Out but not better

I have been allowed out of bed this week, but things are still hard, and I still hurt.  And now classes are stressing me out.  But between a lot of yucky things, I've also done some really great stuff in beautiful Cairo.  I visited Al-Azhar park for for the first time and attended some amazing Sufi Dancing.  I attended Aida at the Cairo Opera House.  I had a night out in Zamalek with my best buds Michael and Cassidy which included Korean barbecue and obnoxious singing in an empty church.  But I think my favorite part of the week might actually have been my physical therapy appointment.  After a little leg workout I got a massage and some static shock therapy with a heating pad.  It was lovely and so relaxing.  But now I am really behind in my work and not relaxed at all, so talk to you later! 


It's Official

I am the worst blog updater ever.  I take solace in the fact that I have nothing interesting to write.

The plan is to visit the doctor in Thursday, before my bed-rest period is over, and make sure I am good to resume life (with a back brace).  I would love to tell you that I have used my time wisely, and I am totally caught up in my classes, but alas.  I would also love to tell you I am SUPER excited to get out of bed, but I'm not quite feeling it.  I think I am concerned that things I do will be disappointing, and so I'll just stay bummed out despite being out and about.  I am also worried, I'm going to let stressing about classes keep me down.  But I think once I can get out I'll start feeling better.  And I'm always better at getting things done, when I have things going on.  Busy people are the most productive.  I am thinking about taking Arabic voice lessons.  I think singing in Arabic in the Arabian style could be really fun and great practice for me Arabic!  I'm also dying to do some dancing, but that will have to wait until my spine is more solid...

AND Happy Birthday Grandma!


6 October

I made it to 6 October!  It's great to get out of the house, even if it's just to another bed.  I'm going to go read now.


I wrote a post that I found to be little bit too introspective for this travel blog, so check it out on my rarely updated personal blog HERE if you're interested.  Warning: it's a long one.


"Interesting Post Title"

Hi all.  I'm not going to blame the internet this time.  I haven't been posting because I have no motivation, and I don't want to bum you out.  But I'm fine.  Healing up slowly.  Nothing really hurts anymore, but it still feels wrong in motion, which probably is why I'm not supposed to move.  My peers all left for Luxor and Aswan Tuesday night.  I am too much of a liability to bring along, so I am holding down the fort.  I was planning on staying with a friend who had offered to take care of me this weekend in 6 October, but I am currently facing some transportation problems, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do.  When this post was starting to be written my plans were more concrete, and the tone was meant to be reassuring...  On that note: violent protests!  Don't worry.  I know about them.  Even if I end up going to my friend's house it won't be in areas where protests are happening.  If you don't know, the protests are a reaction to the release either an Indie film or the trailer of said film negatively depicting the prophet Mohammad in the USA.  People climbed the walls of the US embassy here, and in Libya bunt the embassy resulting the death of 4 including the American Ambassador.  The situation here isn't nearly as bad as Libya.  Police just convinced the protesters climbing the calls to go home the other day.  But protests continue and may get violent, but not anywhere near where I live.  The situation is just unsettling all around.  I don't agree with defaming a religion.  I don't agree with violence over an American's first amendment right to express themselves.  I don't agree with generalizing and reacting aggressively against either all of a particular religion, or a whole collective country based on one individuals actions or isolated events.  It just makes me wish everyone was a little less stupid.  I hope everyone just stays as safe as possible.


Musical play-by-play of Egypt

Mobinil is one of the major mobile phone companies in Egypt.  If Egypt has anything in common with the USA it is that both countries are definitely consumer societies.  And how would we know what to consume if we didn’t have commercials?  Ramadan is kind of like the Super Bowl for Egyptian commercials.  This extended edition of one of this commercial has gotten rave reviews from Egyptians across the board, because it is just so wonderfully Egyptian.  Another other thing that Egypt has in common with the USA is that they are both diverse countries.  The commercial acts as a great breakdown for the novice Egypt fanatic.  Start the video and follow the play-by-play:


Video opens on what might be Zamalek.  The elite island where foreign students and wealthy hipters pay too much for the cooler things in life.  I will admit my favorite music venue, Sawy Culturewheel, is located in Zamalek.

0:22  Nubia!  When the British drew the borders on this fine land, they completely ignored that fact that a large chunk of a different ethnic group with a different language was being globbed in with the Arab Egyptians in the south.  This segment is sung in Nubian.

0:37  Ultras!  Hardcore (sometimes violent) football (soccer if you’ve gotta be that way, and “kora” if you speak Arabic) fans.  Believe it or not they constitute a significant subculture and a substantial force in society.

