Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trip to the Aquarium

Each weekend we are going to try to spend one day resting, cleaning the apartment, doing laundry and staying in the neighborhood and the second day venturing to see one of the sights around town.  The Community Services Association (a great center for expatriots) has a library which we joined so I was able to take out a book called Cairo, The Family Guide.  We're going to pick places to visit from this book every weekend.  This weekend, our trip was to the Aquarium and Fish Gardens.

The gardens (which here mainly means parks with trees) were a nice place to walk around but Cameron's favorite thing was the caves.  These caves appear to be human-made with piles of concrete or something like it.  It must have been a lot of work to make them.  The largest part of the caves was as high as as a large two story house and they had many bats hanging from the top.  I couldn't see them well except for one clump hanging near a hole that let sunlight in.  But we could hear them!   The squeaking of the bats was loud because of the echoing effect of the caves.  At first I wondered if the sounds were tape recorded and amplified because they were so loud, but I think that's unlikely since nothing about the park was high-tech.  

The aquarium part was different from aquariums we've visited.  There were a few 6 foot long tanks with fish in them, and many empty tanks, some with what looked like pickled fish in large jars.  I'm not sure what they were.  One display had a set of stuffed seals.  We wondered if they had been real once.  

Cameron loved climbing on the cave and running everywhere in the park.  There was a playground and he had a great time there.  Cairo doesn't have public parks with playgrounds and there aren't fields where one can run unless you pay to enter a park.  

This park had different admission prices for foreigners and Egyptians: Egyptians = one Egyptian pound; foreigners = 20 Egyptian pounds (about $3.50).  I support this system of pricing since it makes it affordable for local people to enjoy the park and it is only fair for foreigners to help support this type of facility.  I also like that the price differences are printed right on the sign so there's no issue of having a price inflation slipped in somewhere or getting the wrong change to even things out.

There was a little twist when we went to enter the playground, a man and woman were standing outside of it holding up money to tell us that it was a two pound admission.  We paid the admission, seeing kids playing inside and grateful for a place for Cameron to have fun on a playground.  Jeff noticed after we sat and had lunch next to the playground that those two people disappeared from the playground area soon after collecting our money.  Oh well.  Next time we know.  

All in all, we had a very nice day at this odd and interesting garden.  I've never visited batcaves, gardens and a playground all in the same place before.  You never quite know what to expect, but it's always interesting.

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