Tuesday, September 1, 2009

MESP orientation has been crazy, so this entry has a lot to cover. It’s going to be pretty ridiculously long – sorry. J I can’t believe I’ve been here almost a week! The flights here were long, of course, and I didn’t sleep much, so I was pretty exhausted when we finally made it to Cairo. Once we cleared customs we met the MESP staff and loaded onto a bus for the ride home. The airport is pretty far out from Agouza (our neighborhood), so we got to see a lot of the city driving through. If we hadn’t been so tired we would have been super excited when we drove over the Nile – it’s beautiful! They dropped us off on the corner and we got to drag our suitcases down a couple blocks to our flats – amid many stares from locals. Unfortunately for us the elevator in the girls’ building broke after the first trip up so most of us got to drag everything up 5 or 6 flights of stairs. Fun times! The flat is fantastic though. Everything in it is kind of falling apart, but that just adds to the character. All the décor is overly ornate and completely mismatched. Except for the quilts which are exactly the same in all three rooms. Our washing machine is possessed, and I’m still convinced that the oven is going to explode one of these days. Also, the day after we got here my roommate Tiara got stuck in the bathroom because the latch jammed. I couldn’t get her out even after taking off the handle. So we called the villa and Asharof came over and pretty much pounded out the door around the lock. And this was only day 2… Like I said, our flat is fantastic.

Since getting here we’ve gone on a bus tour of the city, a felucca ride on the Nile, visited a mosque, smoked shisha at the Khan, gotten our visa extensions, explored Garbage City and a Coptic monastery, and figured out how to get around Cairo which seems to involve a lot of arguing with taxi drivers and dashing across six lanes of chaotic traffic. When we visited the mosque all of us women had to veil, and I’m pretty sure 16 veiled white women wandering the streets of Cairo is incredibly entertaining. One night they let us be tourists, so we got to go out on the Nile which was amazing. We went at sunset, so the weather was cooling off and there was a nice breeze – we also had some pretty awesome views of the city. Afterwards we went to the Khan, which is basically the tourist bazaar. They made an exception to the no smoking rule to let us try shisha. In my typical klutzy fashion I kind of choked on it. It wasn’t very good. J We then wandered around the market which was huge. There were so many people, and so much stuff! It was a bit overwhelming. The guys trying to sell their wares were entertaining too – no flattery was beyond them. I had one tell me I could get ¼ price if I smiled for him, and another say I should buy something from him because he liked my eyes. Except for the fact that they were ridiculously persistent it was pretty entertaining. At Garbage City I had the chance to interact with some Egyptian kids. Mardeena is 6 years old and her mom works at the orphanage we visited. She tried to teach me Arabic, but kept on throwing random French words in too. Neveen is 9 and has quite the attitude. She attached herself to KK and I at the monastery. She was adorable, but I could only understand about 1 in 100 words. I think she wanted me to give her my camera. She pouted when I refused.

Anyway, sorry to subject you to such a massive entry. I just wanted to give you some of the highlights of what I’ve been doing. There’s many more stories that I can (and probably will, eventually) bore you with, but I think that’s good for now. Ahalan wa sahalan.


  1. Caitlin,

    I'm so excited to hear about your trips in Cairo. You are in for a wonderful adventure. So glad you are sharing it with us.


  2. sounds awesome sis! Watch out for those psycho drivers. If you're going to die in Egypt it needs to be something cooler than getting hit by a car. ;) What exactly does the arabic greeting at the end of your post mean? haha your flat sounds amazing...what character!