Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We live in a dirty dirty world

So I woke up this morning around 6:30-7. I made breakfast for Josh and I and somehow after breakfast was done, I started picking up some stuff on the floor. I noticed that the floor was really dirty in the spot I was picking up. So I decided to put our broom together and sweep. I have mopped before but like normal for Egypt, you feel like you have to mop the very next day so I didn’t pay any attention to it. Well when I started sweeping, I noticed that I was picking up a LOT of dirt. So it turned into sweeping the whole living room/dining room/entry way. I swept 20 little piles of dirt. Not like dust but actual dirt. It was so disgusting. I mean if I did just one sweep, it was basically enough to make a pile. All the piles were what I just picked up right around the pile itself, nothing big at all.

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So after I spent who knows how long sweeping, I swept them all into 1 big pile to see exactly how much I was picking it. And then I mopped all the floors in the apartment except for the spare room.

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And instead of refilling the mop bucket a dozen times because the water would get so filthy, I just took a full bucket and dumped it all over the floor and squeegeed it all in to the floor drain in the bathroom. Then I took the mop and mopped it again until I wasn’t getting a whole lot of dirt on the mop. Hopefully, by all the work I did today, I won’t feel like I have to mop again tomorrow. Oh please oh please!

First Week Back

I finally made it to Egypt for real on Monday night. It did, however, take some time due to delays. Every flight was delayed and I had just moments before my last connection when we landed in JFK. Luckily the gate from where we were dropped off to the gate that we were leaving from wasn’t too far away. We left on time but we sat on the runway for an hour. My previous flight was delayed because JFK was having really strong winds enough to close down one of the runways. So by us lifting off an hour late, it put us behind 2 hours in Cairo for some odd reason even though we had some tail wind.

But oh well. Life goes on. And I’m keeping myself busy since the very first morning. There was a cooking class at 9:30 that was really good. It was on puff pastries, croissants, and Danishes. She made it seem so easy to make and I didn’t realize how much butter you have to use. She says you end up using as much butter as there is all the other ingredients combined; so basically half is butter and half is everything else. All of the girls there were amazed that I had just gotten in the night before and wasn’t tired. I think I wasn’t tired because I didn’t have a long layover like the 15 hour one we had in Amsterdam last time and I also slept on every flight for most of the flight.

On Wednesday Josh and I spent the day doing a lot of errands. Like getting our membership at the club, buying groceries, pots, pans, some dishes, and other miscellaneous household items. All we had in the fridge was a couple boxes of juice, feta cheese, and water. For the dry goods we had rice and I think that was about it. We had about 6 plates, 3 bowls, 4 cups, 1 casserole dish, and 1 wicked tiny pot…too tiny to cook rice or noodles in. So there wasn’t much we could do for meals until we got a bigger pot. I was able to make tin foil dinners the second night but without the tin foil. In stead we put in the casserole dish. It was pretty good. And with the left over ground beef, we made hamburgers with cheese, ketchup, tomatoes, and flat bread. It was pretty good. And last night we made beef and cheese quesadillas. They were good too. We used the leftover tin foil dinner in them for lunch today.

Thursday was the wives first Arabic class. It was more like review to me from the last time I was here. Oh and there are 6 wives here and only 1 lives a 5 minute walking distance from us. All the others live on the other side of town. We only get together when all the wives are doing something. Anyways, to get back on track, we will have those Arabic classes 3 times a week for an hour.

Unlike the States and basically everywhere else, Fridays are the Sabbath instead of Sunday. So we went to church in the morning. Saw a lot of old faces as well as new. And since I was an old face to some, I was lucky enough to say the closing prayer in Sacrament meeting. They are giving students callings for the time being as well to help get word out about activities to those in the group and to replace those who are leaving either for good or for the summer. Usually in the summer, church is for 2 hours instead of 3 because they don’t have enough people to fill all the callings every week. I don’t know if they will do that this summer since there are 50+ people here besides the normal. The Primary President, who is an old friend, said she is on the prowl and to watch my back. So I’ll probably be keeping my tradition of being in the Primary.

On Saturday we got up wicked early to meet the bus to take us to Alexandria. Since we’ve been there before, we didn’t take a lot of pictures. I think we took more pictures on the way there than when we were actually in Alex.

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We started out going to King Farouk’s palaces and garden. It was a really nice calm feeling place. From what we saw, they took good care of the place. We weren’t able to go inside the palace.


