Tag Archives: Welcome to Egypt

January 25th

Tehrir

I still don’t feel like I’m in place that I can blog about these past 21 days; my heart is still lodged firmly in my throat.

My friends, my family, acquaintences, people I didn’t know but who I followed on twitter and felt close to in an internet-ty sort of way, were putting their lives, their safety on the line for the good of a nation… their nation.

Other friends and family were taken in by the constant barrage of propaganda on State TV and who spoke against this fight for their freedom; a fight they didn’t understand and couldn’t see in its entirety. I felt constricted by their inability to see, it was like bashing your head against an immovable wall.

I spent those 18 days glued to computers and Al-Jazeera (who did such an outstanding job at reporting from Egypt that I STILL don’t know how they did it.) I barely slept. I barely ate. I cried. I agonized. When I did sleep, I dreamt about the revolution.

I wanted so badly to be in Tehrir. I like to say that I would give anything to have been there, but the truth is that what I would have given up is my job. I’ll carry a little bit of shame inside me forever, no matter how rational and responsible my reasons for staying were.

The fact of the matter is that once the anti-foreigner sentiment took hold I would have been relegated to the side anyway, simply for protection of the Egyptians fighting.

But, whether I physically threw rocks and bandaged wounds or not, the simple fact is that I am a different person post revolution. It may have only been 21 days ago, but to me, and to Egypt, it was a lifetime ago.

I am so proud of my friends and family, of my acquaintances, of those tweeps who I may not know in person…

I am proud of Egypt.

Proud of those people.

And the moment my husband finishes his schooling, I will begin packing our bags to go back to help rebuild this country.

I may not have been able to give my blood, sweat, and tears to freeing the country, but I will dedicate them to building it back up.

Ta7ya Masr.

Ass Backwards: How Cairo Welcomed Obama

I worked the night before Obama came and while being driven home I noticed more the absense of the usual hundreds of parked cars than I did the unusual cleanliness of the streets. What I did not know then was that Obama’s route through the city took him directly past my workplace and mile by mile along the route I take home every worknight. Cairo, and Heliopolis by extension, did not appear much more different until the next morning when we drove back into Heliopolis on business. Driving down the Salah Salem highway I could not help but stare and giggle at the unending line of police, sodiers, and “secret” servicemen that stretched out as far as my eye could see.

They lined both sides of the road and the divider up the middle: black-suited soldiers stood exactly ten feet apart in their ‘at attention’ postures with their hands clasped behind their backs and around every third soldier stood at least one “secret” servicemen, who despite their attempts at looking non-chalant stood out in their dapper business suits, and one to two white-suited policemen. At every corner stood no less than three policemen, two soldiers, and an indeterminate number of “secret” servicemen and behind them, further down the street, were more policemen manning the road blocks that would keep people from entering the road once it was officially closed off for Obama.

It was this staggering amount of manpower that made me stare but what made me giggle was that every single black-clothed soldier stood with his back to the road, at some places they quite literally stood with their faces to brick walls like unruly school children being punished. The fact that the street and adjoining buildings were scrubbed to a sparkle, that Egypt had this many people laying around that she could use them in such an onstentatious manner, and that they were forced to stand with their asses to the street just compounded to make it one of the most absurd things I’ve ever seen. I supposed that even if it weren’t just for show it would make more sense for them to be facing out from the road guarding it but the whole thing just seemed so surreal to me.

This stretched on for miles, starting from in front of the Mohamed Ali Mosque, past Al-Azhar Park, and on into Heliopolis- presumably all the way to Hosni’s house where Obama took his breakfast. In one half-mile stretch there were probably 100-120 men just standing there. And really, lets talk about the “secret” servicemen. I get the suits, I really do, but the thing is that it makes more sense to have plain-clothes police in places where there are actually civilans however here the only civilians that anyone could see were those who were furtively making their way along the road in cars as quickly as possible like Mr. MM and I. The normal Cairenes were so terrorized by the idea of what the police would do to them simply for being on the streets at the wrong time that they holed up in their houses all day. Mr. MM said his friends who lived along the route didn’t even touch the curtains on their windows out of fear for their lives. So here were a number of men in suits standing around with the purpose of blending in and being “secret” however all they did is look like doofs standing in the shadows and smoking cigarettes. It was even worse when we got into the botanical sections of Heliopolis and they were hiding out in the leafy gardens in the middle of the road where only beggars and lounging street-cleaners usually hang out.

