Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Spy With My Little Eye, Some Uniquely Egyptian Lessons

And here are a few random things that I have noticed/thought were amusing so far in Cairo:

- There is something ridiculous about the pyramids and I'm not sure what exactly it is. All you can really think to do is take a picture of them. And then you stare for a while. And then whirlwinds of trash swirl around them.

- The mystique of the Sphinx was somewhat hampered by the fact that there are pigeons ALL over its face. Hehehe. I mean, it's shaded so I understand why they were there, but the idea of a majestic icon was diminished by the birds living in its nose hole.

- Everyone wants to sell you something. People try to open the doors to your car when you park so that you have to give them baksheesh (a tip). In tourist traps kids try to sell you tissues and book marks at outrageous prices.

- The money here is fun. The larger the value of the money, the bigger the actual bill is. So a 100 pound note is slightly longer than a 50 pound note, which is longer than a 20 pound note, etc.

- We exchanged money at the bank today, and I felt rich. Really, really rich. I gave them $73 and they gave me about 380 Egyptian pounds. Call me little miss money bags.

- The money here SMELLS and FEELS like Cairo. That one is hard to explain unless you come to Cairo, wander the streets, and then smell the money.

- Egyptians are afraid of dogs. They do not like them. They think every dog is just waiting to attack or something. It doesn't matter whether it's a Rottweiler (some guy had one on a leash across the street and our real estate broker turned pale) or a Schnauser (the ancient white dog the Knapps babysat while we stayed with them), people will give you a wide berth on the street if you're walking one.

- There are tons of feral cats.

- Sidewalks are not for walking on. In fact, I don't know what the sidewalks are for. Sidewalks stay empty and people just walk in the street. Cars whiz by and leave no more than a foot-and-a-half of space, but people just don't use the sidewalks. I sort of found out why, when I tripped over a jutting, broken pipe and almost tumbled bum-over-tea-kettle into the street. Also, there are often trees and guard huts (I'll explain that later) plopped right in the middle of the sidewalk. In other words, you'd have to step down the super tall curb into the street anyhow, so you might as well stay there.

- We took our first metro trip on our third day in Egypt. We rode in the women's car and we were fine. We got stared at though, for sure. More than 95% of the women wear a hijaab or veil (head/neck covering).

- Women don't really walk around outside / in the street. It's odd. We were like, "Where do they GO?" And then when we were on the metro, there were a LOT of women in the women's cars with us; that was the most females we had seen all in one place in our first week in Egypt. But we still don't know where they all disappear to once the get off the trains... weird. Someone should have CNN investigate.

- Everywhere delivers food. MacDonalds delivers 24hrs a day and they have a sandwich called the MacArabia. Really.

- During the current holy month of Ramadan, grocery stores have ready-made bags of groceries for people to buy, which get donated to the poor.

- We got cell phones REALLY easily from the big mobile company here called Mobinil (MOH-bih-neel). Our phones were 149 Egyptian pounds (EGP) and then you buy what are called "scratch cards" that have a certain amount of money on them to pay-as-you-go. We each got 50EGP scratch cards. And they gave us bright orange hats for signing up. Yeah. Someone is getting that from me at Christmas. It's awful.

- Eric spoils us. Badly. He treated us to the Giza trip and then he took us out for dinner at an American-style place called Lucille's. And the night before that he took us to the market and let us pick out 3 ice creams. And he went on a business trip to Geneva and brought each of us fancy shampoos and conditioners from the Swiss hotel he stayed in. He and his wife treated us to dinner buffet at the Marriot hotel the other night, and then a BBQ at the Community Service Association last night. We don't mind too much--being spoiled like this. And we certainly weren't complaining about the steady flow of ice cream for the 1 1/2 weeks that we stayed with the Knapps (We love mango ice cream, we've decided. It's mango season here, and Eric showed us how you eat this one smaller variety of mango. There are about 10 different kinds of mangos here. I'm in mango HEAVEN!!!). We owe them lots of baked goods now that we have our own apartment and oven.

- OK, that was more than just a few things... But I've been so behind in this blog that I feel like it's warranted.

1 comment:

Little P said...

I know you're already back, but I love this post!!!

I find that people stare no matter what - that it is kinda' a 'sizing up' thing.. what do you think?

I'm not so sure with Cairo, but I would guess the women either take taxis right away, or just know the shortest way to where they are going. We walk around more in Jordan, but for anything far or not going by shopping strips, we use taxis.

Delivery is AWESOME! There was an episode of Tash ma Tash about 2 years or so ago about how no one in Saudi (it's a Saudi satire show) cooks because you can get everything delivered. :)

Great blog! Good luck on your job search!