0:53  Ismailia, Port Said, and Suez.   The instrument being played is called a “simsimaya.”

1:16  Rural life.

1:34  Now we’re back in some strangely clean section of Cairo, where I wouldn’t be laughed at for taking caring of my plants.

1:51  Shebab (aka youths)!  Hipster/artist/activist.  The labels blend together.  They’re rapping something about getting a job, which is interesting because one of the major causes of the revolutions was the mass numbers of educated yet unemployed young people.  But I must say, I have never seen a bus that clean and spacious in Cairo.

2:08  Upper Egypt!  That means south, because the Nile goes the wrong way.

2:26  SA3BY!  My favorite.  Sa3by means “popular” or “of the masses.” It can also be used as a kind of soft insult, but I love it.  Sa3by areas in Cairo feel lived in and alive.  And boy do I love their music.  This is a good sampling.  I am maybe not so big a fan of the excessively gelled hair, the eurotrash pants, and bright skin tight shirts with terribly translated English, but even all that is entertaining sometimes.

2:44 Sinai, and that means Bedouins!  They seemed to have traded in their camels for pick-ups.  I completely understand.

3:05  Montage time!  Curtain call!  You were all great!

Internet is spotty, but finally an update!

I have officially been in bed a week.  I have plenty of discomfort from being stagnant for so long, but luckily not too much pain from my back.  Sometimes I get lonely and bored, but I have yet to funnel these frustrations into anything productive.  No works of art produced yet.  But I did read a pretty interesting Egyptian Sci Fi book called Utopia.  I am being visited by an Arabic tutor two hours a day.  She is lovely.  So I won't be too far behind in Arabic, and I am having a good time with a nice visitor.  My other teachers are aware of my situation, and so I am either being skyped in to class, or told the assignments, or in one case I think class will even be held in my apartment.  So it's all being worked out.

My lovely Arabic tutor just email a video.  And I don't think I have ever been so happy to see a youtube clip in my life.  I never thought I would see this again.  I saw this on TV when I was living with a host family (nearly three years ago now) and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.  I was just telling my peers about this clip last week.  It stars a belly dancer in a man's galabaya going the coolest belly dance (with a shisha!!!) I have ever seen.  It combines so many of my favorite things about Egyptian culture: dance, music, and the ahwa.  I love this.  Enjoy:

And now a happy post from last week

What a fantastic Thursday!

When the clock stuck midnight on Wednesday miraculously changing the world to the realm of Thursday I was at a Nubian wedding.  My friend Cassidy studied abroad with me the first time around and now she’s back for this semester's AMIDEAST program. She and I were invited to this wedding by my old Arabic teachers.  We arrived at the wedding scheduled to start at 10 at 9:30, but nothing happened until 30 minutes before Thursday.  It was quite an experience.  I believe Nubian Egyptians may be even more chill than Arab Egyptians.  Egyptians weddings consist of a “zuffa” which is a traditional little musical parade with the bride and groom, the “kbt elkitab” which is the official signing of the marriage contract, and then there is the “faraH” literally meaning “happy” which is the wedding party.  This Nubian wedding did all three at this one event.  I thought it was interesting that the music of the zuffa was substantially more more African sounding than the Arab zuffa I have seen.  It was a long but fun night.  I got home at two am.

Later that morning began our last day of orientation.  After our last course of survival Arabic, we went out in teams on an across Cairo scavenger hunt.  It was so much fun.  SO MUCH FUN.  We had a list of tasks that took us on a scavenger hunt around the city.  It was FAN-FLIPPIN-TASTIC.  I was really forced to use my Arabic, and I was pleasantly surprised to find I had learned quite a lot this summer.  Guess which team won.... MINE OF COURSE.  We won dinner out with our program director, and he’s awesome, so that will be great.  Here are pictures from our tasks:

After that exhausting adventure the evening was devoted to bonding with my new peers.  I went out to dinner with a 5 of the kids who live in my apartment building.  We found a fantastic little hole in the wall Sudanese restaurant right near our apartment.  Sudanese food is a lot like Ethiopian food, and it is served with a very similar flat spongy bread.  The woman who cooks and runs the restaurant could tell we had no idea what to order so she provided us with a variety of fantastic flavorful dishes.  She gave us her card, and we plan on becoming regulars.  Now I have a local Sudanese and Yemeni restaurant within walking distance from my house!

