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.