It was obvious when we were no longer on the Obama route not only because there were no more soldiers mooning us but because one could see again the obsequious piles of garbage, litter, and dirt that cover the streets of Cairo. The streets were still empty of people but at least it looked more like home. Gatherings were called off due not just to fear but to the idea that traffic, which is never fun in Cairo, would be so much worse today because of everything but in reality it was the complete opposite. Offices closed for the day, the Ministry of Education postponed all exams that were scheduled for that morning and afternoon, and many who did not have official breaks just did not go to work. So while there definitely were road closings while Obama was on the move, traffic in Cairo was actually fabulous in every other part, so much so that Mr. MM proposed that we drive somewhere just for the sake of being able to get there quickly.

Of all that things that he did here I wish that Obama had gone off the path and seen what Cairo really is because everything on the route he took was washed and fixed and freshly painted; Cairo University itself was entirely repaved. I wish that he had seen the degradation, the crumbling buildings, the piles of garbage, the hopelessness of the people; I wish that he had seen that the soldiers that lined his route stood as an allegory to how things always are here in Cairo: ass backwards.

His visit did what it was meant to though; forget the cynical pundits and journalists, the pessimistic bloggers and vloggers. General consensus among the Egyptian masses of everymen and everywomen is that Obama is someone who cares about the Muslim and Arab people and I can tell you that were Obama to run for President of Egypt tomorrow he would win hands down. But his speech really reiterated for me what I’ve been saying all along to people here: Islam and Muslims play a bigger part in America then anyone could imagine.

Now all I can hope for is that Obama stands up to Israel and Israel takes his words to heart.

Feckin’ Thieves!

Today as I was getting out of the taxi to walk into the office I forgot that my cell-phone case/cover/pouch/whateveryoucallit was on my lap and it fell to the ground without my noticing. Near where I got out there was a man dusting and wiping down all of the cars either as part of his baweb job or for some other reason- you find a lot of poor people wiping down cars for spare change. I went about my usual route of going to the corner kiosk and buying a pepsi and then walking into the office and setting my stuff on the table when I realized it’s absence. I quickly went through my purse and then ran outside again to look for it. The whole thing took like three minutes.

The taxi driver had pulled up to the corner and was chatting with the office manager and I ran over to see if I left it on the seat. No luck. I ran into the street to see if it was still there. Nope. Then I remembered the man who had been wiping down the cars.

He was mysteriously about ten cars away, still wiping non-chalantly, however you could see that he had stopped wiping mid-car, and then skipped the ten cars to start over again.

I pointed him out and the taxi driver went over to him and came back thirty seconds later with my phone cover.

Yep.

Bloody thief. He saw where it fell from, the taxi driver had parked his car so even if he hadn’t been able to stop me he could have given it to the driver, and I had walked right past the same spot a second time after buying my pepsi. He literally meant to keep it.

Ever wonder what is fundamentally wrong with Egypt? Thats it right there.

Worthless, scumbag, thieves.

And don’t a single person even say anything about being poor because in the end of life it doesn’t matter how much money we had if we were honest before GOD.

No matter that I have my phone case back, he will be judged by his intention which was to steal it. I hope when he fries he remembers why.

Also, if shariah law were still enforced he would have lost a hand.

My anger is not about the cell phone case itself. I could buy another one with only minor inconvenience. Its the principle that it was not only easy for him to return it, but that he LEFT THE AREA to hide what he did. As if he would escape notice and get away with it. I am pissed because he lacks the simple humanity of returning it.

In the states 99% of the time someone would have stopped me or ran to catch me to give it back. Remember that- every single one of you who read my blog and think that living in a “Muslim” country is so much more closer to “Islam” than living in a “pagan” or “unbelieving” country.

I have yet, I swear to you, to see the same level of Islam here as I saw almost daily in the United States of America.

You Call That English?

Everything here is held together with scotch tape, donkey spit, and sheer determination.

This isn’t an ‘I hate Egypt’ post either because I’ve actually gotten used to it and am no longer phased by the completely illogical methods through which things are run here.

Now I just laugh and figure out how to still do what I need to do with nothing but a rubber band, a screw driver, and a couple of pieces of extra bubble gum.

