Returning from Tel Aviv after nearly two weeks of visits to the American schools in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel.
The highlights? Realizing that hospitality in places like Riyadh rivals the American South and the food at The Eucalyptus, just outside the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, where I paid a visit to an English class at the Jerusalem American International School.
There I was asked to critique the essays of juniors and seniors including one by a budding diplomat from the Arab quarter of the Old City who tackled the 3 subjects of college essays I always advise to avoid at all cost: politics, religion, and sex. He proved me wrong with his exceptional piece about a city where the lives of Christians, Jews, and Muslims collide on a daily basis.
Still, not much could match my “Cairo in 8 (not 48) Hours” tour through the eyes of my oud-playing new friend, Shady, where in less than a day, I walked the oldest streets in Egypt, toured the largest collection of medieval architecture in the Islamic world, and sampled Syrian sweets from one of the oldest bakeries in Zamalek, the Manhattan of Cairo. 8 hours wasn’t nearly enough but Shady enlightened me to the works of Nobel prize winning author, Naguib Mahfouz and his novel Midaq Alley, to learn more about the largest city in Africa.