RRAAIIIINNNNNN!!!!!  Droplets of water fell from the sky, and I felt them on my skin!  Everything cooled down and it smelt clean and wet!  RRAAAAIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNN IN EGYPT!


continuing to push it

SATURDAY, my life continues to speed on at a pace well beyond my capabilities, but it all feels valuable and worth-while.  What doesn't kill me will make me stronger.  I will post more about my Environmentalism later, but here's a tour of my day to wet your pallet:

View Saturday in a larger map

hitting it too hard

FRIDAY.  I got up early with the peers once again, but this time we hoped on a charter bus south to the Saqqara, the first stone monumental structure, but not quite pyramid because of its steps, and other nearby historic sights.  Our first stop was to venture deep inside the Dashour pyramid, also called "the Red Pyramid," because it's a vaguely pink color that I thought looked more or less beige like everything else.



And then the Bent Pyramid, so named for the change of architectural plans that altered the angle of the slope midway through construction.

And after the Imhotep Museum we finally made it to Saqqara and it's surrounding complex.

SAQQARA! Currently suffering from some very poorly thought out "renovation" work

this is what happens when you don't do your taxes

IT WAS A BLAST.  But I went too hard.  That first pyramid we went inside?  The tube down to the tomb required all to bend over to walk down, but I can't really do that, so I crab-walked slash butt-scooted all the ways down, accidental subjecting my weak body to the most intense thigh work out of my life.  I am still suffering from noodle legs and expect extreme soreness tomorrow.  Exhausted from that experience, lots of walking, and bending to get into tombs led to some pretty unpleasant soreness from all parts of my body, including my sad back.  No worries, I am certain no permanent damage has been done, but it is still frustrating.  I was just so determined to finally get back in the game.  I had never been to Saqqara before, so I wanted to do it all.  Also, once I was in it, doing the tours, there really wasn't an easy out, and the only thing to do was follow the group until we got back to the bus.  I think it was worth it, but we'll see what my body says tomorrow.

The bus came home just in time for me to meet my Egyptian Grandmother's friend.  He was kind enough to let me run upstairs for a lightening fast shower and clothing change and then we met Nana in Heliopolis.  We went out to the five star Baron Hotel for a late lunch.  It was wonderful.  Nana leaves for the States this week to visit my host family, and won't return until after I've left.  I feel so lucky I was able to see her before she left.  She's a wonderful person, and she left me with a present!  Her friend is also a perfect gentleman.  In addition to giving me ride home, he also insisted on buying me enough tamaya, fool, lentil soup, and roz billaban to feed me and a friend for a full meal, despite having just stuffed ourselves at the restaurant.  he says it will make a good bedtime snack, and this restaurant is the best place in town.  I don't know if I'll be getting hungry again tonight, but I look forward to digging in tomorrow.

UPDATE:  I am still sore three days later (my ambitious activities Saturday are surely partially responsible, but that will be another post) but only in my legs.  Did you know shins can be sore???  Well I assure you they can be VERY sore.  And the food was AMAZING.  Zooba may be my new favorite restaurant.



Thursday the AMIDEAST bunch headed over to Cairo University, just a short jaunt from my apartment, for a tour of the facilities.  In case you didn't know every famous Arab politician or writer ever since 1908 (its founding) attended Cairo University.  We got to see the Celebration Hall with its famous Dome and play around on stage, and then the fancy new library, the library's museum, and the Culturama.  It was neat.  That is a huge campus with highlights of opulence and grandeur amongst Cairo's iconic urban decay.  (The connotations associated with "decay" may be too strong to describe Cairo University, but I can't find a better word at the moment...)

After attempting a brief nap, I headed over to Zamalek to meet a language buddy at her college, Helwan's college of Fine Arts.  This college was much smaller and a little more haphazard, with buildings and sculptures thrown in at different angles.  I sat in on a photo printing workshop, toured classrooms, and even strolled through some kind of printing (on metal plates?) class.  Then my language buddy sat me down and gave me a drawing lesson.  I needed the review on perspective.  I love art.  Hopefully, though this new friend, I can get into some classes or workshops or maybe even a gallery exhibit.  We shall see...  Afterwards we grabbed koshary and I went home pooped.

My main comparison between US and Egypt college campuses is that US colleges are much more concerned with giving the students faux-homey places and cool little hangout spots, while the Egyptian Universities go more for function or reputation.  I suppose that makes sense since a majority of the Egyptian students are still living at home.


Hipster Fail

It turns out I urgently have to do homework tonight.  So no concert.  Unsuccess, but I'll keep trying.  But the first step it to stop procrastinating on my have-to-do's...

Cooking, Seeding, and Concerts

Hello all!  First things first, check out the cool new links in the sidebar here             ========================>>>>>>>>>>>>

Yesterday was a foody day.  I made food art (check it out here), and then I had a cooking class with my peers. We made mass amounts of koshary and roz billaban.  The first is a famous Cairo dish of noodles, lentils, rice, and red sauce, topped with fried unions.  The second is basically rice puddling.  I am hoping to bring home a bag of Egyptian rice when I visit home for fall break and make some roz billaban for the fam.

Today I am going to "Art Beat" music festival at a venue I really enjoy.  My hipster quest going pretty well so far.  Yay.