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The Mediterranean Sea behind us at King Farouk’s Palace.

Our next stop was the old lighthouse fortress. It hadn’t changed at all since we were there a year ago. So we didn’t take any pictures. Plus it was really hot and with all the white-ish walls, we couldn’t really open our eyes. After that, we went to see some old Roman ruins. I couldn’t find a good enough rock to bring back for my collection with the short amount of time we had there.

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This is the last of the pictures from the trip.

We went to a huge library for our last stop. It was very updated and VERY clean. I wasn’t afraid to touch stuff because of dirtiness. It was amazing. They had a couple of small museums for manuscripts, Egyptology, and their late President Sadat who was assassinated in 1989 during a country parade. They had the suit he wore that day with all the bloodstains on it still as well as other personal belongings. And that concludes my first week here in Egypt.

Friday, September 18, 2009

יִשְׂרָאֵל‎ Israel

It has been a very long time since we posted last. Time is not as abundant for Carolee and I was it was in Egypt. Now that we’re back in America that is. After much anticipation I thought that I would just add some pictures from our trip to the Holy Land and add stories later when I have more time. I figured since its been a really long time since we’ve posted I will put up what I’ve got done now. More will follow. Seriously. I promise.


This is the bus we took from Cairo up to Taba. We expected something really run down and scary. It wasn’t too bad. This is our rest stop just outside Taba in the Sinai peninsula.IMG_0255

Let me tell you something, the desert is COLD in the mornings. My little jacket was not doing the job.



As we waited for the bus to leave we watched a woman herd her sheep and goats. She would throw rocks to tell them were to go. And if one strayed off, like that little one on the left did she would make a calling noise to get them to come back. It was pretty cool.


This is the Red Sea. We’re still on the Egypt side. The water was absolutely amazing. Carolee and I have never seen water so crystal clear. It was really beautiful.





This is inside the old city of Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is straight through that crowd.





The Sea of Galilee is behind us.








Valley of Megiddo. Looks like California.

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One of the gates into the Old City of Jerusalem


This is the site of an old hill. And by old hill I mean “Tel”. I think it used to be an old town or village. Its gone now but its in the Megiddo valley.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ma Salama Misr

So we are down to our final days in Egypt. So I thought that making a list of the things I will miss and will not miss about Egypt/Cairo would be a nice ending. I’m trying to get Josh to do a list too but  I don’t know if that will get done. He still hasn’t written about his horseback riding trip from Giza to Saqara with the Boy Scouts at least a month and a half ago.

Now Josh wanted me to start with the things I will miss first. But I thought I would end with that list…you know kind of end on a happy note. So without further ado here are my two lists.

10 Things I will NOT miss: (These are in no particular order)

1. The constant honking which includes the honking for no apparent reason. If you thought NYC was bad, you haven’t seen nothing yet.

2. The pollution and cigarette smoke smell. Josh was helping a boy he tutors with his science report and he found out that depending on where you are in Cairo, it (pollution) can be anywhere from 10-100 times worse than the standard. I’m sure my lungs have loved that.

3. The cab drivers. I should just end it at that because there is so much I can say about them that I don’t like. I could seriously just do a blog solely on cab drivers. But I probably won’t so I’ll just give you a sample of what I don’t like. Most of them are just out to get money fro you. They are also a big source of the honking. I will not get in a cab that is honking at me to try to get me in their cab. To me, that’s like answering to your date when he comes to pick you up after honking instead of going to the door and ringing the doorbell. That’s just a small amount of what I don’t like about them. Now I know there are some good cab drivers and I am very thankful for them.

4. I will not miss every Egyptian being late for an appointment or spending too much time with you. We once waited for a guy 3 hours after he was supposed to be there. And I thought Mormon standard time was bad. Then there are those who want to spend every minute of your spare time with you. It can get annoying and little rude.

5. Oh the lies. All the lies. Mainly the ones about product shipment dates. “Oh it will be here bokra  (tomorrow)”, but it never shows. Then they say come back  on Saturday. Finally once Saturday rolls around after 3 or 4 days, and surprise surprise they still don’t have it. Even when we are gone for a week and half, they still don’t get it.