Monday evening was my first day of work and would it surprise anyone that I taught two classes on my first night? No? One of the teachers told me he arrived in Cairo Monday morning and they had him teaching classes Monday night. Welcome to Egypt, now get to work. For training I spent twenty of the sixty minutes they gave us asking him questions about the book and the methods the program requires (none.) The rest of the forty we sat around talking about books, philosophy, and world travel.

Then- just to illustrate how small an 18 million person city actually can be- as I stood waiting for the taxi to take me from the headquarter branch (and by branch I mean the original flat the company made into an office) to the branch where I will be teaching a man came up to me and asked me, in Arabic, if I was the wife of Mr. MM. Uhm, why yes, yes I am. He looked vaguely like one of Mr. MM’s many cousins which is what he turned out to be but having only seen me two times and me having no recollection of ever having met him he recognized me. Weird. He is taking English classes at the main branch. And then, while sitting in the evening after my classes were finished the office boy of the branch I teach at mentioned seeing me in Hurghada in January and after some short sleuthing it turns out that he worked the safari that Mom, Maria, Mr. MM, and I went on. Seriously. Two in one day.

Back to English. I got to the office to begin teaching- as I was sure I would be doing- and for my first class I actually had a book to use but no CD for the listening sections. Nice. For my second class I had NO book and NO CD so I basically partnered up with my youngest student and worked with him from his book. Way to plan ahead O’ bosses mine.

Like I said, barely phased me. In FACT- had they actually had their shiz together I probably would have been surprised.

If they have their shiz together for tomorrow’s classes I will be surprised.

All in all I had a good time, its pretty much exactly what I did for two years in the Language Lab way back when. I taught small groups for French and Spanish- we did the book activities, listened to tapes, and talked about language. Thats what I do now in a nutshell. Armed with a white board and some markers (and possibly a book and hopefully one day a tape) I’m leading my students forward into a brighter, English-filled future.

[cue theme music]

It felt natural to be up in front of students again, I really think that teaching is where I should be. Any fear of public speaking that I had pre-Language Lab was gone by the end of my teaching days there. I had never really thought about where I lost my inhibitions but I know that I aced my Speech class even while being the only student wearing a hijab (and actually being one of only two other women on campus who wore one.) Acing public speaking while looking weird: pwned.

Now of course all of my students are curious as to how I came to Egypt, how I met my husband, and how I became Muslim. But they’re fun, and inquisitive, and ready to learn and that makes classes fun. I’m hoping I will enjoy this job, the one foreseeable problem will be that they have you work straight through without breaks. I work three days a week 4-10 and I have a class from 4-6 (I think I will at least), another class from 6-8, and the last class from 8-10. I’m so glad I am not working that schedule full-time.

And yes they’re bringing teachers over from the States and using them for slave-labour. A turn of the tables don’t you think?

Aswan

aswan

A picture we took while in Aswan.

Once Upon the Nile

Ok, so I’ve finally decided to actually post about my super awesome trip with my mom and crew. Seriously ya’ll that was the best trip of my life. It was so good in fact that I have pretty much been in denial until… now, that it was actually over. *sigh*

I’m also stuck at home (still too weak to go out) and super bored.

So my mom and Maria arrived in Egypt on the 2nd of January (holy peanut butter that was a long time ago already) and we had rented a car for the whole two weeks. It was so nice to have a car, but I digress. We went to the airport to pick them up, got promptly and thoroughly lost, ended up having to pick up an aiport worker who moved some barriers so we cross a road divide, had us drive the wrong way up a road and the wrong way through a ticket gate and some police check points before we actually got to the correct arrival gate. I was so terrified that my mom had already arrived and was standing somewhere terrified and unable to call me and that we would somehow lose her.

In fact we had arrived right on time as the flight had been delayed by 20 minutes so I was standing, distraught, when I saw her come through the gate. I’ll admit that I cried when I first saw her because I had missed her so much, but it was only for like 2 minutes. Only.

After this we drove home, dropped off the luggage and walked over to Road Nine for a later dinner. Unforunately the food at the restaurant- which had previously been pretty good- was sub-par and no one really enjoyed it, but it was so nice to be together.

