First, let me mention, that if you were to come to Egypt as the employee of an oil company or a contracting company you would not necessarily enjoy all the resources I will mention. A lot, if not all of the things that make Egypt feel more homey are all entities of the American Embassy. Because of the hub’s job, we are directly linked to the Embassy, but just being American doesn’t always allow these privileges.
So, here we go in no particular order.
1. Embassy Switchboard. Yep, it’s a phone number — exactly what you are thinking — a switchboard for phones and offices — essentially an operator. They can get you a phone number or connect you to the office of any and all American personnel. But the true glory of the American Embassy switchboard personnel is that they speak great English and are fluent in Arabic …. and, you can call them for just about anything. For example, I was trying to order some meds from a pharmacy, but the language barrier was getting rather frustrating, so … I call up the switchboard … they conference call the pharmacy and translate for me over the phone. Score! You can call them if you are in a cab and are having trouble communicating with the driver. You can call if you think you are in trouble somewhere and need help. They can also dial up the United States for you and patch the calls through so you can talk to anybody. So … Who ya gonna call?!?!?! Embassy Switchboard!
2. APO address. This is a fave. It’s just like having an address in the states. Same postage rates, same boxes, same USPS logo. We can get anything shipped via Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Old Navy — not that I shop online all that much or anything ;). It’s pretty much awesome.
3. Maadi House. It’s a club. They only let the cool kids, Americans people that pay in. It’s a mix of nationalities, but mostly British and American and even then … mostly American. What makes it so great is that it’s a completely walled in area with 2 pools, tennis courts, a playground, and a restaurant in it. It’s super family friendly and …. just for example … I was there yesterday from noon to 7pm. We ate a light lunch, the kids swam, there was a back to school party, they played on the playground, and then we stayed and ate dinner with friends. It’s one of those places where everybody knows everybody and there is always somebody to hang out with. And … I can let the kids run wild and play till they start droppin’ like flies from shear exhaustion … or the heat, whichever comes first.
4. Commissary. It’s a grocery store … just like what we have on our military bases … with American brands and products and American prices. And … they sell BACON. enough said. Pork is a hot commodity here. Oh, and … for all my Louisiana peeps, you know what else they sell … Tony’s! Can’t get that in California or Virginia, but I can buy it in Egypt.
5. Dip Id’s. It’s actually a tiny bit sad that I’m adding this to the list because the reason is so lame, but it’s my blog, so I’m doin’ it anyway. Dip Id is short for Diplomatic Identification Card …. and well, with a dip id you can park in the gated area right next to the Khan, and, Yep, for this reason, I find it to be a highly desirable little piece of plastic.
And, last, but not least,
6. Health care. I haven’t (knock on wood) used the health unit yet, but it is very comforting knowing that if we were to get sick or need basic medical attention, there are 2 health units here that are staffed and run according to American standards.
————— And, since I mentioned bacon earlier, I have to tell you that anywhere that you can get REAL bacon is a happy place to be. They sell this stuff here called “beef bacon” …. no matter what anybody says, it’s not bacon and it will never be a bacon substitute. People make t-shirts about bacon — nobody is willing to accept a substitute. —————
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