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Updated: Aug 25, 2022

First Part

May 16, 2022 at 11.00 am, Fiumicino, Italy

Ashraf's radiant face speaks for itself: a longtime travel agent feels at home only at the airport!

Unlike the difficult November departure for Cairo due to Italian restrictions, this time the check-in clerk does not hide his skepticism in looking annoyed at our "Green Passes" (why "Green?" To distract us from the word " pass "and make us believe that they are also good and ecological ???).

The flight with Egyptair is pleasant, comfortable and wide (other than Ryanair!), You don't even feel the take-off and landing!

Gamil and Georges, two of Ash's close friends, came to pick us up at the airport in Cairo; they are tired and hot but go through the rush hour traffic in the city and take us to Shobra, where Ash's mother is waiting for us.

Ash and Angele have not seen each other for five years, one was, after the loss of her husband, almost 4 years in the US, the other was "stuck" for years in Italy, which has become an open-air prison.

I am excited for their meeting, I would like to fly and leave them alone: when they see each other they hug as if it were a normal day, holding back tears so as not to embarrass me.

Shobra is the most populous neighborhood in Cairo, with almost five million inhabitants between Christians and Muslims: it is central, full of shops, stalls, concrete; I look at these people in the depths of their everyday life, with their traditional clothes (the “galabeya”), the women most of them dressed, covered up to the eyes. They say it is not a place for Europeans, Shobra, but Ash's maternal home soon becomes a familiar place, in which to "take refuge" a little from an outside so foreign to me.

During the first night I fall asleep with the noise and smell of smog from the street below, people never sleep here and all the shops are open until 4 in the morning! I manage to fall asleep, very tired, but I wake up with a start: I am in the midst of three mosques that call with loud speakers at the first prayer of the day. What a fright and what a dark voice! I get up early, I feel the heat rising, I do my daily body training, I look out of the window and I see a single woman, covered, a black spot hastily crossing an intersection where cars are parked in a double row from the night before, again unscathed, despite the night traffic.

It seems late in the morning, because at 8 the sun is already very high; I put on a "total block for the sun" cream, we go shopping at the local market, where the