It was around 7:30 when we arrive at the hotel and we are greeted by our sponsor, Heather, and her three kids. They had brought dinner and groceries. The kids were very friendly and she was just as wonderful as I expected. We definitely got the hook-up. She knows EVERYBODY … and they all love her. And, her husband has some serious pull. She left me with several phone numbers and some info on what I might need the next day and they left. We were sooooo tired. We got to be around 10pm. Everyone was wide awake around 4AM (except Josh who slept till 2PM the next day!!) …. gotta love jet lag.
Hi Friends! Welcome to my new blog/ journal about our life here in Maadi … a section of Cairo Egypt. I have been doing quite a bit of emailing since we arrived … most of it redundant information about our experience her so far. I decided that blogging would be an easier way stay in touch with everyone! For the first post I have copied an email I recently wrote to a friend that starts with the flight out here and ends at this very moment … 1am on Thursday May 31.
Also .. most of what I write will read more “casually” … I’m not looking to be grammatically correct here .. I just want to get the info on the page, so I can have a record of my time here. 🙂
We got on the plane Saturday … it was delayed by about an hour but it wasn’t a major crisis. One thing I thought was interesting … the entire 10.5 hour flight, it was never dark. We chased the sun the whole way. We landed in Paris around noon local time and hauled booty through the airport to make it to our next flight. We had to go through security AGAIN with the Frenchies so that slowed us down a bit. We did make it to our flight in time to board. They board via buses in Paris. It’s annoying, but it is what it is. So, we get on the plane in Paris headed to Cairo and we sit … and sit .. it’s been about thirty minutes and we take off … no word from the captain. This trip was easy .. the seats had individual tv screens and the kids were very entertained by the fact that they could control their own stuff. So .. we land .. the captain comes on the loud speaker and says “We have landed about thirty minuted late due to the fact that we had to wait on that last passenger. Sorry.” HA! He sold that guy out. I just thought that was funny. We get off the plane .. ride a bus (again with the busses) and end up at the Cairo airport terminal thingy. There were about 10 guys in black suits doing the thing where they hold up the sign to find the people …. We found our name! We were sent right to the front of the passport line .. waived through no problem and ……It began! The insanity that is Cairo. HA! Baggage was mass chaos. We had two expeditors helping us, but you immediately get bum rushed by people looking for “basheek” (tips). Every time I would point to a bag it was like a race to see who could get it first. This one guys was climbing all over the belts grabbing stuff. It was a pretty awesome first 10 minutes. 🙂 Once we got some money exchanged and found all 700 of our bags ….which I might add, actually all made it in on the same flight …. we proceeded to leave the airport. We walked right through customs no questions asked and then out the door. Now, imagine this …. the red carpet in Hollywood before a movie premier …. crowds on either side of roped pathway …. Ok … Now imagine the red carpet as concrete and the people as Arabs … Now, no one was cheering and we aren’t celebrities, but we were on that concrete path … my four kids, our three carts of luggage … and they were staring … shoot, they were burning holes in us with their stares. Alyssa actually tried to cover her face. Hailey started waiving -go figure. Ha Anyway .. it was interesting and slightly uncomfortable. So now we wait on the driver who was circling the parking lot/ street (the two are synonymous here). We were loaded up and started on the journey towards the hotel. Whew.
A few of my first impressions on the drive back.
1. Traffic – it’s crazy… lots of light flashing and honking. It’s not scary though. The locals seem to understand the system and apparently it works for them.
2. Dirt – There is an insane amount of dust and dirt everywhere .. It is the desert after all. As far as the trash goes … honestly, it’s pretty nasty, but I was expecting worse, so I guess I wasn’t really shocked.
3. Ruble – There is more ruble than I expected. It all kind of looks like an construction zone. So many unfinished building and general construction “stuff” everywhere.
4. I loved the novelty of seeing goats for sale on the side of a major interstate. Not to mention their former friends carcasses right next to them, strung up on a pole … also for sale.
