.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was about midnight. I was dead but the streets were humming. There are people everywhere! It’s typical of cities the world over, I think…certainly the ones I’ve been to. Going out to eat at 8pm is early. Staying out until the wee hours is the norm. All I can say is, these people must not have to get up in the morning… And, given the unemployment rate, that's very likely.