Day Two: Islamic and Coptic Old Cairo

The next morning we started out early (or at least early by Egyptian standards) so that we could spend the whole day exploring the Islamic and Coptic history of Cairo. It was awesome. We visited the Mohamed Ali mosque and a bunch of others I’m forgetting the names of… you know… all of those mosques on the Arabic side of the Egyptian pounds notes. One of them was the Sultan Hassan mosque which was run down but uber-cool because there are four-sections to the mosque- one for each of the maddhabs (Islamic schools of thought and jurisprudence) for the students who used to study there during the height of the Islamic civilization. Cairo, believe it or not, was one of the biggest centers of education in the world.

We also set out to explore Khan el Khalili which was its usual jumble of crammed shops and over-eager salesmen. Poor Maria, who is of Korean descent, had “Konnichiwa” yelled at her more times than I could count. Considering that she was adopted as a baby and only speaks English, I cringed every time. But Maria, being the sweet and kind-hearted person that she is never wavered and I actually don’t think she even heard them (not having ever had ‘konichiwa’ yelled in her direction before.) But that was later.

After the Islamic history we explored the Coptic history of Cairo, which is really varied as well. Most people think of Egypt only as a Muslim country, which it technically is a secular government, but its so Muslim-majority that one could assume it was a Muslim country. But there is a very long and rich history of Christianity as well that is often left un-explored.

For people who are sensitive about religion, especially Christianity in Egypt, I would suggest that they skip this section because I’m going to make some generalizations that may offend. I am not setting out to be offensive, but I am going to write about my impressions of the places I visited.

For those of you who know the geography of Cairo, we were in the section that has the Saint Barbara church and the other two or three churches right around there. I never did catch the name of the barrio, so maybe someone could help me out.

Around this little collection of churches was a massive Christian graveyard which looked super cool. I love graveyards- is that morbid? I just think they are the most fascinating collections and examples of local culture, tradition, and history and should be explored. Maybe its my inner anthropologist (I wanted to be a paelo-cultural archaeologist when I was young.) Unfortunately we were not able to explore the graveyard but we did go into the churches. Now, the two main branches of Christianity here are Orthodox and Coptic (sometimes interchangeable) and I have to be honest: Orthodox churches creep me OUT. Even when I was Catholic. I think its the style of painting icons: the big eyes, the tilted heads, the Russian-ness of it. But, they’re creepy. While in the churches I was both fascinated and skeeved out; I wanted to explore and yet I wanted to run like a little girl. Especially when I got to the places where they had the bodies of saints. In Saint Barbara I think Yaseen (our tour guide and Mr. MM’s best friend) said that there were like 25 saints buried/ on display. Yes, on display. Ok not that you could actually see them but there was a place where there were saints bodies buried with effigies on top, and then there was the creepiest section of all: a little alcove with a number of silver cylinders. I asked him what the cylinders were (since they weren’t big enough for whole bodies) and he responded: “oh no, they took the bodies and ground them up.” He also did a little grinding motion with his hands which only further grossed me out. I dunno.

But here’s the thing that floored me ya’ll: I swear to you by all that good and holy if you had removed the crosses and saints the churches could have passed for mosques. All of them. Why do I say that? In every one of them there was the exact same type of mosaic tiling and arabic calligraphy around the doorways and tops of the walls that one would find in a mosque. Also everyone who has been in a original mosque knows the little staircase and podium that the imama climb to give the Friday sermons- well the churches had them! Ok, sure its a novel idea for being above the congregants for talking but they looked the same! Plus while we were in St B’s they were piping in the recording of someone reciting in Arabic. Of course it was most likely the Bible but the guy was reciting with the exact same sing-songy recitation as someone reciting Quran. If I had not been in a church I would have thought it was Quran. It was really freaky.

It was my first chance to be inside any church here in Egypt, but it wasn’t to be our last.

Next to that fortress/monastary/graveyard area was another famous mosque, that of Amr ibn el-‘As that was actually- if I am remembering correctly- the first mosque built in Africa but we didn’t get a chance to go inside; mostly because by this point we were exhausted. I’m so going to go again, inshAllah cuz it looks absolutely awesome. Also I just love the fatimidi mosques because of their style, although this mosque was built long before the Fatimids, it was redone during that time and has the characteristic serated-triangle adornments around the edge. A quick historical note here: you will find that serated triangle motif throughout Spanish art and in all southwestern-American architecture- which is Spanish in roots- because Spain was a Muslim territory for a huge chunk of its history. The mosques kind of remind me of Arizona so I like them, plus they have fabulous inner courtyards which again remind me of Spanish-influenced architecture.

