On Sunday night, Nabil, Omar, and Hazem, came over to pick me up. It was hilarious opening the door, because they looked like a matching gang with their leather jackets. We chilled, watched a video making fun of something I didn’t really understand, then went to meet a bunch of CouchSurfers at Zeinab Khatoun in Old Cairo. Mostafa, Amgad, Shamm, and two Argentinians were all sitting. I was so excited to meet Shamm, and we started talking right away about how she’s liking Egypt so far.
We shared our mutual favorite songs, and she taught us some hilarious New York slang (Booboo stink stink, hahahaha). We were laughing so much! It’s awesome that she has Fuzha down, so we started teaching her Egyptian slang too! She is seriously such a fun girl, and I can’t wait to live together!
They also started talking about swearing in Arabic. I, personally, don’t like to swear, and people know that, so I often oust myself or get ousted out of the conversation, which is okay for me. Afterwards, while on our way out, I talked to the Argentinians. It was a bit better than the last time in Spanish mode, but I still added Arabic words into the conversation. Nabil and Omar took me home, and I went to sleep.
Monday, I woke up, got to work, but there was no Internet for a while. I started researching corporate guidelines for donating responsibly, and I talked to Amgad about traveling this weekend. He has a chalet in Ras Sidr, which would be awesome to visit! We had lunch, but, once again, I was unable to join in the speedy Arabic conversations about politics. I talked to Nabil, and he told me that he called the owner of the apartment. He told him that I could take it, and that they’d talk at 7pm about everything. I was so excited, and I put up a posting to rent out my current room. I finished my work for the day early, then began the trek home. I got back at 6pm, chilled for a bit while waiting for Nabil’s news about the apartment. I also had a great conversation with Liz, also at AUC, and she told me she read what I wrote about not having strong beliefs in religion. She said she’s had exactly the same experiences and was so glad to read about someone with the same perspective. It was seriously so nice to know that what I was writing actually resonated with her as well!
Afterwards, a woman from Sweden came to see the apartment. She was so cool! We talked about her experience here thus far, and she met Yana, my German roommate. She said she would definitely take it. So easy! After she left, I waited for Ahmed to arrive. I skyped Nabil while waiting, and we found out that the apartment owner was deliberately not answering any of our calls. So evil! I need to get an apartment before February 1„ or else I will, indeed, be homeless. Ahmed finally came, and I found out there is a microbus directly to his and Nabil’s neighborhood from Dokki! Microbuses are now officially one of my optional modes of transportation. Yippee, I have the power!
We walked over to Sofitel to meet Amgad, Shamm, Karim, and friends. It was only about 15 minutes away, but Ahmed was not excited to walk. Oh well, hehe. We talked about Ahmed’s future car and traveling this weekend on the way. When we reached the entrance, I remembered I had been here before. The place is so darn fancy, and I definitely did not feel dressed for the occasion. There was a violin quartet just casually playing in the lobby, and we went to the restaurant outside on the Nile. Our chairs were literally almost touching the water!
We greeted everyone, and I met Mohamed Salah, Karim’s best friend.
Ahmed and I were afraid to even open the menu, just from viewing the place. Everything was SO expensive- a bottle of Tequila was 120 dollars, and Bacardi was $200! Of course, those were not the beverages I was planning to drink, but seriously, where were we?! Ahmed and I jokingly said we’d share one cup of tea that cost 20 pounds, which is around 3 dollars. Usually, it’s less than 50 cents! Okay, now translating it into dollars, it still sounds very cheap. Alas, even a chicken meal was $40. Karim and Sham met for the first time, and she started making fun of his English too, which was hilarious. She fits right in with us, haha!
I also talked on the side with Ahmed about his prediction that all of us, when we get back to the U.S., will forget about our Egyptian friends. I was seriously shocked to hear such an opinion, because I know, for a fact, that I will make an effort to keep in touch with everyone, at least until I come back (which, there is no doubt, WILL occur).
It was just to sit, talk, and laugh with everyone. I walked back home with Karim and Ahmed- I seriously enjoy walking later at night, because the streets of Cairo are much less chaotic. We laughed about I don’t remember what, then I got home and went to bed.
Tuesday, I got to work very easily, but there is no Internet once again. I have nothing to do. I finished the Forsa video once and for all, and was waiting for Amira to bring the drive with more footage. While I waited, I read childrens’ books in Arabic and found that I could understand almost all of it! Too awesome! Amira finally came and brought the drive, so I started looking at the videos and translating them. After a bit, I took the bus and the metro home.