6. One of my pet peeves is getting the tourist price or getting ripped off. We know what the prices are; we aren’t stupid. We tried buying a bottle of water and the guy told us 5 when it was clearly labeled 2. Honestly…. We also have some friends who went shopping together. They were each buying the same bracelet. For one it was 5 and for the other was 10. They try to do this right in front of your face. If it was me, I would try to take the customers’ money in a different way so I don’t look so rude and dumb.

7. One of things I hate the most is the men here. To me it seems like they treat foreign women as objects instead of people. This is usually the younger men not the old grandpas or those old enough to be grandpas. The older men have respect for us like the men should and they are a lot nicer. When we or just I am walking, I zone out and don’t pay attention to any male except my hubby. These men just give Egyptians a bad name.

8. Now this one can be funny when you think about it. A lot of the cabs, buses, and mircobuses are rickety and old. I’m surprised they are still up and running. There was one cab that we rode in, Josh was in the front and I was in the back. Every single time we went over a bump (and if you’ve been here, you would know how bad the roads are there are bumps everywhere!) metal pieces would cling and clang together behind me. Inside this cab, it was just the bare minimum. There was literally nothing inside, no  fabric, it was all metal. I even think my seat have no cushion left it, it was just a dip in the seat. Anyways, every time we went over a bump I truly thought that all of a sudden his car was going to literally fall apart, that all that was going to be left was the seats or lack of. Like the whole frame and wheels were going to fall off. And would you be surprised that he got a flat tire just a couple blocks from our apartment building. We had to walk the rest of the way.

9. If anyone has been here, you would know there is no order or organization here. There are no lines anywhere, it’s just a big blob of people. I could that this could be a cause of fights/arguments. But this topic of no order brings me to the next and final thing.

10. DRIVING! I am so glad to go back to driving order not be in a land where they drive like animals. They have traffic laws but NO ONE abides by them. They don’t even drive within the lines, the straddle the lines. Because of this, there could be 3 or 4 cars in a 2 lane road. It’s not uncommon to see people driving on the wrong side of the road either. I have also seen people backup on a FREEWAY! They probably missed their turn so instead of making a u-turn, they just backup. People either drive too fast or too slow. There is no in between. Because of all this crazy driving and dumb people, I’m not surprised that so many people die trying to cross the streets of Cairo.

Now there are other things that I will miss but these are the first ones that came to my mind. Here is my next list and again these are in no particular order.

10 Things I will miss:

1. So there is this really cute old man on the main shopping street in Maadi. We go to him for almost anything whether we think he has what we want or not. If doesn’t have what we want, we ask him where we can get it and he’ll tell us a good place to get it. We bought most of our souvenirs from him. As Josh would say, we are putting his grandkids through college. He is a very nice and honest man. And he loves to talk with you. It’s kind of like going to grandma and grandpa’s, you have to plan to be there for a couple of hours no matter what. Anyways, this guy, Sobrey, always says اهلاَ و ساهلاَ when I come to his shop. It means “Welcome” in Arabic. I never knew what it meant until we were looking at wall hangings at another store and that was something that was written on one of them. As soon as I heard the guy say it, I immediately thought of Sobrey. Since then I always think of Sobrey when I hear it. I just wish that people would say it in America but that’s not going to happen.     

IMG_0615I don’t know who the other guy is but Sobrey is the one in the middle. The other guy just wanted to join in the picture for no reason. They like to do that here.

2.  I love the cheap prices for the local items. It’s so nice. Isn’t it weird that if you want them in the states, you have to pay extra but here you pay like 1/4 of the price if that. I figured out that I was paying half of what my mom was paying for pomegranates. I was just paying cents for a pound…course everything here is measured in kilos which is 2.2lbs. But if we want something that’s American, you have to pay and arm and leg for it. I saw a can of root beer (which you don’t see very often, I can count the number of times I’ve seen it on one hand) for $3. I will be glad to go back to American prices for American products but I will miss the cheap prices for fruits and vegetables mainly.

3. Speaking of cheap prices for fruit and vegetables, I will miss the local food especially fruit like mangoes, clementines, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, bananas, etc. I don’t think for any fruit, I was paying more than $1 for a kilo. How awesome is that?!

4. Whether you buy juice from a box or from a fruit juice stand, you know you’re in for a real treat. Both Josh’s and mine favorite is guava juice from the stand and from the Enjoy brand box. It’s like drinking a milkshake it’s so thick and yummy! Oh man, I’m really going to miss that one. Anyways, I have had fresh orange, lemon, sugar cane, mango, strawberry, strawberry banana, guava, and pomegranate juice. To narrow the list down, the only ones I didn’t like was sugar cane (although I do like straight from the sugar cane) and pomegranate.

