Saturday, 22 March 2008

Letter 33 - June 02, (1919)

The George Nungovich Egyptian Hotels Cv., Grand Continental Hotel & D’Angleterre, Cairo

Dear Family,-

Yesterday morning after breakfast I met the Russian Consul and various local celebrities and then our Cairo agent – a very nice young fellow. With him was Dr. Van Vriesland, a Dutch Zionist, a friend of Weitzman and en route to Palestine as the latest addition to the Z.C. – a permanent one. He is a lawyer, about 35 years old, reputed to be rich, and unmarried. He is a fine fellow! During the morning, I had several little things to attend to – after which I took an auto for 1½ hours and drove thru town. The contrast between the old and new portions is tremendous. The new is built in most up to date fashion with an artistically finished architecture far surpassing anything I’ve seen anywhere. The homes are all of greyish and brownish stone, orientally ornamented, surrounded by beautiful well-kept gardens. I visited several old churches and mosques.

After lunch Hazan, the Z.C agent, a friend of his, Van V., and I took a train up the Nile to what is known as the Barrage, where several branches of the river come together. At the station we hired several little donkeys, and straddling them, with our feet almost trailing the ground, we crossed a series of bridges, and river locks and dams, and trotted out into the country. It was rather hot, so after inspecting several dirty little “gypsy” villages we descended into a large, exquisitely well-kept park. There one of the attendants jabbering Arabic, led us some distance into it, and finding a large shady tree, told us to sit down. We stretched out on the cool grass, and inhaled the scents of the surrounding beautifully colored bushes about us. Several hundred yards away flowed one of the larger branches of the Nile, on which a funny looking sail would occasionally drift by. Soon the attendant returned, placing on the ground in our midst, a large tray of tea, cakes, and buttered bread. Altogether it was so delightful that we almost missed our train back – which for me would have been a tragedy.

Yesterday eve I was called for by Mrs. Golding, who took me to Heliopolis, an attractive suburb of Cairo, built out of the desert, where I dined with her and Miss Taylor.

This morning I breakfasted with Shapiro, whom I had left at Port Said to sell coal, and who had just arrived. Then I bought several typewriters, tried vainly to buy a couple of Fiats (but expect to succeed tomorrow) had some iced chocolate at Groppi’s – which beats Sherries, Huylers, and Park & Tilfords in every respect, and bought a shirt and tie for Dr. F.

Van V. had lunch with me. He left this eve at 6 for Jaffa. After lunch we met Dr. Weitzman’s brother who expects Dr. W. within the next few days. Dr. W. does not intend, however, to stay in Palestine more tan a few weeks. He hopes to come to stay permanently by the end of the summer.

I was planning to go to the pyramids this afternoon but it was too hot so I deferred it until tomorrow morning – and shall go with the younger Weitzman.

Instead I visited an American Charge d’Affairs. He proved to be a nice young man named Gottlieb from N.Y.C. and a Jew. We had a bitter Zionist discussion for over an hour which I hope resulted in another Zionist, but actually netted me an invitation to a meal. He opposed the idea mainly because he had never given it any thought, but secondly because he felt that the movement was a distinctly religious one, and Jewish religion is out of date for practical use.

This evening on returning home I received another invitation – a Mr. & Mrs. McDonald, Americans, whom I met night before last at the dance, invited me for supper tomorrow – I have not accepted yet as Mosseri & Saphir must be in town by now and I am anxious to meet the family of the former – which is the leading Jewish clan in Egypt.

I cabled you yesterday to find out what you thought about my taking a trip to Switzerland en route home, - to see Ludwig and Tante Berta.

This eve I plan to go to some Egyptian theatre-

Lots of love,


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