The last stay

3omr, 3mar, and 3mIar
These are the names of my three new Pothos plants from the fam in 6 Oh.  I still need a name for the arrowhead plant.  I stayed with my host family for that last time in 6 October last night.  They move out of the house tomorrow.  My apartment is now well-stocked with items they don't want, a clothes hamper, dishes, soaps, and medicine.  While this is helpful for practical existence, I am sad.  It's like seeing the parents move out of your childhood home.  They have another couple weeks in Egypt, so I will see them again.  We are going to an engagement party next weekend.  But then they are off.  It will be strange to be in Egypt without my Egypt family, and they truly are family.  I think our relationship is a testament to the success and depth of the high school exchange experience.  It has been so wonderful spending time with them again!

Also! A shout-out to the Starr family.  It was great to hear from you, even if it was 2 am my time.


Word of the Day

Ana Ta3bena - I am tired


Word of the Day

Hafla - party or concert


Back to School!

I feel as though I am back in elementary school.  I have not sat for so long with just one or two teachers  daily for a long time.  I have started taking MSA as well as colloquial ECA classes.  I am now in class from 9 am until 2:30 Monday through Thursday, and now I have class from 9 to noon on Sunday as well.  I really like it this way.  Intensive learning and then minimal homework.  Perfect.  I really enjoy my MSA class because it is predominately media Arabic so far.  We go right out of the newspaper instead of  the Al-Kitab book series I use in college.  I am not a fan of those.  Also, today in ECA we learned about a million verbs.  It's great.  Arabic is really amazing because the verbs are so descriptive.  You can describe exactly what is going on with one word.  For instance in MSA we learned three variations of a verb based on the initial meaning "to burn": one variation meant the subject of the sentence burns the object of the sentence generally consuming everything, the second variation meant the subject of the sentence burns the object specifically (my teacher gave the example of cutting out Mubarak's picture from the newspaper and burning only that), and the third variation had a passive meaning, as in the subject was burned.  In another example there are different verbs to describe fighting with the intention of killing, fighting with the intention of hurting to show dominance, and fighting mostly vocally with a minimal physical contact.  If I come back in another life I want to be an Arabic author; the tools they have to work with are so magnificent.
I also took a trip down to where I will be studying some fall.  Dokki is the neighborhood adjacent to Modenessin (where I live now).  The Amideast study abroad facilities are located in Dokki.  I really liked the area.  I really liked the facilities.  And I think I'm really going to like the classes.  I think I will be able to make THREE apply to my environmental studies major.  That's amazing.  I didn't think I was going to get any credit at all from this (knock on wood!).
Last month was enjoy-living-alone-get-used-to-living-abroad month.  It was lovely, I think it is time to kick things into gear.  One reason is because starting the 2nd, I won'y be living alone anymore.  I am getting a flatmate, A BOY!    My landlord and Kalimat set it up, so I assume it is socially acceptable.  I am more confident getting around, I know the area better, I've made new friends, and now I have my full schools days. SO this month is going to be work-hard-play-hard month.  I have already started going out more and exploring.  I like going to bed tired and having my days filled with classes.  I am excited.  I hope you are too!


Word of the Day

barabeera - booger


Sorry all.  My internet has decided to hate up loading photos.  I will keep trying to post more, but here are some tid-bits from my desert trip!

I have never driven for so long and seen absolutely nothing.  Western Egpyt is even more barren than North Dakota.  ND has a fence here and there, a small grove of bushes, grass, and a random farm house.   Egypt is just sand with rocks on sprinkled on top for hours and hours.  And you know what?  I loved it.  I went with a group from Kalimat, and my new friend Katie came along.  Most of the drip we spent driving on or off road.  We saw:

The Baharia Oasis.

The Black Desert.

The White Desert.  
I know for sure The White Desert was a National Park.  I don't know if it extended to include our other stops.

An Ancient Sea, where we climbed around a mountain that seemed to be made of chalk.  I think at the Ancient Sea, maybe even what we climbed was called "El Akabat" which means both beautiful and difficult.   Caravans had to cross over this mountain in the old days.  It was so steep they would have to leave some of the dates they were carrying to trade, so the camels could make it over.