5. People – they are everywhere. Lots of men just sitting around with nothing to do. It’s odd.
The next morning, Heather picked David up and brought him to the Embassy to take care of some stuff and the kids and I stayed back and tried to acclimate. We either slept, watched people from our balcony, or ate. Everyone was asleep again by 2pm .. except Josh, who had just woken up. so, David got back from the Embassy around 5 and then around 6 we went to “Down stairs daouud’s” house for pizza. It’s was good to get out and see some familiar faces. He knew where our house is, so we walked by and checked it out. We couldn’t get in , but it’s huge and we have a yard … in this place … that’s a premium. The boab was all over us until we explained who we were … The boab’s here are pretty protective of their buildings.
The next day … Tuesday … We all went to the Embassy to get id cards and badges and paperwork done. Everything is super secure. All the doors weight a zillion pounds cause they are all bullet proof or something. The Embassy is like a maze … apparently on purpose … I was so lost there. So, we got that done and came back to the hotel.
(((((— side note .. I’m gonna tell you about the hotel — It’s three bedrooms, three bathrooms, full kitchen & laundry with huge living area and wrap around porch. We are on the 7th floor. It’s big – especially by our “hotel” standards, but it’s not exactly luxurious. The carpet is this brown stuff apparently made of camel hair — it reminds me of indoor/outdoor carpet. The kitchen is useable, but I don’t use it. No need to, we ordered dinner for 6 bucks the other day and got three meals out of it. The furniture is clean, but old. Think back to linoleum, avocado green and gold and fica trees, put an Egyptian spin on it and — thats the decor. Ha. So, the space is great and much better than being crammed into a normal hotel, but it’s not the penthouse suite. My favorite part is the balcony — I can watch all the happenings on the street, but they don’t see me. 🙂 Oh! and the housekeeper — It’s unreal. In the states the maid service comes in and cleans, but they never straighten things up or even touch your personal belongings. When she comes .. she does the dishes, she mops everyday, she vacuums, she changes all the linens out and makes the beds, she picks up the toys, she straightens up the living room, she folds all the kids blankets … It’s amazing. I tried to clean up some spilled water while she was here the other day and she told me not to. HA.)))))
We rested a little when we got back .. ate lunch .. then walked to the Mobilnil store to see if we could get our phones set up. The way it works here is you get a mobilnil sim card and then you buy “scratch cards” The cards range in price and it’s a per-minute kind of thing. It’s almost exactly like a pre-paid cell in the states. The scratch cards have a code on them that you use to reload your card with minutes or data or whatever. Minutes rollover, but data doesn’t. We spent 110LE per phone. Thats equal to about $20. So .. for two phones with data and minutes … $40. Nice huh.
That evening we met our sponsors at the Maadi House for dinner. It’s a great place. There is a playground right next to the dining area and the kids just play and play while you eat and chat. There are also 2 pools. They offer swim lessons — $6 for an hour lesson (I’m still adjusting to the prices – it’s hard not to act shocked), karate, craft … all kinds of kid stuff. I think it will be a great place to hang out. 🙂
This morning we went to the commissary! It’s a big deal … you have to go through this huge compound thing ..it’s no where near the Embassy or anything really. It’s small but it’s familiar. Most everything comes from Germany and it was all good quality. So, we got groceries and then went to eat at a local restaurant. It was good … GREAT KABOBS … this place was pretty fancy and so a bit more expensive than our $6 (to feed everybody) meals .. It was $40! I had to laugh .. David and I sat there talking about how expensive it was, then I realized … I just fed my family of 6 all meat platters for $40 .. Thats less than $6.60 a person .. we are already spoiled I guess.
After that, we came home and all fell asleep. I will say .. Jet lag sucks. It’s so disorienting. I never have any idea what time it is .. I’m always hungry at these weird times … and you just feel generally off. I only ever feel really good right after I have woken up. They say it takes one day for every time zone you cross to completely re-acclimate.
Tomorrow, I will visit the school! I am also considering putting Hailey in a little preschool thing here. I wasn’t going to, but I found out they teach the kids language … you can choose between French or Arabic. I also found out it’s only something like $125 per month. I’m all over that!
So … that’s me these days. 🙂 Daily life in Egypt. I am really ready to be in the house. I am tired of feeling unsettled. They said a couple weeks when we arrived, so …Inshallah!