A couple weeks ago, Neal and I had a bonus day come upon us. The kids had school but Neal had off work. We decided to take the opportunity and go sightseeing at the Citadel and the Cave Church. What I didn't realize was that to get to the Cave Church, you have to drive through Garbage City.
Garbage City is aptly named. It is a city built on, out of, and in, garbage. Years ago, the Coptic Christians (the majority of people in this area) started collecting the city trash, sorting it, and recycling it, burning it, selling things made from it, and living in buildings submersed in it. As the population is largely uneducated, foreigners are not welcomed, so photos are not encouraged. Since we were in an armored van, I took hundreds of blurry photos as we jostled through. It is strange to see children sorting through garbage, helping with the family business, from the time they can toddle. The streets are unpaved, uneven, and precarious. The flies don't swarm, they sort of hover in a cloud giving the appearance of haze. It was incredible. The whole experience made me want to get out and get to know these fascinating people.
As they are Copts, there are crosses everywhere, on buildings, clothing, tattooed on their wrists or chests. You see paintings of Christ or of Mary (poor Joseph always getting left out) on the sides of buildings. I can hardly paint the picture of such a colorful, place built on garbage.
To give you a glimpse, here is a small sample of what we saw. To say it was incredible and overwhelming is a vast understatement. Part of the reason I have had a hard time blogging here is that I have no words for what I see. I only know that my own personal worldview is changing and that I am changing. There is no "us" and "them". We are all in the same boat, struggling to stay upright, and trying to provide a life for our children.
*Sorry these are not flawless photos. I had to take them through double-glass in a moving car.*