Word of the Day

fooz - winning/winner



Morsi is in fact the winner with 51.73% of the vote.  I don't know how to work my TV, so I have been told over the Internet (by my sister in Minesota) that MORSI was just been declared the winner of the presidential election.  I can hear fireworks exploding all around.  Now I think I can even smell them, and cars have started honking.  Hopefully this mean less violence and demonstrations tonight than if Shafiq had won.  We'll see if there is a curfew imposed or if my mobility is inflenced at all. 

Photo of the Week

The view from my dinner on the Nile with my host family:

I am going to try to update the photo of the week every Sunday.  (That's the same day I water my cactus.)  


Home and Alive

I am back from the desert, alive and well.  ITWASSOMUCHFUN!  I have a bunch to tell you about, but I am exhausted.  So tomorrow inshallah.


Be right back!

Hello!  I am off to Baharia Oasis early in the morning, so don't expect to hear from me tomorrow.   I get back Saturday night.  We'll see if I am too exhausted to post or not.

But today was an exciting day for me!  I had a lovely day with German Friend.  We ate, had tea, explored a kind of department store (where I did NOT find a dust pan, clothes pins, or a spray bottle), and then I introduced him to my house.  Lovely.

I had been hoping to visit that comic store today but a whole different lovely chain of events happened instead:

I took a taxi into wust il-balad (downtown) for the first time, and on the way say some of the graffiti I had researched and been dying to see!

I met my friend and old Junior Liaison with AFS at a cafe downtown with a bunch of his AFS buddies. This group of young Egyptians was a blast and included a socialist anthropology major; an adorable photography and film major; a chipper, boisterous, and a bit crazy psychology major; and a few other fun kids.  I had liver for dinner.  It was a good time.

Then on our way home, we walked by TAHRIR SQUARE.  No worries, it wasn't that crazy, and I didn't venture into the fray.  It was just significant for me to see the place I had known in some distant past, seen on the news for the past two years, and now here it was again.  It was just another one of those this is real?! moments.

We had to pass by Tahrir because the metro stop is across the street.  I am ashamed to say it, but I don't think I have ever ridden the Cairo subway before.  But I have now!  The spunky psychology major helped me.  She was great.  Ultimately, it cost about the same to metro and then taxi, as it did to just taxi, but I am now that much closer to being able to get around Cairo by myself!


Still Waiting

Mubarak's not dead, he just slipped in the shower (!?) and had a minor blood clot in his neck which lead to a breif visit to a Maadi hospital.

The results of the election have yet to be revealed, because appeals are still being heard.  Most likely this means I will be out of town when if it happens tomorow or the day after.

But SCAF has definitly reimposed marital law, given itself sweeping powers, and declared that the president will NOT be commander-in-chief with their latest charter.  This is being called a "soft" or "legal coup."



Ganzeer (or “chain” in Arabic) is rocking my life.  The artist became famous in the aftermath of the revolution for creating and posting this poster.  This arrest has made him on of the best known “street artists” of the revolution, even though street art makes up a very small portion of his portfolio.  I really enjoyed this comic he did for a European magazine:

Even though Ganzeer doesn’t consider himself a street artist he has contributed a great deal to the street scene.  I am in love with this online map he has created pinpointing many locations of art around Cairo:

Word of the Day

Tab3aan - of course

Mubarak Dead?

Everything is happening at once!  After months of deteriorating health Mubarak went into a comma last night.  Sources conflict on whether he is clinically dead or not.


Ill in Egypt

I don't know if I've caught something, or if the food has just caught up with me, but I am not working right.  I was have been having slight tummy troubles for the past few days, but now the Fates have decided to reek their havoc.  I was too proud, so I had to be struck down.  I'm not sure if this is all food adjustment though.  I went out late for the first time last night and then was waken up several times in the night, so perhaps lack of sleep weakened my immune system.  I think it is not only stomach troubles because today during class, it was as if I suffered from Vertigo.  I was very dizzy for quite some time.  I have made a point to drink as much water as possible, but I have developed an aversion to it.  I feel as though the water is dry here as it just makes me more thirsty and then it sloshes around in my gut.  But the fruit juice here is so thick it isn't exactly thirst quenching either.  I think hibiscus tea, hot or cold, is the best bet for me (but of course I'll keep on with the water).  It is also just my luck that I would get sick before my first big trip.  I am planning on going to an oasis and to see the Black and White Deserts with Kalimat this weekend.  I am determined to functional by Thursday. Hopefully, the two and a half hours I've already slept today will get me on my way.   