And then I am very excited for Saturday.  I am volunteering for an environmental organization called Nawaya.  Tomorrow is a workshop to make seed bombs and Oct 20th we're planting all over Cairo :D This article describes the campaign better than I can.  I'll let you know how it goes!

I hope to post a bunch on my Understanding Contemporary Cairo class soon.  I have some great pictures from an assignment that required wandering around the city aimlessly.  I need to figure out a way to adequately describe how cool Urban Studies is.  The Cairobserver blog in the sidebar there is a really good example of things we discuss.  I love seeing how space is used to manipulate or display social politics.  Fascinating.  So many fields of study interact in Urban Studies, and we get to analyze all of it in my favorite city in the world!


Hipster in Cairo

I feel my inner hipster rising from the ashes of my previous state!  My goals for my experience in Egypt have changed.  I need to make up for what I have missed and make sure I do things that make me happy.  So now the objective is ART.  The motivation is ART. And maybe even the product will be ART.  My new plan to keep myself active and happy is to either go out (even if no one is going out with me) or do an art project everyday, be it just a quick sketch.

I mentioned Ganzeer's art show in the last post.  It is even cooler than imagined.  The whole gallery had been turned into a political, graffiti-esque art explosion.  Painting hung on the walls, but the walls were painted to match the works, and many of the paintings were continuations of the paintings next to them.     Here info on the exhibition:

After I visited the gallery, I spent sometime in that Sufi Cafe.  I had some GREAT mushroom soup.  The location isn't as close as I might like, but the chill indie atmosphere may be worth the trip, especially it I need places to go to alone from now on.  It's also book store, so that's great.  Another benefit of Sufi is that it is located right next to a really cool furniture gallery.  There are just rooms and rooms of really cool old Egypt stuff to furnish an eccentric individuals home.  It's great.

Hopefully there will be some concerts this weekend.  I'll keep you updated!


Zamalek is growing on me

Okay, I think staying home this weekend was definitely a good idea.  And not just because I was sick and I just realized what day it is today, or rather what day it will be tomorrow: the day my Econ presentation is due.  This weekend has just reinforced my thinking that I need to get out of this apartment, put some space between me and my peers, and less space between me and local arts.  The peace in the apartment has allowed me to pour out some poetry, and last night I met up some Egyptian friends at a great ahwa near where I used to live.  Today, I took a really neat excursion to meet a new language buddy and her mother and visit some art galleries.  The first gallery was the famous Townhouse downtown.  Unfortunately, it didn't have any expeditions at this time, but at least I know where it is now.  Then we headed over to Zamalek. We stumbled across the Sufi Cafe, that reminds me of my favorite hipster coffee shop back home.  We also stumbled across the space that Ganzeer, an artist who I have been stalking online since I arrived here, is holding his current exhibition, and I am pretty darn sure it was him working inside.  Eek!  I plan on returning this week when it opens.  Then a little antique shop caught our eye, and low and behold my language buddy's mom new the owner, who happened to be an economist, and we discussed the current political situation in Egypt (I defended Cairo, as he worshiped NYC).  I plan on returning and have his card.  Then our last stop was the Zamalek Art Gallery.  I finally feel a revival in my Hipster in Cairo segment coming on.  The best part about today was that I have things to return to, and investigate further.   Art is happening for me isa :)  Okay.  Homework now.

P.S.  I finally finished Azazeel.  Oh my gosh.  Just read it.


I wish...

I wish I had more articulate posts to dazzle you with, but alas.  My peers are all in the Black and White Desert for the long weekend (We have Sunday off).  I didn't sign up for the trip because I figured a long bumpy jeep ride through the desert wasn't the best choice when I am finally starting to feel like a functional human again.  It was a good thing I didn't go because I woke up the morning of the trip with pretty intense stomach pain after everyone had left.  When it became necessary that I use the bathroom by body revolted and I fainted three times on the trip to and from the bathroom.  Luckily, one of my roommates stayed home from the trip and she revived me with water and toast as I lay on the floor outside of my room.  I got back to my bed and did absolutely nothing for the rest of the day.  I am feeling much better now, but still pretty exhausted.  I think I suffered from a stomach bug or food poisoning and then dehydration pushed it over the top.  I thought it was food poisoning, but then I remembered Michael had "food poisoning" two days ago, and this morning I got a call from the desert trip saying that Cassidy is suffering from a stomach thing today.  That really sucks for her because she has already paid for that trip, but has to stay at the hotel during the desert safari portion :(  As much as being sick and missing things SUCKS (I HATE IT SO MUCH.  SO MUCH), I am a little bit excited (in my twisted Starr way) that I some friends so close that we get sick together.  Aw,  how sweet?

I have also done a couple things that don't involve hating my body for it's pathetic weakness.  For instance the night before I got my latest ailment I went to an Om Kathoum puppet show at Sawy Culturewheel with my language partner from AMIDEAST.  The marionettes were great, but the puppeteers didn't create much action, so we basically just listened to recordings of Om Kathoum for two hours as we watched a puppet's mouth open and close... but it was fun!  I am really looking forward to diving into Arts for the rest of my stay in here in Egypt.  My language partner knows a lot of cool people, so I am really excited to spend more time with her.