Often our weekends are spent relaxing and hanging out with walks around our hood: Maadi. Recently, we decided to venture out. A couple weekends ago, we went and explored Coptic Cairo. It’s just four metro stops from where we live, which is really convenient with a baby! We spent most of the afternoon in the Coptic Museum, learning about the history of the Copts in Egypt. Afterward we visited the Hanging Church which gets it’s name because it’s suspended over a passage. Inside there is an area with a glass floor to the suspension. The land surface has risen since the Roman period which means it’s more difficult to really see that the church is actually elevated/’hanging’. It’s a really old church (3rd/4th century) and is the most famous one in Cairo.
When we visited, Sebastian had just fallen asleep and there were a few other tourists meandering about, but mostly worshipers lighting the candles beneath an old picture of their favorite Saint. Balloons of all colours hung from the ceiling in celebration of Jesus’ birthday, which for the Copts was celebrated just a couple weeks ago on January 7th. There were no tour groups, but was a calmness in the air. We just seemed to float from one room to the next, snapping photos.
After seeing the ‘sights’ we walked around the neighbourhood a bit and I practiced taking photos with the aperture setting on my camera — I’m trying to get back into taking pictures of life around us as I have been a bit preoccupied with my number one subject: Sebastian. While we walked around the side streets near the churches, I recalled our first trip to Cairo in 2005. My favourite place we explored then had been Coptic Cairo. The neighbourhood is so colourful, teaming with life around every corner. From the boy weaving a cotton sheet, to the old man sitting in the garage piled with tyres. Or the women sitting together in the late afternoon sun having tea and the little girls beckoning me to come closer to take their picture. The laundry hangs from the windows on the third and fourth floors, sometimes still and sometimes moving with ghosts in the cool breeze.
The people here are welcoming and lively. They watch you walk around and look at their lives and for a moment I feel like I can take their picture. But I don’t. My nerve has left me and I take shots of the buildings. I take shots of my husband and son. I move my camera and catch a glimpse of the policemen walking in front of us. I take a picture of a tree and shift the camera enough to get the old man in his chair, hiding from the sun. I take pictures of everything but the people. This is something I’m working towards. Getting the nerve to take their pictures too.
Take a look at the photos on my flickr site: Coptic Cairo Set. I’m also working on a photoblog with the goal of posting one photo a week highlighting our lives here in Egypt; Free As Trees Photography. It’s still in the starting stages, but check it out and stay tuned.