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walking in Wadi Digla, Cairo.

I used to come here everyday about four years ago when it was free to enter (now costs 5LE) and often I would be the only person walking. I explored al the sub wadis and found all the caves (I think) along the full extent of its 12+ km. I even went further, up through the narrow canyon head to the wide garbage strewn expanse the other side but I always preferred the lower reaches, easier to get to without a car. Oh I’ve done my driving up and down the Wadi- makes it easier to get to the caves and the good bits but then I noticed so many others were driving too and hell, this is one city where you don’t need more cars. I thought- this Wadi- which, if you block out the odd broken bottle and plastic bag is actually very beautiful, should be always be walked, or at a pinch, ridden on a bike; though, lordy how I hate those mountain bikers- and I’m one of them. Blasting along giving the finger to the slow old walkers. Funny thing is – as soon as you cupboard the mechanicals- and start walking- your fellow bikers become the enemy. Actually the only ones I hate are the guys who steam up behind you very silently and then shout like they just dropped some fire in the hole “Coming from the left!” very loud and authoritarian- I mean- what happened to the good old bicycle bell? And while I’m ranting I saw a guy today with a monofork mountain bike –expensive kit- and he was pushing up the easy slope- walking and pushing – I mean if you’re going to ride a fancy bike at least live up to its pretensions.

OK I’m calm now- the Wadi- now invaded by school buses- we saw one today clunking along like the ambulance in Ice Cold in Alex- a big old American school bus fearful for its springs; I’ve seen taxis and microbuses full of excited teenagers all heading up and down the Wadi. Saturday is worse than Friday but usually I go there on Saturday. I’ve seen beaucoup foxes in the Wadi- red foxes- not scared of me really- also one horned viper right up at the narrow canyon end, and two eagle owls nesting for a couple of years in one side wadi- now gone I think. People say they’ve seen gazelle up there but I don’t believe it. Saw a monster gecko today, hanging on the underside of the ‘russian hut’- a small semi-ruined blockhouse much graffited.

I’ve taken these days to walking either side of the Wadi- sometimes for hours at a time. It’s windy and the view is good and there are fewer flies- one problem with the increased popularity of the place is the increase in flies- the sticky, shitty flies of Cairo that never let you alone once they’ve found you.

I still find a good stone tool or two everytime I go up there- they are primitive ancient ones but they’re the real thing, lying alongside the spent 7.62mm shell cases and dented FMJ bullets.

Barbary falcons circle overhead making that mewing whistle and the all black wheatear called zerzura is also common.

Now I have ceased loathing all the other Wadi users- the intruders I used to think of them- and downgraded the Wadi to being like a park or other public space I am happy again. I used to think- shit I must find another place to walk- but I realize this place is good for a long time yet.


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