five minute friday: fly

November 22, 2013, Michaela Evanow, 7 Comments

We write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

I don’t think of flying when I hear the word: fly. I think of a fat fly, that landed sunny side up in my pita wrap.

This fly gave me my first eyeful of poverty and lack of sanitation and food, that a huge chunk of the world depend on.

But we bought this food, didn’t receive it from an NGO, didn’t scrounge through the garbage bins for it. So this food was in better shape than most.

I saw the sun bake cow pies on rooftops in this city, a city made of garbage. And I saw pita bread, the pita we ate nearly every day, bake in the same vicinity. It was the worst pita I’ve ever had, and to this day, I still resist pita eating.

It tasted like dirt, and air, really, like dirty air. We lived here for three months, in Garbage City, in this bustling, bursting city in Egypt. Cairo, often romanticized for the pyramids (that reside in Giza) or the museums, the Nile, the spices and markets, now has a smudge across it’s name.

But before all that, we lived there and ate street food. This fly, a big juicy sucker with iridescent saucer eyes, and thick, tangled wings, was pushed into the hummus, pushed down deep. After a few bites, I took a look at what I was eating and noticed him there, fully intact, thank you Lord.

I was done lunch for the day. I had the luxury of throwing out my food, and filling up with biscuits and tea, pomegranates and thick yogurt, in our home up the hill. Many did not have this luxury, and still don’t. They survive off of garbage picking and sorting. The city is divided into blocks. Families, for generations, sort through the same types of garbage. Food scraps, metals, plastics, paper. They sort, and they recycle, and sometimes they might come across a gem, like a watch or new piece of clothing, something they can sell and feed their family with.

And through the mud and mire, they smile. They whoop and holler and do the mundane. Muslim and Coptic Christian, violence and peace erupting here and there.

Outside our door, the hum of the Coptics praying, waving vessels of frankincense, filling the trash laced air with an earthy sweetness, with a holy scent, a covering.

And through the mud and mire, they worship. They welcome new babies, celebrate marriages, bury their beloveds, protest for their freedom.

In the muck and stink, they smile.

garbage city cairo


  • Reply Barbie November 22, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    This post, truly an eye opener. Blessings!

  • Reply sarah sandel (@stsandel) November 22, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    what a vivid picture! stopped by from lisa-jo’s blog…so thankful for your experience and perspective. thanks for sharing this!

    • Reply Michaela. November 23, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      Thanks for stopping by Sarah!

  • Reply leah November 22, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    What a sobering post. And that is a good thing. Sobering is good. Thinking of the whole “fly” metaphor, {I immediately thought of “flying”} it amazes me and humbled me to the point of tears of how other Christians live, with more fruit of the Spirit spilling out of them in squalor and disease than I do in extravagance and perfect health. Its His Spirit that sets apart and free, not so the situation of our lives. I am glad you followed the Spirit’s leading in this post.

    • Reply Michaela. November 22, 2013 at 10:25 AM

      Thanks Leah. Your words are so true. We have much to be grateful for and yet we are often selfish. Something needs to change!

  • Reply hjcameron November 22, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    That is a very visual post. I’ve been to Zambia Africa and seen the smile of people in a situation that we would find devastating. I found the human spirit humbling and inspiring.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply Michaela. November 22, 2013 at 10:24 AM

      Thank you for writing Heather. I love making things visual 🙂

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