Yesterday was the 4th of July, America’s main national holiday and the date on which the Second Continental Congress unanimously adapted the Declaration of Independence, announcing the colonies’ separation from Great Britain. I happened to be out of the country, but I could still smell the patriotism roasting from across the pond.
In celebration of America, I partook of my first McDonald’s food since I’ve been here: a chocolate sundae that cost roughly 99 cents. I had no regrets and I have a feeling I’ll be frequenting the McDonald’s 100 yards from my house slightly more often now that I’ve tasted the simplicity and reliability of soft serve ice cream and chocolate syrup. In addition, I and some fellow students sang patriotic songs like Born in the U.S.A. and God Bless America before another failed lecture on security that did more to anger and confuse than assure anyone. Later on that evening I savored some non-local beverages as well as non-local pork ribs grilled to perfection while singing more songs, campfire style, without the campfire. The night ended appropriately with tribal dancing on a carpet wall from a bedouin tent in southern Iraq.
One of my favorite moments of the day, however, was when I and 2 other CASA students were sitting on the shaded lawn inside the campus of AUC Tahrir having a boy scout/hippie dippy moment while singing “Such Great Heights” by Iron and Wine. Less than 200 yards away from us, on the other side of the wall, lay Tahrir square, the locus of current unrest complete with sit-in tents, non stop traffic, and general pedestrian mayhem. The two worlds could not have been more different, though it might not be impossible to mix them.