But I digress. BTW, this is going to be a super-long post. Uber-long. I’ve got two whole weeks to post about and we’re only at the end of day number 2. You might want to find a comfortable chair, get some tea, and settle in. Hm, I think I should make chapters. Let me do that. Ok, done. On to day three.

Day Three: I don’t remember…

Maybe I shouldn’t have waited so long to write this. I think day three was a day of rest because my poor mom and Maria had been travelling and running around for more than 48 hours. We hung out, went to the souk, oh we went shopping for things my mom decided that I greatly needed- like a space heater- because it was so cold. The whole trip she complained about being cold, and I had warned her but no one ever believes me that it gets cold here. Anyways the space heater has made a huge difference in the comfort here (thanks mom!) and we had a true adventure at the downtown Omar Effendi (never again ya’ll.)

Day Four: On the Road

This is where we drove to Hurghada. Man that was a long trip but beautiful, once we hit the red sea, and we really enjoyed it. Halfway there we stumbled across the huge and historic monastary of St. Paul (Deir Mar Boulos) that we entered so mom and Maria could look around. It had real monks and everything. Again there was a ton of the Orthodox iconography that creeps me bleep out so I voted to stay in the car, plus I was being eyed kind of funky by the monks that were wandering around. We made it to Hurghada kind of late, checked into the hotel too late to go swimming in the pool, but slept really well in the comfy beds.

Day Five and Six: Hurghada

Hurghada is beautiful you guys, seriously. The red sea is gorgeous. Mostly we did a lot of laying around the pool, laying around the beach, and relaxing in our hotel rooms which was what all of us needed. But on day six we went on a “safari” which was really a lot of fun but definitely not what I thought a safari would be. Mama Mona hooked us up because her husband is a big guy in that area and because she rocks, thanks honeybunch!

Now the safari was broken up into groups: Russians and everyone else. Now Russia I guess is one of the few countries to have not been hit by the economic depression so Egypt and Hurghada (which has kind of always been a target getaway for Russians anyway) has been playing up to them with special trip deals to promote tourism which has been hit hard by the world money woes. I’d have to say that 85% of the tourists I saw were Russian, and wow are they rude. Wooooooooooow. Anyways.

So the first part of the safari was a dune-buggy and four-wheeler excursion. Basically we climbed into dune-buggies and drove single-file around in circles in a massively huge plateau of nothing but rocks and sand. Then we got out and switched to four-wheelers where we then drove single-file around in circles in the same huge plateau. Once we were covered in sand from head to toe and all the crevices in between and had eaten enough dust to satisfy our guides they herded us into buck-board jeeps and drove us straight back into the mountains. Now this drive actually took like 45 minutes of bouncing, jostling, and hitting bone-crunching rocks and gravel-pits. Plus it was boring because it looked like the surface of the moon. Once we were inside the mountains, which was actually a really cool part because I had wanted to see what it was like inside the mountains, we were taken to a “bedouin village” which really was not an actual village but was staffed with real bedouins. From there we were placed onto camels led by burqa-clad bedouin women and girls who took us on a single turn that lasted maybe three minutes tops and reminded me painfully of the elephant rides offered at the rennaissance festival. Then we went around and saw how the bedouins hand make the goods that they were selling for exorbitant amounts of money (and which were most likely not made by them.) In one section was a bedouin grandmother who was grinding semolina by one hand and holding a cute baby goat by the other. After explaining that this was how bedouins grind their flour the tourists were allowed to each take a turn and get a picture (and give a tip of course) but the most hilarious thing was that the lady handed the goat the every single person as if it were not possible to grind flour unless you were simultaneously holding a baby goat. I took a turn mostly because I wanted to hold the baby goat and because Mr. MM wanted to take a picture, I’m sure to one day use as black-mail. We were then herded into the weirdest part of the safari: the zoo. Yes, a zoo. With ostriches and other animals kept in disgusting conditions and a snake room filled with snakes that are in no way actually native to Egypt. Snakes give me the heebie jeebies but what made me leave the building was the complete and utter absurdity of it: boa constrictors? pythons? I’m not a bleedin’ moron, what does this have to do with bedouins?