It looks as though Morsi won after two days of voting in Egypt's first "free and fair" election.  The official results come out Thursday, but it might not matter much now that SCAF has given itself more power, and limited that of the president.

Word of the Day

3ala tool - straight ahead, right away


Word of the Day

yintakhib - to vote (he votes)

kh represents a sound akin to hawking a loogie.

New Friend with a GREAT BLOG

Hello all!  Check out my friend Katie's blog: Sunburned Not Tan.  She is currently interning at the US Embassy here in Cairo.  She's posted a great breakdown of the politics going on right now.  While I have been living the cushy life with my family in 6 October, she has been going out observing the polls!  I'll let you know if she posts the juicy details soon!    

Walk Like an Egyptian

Tips for crossing the street:

DO NOT bolt across the street.  Crossing the street is a delicate dance the requires the pedestrians and drivers to make deliberate decisions, and communicate with each other.

Make your intention to cross the street clear by standing at the edge of the sidewalk (this does not have to be at the corner), and surveying on-coming traffic.  Beware: it will be awkward when multiple taxis pull up thinking you want a ride.  This maybe avoided by limiting our street-crossing prep-time, but in most cases this can not be helped.  Just ignore the taxis.

As you wait for a break in traffic, keep in mind that on a wide multi lane street (most streets you will be crossing) that you will not cross the street all at once.  Instead you will try to find a break in the first lane of traffic and then walk deliberately as far across the street as possible.  Then wait in between lanes of cars for a break in the next lanes, until you have made it across.

Remember: some cars will slow to let you cross, but most won't.  You'll have to be aggressive if you want to get across the street.

There are many speed bumps in Cairo.  This means a place where cars have to slow down.  TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS.  Cars also slow at U-turns, but are rarely watching for pedestrians at this time, so watch out!

If you're having trouble gauging distances and speeds of cars, simply cross the road up streak of some Egyptian who knows what their doing and cross as they do.

Have fun!


Word of Day

Rabina yesahl - God will take care of it (said at the end of most sentences in the current political climate)



The Parliament is being dissolved and Shafiq is being allowed to run for president.  Wow.  If I figure out what that means I'll let you know, but right now I don't think anyone knows!


I spend much of my time marveling at the fact that I am here.  It doesn’t make sense that a silly white girl from Minnesota studying environmental studies would end up in a place like Cairo, but here I am.  And on top of that I am here decidedly, after two years worth of return attempts.  While usually I am stunned by the circumstances of my life, today
I am just so happy to be here.
This morning I just had a feeling today will be a good day.  And it has been.  My walk to Kalimat is lovely.  It is hot here, but usually breezy.  I am always wearing my black skinny jeans, so I am still trying to navigate the fatigue, but it is only a 30 minute walk.  I am always carrying water.  I drink often, but it just seems to make me more thirsty.  It’s all major streets on my way to class.  I enjoy walking down the median.  There is less foot traffic and fewer stalls selling things there.  On Ahmed Oraby St the median contains a sizable grassy park for it’s entire length.  Oraby ends at Sphinx Square where turn onto Gam3at il-Dowl St.  Gam3at il-Dowl is even larger so the median contains benches, majestic palm trees, and pavilions.  There are even a few fountains.  It almost reminds me of the channel running down the middle of the streets in Dusseldorf (Mom, Celesta, you know what I’m talking about). I just love it.  It’s like a little oasis in the middle of the honking cars, plastic stores, and dirty buildings.
My Arabic classes are great.  I have officially been pinned as the silly, if not stupid, American by my peers.  I’m the butt of most of the jokes and I think it’s very funny.
After class, I got lunch with my German buddy once again.  We sat at one of those pavilions on Gam3at il-Dowl.  He can be  bit negative, and he isn’t quite as enthusiastic as I am about how beautiful the trees are and things like that, but really, who is?  I still enjoy his company.  To little boys came and sat at our pavilion.  They weren’t bothering us at all, but when I way one pull out a cigarette I had to ask how old they where:  THIRTEEN.  I expressed my disapproval, but then I had fun trying to speak with them.  They were excited about the elections.  One of the boys’ father is dead, and he goes to school Fayoum.  They asked if we were married, and I explained that we are colleagues (zamileen).  They gave me pumpkin seeds to eat (German friend did not accept the seeds, on the grounds he would not eat them... tsk tsk.)  And they didn’t ask about money until the very end of the conversation.  I have yet to decide how I want to deal with people, especially children, asking for beksheesh (tips).  My current policy is to try to buy my bread and fruit and tissues from local people on the street and then avoid giving money otherwise.  In the US there are so many organizations to help those in need, I never give money to people begging on the streets, but here in Egypt there is a better probability the money you give on the street with go to a good cause... or it might not.  Like I said: I’m still trying to figure it out.
So.  Things are good.  I am currently exhausted from walking to and from class.  AlI I have been motivation to do is blog and peruse the internet.  I  may need to adopt the siesta schedule so I can be more productive, but I worry that will mess up how I sleep at night.  Please give me sleep schedule suggestions.  Maybe I should take naps, but keep then shorter than an hour so I don’t get into deep sleep and feel more tired when I wake up.  I also think staying up later and sleeping in is a better policy with the schedule of most Egyptians and my classes... 
Mk.  Bye!