I hung out for a while, then went to a qahwa across the street with Shady, Bingo, Islam, and Yousuf, Kinjal’s friends from Resala. I met Ahmed, who also works with them but is in the army right now. We talked about Egypt, learning Arabic, and also about learning English, because some of them don’t speak it. We were laughing so much together because they were giving me such deep Egyptian slang. I swear, I must hang out with them again! They insisted to pay for my tea, and then they walked me back home. I got back around 11pm, then Montana called and asked to chill, because he was in Dokki. I hadn’t seen him since Kinjal left, so it was great to catch up! I told him about the whole confused-religion thing, and he said it was extremely beneficial that I had such a conversation. He agreed with Nabil and Hazem that I should start reading more religious texts, at least just to gain more knowledge. He said it never hurts to think about these questions, with which I completely agree. Afterwards, I skyped Nabil, then went to bed.
Wednesday was one of the craziest days of navigation here thus far in Egypt. I got to work easily and was planning to leave around 12:30 to go to AUC, then check out apartments with Omar and Nabil. Omneya wasn’t at work, so I couldn’t translate the videos that I wanted to. They want me to create a 7-8 minute documentary in one week, which I, honestly, don’t think I’ll be able to do. Alas, Amira took me to the side and told me the format and footage she wanted them to add. She also told me that Hisham could help me because he already cut the important clips. She called Hisham in, and we began making our game plan for the week. He, as well, thought it was ridiculous that they thought I could do this. I hadn’t really talked to him before, and we talked about how he’s doing a yearlong internship here for his last year of college. For some reason, I thought he was way older than me, but I was wrong! I had no time, so I told him we’d start everything Sunday.
And so now we begin. I went to catch the bus to Ramses, and heard two ladies saying Ramses walking over to a bus, so I followed them and got on. I recognized everything in the beginning of the ride, but then when we passed the Citadel and entered Old Cairo, I knew I got on the wrong bus. I asked the man sitting next to me “Ramses?”, and he said “La la, Giza Mounira”. Shoot. I asked him if there was a nearby metro stop to here, and he told me to get off with him and he’d direct me. The whole time, he made sure that I knew when we were getting off and made sure I got off the bus safely. He said that the metro was about 10-15 minutes away walking, or I could take a microbus to Ramses from there. I decided just to take the metro, and began walking. He told me was in a place called Forn El Khaligi, which I definitely had never been. It was the most “local” place I’ve walked in alone before, and it was obvious people were confused what I was doing there. I kept asking people directions on the way to make sure I was going the right way, which made every person I ask laugh from my accent. Darn it.
After about 10 minutes, I reached the Sayeda Zeinab stop. The ticket counter was absolutely packed, and I had to push in line to get my ticket. I got it, went downstairs to the tracks, and found twice as many people as normal waiting for the stalling trains to move. I ran to get in one before it moved, and I got into a mixed car with a family and their baby. After waiting for about 5 minutes in the boiling car, the family got out, and I was then surrounded by men. I decided to get out as well, just to be on the safe side. The trains weren’t going in the right direction that day, so no one knew which one was going to Helwan and which to El Marg. I went across to get on the other car with at least 60 other girls in the car. I think it was literally one of the most packed places I’ve encountered. The doors would never shut, and someone said the other one was going to El Marg, so the whole sea of girls migrated across, again, to the other car. People were pushing like crazy to get on, even though the trains still were not moving. After a while, they said the Marg direction wasn’t working because of the protests in Tahrir, so everyone rushed back into the other car again. At this point, even though I was drenched in my peacoat, I was finding this so hilarious. All the girls starting talking and bickering together, which was so entertaining to listen to.
The doors closed, finally, to go in the Helwan direction, opposite of where I needed to go. I realized, once we got there, that was a very dumb decision. I had to go back to Seyada Zeinab anyways to go in the El Marg direction. I waited on the other side for about 10 minutes for some metro to come, and was about to give up and just take a taxi when it finally arrived. It took us all back to Seyada Zeinab again, and after that I decided to go look for a taxi there instead. I left the metro and found an awesome strip mall of cheap clothes and electronics! An hour had passed at this point, and I’m sure I would’ve been home by then if I didn’t get on the wrong bus. I began looking for taxis, but literally no cars were moving. There was a gigantic traffic jam at an intersection, and lines and lines of cars were waiting to move an inch. I knew this was going to be extremely unsuccessful, so I tried to find side streets with taxis, with which I also had no luck.
