Cairo is noisy like a crackling fire, always moving, like the Nile. The energy of the city envelopes you as soon as you land. It is a place of connections, of meetings and calculated coincidences. This is how I found Manuel Álvarez Diestro. This is how I found New Cairo. The last day of my first visit, he would take me there by taxi. It is a secret place. A mirage in construction, fortified in silence. I would promise to myself I would return.
It is a secret place. A mirage in construction, fortified in silence. I would promise to myself I would return.
At three o’clock in the morning, it’s time to get up. In twenty minutes Eslam and Abdu will be here. As I’m drinking a cup of tea Cairo sleeps still, submerged in a heavy quiet which is broken by the sound of an approaching car. I look out the kitchen window, and go quickly down to the street. We take the highway to New Cairo. It is almost empty. In an hour, it will be the biggest traffic jam on the planet.
We’re sleepy. Nobody remembers how long we’ve been taking this same road. The days and the journey repeat themselves. The travellers feel like they’re moving through infinity. Heavy with fatigue, we reach New Cairo. The sun rises boldly on a street without houses.
We proceed through a dreamlike landscape, imagined by an architect in the middle of the desert. There’s electricity and also water… Will there one day be people too? Half-finished buildings mixed with naked scaffolding emphasise the emptiness.
In the middle of nowhere, we come across a palm tree. As we approach, the mirage clears. A tree under construction. A telecommunications tower.
For the last week we’ve been in this routine, but this is our last day. Identical to each and every one of the days past. It’s an odd feeling but after coming here day after day, New Cairo has become familiar to us.
A dog barks and we look at each other, surprised that there’s life in this place. We take our final leave.