Comic books!

I have had a lot of free time to draw.  So on a whim I searched the Internet for some of my favorite superheros to copy, so I can practice my comic drawing.  (See how it's coming along on my other blog.)  I thought to myself how lame to copy from Internet scraps instead of a real comic book, and so I took it upon myself to find a comic book store in Cairo.  Hello Kryptonite!  I will be taking a trip there very soon.

While searching comic books I found these:

Cats in Cairo

Metro: A Story of Cairo

Rise: The Story of the Egyptian Revolution As Written Shortly Before It Began

This one I've read.  It is pretty good.  It is not political like the others listed here.  It was written by an American journalist who spent many years working in Cairo.  The illustrations are great.  The dialogue and plots jumps around a bit.  For instance it becomes intense suddenly without adequate build-up and the reader is left a bit confused, but the over arching ideas are pretty neat.

There was another comic book I found a the Kafir cart at the Mall of Arabia, but I didn't catch the name.  It was all in Arabic.  Maybe I can work up to that by the time I leave.

Another GREAT graphic novel is Habibi.  It is not Egyptian, it's not even quite Arab.  It is written by a white boy from Wisconsin, but, man, is it beautiful.  It feels a little bit orientalist, the way it romanticizes supposed exotic and erotic aspects of the Arab World, but it thoughtfully addresses many current issues in Arab society.  Though it may be orientalist, the novel's portrayal sexuality is very interesting.  The protagonist is a woman who overcomes a child marriage.  The book then follows her as she grows up with a baby she rescues form slavery.  It touches on village/tribal life, but the plot also moves to the city, and touches on the degradation of the Arab city and its natural resources.  The book also beautifully depicts the acquisition of knowledge, the Arabic written language, and Islam.  It is done so beautifully I wonder if the author has or is planning to convert.


Word of the Day

zara3 - plants
Sabaar - cactus

the "3" represents an "ein" in Arabic.  It is like an "ah"sound, but it is not considered a vowel and and it sits further back in your throat.  

The "S" represents a "Sawd" instead of a "seen."  Sawd has a deeper more guttural sound, like the ein.

Photo of the Week

We'll see if I can keep this up!  To kick of "Photo of the Week"  I present you with two photos: 

Don't worry, 91% that isn't fresh mik in my milk indefinitely doesn't contain preservatives.

I am kicking myself for not taking this photo when I first got here.  This is the view from my balcony.  The trees were almost completely red with flowers.  It looked as though it had snowed potpourri on the streets.

So it's true...

If you don't separate the darks from the lights they really do bleed and stain each other.  I'm really glad that this happened right now when I moved to a new country with only a select few of my favorite clothes, and not during the past TWO YEARS I HAVE BEEN DOING MY OWN LAUNDRY.  Luckily I have mostly dark clothes, so it's just my towels and underwear that are now socially unacceptable.  sigh.  It's not a big deal.  It only makes sense that after posting about how well things are going The Fates would stage their revenge.   I'm used to it by now.  I need me a plant.



