Chapter 7

One thing I forgot to mention about the rehearsal dinner last was that after the many beverage toasts and thank you's got started, the men were all given a Fez to wear.  A Fez is the round, red hat with a tassel that made each one of us to appear to be an Egyptian except when we said something in our native language, like "thank you'll" for something.  I also need to correct my description of our ladies leading the dance.  They were doing a "Conga line", even though it may have appeared to be a "combo line" dance  because we included many people in the long, curving procession around the top of the hills inside of the tented area.


Now, on to May 28, 2010.  Our mature foursome decided that since we were up way past our curfew last night, we would sleep in a little late, except for Sandy who was actually trying to do some good in the Rotary world with a meeting at the elegant 30 star Marriott at 9am.  Bud was left counting sheep and Donna snored until 11:30 am.  I awoke around nine to restart my story telling and ventured down to the lobby for email connection about 10 to learn that we had lost our return flight out of Cairo due to a strike at British Airways.  However, no real harm done, American rerouted us through Frankfurt and  back to DFW next Tuesday.  Bad news is that we have to leave Cairo at 5:35 am  which is about the time we have gotten used to returning to our affordable lodging.


Since this was to be a day of relaxation, we went to a little café next door for lunch.  I  had a  banana milkshake and a caramel coated  cheese cake.  We returned to our rooms for a 30 minute snooze and then walked up the street for a peak at the Nile River and a visit to an amusement park where we were rejected because it was a "private park, not for Texans.  We turned around  and walked by to the same quaint little café and some of us had desert while I was scolded for even considering the ice cream.  We returned to the hotel and prepared for the bus trip (all out of town guests were provided with bus trips to all three of the official events-wow!).  Our chariot arrived around 6 pm and we started the delicate process of getting the big bus between the small space available between cars double parked around our hotel.  The driver was successful after several shouting matches and the utilization of his loud horn.  We wandered through the maze of traffic in Cairo to an old part of town and stopped at a busy intersection as our driver gestured for us to leave the safety of our chariot and walk down something that appeared to be a sorta paved, sorta rough and unpaved wide path (it was a road of some kind)  to an opening in a wall about 300 feet away through a pretty rough looking neighborhood. 


We mustered our courage and did as instructed and entered into the gardens of the Manial Palace and a completely new world appeared as if entering Disney World.  We walked up the steps to the palace and into "The Golden Room" for the wedding.  In this room, all ten guests from our Rotary District were seated starting at the isle in the second row of seats, just behind the groom's family. 


 This "room" was magnificently adorned with 20 foot gold leaf columns around the walls that led to a high ceiling with more beauty.  There were five wide (bay window size) windows behind the throne area that were emphasized by two stain glass windows of different designs for each of the large windows.  There was red, rolled carpet from the base of the outside steps to the throne.  Words cannot really describe the beauty of this palace.  The back-ground music leading up to the ceremony was performed by a fifteen piece chamber orchestra and a conductor and was like almost ceremony in  the United States and included "It's Now or Never" and I did keep looking around for Elvis to appear.  


With the traditional "Here Comes The Bride", we all stood as the beautiful Nora was brought in by her father.  The ceremony was in English, except for the Best Man's Reading and the Matron of Honor's Reading, which were in Arabic.  Charles, the groom read his vows in Arabic and then Nora, the bride read her vows in French.  My keen Texas hearing was utilized to decipher the different accents.  It was a magnificent ceremony in a wonderful setting that all of us will remember forever!


After the recession, we departed down the carpeted stairs and turned to enter the Manial Gardens for the wedding reception.


Breathtaking!  We could see down a very long stone paved path way through hanging tree limbs, vines and bushes highlighted by imaginative illumination.  However, we had no idea as to the length or depth of the Garden.  We strolled forward, stopping every twenty feet or so to enjoy an assemblage of beautiful objects and take photos.  In the background, we could hear music from a Saxophone and eventually saw the talented musician as we traveled the pathway to arrive at the actual wedding reception in a huge open area of the Garden.  At an earlier date, someone told us that there was seating for about 700 for the sit down dinner. It appeared to be true.


The wedding was at 7 pm and the reception started at 8pm and was to continue to 5:30 am.  The bus was available to take us back and forth to hotel to rest and return till the reception was complete at 5:30 am.  As you might guess, this "rest and return" concept was not something us mature people ever really considered!


Back to our story.  The seating was interesting in that there were the high, bar stool type of tables and chairs for the 30 year old friends of the newly married couple and normal chairs with strong backs for the mature crowd.  Seating was designated and we had a table next to the groom's family.  The menu included Trio of  Marinated Gravlax, Beetroot, Pepper and Dill, Smoke and Marinated Fresh Salmon as appetizer followed by Lemon and Mint Sherbet and the main course of Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Mushroom Risotto in Parmesan Basket,Vegetable, served with Moutarde a~ l'ancienne" Sauce followed  with Vanilla Panacota, Berry  Compote and Green Apple Sherbet topped off with Tea and Coffee.  I can remember this menu because it is identical to the servings that we have in Plano, Texas at our Rotary club every Thursday, except for Thanksgiving.


In addition to the planned menu, there was plenty of lobster, shrimp and oysters for the asking and about a 1,000 various deserts in a tented area just for the asking.


Snacking started around 8:30 pm but dinner was not planned until about 10:30 pm when the majority of the non-wedding party guests were expected to arrive for the all night reception.  The dance platform was the center of all attention and included flashing floor lighting with emphasis from unique strobe lights and all was instantly seen on the 20 foot high screen as it was recorded by the telescoping camera and crew members.


The new bride and groom were presented from a high, stepped platform above the dancing area accompanied by a spectacular display of fireworks.  They descended the steps to be greeted by about 20 dancing ladies with candelabra's on their heads.  After the customary dance by the new bride and groom, the parents danced and then others started dancing.  Around 10:30 pm, disco type dancing lead the scene and continued forever (I can only assume that fact, as it was still going on when we left).  Around 12 or so, the happy couple opened a huge Texas size bottle of Champaign and the pyro-technicians out performed most July the 4th presentations that we see in the good ole USA.


We danced, ate and appreciated meeting many people and finally gave in to old age and left about 1 am amid lots of dancing and sheer enjoyment.  We understand that the reception did continue without us and ended when the Egyptian sun began to rise over Cairo.  These wonderful people really know how to "throw a party"!


However, I do think that i heard future Rotary district 5810 governor Sandy Forster say something like "wait until you see my installation banquet"!


More late, your Egyptian scribe, lbs