After a long ten-hour flight, our plane made a graceful turn into the airport and gave us our first close-up view of Cairo: the Pyramids of Giza – the one landmark that we could recognize by sight! After we collected our bags, we were met by Marian, a representative of the taxi company hired by Fulbright to take us to our hotel. She was very sweet but interrupted our conversation to speak very firmly (in quick, forceful Arabic) to a younger man wearing jeans and a long sleeve button up shirt who had been walking closer to us. She was soon in some type of argument and loud enough to draw the security guards in the lobby. The scene continued for about ten minutes as she very firmly explained herself to the guards, gesturing at the man and at times pointing to the pistol which was openly tucked in the back of his pants.
After the man left to stand outside and Marian seemed finished making her point with the guards, we asked her what happened. She said that the man had given her a rude look and she does not appreciate it when men give her such looks and so she had made her views known. It was an interesting first experience in Cairo: a strong women demanding respect and an un-uniformed man openly carrying a firearm and seemingly unaffected by the whole interaction. If our first weeks are any indication, our time here is going to be filled with interesting and at times weird (even by Egyptian standards according to our Arabic professor) experiences.