I feel like today my Egyptian life really starts!  (For your reference, I am back at my apartment in Mohandessin).  I have broken the boundary of fear and have begun to master my neighborhood!  After class I went to an ‘ahwa with my German classmate.  I finally made it to an ‘ahwa and enjoyed some tea and shisha.  ‘ahwas are just great for talking about life, and talk about life we did!  I am glad to have found a spot that is on my way home from Kalimat.
Then I met up a friend of a friend at Sphinx square and walked her to my house.  She is an American interning at the American embassy.  This was a double success in that I made a new friend very interested in exploring Cairo with me, and I also walked the whole distance from Kalimat to my house.  It’s not a back walk at all.  Maybe just over a mile.  I think I am going to save a lot of money if I walk instead of taxi some days.  
She and I talked about our adventures studying abroad and our mutual friend and then went out to a restaurant.  I am very excited to learn my neighborhood and the local shops.  There is a lot around.  But one thing we didn’t find was a sweets shop.  I really wanted to find her a stand that sells sugarcane juice, or the taffy Egyptians make from molasses, both of which she has never tried.  I have found a “House of Doughnuts” near Kalimat though.  The slogan boasts “the finest American pastries.” I found the doughnuts average, but still doughnuts and so still a nice treat.
I find myself desperately wanting a plant.  I have my own house and a new life on my own.  I have proven to myself that I can take care of myself, so now I need something to take care of.  I have noticed several plant shops around.  I am hesitant to purchase a plant because I have a few weekend trips coming up, but I have convinced myself that any plant I buy here should to be able to withstand a few days without water.  What I REALLY want is a cactus, not because they are easy to take care of, but because I think they are fascinating and beautiful.  One of my peers seemed to know a place to get a cactus but it I didn’t know where he was talking about, maybe I’ll ask some Egyptian friends about it.  I have decided that my task for tomorrow is get a plant... and I really should do laundry too. 

Word of the Day

lihad - until


Graffiti and Murals

Aya Tarek

And for some more graffiti magic look here!  I hope to find a lot of this and take my own pictures  :)


Hipster in Cairo

I plan on pursuing art as much as possible while living in Egypt, so I am going to start another string of posts labeled "Hipster in Cairo."  If you look at the bottom of this post there should be a link of that label. If you click it you will be taken with a page that lists all the blog posts with that label.  You can do the same thing for the "Word of the Day" posts.

Word of the Day

tasloo’ el-gabal - rock/mountain climbing

Home Coming

It is amazing how different 6 October feels from Mohandessin.  When I lived in 6 Oh two years ago my friends told me they liked it in the suburb because it wasn’t as busy and the air was cleaner.  I didn’t notice too much of a difference back then, but now that I live in the city, the difference is clear.  Walking from Hagar’s home to where I caught my taxi was lovely.  The air tasted clean and everything seemed brighter.  The streets are more open and cleaner.  It can be scary living Mohandessin.  No, scary is too strong of a word.  It can be intimidating, because there are always people everywhere.  6 Oh is more peaceful.  I should have anticipate this, but I was surprised to recognize landmarks and streets I had traversed before.  
Last time I was here I didn’t notice how many awesome plants there are everywhere!  It’s a shame I forgot my camera.  Darn.  I have never been here in early summer, so that may explain it.  I expect to be visiting 6 Oh quite a bit before my family moved to Seattle.  
My host family lives in a fancy gated compound.  THAT MEANS THEY HAVE A POOL. The feeling inside the compound versus that of Mohandessin is crazy.  In Mohandessin I got cat-calls for wearing shirt with a slightly lower neck-line.  In the compound a bunch of teenagers in mixed company were wearing bikinis!  I was just happy to swim and get some exercise.
Safaa’s dance recital was great!  The little girls did hip-hop, bollywood dance, and stylized ballet (one pharonic themed).  Safaa has a great presence and fluidity on stage.  I hope she finds a good dance school in Seattle so she can built up her technique.  It was a great family outing.  I love having so many Egyptian friends and family.  Culture shock doesn’t stand a chance.

I am currently helping my host mom prepare for a play she is putting on at her school.  It is a really fantastic compilation of poems, Spirituals, and even dace.  It draws connections between oppression all over the world mostly through poetry from all over.  I am especially interested to see how Egyptian 5th graders portray American slavery.


