Last week we had a fun opportunity with a small group from the Coptic Church in Maadi. I have been attending a “family Sunday school” class which consists mostly of women. This class meets during the time Emma and Hannah are in their Sunday school class, and it is conveniently located in the same building. This allows me to be available if Emma or Hannah needs something from me during class time. I have enjoyed in this class, although since Layla was born, it is harder for me to attend and actually listen and understand what is being said. It has allowed me to get to know a few more people, at least by face, and perhaps not be so strange to them. When I received an email mentioning a class trip, I got excited for two reasons. First of all, trips like this always make it easier to get to know people at a deeper level. Even though people in the class are friendly to me, we haven’t actually talked very much. Spending all day in a different setting would definitely provide time for conversations. Secondly, the location of the trip was to be “Jazeerat al-Maadi” or the Maadi Island. This was a place we had seen on the Nile, and Jayson and I had recently been unsuccessful in visiting it ourselves, as we were not allowed without Egyptians accompanying us. We would now have an opportunity to visit what looked like a really nice spot.
We were not disappointed in either of our expectations. When we arrived at the church at 8:30 on Friday morning, my friendly classmates said how glad they were that we were going with them for the day. They were glad to meet Jayson and see the girls. Some seem surprised we were attending, but happy nonetheless. Around 9am, we boarded the bus to take us on the ten-minute drive to the island, and were surprised that the organizer of the trip (who is also responsible for the class in general) seemed quite upset about the few people who were late for the bus. We have learned that Egyptian appointments aren’t exactly punctual, and didn’t really expect many to be there for the 8:30 meeting time. But apparently we were supposed to be at the island by 9 for a tour, and the one responsible was not happy that we would be late. She gave a short lecture about punctuality and how we need to be punctual if we expect our kids to respect this trait themselves.
We left the church and arrived at the island very quickly. We took the three girls down with our backpacks as we had brought a few snacks and drinks for the kids.
We all just walked right onto the island, although somehow, we stuck out as foreigners because one man did stop us briefly. We told him we were with the group and he waved us on. It was nice and quiet on the island as no other Egyptians were there so early in the morning. In fact, I wondered if we had a private party because I didn’t see anyone outside our group until around 11 or 12. We all went to a shaded area of tables and chairs right next to a modern and clean playground on grass!
The girls were so excited and immediately began to play. We found some chairs to sit in and settled Layla, who was sleeping in her carseat, in a quiet corner. It was a comfortable spot to spend the day.
We took a short ride around the island in what looked like a very long golf cart which could seat about 10-12 people.
There wasn’t too much to see outside of a couple restaurants, lots of green grass, some nice flowers and the Nile.
It was an interesting view … the quiet, serene green of the island with the backdrop of the high-rise apartment buildings right across the busy road.
It seems where we were situated was the main activity hub of the island. It was good to get a view of the rest of the place, but we didn’t have any need to go there on this day.
Our whole family enjoyed a leisurely afternoon participating in different activities:
Jayson has been teaching the girls how to play chess, so they played a little game with him.
Hannah is learning the names of the pieces … here she wonders where to move the pawn.
Jayson was also challenged to three good matches from some of the men in the group. He won them all, and even had an audience by the end.
We were surprised at the large collection of bikes they had available to ride. I think there was normally a charge for them, but ours was included in the cost of the trip.
Emma spent hours riding bikes and jumping on the trampoline. She came home exhausted and sunburned and got pretty sick that night!
Hannah enjoyed the bikes too, although she couldn’t quite pedal. She mostly climbed on the playground and went on the swings. Most of the time she had a few older girls following her around and helping her. This was a great help for me too as I got to sit and chat with some of the other women.
Even Layla got in on the action. Whenever she was awake and not eating, she was in someone else’s arms. She was a big hit, being passed around and photographed. There are at least three phones taking a picture here.
It was a great trip that we all enjoyed very much. It’s just a shame we can’t visit on our own, but may help us make sure we’re on the lookout for more Egyptian visits!