Dancing other ways
After about two hours traveling between the rocky mountains of Sinai, the desert opens onto the sea. in front of us, we see Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
We arrive at the first ecovillage of Sinai, in Bedouin territory; their children welcome us with two olive branches with raw honey, together with the girls with handmade bracelets and necklaces.
In the midst of borderline stories between multiple languages and cultures, we eat freshly caught fish; three dromedaries carried by Bedouins pass in front of us. The children, naked, go to wash them in the sea.
The adults offer us Turkish coffee made with desert herbs collected by nomads. It all seems unreal.
We go back in the dark, we stop along the road, we get out of the car to look at the stars never so close, listen to the silence, while the warm African wind caresses our face.
I had never left Europe. I never felt ready.
It took me dozens of nights and days of tales from Ashraf, my companion in fortune, who told me about his Egypt, one piece at a time. He said to me: “If we manage to go to my house one day, you will find everything. You will see things that you will not like, but you will know a completely different world: nature and people are different from those we meet here ". And so it was.
I have seen many young people, and people with unmasked faces. I discovered that in the world outside of Italy you travel regularly, you meet, you try to have a life despite the difficulties that have arisen. Egypt, which according to known local health personnel, has unimportant coronavirus numbers, adopts security measures, but with serenity. And this gave me back a confidence that I had forgotten: it is good to feel free.
In Cairo I saw many women with their heads covered, many who came from the Arab world who only showed downcast eyes, or richly dressed in shimmering opaque dresses in the latest fashion; I saw old women covered in black who limped through dark alleys. I saw one with crutches leaning against a median sitting on the ground in the sun; another on a Friday, a feast day, she was on the side of the road, in a wheelchair, raising her hands to the sky invoking I don't know which god, while on the loudspeaker there was a call to prayer. The city slowed down a little and the echoes of the mosques of the various districts crossed; impossible to forget to honor the feast day!
I saw a whole family on a motorbike in the congested streets of Cairo, and a couple who always kept a newborn in their moped. I was afraid of that little dangling head, barely held by the hand of the mother. There are no buses, my Cairo friends explained to me, they can only move around the city in this way, if they don't have a car. They have no choice.
I saw several bold men, who had fun, danced, took a bath, while their women made invisible by their clothing, stood two steps behind to melt away from heat and shyness.
However, I have also met Egyptian women who, through study, work and courage, have acquired a strength and a centering that you can hardly find here, we take everything for granted.
Hoda, our guide to the beautiful Citadel in old Cairo, who on a wonderful and fortunately not sunny day accompanied us to the Mohamed Ali Mosque, a jewel of architecture, to the Egyptian Museum (with its legendary finds!), To the pyramids and to the Sphinx in Giza, in a suspended and timeless atmosphere.
Hoda also took us to Tahrir Square, where she herself took part in the Arab Spring in 2011, undergoing difficulties and dangers, in the hope of democratic change.
Hoda, a Muslim, does not wear a veil and fought against her family for this, to study and leave the province, living alone in Cairo; she has two degrees, she speaks Italian perfectly and she raises two daughters alone who will not wear the veil, who will be able to study, work, get divorced, not accept a husband with two wives. Hoda is waiting for the Italians, who are no longer seen in Cairo, and is trying to learn Spanish as Spain frees its citizens to travel.
We then met Nada, a young girl from Cairo who travels alone and who spreads awareness of the body in her country through yoga and who wants to propose innovative and daring cultural activities.
These women want to talk and relate to us: this made me happy. I also bring with me a moment of unexpected and exciting meeting with Egyptian girls on a school trip, who were very curious to talk to me and take pictures!
Cairo is one of the largest megacities in the world; in a moment you see everything and the opposite of everything. People talk to each other continuously, even in the midst of unimaginable and apparently out of control traffic: they agree, mediate, measure, gesticulate, touch each other.
Next to old carts of corn cobs, bread, fruit and traditional street food, you see parked luxury cars; next to people in galabeya (traditional clothes), there are people dressed in an elegant and very modern way.
The sense of time is different in Cairo; when I asked what time we would arrive at a place, the friends replied: “It depends on how long it will take us to get there! We don't know! ”, But they didn't take it, they simply said“ Inshallah ”, God willing. And I replied "Inshallah", feeling stupid for the question asked, the typical Western with a mania for control.
Along the Nile, so big it seems like a sea, it is possible to navigate: my attention has rested on two men immersed in the waters up to their knees who seem to have caught some worms from the seabed that are useful for fishing;
Ash's friends: Nader, George, Gamil, George, supported and pampered us in every way; they took us around the city (taking endless lines of cars, smog and stress), they hosted us at their home, they made us eat delicious pure Egyptian cuisine in typical restaurants.
