Saturday, November 29, 2008

I love Egypt!

Who would have thought?! haha I spent most of the day holiday shopping at the Khan with Amanda and Amy. We had a great time! We all accomplished our missions (which, as you know, is the marker of a successful shopping trip) I can't tell you what we got, obviously! You'll have to wait until "Santa" (otherwise known as me) flys across the ocean in the sleigh pulled by...jet fuel with her red sacks (otherwise known as Ralph Lauren luggage)

p.s. the picture is of the tea the awesome jewelry guy got for us while we were hanging out in his shop. Yay Ahmed!!

Fayoum Thanksgiving

We got back from our two day trip to the Fayoum Governate last night. We left early Thursday morning. REALLY early. We caught the bus at 6:45, drove downtown to pick up the rest of the group and then we were off. The Fayoum is an area southwest of Cairo, the main reason people travel to this area is the lake, but there are also dozens of historic sites both Egyptian and Greco-Roman. Once we were outside the city, we had to hook up with our police escort. Before entering the Fayoum, tourists have to have a police escort. So, a truck full of officers accompanied us the rest of the way. Our first stop was at the ruins of an ancient city. We were able to see a temple and a few remaining structures in addition to some etchings. We then made our way to the Harawa Pyramid. I guess now would be a good time to tell you about the whole pyramid thing. So, how many people thought there were 3 pyramids in Egypt? The ones we see in all the pictures and all the movies? I don't know about you, but I'm raising my hand right now! It turns out there are about 180 pyramids in Egypt. And those are just the ones that have survived! So, back to the Harawa pyramid, it's not pointy like the Giza pyramids, it kind of looks more like a mound. There were also the remnants of a labyrinth and a Greco-Roman cemetery. From there we went to Lahun pyramid. This one was more impressive to me, it sat up high on a hill and could be seen for miles around. After excavating the tombs around the pyramid, there were jewels discovered which are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and known as the "Princess Collection". We also literally drove over a vast 13th century wall that was part of an artificial reservoir that fed water into the Fayoum. We were totally exhausted after all of this and most of us fell asleep on the bus on the way to the hotel. The Panorama Hotel was right on the lake. It had amazing views of the lake and had basil growing all over the grounds which gave off a beautiful scent. The accommodations were less than thrilling, but we were luckier than most of our traveling companions. We heard stories of not so clean room and linens as well as LOTS of mosquitoes. I thought we were in the clear, but last night I discovered about a dozen bites on my leg. In the morning, we went for a short walk and had some breakfast. We boarded the buses and made our way to Wadi El-Hitan. We stopped right outside entrance to the Wadi and we waited for the police to tell us that we could proceed. We waited. And waited. Finally, Louise (one of our trip organizers) gave us the bad news that we weren't going to be able to see the Wadi, which included whale fossils (with feet!!), because the bus drivers were refusing to drive the 34 kilometers to get there. The good news is we got to get off the bus and play in the dessert a little bit. Which actually ended up being one of the best parts of the trip. After that, we went to Wadi El-Rayan which is a lake with 3 small waterfalls. It was very pretty and I went wading with Belle and Amy! From there we went to the Temple of Sobek. Very cool, lots of little rooms and crypts to explore. We also climbed to the top of the temple, the views were beautiful. We then made our way back to Cairo, tired and a little sunburned, but that's ok!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My TV habit

