Archive | October, 2007

That First Day

31 Oct

On Monday I relived my first day in Cairo. Not emotionally. Jeez, I hope not to go through THAT emotional roller coaster again. At least not until we move to the next foreign country and start to panic. (Just kidding, LeAnn! I can hear your scream from across the world) No, I found myself back in all the places that I had gone to on that first day.

You may recall that after a night of crying and panic, Patrick and I went down to the university on that first day to get various things taken care of. I was moving through that day in a haze of jetlag, anxiety, disorientation, and that exhausted feeling that one gets when a lot of crying has taken place and is constantly threatening to take over at any moment. Continue reading


Empty bookshelves

27 Oct

In one of the talks in church today, the speaker quoted a few stanzas from Dr. Seuss. I laughed, I always appreciate good Seuss-usage, and then immediately stopped. My eyes widened, my throat started to close up, and I nearly began hyperventilating. I turned to Patrick, a feeling of panic and dread washing over me, and whispered in a strangled voice “we don’t have any Dr. Seuss. We’re having a baby and we don’t have any Dr. Seuss.”

We have two months to go and I have already failed as a mother. The bookshelf in the soon-to-be nursery is empty and I’ve totally neglected to fill it. Time is running out! So this week my goal is to start searching out those essential works of children’s literature that every kid should have.

I’m starting a list of must-haves, including some of my own favorites, new and old. I need your help. Please add to our list with your own personal choices.

1. Where the Wild Things Are
2. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
3. The Giving Tree
4. Goodnight Moon
5. The Cat in the Hat

Your suggestions?

Desperation Nugget #2: The Food Situation

23 Oct

*For an explanation of desperation nuggets, see here.*

Everyone back home keeps asking me about the food here. What’s it like? Is it any good? Do they have the same things here? What do I cook?

I have one answer to give about the food situation: it makes me cry.

Seriously, most of the little desperation breakdowns I’ve had have been about food. I don’t know why. I think that we all have little comfort triggers and food is mine. Since being married, I have always made sure I had a kitchen well-stocked with the most random and obscure ingredients. I’ve gone through cookbook obsessions, buying them off the bargain desk at Barnes & Noble and tearing recipes out of magazines at the library (sorry St Joseph County Public Library! I’m sure all the fines I’ve paid you over the years have more than made up for it though!). When we moved into our new place, I ignored the suitcases I had been complaining about and went to work setting up the kitchen. Once I had my mixing bowls and baking pans put away, my knife block out, and my trivets artfully placed near the stove, I collapsed on one of the dozens of boxes taking up floor space in the rest of the house and finally felt settled in.

But one thing was missing: food. And it continues to be missing. Continue reading

Rainy Ramblings

18 Oct

It rained in Cairo on Tuesday. Yeah, you heard me, rain. I was puttering around the house and noticed that the light had gotten kind of gray and weird. I looked out at the sky and figured it was just pollution or some weird pollution-related phenomenon and went on about my business. Then the thunder started, distant and rumbling. But there are so many strange and loud noises in this city, I didn’t think much of that either. It didn’t rain in Cairo, did it? There was just no way. Then Patrick got home and said one of the guys on the bus said rain was predicted for Thursday, so it was possible. A few minutes later, we heard pings on our picture windows and Patrick yelled at me that it was raining! I ran to the window, delighted, then ran to the front door, slipped on my sandals and ran outside to join the celebrating masses who would be dancing in the rain.

But there were no celebrating masses. Continue reading

How I Survived My Egyptian Vacation

16 Oct

This weekend was Eid El Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan. During Eid, all businesses shut down for 3-4 days, classes are cancelled, and most people get the heck out of Cairo. I’ve heard all kinds of stories about what goes on in the city during Eid. Most of these stories include debauchery, rioting, and sexual assault. So we decided to get the heck out of Cairo.