After about 20 minutes of walking to find some sort of transportation, I resorted to walking back to the metro again. I asked if it was working now, and they said yes. The line was still ridiculous, seeing as everyone had congregated from all the different stops there. A guy offered to take my pound and got my ticket for me, which helped quite a bit. I got back onto the tracks, waited for about 20 minutes, and the metro finally came. Everyone was cheering like mad when it arrived. I jumped into one of the already completely full cars, and got to Sadat. I swear, I didn’t even have to move my own body when we arrived, because everyone was shoving everyone to get out. I transferred over to another car to get to the Opera station. It was also completely stuffed, and on the way, I guess I stepped on another woman after being pushed by the mass of women, and she screamed “AYB ALEK!!” (shame on you!) Really!? Like I would do it on purpose? I told her “Sorry, I can’t do anything!”, which got her even more worked up. A fight broke out between two other girls, so right when my stop came, I bolted before anything started with the woman. Whew.
I left the Opera station, which was unbelievably calm after so much chaos. I walked outside to get a taxi to the hair salon, but, once again, the traffic was ridiculous. I walked for about 15 minutes before finding a traffic free part of Zamalek, then got in a taxi. I got an old man as a taxi driver, and on the way, I noticed the meter price rising way too fast. I told him “Something’s wrong with your meter”, and he just laughed and kept going. I told him I was not going to pay more than 10 pounds for a ride only 5 minutes, and he’s like that’s fine, I’ll take 10 pounds! I knew even 10 pounds was way too much, so of course he was fine with that too. I told him this ride should be 6 or 7 pounds maximum, and he refused to go down for a while. After complaining, he gave me two pounds back at the end. I know it’s not nice to be cheap, but if someone is deliberately ripping me off, I seriously just can’t let it go.
I walked over to the hairdresser, but she wasn’t there. Wow, what luck. I took a taxi back to Dokki, got home, and just sat on my bed, worn out from the entire adventure home. Then, I went back downstairs, because I had seen a hairdresser next to my apartment. I asked them how much it was, then decided just to get my eyebrows threaded instead. I could tell this place was definitely a family-type place, because the customers seemed to know the stylists from a long time ago. I felt a bit odd being a foreigner, but they started conversation with me, and I do hope to go there again! There was the cutest toddler with big eyes and light brown curly hair, and he hugged me while I was waiting. My heart melted! He kept talking and talking to me, but his Arabic was too mumbled for me that I couldn’t understand a thing. He sure was adorable though!
I went back up and waited for Nabil and Omar to arrive to go look at apartments. They came over, then we went to pick up Shamm to go look as well. We met up with two broker employees, and they took us to an apartment in Midan Mesaha. It was on the 10th floor, and when we got there, we found out the elevator wasn’t working. That was an instant point off. We decided, what the hey, we’re healthy, and decided to walk upstairs. When we finally reached the 10th floor, panting, a Syrian family greeted us that was currently renting the flat. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. It was beautifully decorated, there were so many rooms, and it was in a perfect location as well. The price was a bit much, so we decided to check out one other one.
The broker led us back to my current street in Midan Mesaha, and Nabil and I were sure we were about to go to the same building. Sure enough, there was a free room on the 5th floor, one floor below my current apartment. Too hilarious! There was an old woman wearing fancy jewelry and a fur scarf waiting for us, and Nabil urged us to only speak in English. She started asking us all these questions about our life, and then took us upstairs to see the apartment. We opened the door, and it was obvious how much nicer and bigger it was than my current one. It has two living rooms, three bedrooms, a beautiful kitchen (with a microwave!) and an unbelievable veranda. The old woman was telling us that this apartment is usually only rented out to foreign diplomats, so its kept in the neatest condition possible. She started telling us about her so-successful children with PhD’s living in London, and how she has beautiful villas everywhere. It was obvious how rich this woman was, and it was borderline humorous how much she was bragging. Nonetheless, we were sold. We told them we would think about it and get back to them the next day, even though we were sure we wanted it. It was just funny that I’d be in the same building!
We all left, and we went to meet Amgad in Borsa downtown. Unfortunately, I misunderstood, and he left to Nasr City before we got there. We had to drive Shamm back home to Nasr City, which actually didn’t take long at all! We got food beforehand at a restaurant nearby, and I got shish tawouk, which was absolutely delicious! After dropping her off, Nabil and Omar dropped me off at home, and I went to sleep. Hopefully, we had our new apartment!
TO COME: Signing the contract, Moving one floor below, and cooking and partying in our new apartment!!