The captain said the pyramids were best seen from our left. I was sitting on the other side of the plane and all I saw was a sea of yellowish sand. One of the first things that strike me as I get out of the plane in Cairo is the dust, so fine that it encases my tongue like film. I taste it and see that the sunlight is filtered through it. I had read that Egypt is not a country but a river, and Cairo, I said to myself, isn't a city but a desert.