Oct 30: Aswan to Alexandria

Up at 3:30 am for flight from Aswan (in the far south of the country) to Cairo and the drive to Alexandria (in the north). Traffic is equally crazy, but the temperature has dropped radically. We even had a little rain on the way.

Visited fascinating catacombs that combined in the design and decoration Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman motifs.

We are staying in a hotel overlooking the Mediterranean. Definitely a European, Belle Epoque in style and feeling. We are a block from the Cecil Hotel, the site of much that goes on in Lawrence Durrell’ Alexandria Quartet.

Had discussion of both Palace Walk and The Yacoubian Building. As always, we did not come away with a shared interpretation of the two books. Some were more focussed on the distinguishing particularities of Egyptian society, while others found more meaning in the timeless and universal themes. I am reminded of the fresco in the Sistine Chapel, “The School of Athens,” with Plato pointing up and Aristotle pointing down. Whether we are more Aristotelean or Platonic in our orientation, I think all of us had our understanding enlarged from the dialogue. We will have a chance to talk about the books with some Egyptian university students on Monday.

Look forward to a good sleep between fine Egyptian cotton sheets.

School girls in their uniforms.

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