Before we moved I would say I watched about 8 hours of TV a week. I know it sounds crazy, but I was a purposeful TV watcher. I would only turn it on to watch something specific. I didn't have cable, so I wasn't a mindless channel flipper. TV was also a social event for me, Lauren and I would watch our favorite shows together whenever we could. I've also done my best to get Ira into the shows the I like, because let's face it, TV is more fun when you can say "I can't believe she just died!" or "Man, I love her lip gloss" When we first got here, I wasn't so sure about Egyptian TV, which isn't really Egyptian since most of it comes from somewhere else, like Dubai. I would say that 80% of the shows are American, they are reruns from at least a year ago. So what has ended up happening is I've gotten into shows that I never watched in the states, including Desperate Housewives. Ugh. it's like eating old Halloween candy. It seems like a good idea but the afterwards, you're like "did I just do that?!" Anyway, so far I've only talked about the actual TV set, I haven't talked about the TV that lives in my laptop.
As I mentioned in a previous post or two, Ira installed something in my computer that makes it think it's in the U.S. This is great because up until then, we would get some annoying message that said "Only viewers in the U.S. can watch full episodes" blah, blah. But now, we can! So how does this work? Well, I can't watch the shows live because they aren't broadcasted live and even if they were, the time difference would make it the middle of the night here. So I end up watching them the day after. It's great! I don't have to worry about missing shows because I have a life! Now some shows are up right away and other ones I have to wait for, and it's usually the ones that I'm most excited to see that take forever to stream. So what do I watch? Now before I tell you, I would like to say that we shouldn't judge people based on their pop culture addictions and I'm sure you all have some weird TV tastes (I know for a FACT some of you do!) So on Tuesday, I watch Monday night's "Dancing with the Stars"Although sometimes it's not up until Wednesday but that's ok, because then I have the instant gratification of watching it and then checking online to see who got kicked off! On Thursday I watch Wednesday night's "Private Practice". Friday, and or, Saturday is the mother load. I watch Grey's Anatomy, The Office, and ER (a classic example of a show I stopped watching years ago in the states, but now I can't miss). I guess this is what it's like for people with DVR or TiVo, being able to watch things whenever you want. I have to say that it makes me feel connected, like I haven't completely lost touch with all things American. Now if only I could get cupcakes through the computer...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


So, I got a call today from one of my yoga students and she asked me about teaching some private classes for a friend of hers! It seems like it's going to work well. They live in some big villa in Maadi, right around the corner. Now I just have to make it work with my schedule and theirs. I think it will be a good experience for me and I look forward to it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Random update

I know I haven't been writing about Egypt very much lately. Although, I like to think that all of my posts are about Egypt since I'm living in Egypt and all of my experiences are a direct result of me living here. It's like the other night when I told Lauren we were waiting for "Egyptian food" to be delivered and she said "isn't that just food? Isn't all the food you eat in Egypt Egyptian food?" I decided that was an annoying "If a tree falls in the forest..." kind of question and I told her to knock it off. I have no patience for those kinds of philosophical debates, especially when I'm hungry. Anyway, the point is I haven't been writing about Egypt because I've been doing the same sorts of things that you guys all do at home, or I'm doing the things that I've already been writing about for the last (almost) 4 months. Although, we did go to the ballet the other night and that was awesome. We fell in love with the Opera House and plan on going there more often. But rest assured, we are going on a trip to the Fayoum Governate in the coming weeks and I am planning on going to the Khan al-Khalili soon to do some holiday shopping. Hopefully that will satisfy every one's Egyptian wonder for now.
In other news...I am still nervous about going home. I know the TSA stuff is silly, but I have other issues as well. Shocking, I know! Not to be dramatic, but imagine trying to pack to go somewhere for 6 weeks. Now imagine trying to do all your holiday shopping for everyone you know and love by Dec. 10th and then packing all of that as well. It's a little easier than packing to come to Egypt, at least I'll be able to run to Target to pick up whatever I forgot. But it's still taking over my thoughts. Lately I've been picturing my suitcases and imagining how and where it's all going to fit. Little does Ira know, he's going to take on the overflow!
I also have this weird anxiety about the time that I'm going to spend at home. I have a lot of people that I love and want to spend as much time with them as possible. I feel this sort of pressure like every moment and every thing I do is going to have to be special because I'm not going to see everyone for another 4 months once I leave. In some ways I think it will enable me to live in the moment and appreciate each time I get to see my friends and family. But, I have to say, I really feel that's something I have always done. Even before I knew we were moving and I was eating every sushi roll like it was my last, I've always been aware of how I was lucky to surround myself with such special, fun, interesting, talented people. So what's the big lesson here?! Just keep doing that?! As if I didn't already know that going to the movies with my little brother was special? Now I have to appreciate it even MORE? I feel like I'm missing something here. If I already understood all of this, where do the people who DON'T understand it have to move in order to get perspective??!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Who's Afraid of the TSA?

