I arrived in Cairo the day before my birthday and I celebrated by dancing Belly Dance in a club where they sent strange covers of Italian light music; everyone was humming in Italian to get me involved and entertained, there is a long old friendship between Italians and Egyptians and many of them remember several words of our language. Ghamil and Ashraf had organized everything with rare punctuality and generosity, it was beautiful and I danced for a long time with a group of very hospitable Egyptian women.
The first day of the workshop ended with a beautiful cake and lots of songs in different languages to wish me a happy birthday!
The days of work with dance were beautiful and hard, a new group to form and a torrid heat (over 40°/45°!) with no air conditioner in the room. Once you accept to sweat even just raising an arm, let alone dance, everything is easier, the body gets going with every strategy to adapt and my daily training supports me in supercharges.
Dai giorni di lavoro mi sono ritrovata a visitare ancora le mitiche piramidi di Giza; mi sono trovata in un luogo fuori dal tempo, cercando i segni di una storia millenaria che si incarnavano nel respiro, nella luce, nei movimenti sospesi del mio corpo. Tutto era luce, sole, sabbia, incredulità, gratitudine.
Ho trovato un nuovo amico affettuoso con tre gobbe, che mi ha fatto provare l’altezza in cui vive lui e che mi ha generosamente portato a spasso in un sogno che ho forse atteso da sempre.
We met a woman who was making bread, which we were eating and we mixed with her of sand, sun, flour and smiles.
In those days we visited the oldest company of skirts for tanoura dance, finding ourselves in a distant suburb of the megalopolis where there were no roads but only a small village in the middle of the earth; as soon as we arrived we were lost and some people in traditional clothes accompanied us to this small workshop famous all over the world, an ancient family business, handed down from father to son, which is the pride of the village. The women of that family also came to know us, so silent and completely covered in black.
After nearly twenty days of racing, appointments and evenings around Cairo, together with friends and colleagues.
We flew to Sharm El Sheik and finally took a deep breath; the great Hany accompanied and supported us in unusual and extraordinary journeys.
Sinai is a place that opens your heart to a vast world, with those lights of Arabia and Jordan that I used to see across the sea in the evening. In the evening it happened to dance in the street with an ordinary woman who joyfully danced the Egyptian dance; Ash shot a short video that went viral on social media (more than 50,000 views and more than 1,000 liking it!): two so different women who make friends in a second and play happily together, as only dance can Do.
We went to Nweibaa to visit friends and literally got lost in a beautiful canyon in Bedouin territory; the jeep of our local guide, without license plates, took us in and out of the desert, I was a little impressed, because besides the language that I didn't understand, I had no reference, only rock, heat, flies and a fierce beauty around myself.
Inside the canyon I felt like a stranger, an environment beyond any previous experience of mine, where awe and devotion mix. I tried to get in touch with that place, but my skin ached under all that light and my ankles walked very insecurely over those bumps.
We then spent a day on the boat, visiting the Ras Mohammed Park from the coast and living hours in an incredible sea and landscape.
On this occasion I had the underwater baptism, a bit claustrophobic for me inexperienced, but nevertheless made unique by the colors, in animal and vegetable form, that I encountered.
Back in Cairo we resumed our everyday Egyptian life in our Shobra, the most populous and popular district of Cairo, where if at first the inhabitants on the street looked at me perplexed, then they got used to my presence and in the street where we lived they had begun to smile and say hello. In Shobra many dress in traditional clothes, the women are covered, it is full of shops, stalls, markets, street vendors, carts, tok tok, people in the street smoking Shisha "Nargilè".
It is really true when they say “Shobra is Egypt”…
During a journey, I turn my head and see a surreal image, for me growing up with the smell of leather goods everywhere in Florence. I smile amused and think of my father and his long work in the Made in Italy of High Fashion ...
I also got used to the constant prayers of the 3 mosques around Ash's house, so much so that they no longer woke me up in the first dawn prayer; I ate with them what they ate, my intestine happily survived the kofta (meatballs), falafel, Egyptian pizza (excellent dough), pita with humumus (Egyptian bread with chickpea sauce), fresh guava and mango juices, eating on the street, by street vendors who then asked me what I thought of their food and every time I thought of only one thing: it's delicious, very vegetable and very digestible! Angele, Ash's mother who was waiting for us at home, spoiled us with machi (a cabbage, meat and rice roll), molokhia (a peculiar vegetable puree) and let us taste the wonderful Egyptian pastry now distributed by Syrian immigrant families. The women of the family, Saly, Fetan, Sahar pampered us with ancient gestures and filled us with hot tea (it's necessary in the heat, remember?) and homemade biscuits with aniseed and spices. The days go by too fast when we would like to continue to contaminate ourselves with other ways of living and inhabiting time and space; so we find ourselves in a wonderful evening along the Nile with our wonderful students, in a very hot October sunset. We say goodbye, for now, leaving each other with lots of stories and hugs, and the promise to dance again.
And arrives on the last evening in New Cairo, for a dinner with Ash's brother friends, who are our family over there. They are long evenings, which should never end, which exorcise their fear of not seeing each other for a long time, as has happened in each of their lives, divided in different countries for common needs
Starting to go to another country often, 2022 has given me so much to learn. In the almost three long trips I've made to Egypt this year, I've come in contact with something that was already inside me, but I still couldn't live it.
I wish everyone to get out of this Eurocentric and tired Europe: get out, get away, change your perspective. Better or worse, it doesn't matter, however it's different.