I sat and watched the breath-taking sunset and the first stars come into the sky and then Mr. MM and I went to pray in the mosque in the fake bedouin village, possibly the only “real” structure besides the animal pens. While everyone else was getting a chance to buy “real natural herbal remedies made and used by the bedouins” he and I prayed in what I believe to be the only mosque I’ve ever prayed in that is anything like the mosques the Prophet (saaws) prayed in: a single rectibule with white-washed half-walls, a thatched roof, and thin hand-woven carpet over a bed of smooth pebbles. With the first stars beginning to sparkle in the sky, the cool air, and the breath-taking mountains around us I felt as close to God as I ever have in my life. The whole experience was worth it just for that. We were herded back into the torture mobiles and jostled all the way back into the safari base and fed a traditional egyptian meal (which was actually decent food) while were were entertained by, in succesion, a belly dancer (who sucked), a whirling dervish, and then some guy who swallowed swords and could lay on a bed of nails while some skinny-ass Russian girls sat on his chest. We were actually able to volunteer Mr. MM for helping and the guy tried to have him swallow a sword which Mr. MM could not do and who later swore revenge on me when I least expect it. Again I failed to see what the strong-man act had to do with Egyptian culture, but I guess its about the entertainment not actually sticking to culture.

After the safari I went and met Mama Mona, which was awesome! She’s such a gorgeous personality with really great kids and I wish we lived closer to each other. She cooked us some yummy brownies and we had a good chat. Unfortunately I had been dealing with some major allergies and took a benedryl (stupidly) right before going to visit and so about half-way through I began to swim in my own consciousness and had to cut it short before I fell unconscious into the tea I was drinking. I’m so mad at myself because I wanted to stay longer with her.

Day Seven: Driving to Luxor

We said goodbye to beautiful Hurghada and struck out for Luxor and the start of our Upper Egypt Adventure. Driving through the mountains was awesome, they were beautiful and we were actually able to see the bedouin encampments along the highway and see actual bedouins hanging out. When we stopped for a bathroom break at one of the super nice rest areas built for tourists (and populated by guys selling tourist knick knacks and food and beverages at kick-in-the-gut prices) we were surrounded by adorable bedouin kids ironically carrying around cute baby goats (it must be a selling point for tourists?) They were fascinated by me (an American Muslim) and my mom who was a woman and was *gasp* driving. They were so completely fascinated that they forgot to beg. They were absolutely adorable and we gave them some money anyways, yeah yeah I know.

We left the arid desert behind and descended into the verdant green Nile valley and the heart of Upper Egypt near Qina where I was completely bowled over by the lush green, the peace, and the beauty of Egypt. Maybe the people in the villages lack the ammenities of big cities, and are very poor, but they are rich in beauty and peace. We stopped along the road and called a young boy over to ask him for a stalk of sugar cane. He pulled like three huge stalks off of his father’s load and handed them to us with a smile and a refusal to take money. We only took one stalk and made him take the money we offered. I peeled the outer layer off and gnawed on the juicy core and through the rest of the drive we all snacked on fresh sugar cane. At every police checkpoint (of which there are so freaking many) the police officers and the villagers laughed to see me chewing on the end of a huge stalk and spitting out the fibers. I’m sure I looked silly and in fact mom took pictures of me to prove it.

We arrived in Luxor and met with one of my father-in-law’s best friends, a lawyer of similar age and rank as baba. There he took our rental car and kept an eye on it for us while we were on our Nile cruise. Since the cruise began in Aswan and ended in Luxor we needed to leave the car somewhere safe and he gave us a place to do it. He was a sweet man who, oddly enough, reminded me a lot of my fil. From Luxor we caught a train to Aswan where we bedded for the night in a hotel right on the Nile, preparing to catch our Nile cruise the next morning.

Aswan, oh Aswan. It is a jewel of Egypt.

But I will talk more about that in my next installment of “Once Upon the Nile.”

*cheesey theme music*

Internetting FAIL

All internet to the Middle East is tenuously supplied by one choice underground cable that runs under the Med Sea from Europe; actually from Italy to be exact. Around this time last year that cable was cut and it knocked the Mid East off the internet for a good week.

