Saturday, February 27, 2010

February 16-28

Wow, one day early. I'm on a roll. Hope nothing exciting happens tomorrow.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Desert Storm

So I guess it's the prophet Mohammed's birthday. Anyway, Dave had the day off yesterday for it. Allah has smiled upon the day (according to our Egyptian friends) since he sent rain. Boy did he ever. I didn't know that they had thunderstorms here, but last night we had one. Cairo only get's about 1" of rainfall, YEARLY. We received all of that and more last night. Since they aren't used to heavy rains, the flooding here is terrible. (It reminded me of New Orleans, only the don't have massive pumps to pump it out). The roads are all flooded.

Today on the way to church we drove through many parts that were flooded, one place almost 24" of water covered the highway. People don't know what to do, so they turn around on the freeway and drive against traffic. Many stalled cars, and down in the Khan al-Kahili market where I got my curtain material, cars were flooded up to their windows. I didn't take my camera to church, cause it's just one more thing to carry, but I snapped a couple on Dave's camera phone.

Oh, and the roof of our house leaks like a siv (sieve?) in our laundry room.

The rain turns this dusty city into a mud pit. I'm just thankful it washed all the pollution out of the air for a few days.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thankful album

So I just put the finishing touches on my Thanksgiving album. Better late than never. I decided instead of scrapbooking the photos of November this year, I'd put them all together into one mini album.






Monday, February 22, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

A bit of every day life...

Some idiosyncrasies about Cairo:

Egyptians like my children. People are always trying to get Maya's attention so they can say hello. They touch her hair and one kid (like 20 years old) even gave her a kiss on the cheek. This was after he took her picture. Ethen draws the same crowd. Maybe it's the blue eyes. I mean, I know my children are gorgeous, but really??

I have to get on my hands and knees to light my oven. And it has no set temperature gauge, so I have to guess about how much gas to feed it.

My washer shocked me. They don't ground appliances here, so I need to cut power to them if my hands are wet.

A familiar smell of our "burnin' barrel" in my backyard growing up in Moore, Idaho, wafts in every morning from the neighbors burning their garbage. Yuck.

I can't find a crock pot anywhere.

Two weeks after living here I gave up brushing my teeth with bottled water. It's just too hard.

I wash my fruits and veggies (those that I dare buy) with vinegar and bottled water. They fertilize with human waste, so they have the potential to make us very sick. I am not a great cook anyway, and I've never been one to really load up on the good stuff, but I'm tired of PB&J every day for lunch. So is Maya. The other day I made her some gross pasta and she looked at me and said, "Mom, this food isn't good." No honey, it isn't. Even Ethen wouldn't eat it. If you are reading this, you are now obliged to leave me a comment. Tell me what to feed my children. Really. I'm out of ideas. We eat cheese quesadillas a lot. Forget about any type of lunch meat. Oh how I miss ham... that brings me to the next one.

They slaughtered all the pigs. When the swine flu came out, the ignorants who will remain unnamed used it as an excuse to kill all the unclean swine in the country. Come on. The flu is a virus, it's not in the meat, people. The expats are devastated. No ham, no pork, what am I to do?

Maya needs to go to school. She is driving me crazy, needing constant entertainment. She gets pretty bored during the day, and it's still a little cold to go in the pool. International schools here are proving way too expensive. Preschool from now until June is $10,000. Seriously, what are they teaching these kids? I'm looking for an alternative. Not too encouraging since it's $3000 to use the park/pool here at the country club. If I had a way to get there, I'd be more inclined to fork out that cash, 1 hour of complimentary babysitting each day is a little tempting. That and they have a great kiddie pool.

Some indulgences I am enjoying are imported cereal (even if they are $8/box.) That, and I will pay extra for Charmin, Bounty, and "American chocolate chip cookies." I didn't realize the rest of the world isn't in on that. Nestle is a Swiss company, and they don't have Toll House there? What gives? The British influence here is strong, with their treats called biscuits.

I haven't missed Taco Bell so much, because they have something here called "foul muddamas" (haha, ironic, I know, but it's pronounced fool) that are just like bean burritos (only they eat them for breakfast). They also have Pepsi products so I can find Mountain Dew. Ahh, the little things...

I'll write more as I discover and learn different things here. Below is a page for your viewing enjoyment :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

January 16-31

I'm glad to have my husband back from Libya where he spent all last week in Tripoli with some Russian oil guys. He said it's an interesting place with Kadafi's rule ever present. You'll have to ask him about it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fender Bender

Craziness. That is the only way to describe the traffic here. All sorts of issues could be resolved with a little control and enforcing of traffic laws, but no one seems to care enough to make it happen. I can only imagine what a difference a single traffic light would make!

First of all, there are no lanes. Drive wherever you please. If your car will fit, it is game. If it will fit with just a little side swipe of someone else, hey, that's okay. The road between here and Maadi called Ring Road is madness. Speeding, no rules, slow semis emitting all sorts of toxic fumes, donkeys pulling carts, and pedestrians darting across the road all add to to the daily commute. People here are hit all the time. You only need to live here long enough to see someone dead along side the road. Luckily I haven't seen that yet, but I've heard the stories. Honk if someone ticks you off, honk if you want to merge, honk if someone ahead of you is slow, honk at someone you know, honk to let the person ahead of you know you want to pass him, honk, honk, honk. It's like it's the only traffic rule here...honk.

Today we were in our first accident. Not a bad one. I was with a friend from church, and she has a driver for her family of 9. He is from a touring company, so they sport around in a passenger van complete with hula girls and christmas balls hanging from the ceiling. Yeah, Shar, the one we rode in.