Killing Time

I am back in 6 October!  For those of you who don't know, 6th of October City is where I lived in high school.  Last night I stayed over at Hagar's, and I am invited to visited my old host family after the morning prayer.  Unfortunately, Hagar had to leave for work at 6 am, so I am stuck at her house killing time with her uncle.  A little awkward, but ultimately no problem.  It is about time to grab a taxi and head over.

One thing I remember from my last time in Egypt.  My first inclination when imposing at someone's house is to stay out of the way, but in Egypt that can be considered rude.  Nothing time is usually spent with friends or family watching TV in the living room or sitting at an 'ahwa.  Locking one's self into their room is just antisocial (and they don't really do privacy here).  I made the point of taking my computer into the living room where Hagar's uncle is watching TV.  We haven't been speaking much, but I think he appreciates it.

I'm just going to say what other travel bloggers might not:  I am so glad my butt has not exploded yet.  Hagar was sooooooo nice to feed me last night.  It was a very good meal, but I think all the drink was tap water.  I was worried I would be very sick this morning, but maybe Mom is right.  Maybe the antibodies I developed in high school have stuck with me!  Maybe I can start eating fruits and vegetables sooner than I thought!


Word of the Day

zabadee - yogurt

Independent me!

Today after class I went to the grocery store all by myself!  I think there may be one closer to my house, but I went to one that was closer to Kalimat, but on the way home.  My immediate family can tell you: I do not shop well, ESPECIALLY grocery shop.  Let me tell you, it's way harder in a different language and when you need to make sure you can carry all of your purchases.  BUT IT DID IT!  I got a lighter (but I still don't know how to light my stove).  I got dish and washing machine detergent... I think I did anyway.  There seem to be more additives than detergents on the market and I really couldn't tell the difference between them.  I also got some frozen corn.  I really want to eat the fruits and veggies here, but I am waiting for my stomach to adjust.  I figures frozen corn that needs to be cooked it is a nice sterile compromise to I get some veggies in my diet.  I also stopped by a little tiny minimarket by my house for water this morning.  I hoping to get in good with the men who work there so they will keep the little boys and shabeb (young men) from calling after me.

At first I didn't want to tell the story that follows because I didn't want Mom to worry, but I think it is a good cultural lesson for others coming to Egypt.  This is about clothes.  I wear black skinny jeans and t-shirts most of the time.  I have been specifically wearing not tight t-shirts these past few days, and I haven't been bothered other than a couple of awkward stares.  Yesterday I wore a tank top with an unbuttoned long sleeve over shirt.  No cleavage or anything, but still.  "Too much collar-bone?" I asked Sherif before we went out.  He thought it may be fine for going to class on the normal routes.  A few minutes after going outside he said, "Maybe I was a little too  optimistic about the shirt..." What surprised me was that the Egyptian boys were making stupid faces, and hollering at me when I was clearly walking with another Egyptian guy.  Have they no dude code???  I asked Sherif if he would fight for my honor.  He responded that if the kids got really out of line he would walk me home first and then come back and fight them.  I found this response unsatisfying.  If I can't fight for my honor, I at least want to watch when someone else does and maybe get a shot in.  "That's not very nice," Sherif said.  I don't think sexual harassment in the street is very nice either, but I didn't belabor the point.  Ultimately, the walking home bit is for the protection of the girl in case the cat-caller's friends turn up.  That walk with Sherif was a good little social experiment, and I was glad I tried the outfit with him and not when I went out alone.

So the cat-calling is unpleasant, but not too bad, especially if you dress mildly.  The only upsetting thing, is that I feel like I owe it to woman-kind to tell these guys off or sock them in the face.  I'm pretty sure even the Egyptian girls just have to take it.  No worries concerned family, I don't plan on starting any fights, especially not so close to my house.  I am going to do this strategically.  I'm going to be a good customer of the minimarket near my house and then as the man in charge to reign in the boys who hang out there.  Once I am a regular face there I think a firm "BESS" (enough) to the boys be acceptable.

I think it's interesting:  Sherif keeps telling me that I'm in a really nice neighborhood, but if my mom was here she would be mortified.  (She may be consoled slightly by the terrifying gate around my house and padlocked inner gate.)  As it stands I am quite happy with my area, but it certainly isn't Northwest DC, and that's fine by me.

