One of our favorite activities for early Friday afternoon is to walk a nearby market street, El-Omda El-Kadeem.
We leave the apartment around 1 p.m., just as the noon prayers are finishing in the many small mosques in the neighborhood. The men and their sons are leaving to return home where the women and daughters are preparing a big afternoon meal.
The fragrance of garlic and fresh herbs cooking wafts out of the apartments and onto the streets as we pass by. Along the market street, quite a few men will stop to pick up freshly baked bread loaves dropping out of the band-ovens to bring home for the meal. There are at least six bakeries along the quarter mile length of the street and I will stop at the last of them to pick up some dessert sweets.
We particularly enjoy this walk because it is so typical of local life and is just a few blocks way from the ring road and busloads of tourists stopping at the papyrus and perfume shops included on their day's agenda.
Linda took a picture of a butcher at work while I was in the adjacent bakery.
I picked up three good-sized sweet-rolls for 1 EGP each (about six cents each) and, of course, the shop owner offered them to me for free ("Welcome in Egypt!") but I paid.
Across the narrow street, a fruit stand offered the usual assortment with fresh strawberries and dates featured in the front.
It is about a half mile from the end of the market street to the Grand Pyramids Hotel where we traditionally stop by the pool for a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade.
The Grand Pyramids is somehow surviving the tourist slump in spite of having very few visitors. We saw only a single family on the grounds during our hour-long stay. Larger tour groups, such as those from China, are booked into the five-star hotels and the adventurous younger couples now book into the growing number of boutique-hotels that are springing up in Mena Village immediately adjacent to the pyramids.
Lemonade at the Grand Pyramids cost about two dollars for both, a real bargain by U.S. standards.
Then Prichard did something that pension experts say they have never seen before: it stopped sending monthly pension checks to its 150 retired workers, breaking a state law requiring it to pay its promised retirement benefits in full.
...The situation in Prichard is extremely unusual — the city has sought
bankruptcy protection twice — but it proves that the unthinkable can, in
fact, sometimes happen. And it stands as a warning to cities like
Philadelphia and states like Illinois, whose pension funds are under
great strain: if nothing changes, the money eventually does run out, and
when that happens, misery and turmoil follow.
...“Prichard is the future,” said Michael Aguirre, the former San Diego
city attorney, who has called for San Diego to declare bankruptcy and
restructure its own outsize pension obligations. “We’re all on the same
conveyor belt. Prichard is just a little further down the road.”