Apparently again that same cable has been cut off the coast of Italy and whoopsy daisy here we are again without internet. The internet companies in Egypt are now relying on satellite internet which means that the net is very, very, v e r y s l o w. I’m at work with a 36 minute wait on downloading my emails.

This is 1990’s dial-up slow.

Thank God for DSL. Well, at least when we have it again.

I’m wondering why something wasn’t done after all the knee-jerk reaction talks in response to the cable-fiasco last year…

And how does one really actually cut a deeply embedded underground cable lying even yet more deeply underwater? Its not like someone was digging a backyard pool and accidentally snapped it.

This is a giant Internetting FAIL.

Coincidentally this also happens to be my 100th post since I moved to WordPress.

W00t!

I shall be back online again when the big boys pull their pants up and get to it.

Knowing the Middle East that could be a week or more.

*sigh*

Welcome to Egypt one and all.

PETA-free

I reckon the Middle East is number one on PETA’s sh*tlist.

I have never seen carnage on the scale of that which I saw yesterday. The streets here, quite literally in some places, ran red with blood. Between the state of the feral cats and dogs, and how pet shops and farms keep their animals, not to mention all of the horses and donkeys and their poor shape, Egypt is just not a happy place for animal-lovers.

Eid al-Adha, which is the holiday currently going on, is in celebration of when Abraham (as) took his first-born son to be sacrificed for God but then a ram was put in his place. So Muslims usually sacrifice animals on this day usually sheep/goats but if they have a lot of money then a cow or a camel.

In the back-yard the two cows were slaughtered and chopped up so by the end the yard was a big muddy pool of blood. Or a big bloody pool of mud. And then when we were walking up to catch a taxi we walked past what I thought was a huge pile of garbage about 4 feet tall dotted with the skins of sheep. I thought that a couple of people had ditched the skins of the animals they slaughtered only to come to the realization that the entire ten foot by ten foot by four foot pile of bags were filled with goat/sheep and whatever else skins. And later on in the evening we were walking up a street in Nasr City and I was watching where I was walking because it was wet, I realized that the puddles in the road were actually red with the blood of slaughtered animals.

I guess PETA ain’t welcome ’round these here parts.

Sometimes

Despite my grumblings about not liking Egypt, there are times when I actually love it. Times where I feel completely peaceful and at ease.

Last night as I was leaving the souq (souk) laden with fresh produce and chicken the sun was setting, the air was cool, and the call for Maghrib (sunset) prayer rang out from the two mosques, one ahead of me and one behind me, synchronized but slightly off so that there was a type of strange echo that filled the air with sound.

Sunset is my favorite time of day no matter where I am and hearing the call to prayer is one of my favorite things about living here so when you put the two together with a cool breezy evening, I am happy.

Of course this was when I had just left the souq and had not walked very far carrying the 15 kgs worth of produce and chopped chicken I had bought. At the end of the 3/4 of a mile walk to my house I wasn’t quite so at peace.

15 kgs and a mile walk…. Egyptian life lesson #429: Always buy within your means (and I don’t mean economically.)

Anyone still wondering how I’ve managed to lose close to 30 kg since moving to Egypt?

Sometimes… sometimes I am at peace here.

Road Humps

Me driving through Maadi/Nasr City/Greater Cairo three months ago:

Me (as I hit an unseen and unecessary speed hump going way too fast): “$&$^#@^!!!!! Why don’t they paint the damn things? Or put up road signs ‘Beware, we will f%*&$ up your car in T minus two seconds?'”

Mr MM: “Maalesh habibty, welcome to Egypt.”

Mr MM driving through Maadi/Nasr City/Greater Cairo last night:

Mr MM (as he hits an unseen and unecessary speed hump going way too fast):“$&$^#@^!!!!! Why don’t they paint the damn things?”

Me: Maalesh habibi; smile, you’re in Egypt.

Seriously though, they put them up, they make them SO HIGH that every single car scrapes the undercarriage even when driving at an approximate 2 centimeters an hour, and they don’t paint them or put up signs. In fact I believe they do everything they can to make them blend into the usually lumpy, cracked, and uneven pavement.

So when you’re driving back to the shop to fix a broken tailpipe, smile, you’re in Egypt.