This weekend (today, Thursday, was the last day of the work week) I am off to 6 October to see Hagar and my host family.  I think I may even get to see my host sister's ballet recital!


Word of the Day

You get two today because I keep getting these mixed up:
buttin(eye)a - blanket
bootagaz - stove

good and meh

I am in an odd mood.  I feel as if I have been here in Egypt a really long time, and yet I have very little figured out.  I tried to to find the local grocery today with Sherif.  We couldn't find it.  Sherif has been so nice to help me get settled, but I have only seen two of my friends.  I haven't even seen my host family yet.  I don't have their Egypt number, so tried their American number through skype.  The connection was so bad I couldn't communicate anything to them.  I was going to meet some friends tonight but someone got sick, so the plans flopped.  I haven't even had tea, let alone gone out to the 'ahwa.  I am very comfortable in my house, but ultimately that's all I've seen.  I was going to make some soup but I didn't have a lighter to start the stove :(  
But I really like my classes.  Kalimat has a very nice vibe.  My evening class (like my morning class) is comprised of only three of us.  My classmates once again are male, one from Spain, and one from... Germany?  I really missed studying Aamaya (ECA).  The classes are much more about speaking whereas the MSA classes at my University seem to be all about grammar.  Kalimat is just a really friendly place.
I am considering starting up a photo of the week, like my word of the day.  The photo of the week idea is a bit trickier because carrying around my big honking camera pins me as a tourist.  But if I go out taking photos with my Egyptian friends, it shouldn't be a problem.  I also like the idea of having just one photo a week, so you get the best choice selections.  We'll see.
I hope I sleep tonight.  I forgot all my Tylenol PM at home. 


Word of the Day

Takeef - Air-conditioning

Here we go

Let’s start with a disclaimer:  my internet is spotty.  So if I hang-up on you on skype, or suddenly sign-off, or miss a blog I promised you know what happened.
Idea:  Let’s start up an Arabic word of the day!  I don’t intend to blog everyday once I get  settled, but whenever I do I’ll also post a word.  We’ll make that an ECA word.
Today was my first full day in Egypt and first day of Arabic classes.  Sherif is THE BEST.  He came by in the morning to show me the way to Kalimat via taxi.  It is only a four or five LE (Egyptian Pound) ride.  This morning I took an oral placement test.  The teacher who did by test was very friendly and smiley, so I didn’t get nervous like I usually do with oral tests.  I will be taking four classes a week.  Tuesday and Thursday I go to an afternoon level 2 class, and Monday and Wednesday I will go to evening level 2.5 class.  So far I really like Kalimat, it seems very low pressure so I don’t get so nervous.  There are two other guys in my level 2 class, and they are both from the only two other countries I’ve been to, even the areas I have been to.  One from “the Rhineland” in Germany, and the other from outside London.  The class was 2.5 hours long, so a good chunk of time.
I grabbed lunch with the German, got home all by myself, slept, unpacked, and now I think I’m going to sleep again!  Night.

P.S.  The couches in my living room have cushions that are PERFECT for pillow forts.


I'd rather be sleeping...

but blogging is the next best thing.  It is currently 2:26 am here in Mohadessin.  I was sleeping soundly from 10:00 to 1:00, but now nerves and time zones are messing with my head.  I hope a nice blogging session will tire out my brain so I can sleep more before class tomorrow.

It's official: I have the best friends ever.  For anyone who ever doubted the dedication or awesomeness of my Egyptian friends: eat your words!  The generosity and loyalty of Egyptians wins yet again. Without Sherif and Shuma I would surely still be at the airport, homeless and hungry.  But instead I am lounging in MY bed in MY apartment, checking the time on MY cellphone with food in MY kitchen.  What a productive day.  I feel like renting your first apartment is a kind of rite of passage.  As with most of my rite of passages, I did this one in Egypt.  Score.  I think it is also worth noting that the apartment is really nice.  It is just a little smaller than the condo at home.  Unlike home, It lacks a second bathroom and a store room, but it does have a clothes washer and A BALCONY!

Tomorrow morning... or this morning I will head over to Kalimat at 8:30, and guess who's taking me. Sherif, the best friend ever.  Then I will take my placement test and start me Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (ECA) courses.  I have decided to start with all Colloquial to get myself started actually speaking with Egyptians, then in a month or two I will transition to combined Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and ECA.

