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Thursday, October 17, 2013

The streets ran with blood

We're off this week for Eid, a Muslim holiday where:

Affluent Muslims who can afford, i.e Malik-e-Nisaab; sacrifice their best halal domestic animals (usually a cow, but can also be a camel, goat, sheep or ram depending on the region) as a symbol of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his only son.

(Direct copy and paste from Wikipedia)

It's a major holiday here in Cairo, but one that Ryan and I have never actually seen because we've always traveled abroad. This year, since we're trying to save a bit of money, we decided to relax at home with Q instead.

I knew that the 15th was Eid, so it wasn't going to be a good idea to go anywhere, things would either be closed or very busy.  But I had some errands to run, so I waited till the next day and headed over to the Souk in Al Rehab where we live.  It's a big open market with lots of shops in the center of town.  It's close enough to walk, so I put on my flip flops, kissed my boys goodbye and headed out to complete my errands.

I returned home about 30 minutes later with empty arms and Ryan wanted to know what happened, so I proceeded to explain my trip to the souk with the pictures I'd taken....

I wasn't sure that any of the shops would be open since we're still out of school on vacation and yesterday was the big feast day, but I thought I'd check.  As I walked up to the souk, I saw people sitting outside in chairs and there was smoke coming out of many of the chimney's so I was encouraged.  

The moment my feet hit the steps that take you down into the souk I was hit by a powerful smell, one of those smells that transports you immediately to a feeling, or a memory in your past.  It smelled like the zoo, like manure and hay and that earthy, tangy, slightly nauseating smell of many animals in close proximity.  I looked over the ledge of the staircase and there was a cow and a sheep chilling behind the ledge.  Hmmm, I thought... I assumed all the animals had already been slaughtered.

When I came around the corner there was a woman standing in the middle of the street by a huge trash truck.  She was holding this pile of stuff in her arms, long tubes and this huge bulbous sack, which I quickly realized were probably intestines.  This was the moment when it finally clicked in my brain that this might not have been a good day to come to the souk.  When I started walking down the street this is what I saw.

It was an odd experience for me because I'm normally very soft hearted when it comes to animals.  If an animal is crying or in distress it breaks my heart. So I've avoided scenes like this in Cairo, assuming I wouldn't be able to handle them. Today I felt oddly curious.  Not curious enough to stay and watch them continue butchering the animals, but I wasn't going to start crying or anything.

I started looking for the shops I needed and one after another they were all closed.  I guess it was only food type places that were open for people to buy their groceries.  But the main store I wanted to go to was on the other side of the souk, and I didn't want to come all this way and not at least check to see if it was open.  So I kept walking until I came to this...

A lake of blood running across the street. Hmmm, what to do, what to do?  this was the only way I was going to get to the store I needed, and I couldn't go to the sides of the street because that's where the animals were being butchered.  The ones creating this lake of blood.  And I was wearing flip flips, which made the prospect of stepping in blood even more unappealing. (By the way, when I got to this point in the story with Ryan he immediately looked at my feet in horror.)  :)

So I waited for the cars that kept driving through the lake of blood to stop so I wouldn't get splashed with it while also trying to hop across.  Which is what I did because I'm brave, and stubborn about meeting my goals, and also possibly a bit stupid.

In the end I made it to the shop, which was also closed, and then had to hop over the lake of blood again on my way back.

It was in interesting day, where I accomplished nothing, but will probably never forget what I saw. The day the streets literally ran with blood.


  1. Devin,I am so sorry you had to witness such an ordeal,I hope that you can forget some of this,it must be very hard to do,however you are a tough cookie,please be safe,we like for you to come home in one healthy Mama.
    I hope this awful day does not scare you for ever. I love you so much,Gm

  2. Oh wow! It really brings home the difference in cultures. Glad you are safe!

  3. Thanks for showing us some on-the-spot reporting! I faint easily, especially when I see blood. Brave you for being persistent.
    (I couldn't even watch the rellies gut about forty fish without starting to feel queasy. I'm a wimp, I admit it.)

  4. I love where you said Ryan looked at your feet because I was thinking exactly the same thing - "ewww she was wearing flip flops and I know she so hopped across that blood!"

  5. I do enjoy the manner in which you have framed this particular difficulty plus it does indeed present me some fodder for thought. However, because of what precisely I have witnessed, I just wish when the comments stack on that individuals stay on issue and dont embark on a tirade involving some other news of the day. Yet, thank you for this fantastic piece and while I do not necessarily concur with this in totality, I regard your point of view.

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