I was simply one of them, they spoke English so as not to exclude me from the conversation, then they continued in Arabic or a little in Italian, since they had followed the Italian schools in Cairo: once in the city there was a large Italian community, much loved from cairo peolpe.
The language was not a barrier, at least three were spoken in a speech, such was the desire to communicate, and for a few moments I thought I could even understand Arabic!
Shobra, the neighborhood where Ashraf grew up, is the most populous in the city, it is a real, ancient place, awaiting renovations, where Christians and Muslims coexist peacefully and where there are stalls in the street of beautiful fruit and vegetables, with giants cabbages, with which delicious rolls are made! And then the mango, the guava which are not so good in Italy!
In the historic market of Khan Al Khalili, there is the smell of incense; from the bar that was frequented by the great writer Nagib Mahfouz comes an intoxicating scent of Turkish coffee that hovers on the notes of the ancient Houd instrument. We then get lost among fabrics, spices of all kinds, cotton, jewels, hands and faces.
After five wonderful days, full of culture, history and encounters, albeit reluctantly, we leave that melting pot of people and cultures that is Cairo and take the flight to Sharm El Sheikh, where Ash has lived and worked for many years, when still were only a few hotels in the middle of the desert.
Hany, Ashraf's colleague and close friend, picks us up at the airport, accompanying us everywhere: we are among the first Italians he has seen since 2020! Here friends are such, they don't stay on the surface and they never talk about lack of time!
The days are short, November is winter for them, even if it is 32 ° and the sun sets at 17.00!
The first thing I do as soon as I arrive is jump into the water; I wanted to immerse myself in the Red Sea, the sea of the Bible and the prophets: the multitudes of colorful fish around a beautiful and colorful coral reef confirm this and I have no desire to leave that paradise, a 28 ° amniotic fluid full of light and colors!
In those days I dance at sunset by the sea, the body still takes in heat, light, oxygen, bliss. It seems to me to be alive for the first time, to dance in the midst of everything that dances: I try to let these sad Italian years slip away, full of difficulties, isolation and anguish. I miss my son Niccolò, who I can't wait to bring here, my loved ones, the people who dance with me and who make my days more beautiful in a country, mine, which has become a stranger, sad, painful, arbitrary.
Ras Mohamed National Park
Me in a Bedouin tent is a very unlikely vision, I seem out of the book "Persian Diaries" by Gertrud Bell!
My Egyptian friends seem to be in their ideal habitat: there is music, Raqs Sharqi (belly dance) and Tannura dance (ancient dervish dance). Ash can't resist the call of those evocative rhythms of darbouka, and dance, and I with them.
I am driven by none other than not one, but two, Ash and Hany, the most historic and experienced Travel Agents in Sharm El Sheikh! Cairo doc Egyptians, who after all these years of work are still very happy to make their land known to the people who arrive.
They told me the story of this breathtakingly beautiful place, I feel very lucky!
I also envy their melanin. No creams, they light up immediately with the sun!
On the surface of the water I see a ray and many fish darting everywhere, I've never seen anything like it, but where have I lived so far?
Today, April 6, 2022, when World Health Day is celebrated, I think of all the suffering, deprivation and destruction we have experienced since March 9, 2020 in Italy.
Changing horizon in that sweet autumn of Egypt, I remember feeling reborn. I wasn't hoping for it anymore.
It was nice to receive your attention that you gave us in the days of the trip, in which we posted our little reportage on social media: for us it was a symbolic way to take you with us!
Right now there is a desperate need to trace new paths, explore new coordinates in new maps of existence. Above all, we must once again cultivate the idea of dialogue, interest and respect for diversity, listen to other points of view, which remind us how small we are and how limited and limiting our perspective can be.
To make similarities prevail, before differences, to nourish trust in the human, physical, real, tangible encounter. I think this is, in the time we have available, to be truly "traveling", to dialogue with the unknown.
Now we are returning to Cairo, because they invited us to hold the first Dance Therapy workshop in Egypt from 20 to 28 May: we are honored, we can't wait to leave!
We will talk about it together in a live broadcast that will take place on our channels FB on Aprile 27th at 21.00
For those who want to follow us on our May trip, there will be streaming activities, with workshop sessions and daily live shows from Egypt, ask to join the FB DANCE TO LIVE Group: Egyptian friends are already waiting for you!