On the more emotional side, I'm not so sure I realize what's going on yet.  Sherif and I kept poking each other to make sure the other was real.  Exhaustion is keeping me from appreciating what an accomplishment this is, but it is also keeping the "what-have-done"s away.  My experience last time was that I was all adrenaline and happiness until the really sudden moment that something goes wrongs and you start wondering what the hell you have gotten yourself into.  Right now it just seems unreal, but at the same time just right.  As we were driving from the airport I was amazed by how the air felt.  It was exactly the way I remembered it, even though I hadn't realized I missed it.  It is tangible, dry but heavy, and it makes your hair feel dirty.  Ironic, the environmental studies major likes the feel of polluted air.  I even kind of like the smell.

The best moment so far was when Sherif, Shuma, Shuma's girlfriend (from Maine!), and I were sitting in the garden at Kalimat waiting for some logistics to be worked out and the call to prayer started to weave its way through the heavy air.  The other-worldly chant washed over me and I was peacefully enraptured.  The five times daily call to prayer is something I knew I missed.  That was a nice place to hear if for the first time, surrounded by my friends in that little green garden.  Speaking of which the dawn call to prayer just sounded.  I'm going to try for some more sleep.


I definitely jinxed that flight.  We sat for about two and a half hours on the runway in Chicago.  By that time I had already taken my Dramamine so I literally drifting in and out of consciousness, but my understanding is that the luggage was loaded incorrectly, so it all had to be taken out and reweighed.  Luckily, I had five hour layover in Frankfurt, so I have not missed my flight to Cairo.  I am sitting at my gate.  I don't know if I feel motion sick, nervous, or hungry.  I hope they feed us again on this flight, because I am too scared to leave my gate to find food.  I also don't have any Euros...

You must travel to Travel... darn

Ufdah!  There was once a time when I loved flying in airplanes, but now, I do it so often, it has lost it’s wonder.  And with that lose of wonder I seem to have lost the ability to resist motion sickness.  And I only have 13 more hours of flight!
For a little back ground.  Last month I flew home from school (DC to Minnesota).  Then a few weeks later I flew back to DC for an orientation.  After one week of orientation I flew home.  And then 12 hours later I got on my flight to Chicago, where I sit now.  Then I fly to Frankfurt and finally Cairo.  
Many say that the journey is half the adventure.  I do not believe those people get car sick.  I have been convinced for most of my life that my motion sickness does not apply to planes, but thank you nature for proving me wrong.  I have not yet “gotten sick,” but the nausea is enough to make anyone’s journey unpleasant.  I am excited to get on the flight to Frankfurt and dope myself up on Dramamine.  I don’t know if Dramamine really does anything, but it puts me to sleep, and I don’t get car sick when asleep.
But over all things have gone well.  My little sister is the greatest.  She and my mother hosted a goodbye dinner for me with some of my favorite American foods.  All of my grandparents, some extended family, and some of my closest friends were in attendance.  Then my best friend slept over to help pack and see me off in the morning.  Packing was fairly painless, except for several switches of bags.  Biggish suitcase to biggest suitcase; no second carry-on to a duffle to a roller-board.  I made it to the airport and through security calmly without trouble.  But of course as soon as I got to the gate we are informed that there probably won’t be room for zone 5 and 6 to bring roller-boards on the flight, and it should be checked.  After pulling out some overnight things, I checked in a nearly empty roller-board.  That will be good for tokens acquired in Egypt, but I do worry about my new zoom lens, which remains in the roller-board.  I tried to buckle it in place in its box.
Minneapolis to Chicago is a short flight.  Too short for someone nauseous to drink a full can of ginger ale.  So when we were about to land I had a good half a glass left, but alas, I had to fold up my little table.  Just as I was juggling my drink and trying to click in my table, the seat ahead of me popped into the up-right position.  This jostled my drink from my hand on to my pants, feet, and carry-ons.  Oh, travel, why do you do this to me?  I sat for a moment with my mouth hanging open, amazed by my luck, and then tried to mop it up.  The damage was not too bad, but my feet are definitely sticky.  At least I’m not wearing socks.  Wet socks are the worst.  I am just hoping this means that I have used up my quotient of bad luck.  I am always excited for the foreign movies they play on international flights.  Send any excess good luck you may have my way!