We waited until the very last minute to decide where to go. We had been planning on Greece but changed our minds at the last minute. We then considered Alexandria on the Mediterranean and Taba on the Red Sea. Finally, two days before Eid, we picked Nuweiba. Nuweiba is described everywhere as a backpacker’s haven, a pristine stretch of Red Sea beach and Bedouin culture, unsoiled by the grubby hands of tourists and large resorts. How romantic, how bohemian, we thought. We don’t need the Hilton or to deal with throngs of people, we thought. Yes, do let’s book this quaint little “cabin” on the beach. Continue reading

Ramadan Karim!

10 Oct

This weekend is Eid el-Fetr, which is the feast celebrating the end of Ramadan. And what is Ramadan? I’m glad you asked. Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar (officially Egypt is on a Western calendar, but there’s also a parallel Islamic calendar based on a lunar cycle that goes back to the beginnings of the religion). One of the five pillars, or main beliefs and practices, of Islam is fasting, so during Ramadan all Muslims are supposed to abstain from all food, drink, smoking, and sex from sunrise to sunset. This is in remembrance and imitation of the Prophet Muhammad when he received the revelations that became the Qur’an.

Remarkably, people actually do it, this all-day fasting for a month. How do I know? Because people are very grouchy during the day, and stay up partying all night. Continue reading

Baptism by Sea

5 Oct

X-posted at By Common Consent

A few weeks after we arrived in Cairo, we were invited to a baptism. A boy in the branch had turned eight and wanted to be baptized…in the Red Sea. (Take that, tepid baptism font by the Relief Society room!) My mind was blown by this, the Red Sea! Wow! I’ve heard of people getting baptized in Lake Michigan or the Mississippi River, but—no disrespect intended—that ain’t no Red Sea. Continue reading

A little lesson in compare and contrast

3 Oct

We’re back online! Yesterday afternoon there was a flurry of doorbell ringing and workers coming in to do various things from fixing the internet to hanging our curtains to removing our kitchen door ( I didn’t like it where it was!). They brought in extra furniture and took care of all the little kinks like the toilet that had been running since we moved in and the towel racks without rods (the previous occupant stole them). All the while I got a chance to practice my Arabic (more like my sign language) and had some nice conversations with Abdullah who is one of the guys in charge of our building.

Anyways, you wanted it, you got it. Here are pictures of the new place with a few gems from the old one thrown in: Continue reading

A Quick Update

1 Oct

No, we haven’t dropped off the face of the earth (unless you count being in Cairo). We FINALLY moved into our beautiful new apartment on Saturday and have been getting settled in. The place is great, a zillion times better than our first place. I finally feel at home and able to settle in and get comfortable. The lady who lived their before us was a “prima donna” in the words of a neighbor and demanded all the latest and greatest perks, so our flat is the subject of much envy from our buildingmates. Speaking of which, they’re great. Last night we decided to flip the living and dining room furniture around and before we knew it the doorbell started ringing and we had an apartment full of helpful neighbors carrying stuff around. Patrick was especially relieved. When I told him I wanted to swap around the furniture, I think he had visions of moving everything himself while I directed him from wherever I was perched with sugar cookie crumbs around my mouth. (I don’t know what it is about sugar cookies, they really are the vanilla of the cookie world, but I NEED them lately).

The one downside right now is that our internet isn’t working and the IT people are taking their sweet time getting it fixed. So while Patrick enjoys communication with the outside world everyday from his office, I’m twitching at home from my lack of connection. I’ve been popping into local cafes to use their wireless while the waiters glare at me for only ordering juice. Right now, in fact, I’m nursing a lemon hibiscus juice in front of a window overlooking a corner where the taxi drivers congregate and fight over fares. it’s an hour until Iftar and they’re looking pretty tired. I need to do the online readings for my grad class tonight but when one is deprived of the internet for days at a time one just wants to check e-mail and talk to people. But alas, malnutritioned refugee children, here I come.

As soon as our internet is fixed, we promise more frequent and regular posts!