5. There is a little kiosk sized convenient store right across the street from us. For such a small place, they really do have a lot to offer. We go there almost every day to usually buy soda and ice cream. A cute little family owns and run the place and they are really nice. They know that they can speak Arabic to Josh and barely none to me even though I will say “hi”, “bye”, and “how much” to them in Arabic. I just don’t know what they’re saying in return. I feel bad when it’s just me trying to buy something but when you think about it, it’s funny. I’m sure they make fun of me too.

6. I will most certainly miss the friends that I have made in the branch here. Basically, I’ll miss the whole branch.

7. We have had some great neighbors like Cari, Ayman, Hannah, and Hannah’s new roommate from Holland who we’ve only met once which was the night before we left for Israel. Cari, was Hannah’s roommate before she got married and she is from Michigan so it’s nice to have an American close by. Ayman is Cari’s husband who is Egyptian and he is funny. Hannah is just a sweet a fun loving girl who also happens to make excellent Egyptian food. She is always offering food to us and we do the same. We use each other for things that we don’t have. She let us take her camera to Israel with us. How sweet! Hannah’s new roommate is very nice from what little I know about her. She is probably at the same level of Arabic that Josh is right now. She just started studying Arabic.

8. I love walking down the street and smelling the fresh bakery. It smells so good, we almost always stop by if it smells really good. And what’s even better are the prices. Prices could never be lower! (like that slogan?) We like the bread loaves, flat bread, and croissants. They are yuuuummy! This one bakery now has chocolate croissants! So good!

9. Our boab (pronounced bow abb) which is the Arabic word for doorman. He cleans the building and takes care of our trash and anything else we need him to do like carry bags for us up 4 flights of stairs. He is so kind and happy. He once carried two boxes of water up to our apartment and wouldn’t accept   any money from us for helping. He usually wears the same galabaya, a dark green one, and he has a lazy eye so we feel bad for him.

10. Now this one I will not miss very much but if I ever see one in the states it will certainly make me think of Egypt and have a special place within me. Like seeing someone who is a member in a place where there aren’t very many members, you kind of feel obligated to talk to them. But the thing in Egypt that I’m talking about is the hijab (the head wrapping) and burka (the whole outfit that women wear that cover their face). I hope you can kind of see what I’m talking about. You don’t see women wearing these very often in the states so if I ever did see one, it would be special to me.

So those are the things that I will and won’t miss about Egypt. Today is our last day here. Surprisingly, it doesn’t even feel like we’re leaving even though everything is packed and we are just waiting for time to pass before we leave in the morning. Josh’s lists probably won’t be up until after we have gotten home in the states. Oh I will put more pictures up with this one but it will take awhile for me to find them all.

Ma salama Misr!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Want to go to Hell-wan and Garbage City?

   How would you like to live in the town called Garbage City? I know I would absolutely LOVE it! I mean doesn’t it sound just so nice and beautiful to you? I think I would jump at the opportunity to live there. Well there is such a place here in Cairo, Egypt. Now since it’s in Cairo, or even Egypt alone, you can probably guess what it’s really like.

   One day, last week, while Josh was down in Helwan with his tutor Samir, he asked Josh if we wanted to go with him to Garbage City. Josh came home and asked me if we wanted to do that this coming Saturday. I told him if we didn’t have any plans then yes we can go.

   Later that night, we were over at our good friend’s the Heisses and Josh asked them if they wanted to come with us. They had gone on a trip there recently but they didn’t get to see everything there is to see there. Long story short, if they weren’t going camping then they would love to come. Well on Friday, they found out they won’t be able to go camping that night. They informed us of their change in plans and still wanted to come with us. We planned on a meeting time and place for Saturday morning. But when Saturday morning rolled around, they were feeling sick and said they wouldn’t be joining us. Since they wouldn’t be joining us, we needed to borrow a camera from someone. I thought of the idea of asking our neighbor, Hannah. She is a Coptic Egyptian and is really nice. I rang her doorbell hoping she was awake and not asleep (I always feel bad when I wake her up to help translate for me). She was awake and cleaning her apartment so I didn’t feel as bad. I couldn’t remember if she had a camera but I asked anyways and she did! So thanks to her, she let us borrow her camera for the day. Thank you Hannah!

