When I first started dreaming up this blog I knew I wanted to interview other Outside Moms; moms who had in one way or another inspired me, moms who I knew had the potential to inspire others. Moms like Jill.
Jill lives in downtown Cairo; she’s the wife of a US Diplomat, mother of three, an adventurer, an amazing artist and yes, an Outside Mom. I’ve been so impressed over the years at how she and her husband manage to fit in adventure after adventure. I mean really, who in their right mind moves to Egypt and immediately locates the closest and best camping spots? Not many. Thanks for doing the interview Jill. You amaze me. Thanks also go to Josh (her husband) for taking so many awesome photos.
There’s a growing movement here in the US to get kids outside more. Do you know of any such movement in Egypt?
I would say no. I think that there is not really a need for it in Egypt. Kids aren’t couped up indoors like in the US. With all the open air markets, cafes, restaurants, and the amount of walking Egyptian life requires, “outside time” and “exercise time” are kind of foreign idea to most. Kids are already outside working for income, tagging along with their parents or just roaming the streets. Egyptians stay out late too. Its not uncommon to see a whole family with young children out at 1 or 2am out and about at a restaurant or shopping. An interesting side note is that it is somewhat culturally unacceptable to take babies outside, so they often set them on their balconies so they can get some sunshine.
Living in Cairo are you able to work some outdoor time into your typical daily/weekly schedule? What would a typical outdoor outing be like?
We live in an apartment with tiny balconies that get filthy with Cairo’s everyday dust and grime. Al-Azhar Park is a beautiful green area in the middle of Cairo that has playgrounds and grassy hills. Its quite stark in contrast to the rest of the city, but you have to pay a few dollars to get in, and it is about a 15 -45 minute drive from our house, depending on traffic, so we usually only go there on weekends. We do belong to an American club house and also have access to my son’s school grounds. So our day to day options for getting outside are: swimming at the clubhouse, playing on the playground after school hours, playing on our roof top and walking in the open air markets. On the weekends we usually go to our son’s soccer/t-ball games, go explore or go camping at wadi degla nature preserve (it’s a dry wash that is near by), explore a new neighborhood or tourist sight, go to Al-Azhar park. A felucca ride on the Nile is one of our favorite ways to get outside. In Utah we used to get friends together and go up the canyon to have a campfire. In Egypt, you go out on the Nile with a big group and eat a picnic on the boat. Its surprising calm and cool on the water and you usually go out around dusk. You can also reach the Red Sea in about 1 1/2 hrs. which is a great day trip to the beach.
What are the major obstacles to getting your kids out?
There are loads of obstacles in Cairo for getting outside. The pollution is beyond any “red light recess” day in the states. Sometimes the air is so thick you can’t see the building across the street. Somedays your eyes burn. (more…)