Saturday, March 11, 2006
Saiidi Concert: The Messengers in Upper Egypt
We just got back from an amazing trip to Minia otherwise know as ‘The Jewel of the South’ ! Minia is a pleasant three hour train ride from Cairo, one of the first cities in ‘Upper Egypt”.
For some, reason, the government is freaked out by having foreigners in Minia. When we arrived, all the transit workers were saying stuff like “six Americans have arrived” into their walky talkies– we were the buzz of the station.
A van was waiting for us as well as a car of armed guards who followed behind for our protection. They took us straight to the Jesuit Compound, a walled compound heavily guarded.
The compound was wonderful. They gave us cozy rooms with beautiful balconies right above the theater where we were supposed to perform and fed us amazing meals in the restaurant downstairs.
After dinner we wanted to go for a little stroll on the Cornish. The gates were locked so we told the security guards we wanted to go for a little walk. Wow! What an ordeal!
Everyone got on their walkie talkies and it took a half hour to organize everyone until they let us walk outside. With us were two plain clothed security guards leading us, a couple armed guards behind us and a truck full of soldiers crawling beside us! Everything that we did, they reported into the walky talkies – stuff like, “ok, now they’re crossing the street. Now they stopped to pet a cat. Now they’re looking for a place to have shisha”. When we stopped for tea we also ordered drinks for the eight people guarding us. By the end of the walk, we were quite friendly with all the guards – they were very nice guys.
Whenever we asked them why they needed to guard us so heavily they just shrugged and explained that they are being very careful because not many foreigners come to Minia and they just want to make sure nobody kidnaps us or anything.
The next morning they took us out on a boat on the Nile. It was a old boat and it was a windy day, so in the middle of the boat trip the sail broke and the boat almost overturned! We all rolled around the boat frantically clutching our drums!
But we had nothing to worry about because the speed boat of security guards that was following us came right to the rescue and pushed us to shore. You see, there are advantages on being guarded wherever you go!
Rami, Raquy, our host Joseph and Security Guards on the Nile!
The concert was the best one yet. The place was packed with people, and what an audience!!! They were clapping, yelling and singing along for the whole show!
I saved the new song , “Do Saidi” for last and called up one of the guards, “Akram”, who’s also a great drummer, to play with us. The energy was amazing!
Now we’re back in Cairo – it’s nice to be able to walk around freely! But I’ll never forget the special concert in Minia, and I have a feeling I’ll be back there next year!