   Josh and I headed out the door to Helwan to meet up with Samir. Samir was waiting right by his car when we came around the corner. He needed to check the oil before we left.Garbage City 016    

   I was tired of standing up so I sat on some stairs and started taking some pictures of all the locals. I became very fond of some little girls that looked like sisters and took some pictures of them.

Garbage City 018The one in the green sweater, kept looking and me and I kept smiling and waving at her.

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   I had Josh take one of the Egyptian candies we had as a snack over to them and offer it. They declined but still wanted to play with me as I kept taking pictures.

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   Finally they came over to me and I showed them all the pictures I took of her and her little sister. She really seemed to enjoy looking at herself on the camera. I think her father came over and was talking to Samir about me playing with his daughter which seemed to be just fine. The locals seem to love it when foreigners talk with them and play with the children.

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   She went back and played some more with her little sister. Later, she came back over and I offered a candy to her once more. Again she declined, but this time I had a small package of saltines. I offered those to her and she gladly accepted and ran away down the street. She came back later with what looked like her mom. It looked like she was telling her mom about me. And that was the last I saw of her.

   Samir needed to buy some more oil, so Josh and I went with him to the store. I took more pictures along the way. Garbage City 032 You can’t see it with the car in the way, but this lady with the bag on her head was carrying a full feathered dead duck in her hand by the neck.

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Garbage City 034 Garbage City 036 Garbage City 037 The design for their handmade dressers that cost a whopping $71.43.

Garbage City 041Garbage City 042 Garbage City 044 We don’t know why this horse is partially painted orange. Even Samir didn’t know.

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When we got to the mechanic, and old man was smoking shisha or hookah and Samir asked him for me if I  could take a picture. He was very friendly but he said no. He didn’t want to get embarrassed by me taking a picture of him. But the picture above is across the street from the mechanic.

Garbage City 050Garbage City 052  Let’s play Where’s Waldo…or more like Where’s the Hoof? See below for answer.

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A Coptic Priest walking down the street.

We went back to Samir’s place and finally left with his 11 year old nephew, Magdi.

The following pictures are from the car ride to Garbage City.

Garbage City 055 I was trying to get a picture of one of the very few stop signs in Egypt.

Garbage City 056 As we were getting on the on-ramp I saw a guy on the side of the rode selling squash and watermelons from his truck.

Garbage City 057 This one is for Josh. He told me take the picture.

   We were driving fine on the freeway until we hit a little bit of traffic. Once we got through it, we figured out why there was traffic. There were a bunch of men on the side of the road arguing over who knows what.

Garbage City 058 Garbage City 059 Garbage City 063 I was trying to take a picture of something on the other side of the road. I don’t even remember what it was, but it turned out to be a great picture of what everyone does around here even on the busiest streets/freeways…walk right down the middle of them.

Garbage City 064 Here is a group of people standing in the middle of the freeway. Can you guess what they are going to do in the next picture?

Garbage City 065 Is it really a wonder or even surprise why 6, 000 die from crossing the street? They do this during rush hour. WHY?!Garbage City 066 From the previous pictures you may have noticed that it’s very foggy. Well that’s not fog nor smog, that’s sand. It was very windy that day and this picture shows you all the sand flying around.

Garbage City 068 After this picture, Josh told me not to take anymore pictures but I took a couple more when we were passing the Citadel. I mean who can’t cannot take a picture when passing it. Garbage City 069 Islamic Cairo. This is right before the Citadel.

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Right across the freeway from the Citadel, is Garbage City. So the following pictures are from Garbage City and I think the pictures speak for themselves. There was no way we were getting out and walking anywhere in that mess. So some of the pictures have spots and other things like windshield wiper on them from the windows and some don’t since that window was down. Also in the middle of the garbage pictures, is the church that is at the top of the hill in Garbage City. It seats about 10, 000.

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Peace be unto you

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 Garbage City 160All these kids were up there to see the monkeys. I think they were torturing them though. 

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That was the end of Garbage City. We went with Samir down the road so he can buy some big barrels for his kitchen shop. We had fun looking around and taking pictures while we were waiting for him. 

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Garbage City 224 This is the City of the Dead. It’s a Muslim cemetery where people live. Hence the name.

So that was our trip to Garbage City. It was a lot of fun and exciting. Next Saturday we are going to Al-Azhar Park with Samir. So until next time…