After a quick stop at a disappointing over-priced “nice” cafe with juice and rice pudding, we returned to our apartment building.  This probably isn’t as exciting to hear about second-hand, but I thought it was so exciting: we all hung out and had tons of fun just chatting it up late into the night!  I am just so happy we all gel as well as we do, and can talk without inhibition or awkwardness.  And I mean everyone!  It’s lovely :)


So here’s the story

The word has probably gotten around that I broke my back falling of a camel.  Specifically, I have a compression fracture in my 3rd lumbar vertebrae.   I have been sentenced to three weeks of bed rest, and six weeks of wearing a soft back brace.  And to clarify, bed rest means not only no going out, but also no classes, and as little sitting-up as possible.  I am physically able to get up and move around, I’m just not supposed to.  I have lots of books and movies to keep me busy, and my classes are being sorted out.  So the situation sucks, but it could be much worse, and everyone is helping me and doing a great job of making sure this doesn’t mess up my life more then it has to.

And now, because I know you’re dying to know, here’s what happened:  I was enjoying a wonderful outing with my AMIDEAST peers at the pyramids.  Went into two different little tombs, and then we inside one of the pyramids!  I had never done that before!  We also visited the Sun Boat museum, another first for me, and I love boats, so that was fantastic.  You can see how much fun we were having in my facebook pics.  Then we came upon the camel riding portion of our outing.

It was a blast.  It was fantastic.  It was great.  Until it wasn't.  I should have known my camel was rogue when I saw its face tattoos.  Perhaps I should have been worried when the kids leading my camel said it had evil eyes.  Anyway my hardcore face-tatt camel wasn't really walking straight.  I was tethered to a string of two other camels, and so when my camel began going a stray I was untied from the pack.  I assumed I would be tied onto the tail-end, because my wandering camel wasn't making a very good leader.   Instead I was left on my own to steer my camel.  We went a little ways, but our pace didn't satisfy the camel boy, so he thought it would be a good idea to run after my camel yelling and waving his camel waking stick.  My camel was appropriately spooked, and began to gallop while simultaneously sit-stepping to get away from the kid.  I tried to hold on, but there is a certain point in the exceedingly bumpy camel gallop, mid-fall, when your brain just says "ABORT."  So I fell on the ground all the way from the top of the flailing camel, flat on the small of my back.  

The first think I did was get onto all fours and try to catch my breath, which had been knocked out of me.  Before I had regained the ability to speak two of the camel handlers were trying lift me to my feet  and give me water.   I had to push them away, because I was not in the proper state to explain medical emergency protocol.  I have been told by many people that I was not adequately panicked.  I lay on my back a while in the sand (most likely 50% camel poop), and one of my peers asked of I had hit my head, and if I could move my toes.  He seemed to think I was laughing him off, when in reality communication was just beyond me at that point.  He had the right idea, I probably shouldn't have moved at all, but I proceeded to ride out of the desert on the back of my program directors camel.  

The boy who scared the camel clearly felt bad, but had no idea how to deal with the situation.  He kept crowding me and offering me water or a better camel, and kept asking, "Are you happy?!" No, kid, maybe I'm not as mad at you as I should be, but I'm not happy.  When the incident first happened my program director was telling the lead camel dude that this was unacceptable, and safety should be their first concern.  The immediate response was, "Do you want to hit him?"  Of course not!  "I'll hit him later," was the response.

We rode the camels as far as they would take us, and when we got off the camel it decided to lay down immediately, crushing my leg into a concrete wall.  But that was only for a second.  Then I was free, and I lay down on the sand again.  Apparently someone in our group asked why I was laying in the gross sand, but then someone reminded them, I was already filthy.  The next task was to walk to the bus.  I think I was running on a lot of adrenaline, or maybe I was just trying to not freak everyone out, but when the pain became frightened intense I started crying and had to sit down at some guys stoop where he was selling nik-naks.  He was not very happy to be bossed around.  Oh well, we walked on further.  It seemed like a substantial distance to me, but my perception is warped.  I lay in the aile of the bus a while, then we were taken home, where we got in a taxi to al-salaam hospital in Mohandessin.

And so this trip became my first trip to the hospital as the patient, my first X-ray, my first CT scan, and my first broken bone.  Egyptian hospitals are interesting because you pay between every step, instead of one bundled sum at the end.  Cassidy and I were both shocked when it turned out something was actually broken.  Speechless in fact.  Even more shocked at the bed sentence.  And that's my story. 


Photo of the Week

I fell off a camel at the pyramids and fractured my spine.  Weeeee.