The Sights and Sounds of Cairo: The Banks of the Nile

By the banks of the Nile I sit perched on the railing of the bridge.  I watch cars drive past while engrossed in the music blaring from my ipod.  I see Cairenes look interestedly at me as they walk past my seat.  They are dressed in everything from traditional burqas to hip western wear paired with a hijab.  Honks, exhaust, and the breeze from the Nile rush through my hair cooling me from the hot African sun.  I look up and see a monument to a man in the median and wonder what he did to warrant such recognition.  After enjoying the solitude of my rest in the middle of town I head back to reality.

The Sights and Sounds of Cairo: Arrival and Accostation

The hooting of car horns, the trill of bicycle bells, shouts, and calls to prayer float past the open window I am sitting near in an oversized cushy armchair at my dear friend Brittany's apartment in Cairo.  I arrived in Egypt early Tuesday morning from Nairobi ready to navigate my way to Dokki, armed with directions from Brittany and instructions on how to find a taxi. 

As soon as I walked out of the terminal I was accosted by a swarm of taxi drivers, but being the seasoned negotiator of cab fares thanks to my daily taxi rides in Nairobi I bartered down the prices from 100 Egyptian pounds (LE).  I climbed in the back of the taxi and confirmed with my driver that the price was reasonable.  The driver, Ahmed, was very talkative for 3 AM and once leaving the airport he pulled over to the side of the road and insisted I move to the front so I could chat more easily with him.  Warily I moved up to the front seat since he refused to drive further otherwise.  Red flag number 1: women do not ride in the front of a taxi when unaccompanied and alone.  He kept his friendly demeanor and pointed out tourist sites as we drove through the city.  Red flag number 2: he started asking me what the English word was for parts of his face including his mouth.  As we crossed the Nile he once again pulled the car over under the guise of showing me the river.  It was then the accostation began (accostation: a combination of accost and molestation) and he decided it was appropriate to touch my leg and ask me to kiss him or "give him lip/mouth."  After playing dumb for as long as possible I finally explained politely that I was indeed married (I had been forewarned of Egyptian men's proclivity to hit on western women with the assumption that we are all promiscuous and wore a ring on my left hand just in case). 

Once we finally arrived at Brittany's apartment I went to pay him the agreed upon amount.  Drama ensued.  He feigned no knowledge of our agreement and argued with us for 20 minutes trying to force me to pay 100 LE instead of 40 LE because he claimed he was a "limo" rather than a taxi.  I informed him he was not driving a limo and I wasn't paying him any more than what we agreed upon.  In a very inappropriate un-Egyptian manner he followed us into the apartment building and refused to leave until he received his 100 LE.  Brittany went to get the rest of the money and then he had the audacity to ask for more saying the 100 was for the car and he should get paid more driving me.  Acting very culturally inappropriate we told him in no uncertain terms he was to leave the premises and Britt hurled some bawdy Arabic in his direction and pushed him out the door.  Once in the apartment we could see him stand outside and complain to the guards but fortunately they sent him on his way without causing a larger scene.

Toe Massacre 2010

So it is official.  I am THE clumsiest person.  However I managed to prevent yet another toe from breaking by some miracle and escaped with only a hideous bruise and possible muscle/ligament damage.  On the plus side, the nurse who wrapped my foot totally made my foot look like it is flicking someone off at all times.  Kinda awesome.
Pre-examination.  Toe is lookin' kinda sketch.
So I was a bit confused why Jana offered to come with me to the clinic.  Four hours later I was grateful for the company, as was the coffee house, Savannah's, next door to the hospital where we spent at least 2 1/2 of the 4 hours waiting to be x-rayed and waiting for the x-ray results.

The Africa Diet

And people wonder why I eat out so often.  If it weren't for cheap Ethiopian food and samosas I would be left to my own devices and sustain myself solely on knock off Pringles and canned beans.

Golf 101: TIA

Captain Awesome learns to golf!  I always knew I'd be a natural thanks to my superhero skills.  I didn't want to outshine my fellow golfers on the driving range so I kept my awesomeness under wraps and played as any first timer would be expected.  With a few pointers from the caddies on stance and form my awesomeness quickly took over.  I made a few balls in the air but would regularly swing and miss, hit a wild ball, or knock one only a few feet so as to not intimidate my friends practicing alongside me.  I love that I move to Africa before learning how to golf, despite being surrounded by countless golf courses in Dallas.  Here are some pictures of Jon, Jana and me at Railway Golf Club in Nairobi.

Most awesome caddy ever!

My golfing buds
Fun at the driving range

Expat living

Being an expat in a large city affords one many luxuries that you would not necessarily experience staying in a small village that many assume is typical African living.  This includes the opportunity to meet lots of people in social settings and not have to sit at home watching bad Kenyan tellie every evening.  Fortunately early in my African adventure I discovered a fabulous facebook group, Nairobi Expat Social, that I joined and met many of my new friends while doing fun things around Nairobi.  However, the downside to expat living is that many people come for volunteer opportunities and short term assignments so there is a constant turnover in your friend base.  Sadly, the process has already begun; a couple of my new friends have already headed home, but before they left we had one last fabulous weekend hanging out in true NES style.  Here are some pics from our send off weekend for Mia and Richard.

 Friday at Gipsy's, cheers to Mia!  (Guess what's in the Nakumatt bag)
Saturday at Brew Bistro, Katie loves hanging with us!
Richard: You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack. But when I met Jon, I knew he was one of my own. And my wolf pack... it grew by one. So there... there were two of us in the wolf pack... I was alone first in the pack, and then Jon joined in later.
And we're the three best friends that anyone could ever have!
Who wouldn't love this face?  Katie sang, shadow danced, and provided much entertainment after our escapades at Brew Bistro and Casablanca.
Sunday dinner at Fusion.  Kudos to Richard for finding the best samosas in town.