Anyway, I cringe at each close call, but they are so numerous you almost ignore them. But today I'm thinking to myself, he's cutting it way close to this parked car, I guess he knows his van pretty well. Nope, SMASH. We hit a parked car going maybe 30mph. Luckily Catherine and I left our kids home and it was just us in the car with another girl from church.

To the guys credit, the car was double parked. I've seen cars driving the wrong way on freeway entrances, cars backing up in the middle of the freeway, broken down cars galore sitting in the the middle of the road. It's madness.

So the way it works here is there's an accident. Then all the bystanders flock to the accident and commence to give their opinion on the matter and then everyone argues about whose fault it was. We sat in the car for 1 1/2 hours while this went on. Police came and went, it was really none of their affair...no injuries.

Usually you're just out of luck. No one carries insurance here. Luckily both cars involved were company vehicles (we hit an oil company's car) so both cars were insured.

All in all, a very interesting cultural experience. Hopefully our last of this kind.

Our van made out pretty well:


Looking out the window down at the damage we did to the other car:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

January 1-15

So my new approach for the year is to document life bi-monthly. I loved the way my Switzerland book turned out last year, and I'm hoping to make one for Egypt that is similar, but I'm going to streamline a bit more to save time.

So here is my page for the first half of January. Each month will have two layouts and then I'll give special pages for the places we travel while we're here.

Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Khan al-Khalili (large market bazaar)

Brrr. Who knew it got this cold in Egypt? I've got the heat on in every room. I think it's the cold, hard floors that have no rugs on them. I need to go rug shopping, but if it's anything like my curtain shopping today...well let's just say it was an adventure. I was bummed that I forgot my camera, so these crappy cell phone photos will have to do.

I seriously considered ordering what I wanted on jcpenney.com, but where is the fun in that? It was much more fun to sort through all kinds of gaudy Egyptian fabrics with two whiny hungry kids, all the while gesturing my wants because no one speaks English. My driver does his best, but we still don't communicate very well.

It's hard to describe what I see here everyday. So many people, so much poverty. Today we were at a bus stop (loosely used term) waiting for the curtain guy to take us to the fabric market. The buses here are just large vans. They slow down, the door slides open, you hop on, even if there isn't a seat, and the van continues on...all the while never stopping completely. They cram so many people into one of those. I watched in horror as a pregnant woman, obviously in labor on the way to the hospital, used this mode of transportation. Her husband and two sons were with her.

Me and mine watch comfortably from our Dodge Durango, equipped with carseats. I have to just remember that I didn't grow up using one. It makes my heart ache to see these kids without restraints on these crazy roads. I also cringed as I saw a woman darting across the busy freeway holding her infant. I just have to remember that this is their way of life, I guess, and they're just glad for a ride.

I'll post pics of the curtains once they're made. I have no idea what I'm getting.




Once I got home, I looked in my travel book to see where I'd just been taken. It is one of the biggest bazaars in the Middle East called Khan al-Khalili, built in 1382. The book describes it as "an oriental bazaar of fable, where gold, silver, brass, and copper goods glitter enticingly in the cave-like interiors, and sacks overflowing with exotic spices fill the air...It's maze of narrow, canvas-covered alleyways is crammed with shops selling a huge variety of goods. Here, too, traditional Egyptian crafts, such as dyeing, carving, and sewing and practiced as they have been for centuries." Yup, that was the place.

I was mad I forgot my camera, but in the photo below, my driver, Ibrahim is on the left pushing Ethen, and the guy with the sacks of the material I just purchased is going to sew them.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Enriching Experience



Today for our Relief Society Enrichment we went on a camel/horse ride near the Giza Pyramids. We loaded about 13 ladies into a van and headed out. So glad Sharla could be with me for this adventure, and double glad that I could leave both kids home with Dave while we went for an outing.

Sharla and I chose to get one horse and one camel. I let Sharla test drive the camel first before I decided it would be okay to get on. All told, I think I preferred the camel. They are so tall, you have a great view towering over everything.





So we all trod through a little village while small boys guided our animals. It was interesting to see how they lived. The little boys jobs were to haul dirt or whatever on small donkeys. There were many men offering rides on horses, camels, and ATVs (yes, it was hard for me to picture these vehicles in this setting too).

We trudged through filthy streets and into the sand dunes. The wind was blowing really hard and it was pretty chilly. I never thought I'd need a coat while traveling by the pyramids, but I did!



It was picturesque, as you can imagine. We didn't actually go into the compound, and we didn't see the Sphinx since we were riding behind the pyramids, but it was cool nonetheless.

After our journey, we returned and ate an oven-roasted sweet potato. I chomped two bites before realizing I was eating the skin too. A big no-no here. They fertilize fields with human waste, so fruits and vegetables have to be vigorously washed. Oops. No ill affects so far.



All in all, a very cool experience. One of my 100 Things I'd Love to Do checked off. If only Emma Smith could see us now...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Reconnected

The blogging has been slow. Sorry. I should be getting back up to speed since I finally got my new computer. As you may recall, Ethen hit our laptop and that was the end of that. I've had computer woes since then, and finally have scored a new one.

My husband promised me one for my birthday last September, and while I was in the US I tried my darndest to get one shoved into my carry-on to no avail. Sadly, I had to return it and came to Egypt empty-handed.

I won't go into details about how the one I wanted was WAY over-priced, but I convinced my husband that since we're saving money in other areas... He fell for it, and now I'm the proud owner of a new HP TouchSmart 600 PC. Google it, it's way awesome.