I leave for the States in 25 days. But who's counting? I never thought I would be nervous about going home, but I am. Why, you may ask? Well, I have to honest, the whole flying 12 hours on a plane and going through customs in the states without my trusty Ira (he's sticking around to finish up end of the semester stuff) is a little unnerving. He IS my entertainment/airport and customs navigator/International Man of Mystery! Plus, I feel like I'm guilty of something and I haven't even packed yet! As I mentioned in a previous post, I've seen too many bad movies. I'm going to be Claire Danes in Brokedown Palace and someone will put hash in my carry on when I'm not looking. I just know it. Or I'll go to the Khan (market) to buy some Christmas presents and find out that I purchased a relic that the Egyptian government has been looking for for centuries and I get put in the clink for that. I can't imagine that the holding cells at JFK are where I want to spend the holidays. Mostly I'm just afraid that I'm going to be the dumb novice traveler girl that, as she's having her bags searched, says "Nope, no drugs in here!" "No illegal purchases of any kind!" and then end up getting strip searched because I can't keep my mouth shut. Sigh. I'm sure that once that phase of the trip is over, and I figure out how to get on and off the LIRR and make it to Penn Station, I'll be fine. I'm super excited to have dinner with my ultra hip Brooklyn friends Shara and Dave (and maybe Moustafa?!) little do they know I have 3 huge suitcases that preclude us from eating anywhere but a hot dog stand.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Auntie Jenna

What a week! Well, I never thought that the election of Barack Obama would be trumped as the most exciting thing to happen last week. On friday at 8:16 pm, my best friend Kelly had her baby boy! 5 lbs. and 1oz., His name is John "Jack" Hendry Myers. He was 3 weeks early but seems to be doing just fine. I haven't really been able to talk to her yet, we had some phone issues last night and I got cut off about 90 seconds into our conversation. I'll try her again today. I am so excited for her and Andy. It's very hard for me to not be there. I always pictured being the first one to arrive at the hospital, well, maybe tied with her mom. It's killing me to look at the pictures of him and not be able to kiss him and tell him how wonderful his mommy is. But at least I'll be able to spend some time getting to know him when I'm home (A MONTH FROM TODAY!) until then, I have a baby blanket to finish!

Sunday, November 2, 2008


So here we are. 2 days before the biggest (not even a SLIGHT exaggeration) election of certainly my life and probably my parents and grandparents as well. Yesterday, Ira and I attended a conference on the U.S. Elections. The most enlightened observations came from Nabil Fahmy, Egypt's ambassador to the United States. He knows both candidates personally and has spoken to both of them about their foreign policy ideas and agendas. Here are some of the things that really stuck with me from the day:
*The "Age of Regan" (1981-2008) is over. This is a watershed/Realignment election. There will be major change.
*94 Million voted in 1996, 120 Million in 2000, 124 Million in 2004, this year 130 Million people are expected to vote. 13.5% of those voters are African American who will turn out at the level of between 95-98%, not other category of voter will turn out at that level. Research has shown that people vote 50% on the issues and 50% on the temperament of the candidate.
*Republicans were in power long enough to see the financial crisis coming. The "October Surprise" came a month early and the incumbent party is going to suffer.
*America is the only country that has a leader that "comes from somewhere else". There really aren't any other countries who have leaders that are not native to the country they lead. McCain and Obama may have been born in American territory, but their ancestors came from somewhere else.
*America will always have an interest in Egypt because 1/4 of the Mid-East population lives here.
*America is not a "Super Power" but a Global Power. Foreign policy must be presented to Americans as an American interest, as something that will better America, not as a War on Terror.
*"The War on Terror" is like the "War on Drugs" or the "War on Crime", it's not something that anyone can win.
*Obama's experience abroad is with his family and as a school boy. McCain's experience is as a soldier, fighting an enemy.Therefore, McCain bases his foreign policy on fighting an enemy (Vietnam, Cold War/Russia) he will always look for someone to fight. His vision of the future is to work together to fight a threat. Obama is more inclusive of both friends and adversaries. He doesn't have the Cold War mentality. McCain will always look to the past. Because Obama doesn't have that baggage, he will always look to the future.
So now we have to wait. I've already voted so the fun is over for me. However, after careful considerations of time zones and voting returns, I've decided that staying up all night is the only option for a news junkie like myself. I'm too afraid I'm going to miss something. Ira is undecided. He might stay up, but he might get up really early, we'll see. Some of our friends might even come over in their jammies! I'll be wearing blue.