Tag Archives: health

Birthdays and Such

A few exciting things from the past week (outside of teaching):

January 12 marked four months of living in Cairo! Still can’t believe I’m here.

January 16, I turned 23! Two and a third decades on this planet, whoa. It was a pretty tame birthday, in many respects. My students sang me Happy Birthday and we had a potluck at lunch at work, although mostly everyone forgot about it and so only a few people brought dishes, but it was still nice. I do like the people I work with, by and large. They can be a bit standoffish at times (namely the ones close to my age and that live near me. What’s up with that?), but most of the women are lovely.

That evening a friend was hosting a homemade Punjabi dinner, so one of the Matts and I went to that. It was good meeting new people, chatting with friends, and of course eating delicious food. They also sang Happy Birthday to me.

My flatmates also, in a case of self-motivated kindness, bought a toaster oven for the apartment (which I’d been saying I’d get). So, hooray, for soon I will be making baked potatoes and grilled cheeses and other things including but not limited to toast in that sucker.

Thursday evening was a party at a friend’s place who is leaving Cairo, so it was goodbye party for her, another fellow, as well as Matt’s birthday party (his birthday was Friday). It was an excellent party, although when it was about 2:45 and someone mentioned to me, “In a few more hours the sun will be up!” I realized I see the sun rise 5 days a week. Did not need to greet it again, so left tout suite.

Friday evening, Kate, Christine, Ryan and Melissa and I went to dinner and drinks at L’Aubergine. It was delicious on both counts. However, I was lame, and knew I had a ton of lesson planning to do for Saturday, so had to cut the night short. Being an adult sucks.

Saturday I Skyped with Sarah, my old roommate hi Sarah I know you’re reading this let’s Skype again soon please. and my parents, which is always nice. I also went to a demo class for Bollywood dancing! I’ve signed up for 5 sessions on Saturdays now, so in a month, I will have some sweet Bollywood dance moves to break out as needed.

So while the previous post was not exactly joyful, hey, at least my weekend was excellent.


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The Crocodiles and Cooking

The crocodiles are still here. Not as bad, but still here.

But as I told Sydney, “I’m just trying to ignore it. If I ignore it, it gets tired and wants to leave me alone and goes away.” This is probably not an actual thing.

However, I did bleach my vegetables today. “Bleached your vegetables?!?” you say. Yes. Dilute a small amount of bleach (teaspoon-tablespoon. Eyeball.) in a gallon of water and soak your vegetables in it. Should get rid of a number of icky things that are a part of life here. Then I made zaalouk and loubia, two cooked salad dishes from Morocco.

And now I wished I hadn’t. My poor stomach wasn’t ready to take on real food :(.

But I’ll soon be going to bed.

Oh, and last night was the last night for the cats being here. I did not know this, so did not give them a proper goodbye. But they did get to sleep with me on the bed for most of the night. That was my goodbye.

Oh, and we’ve a new roommate, since Alex (the one with the cats) is moving to England in a week. His name’s Mateo. He’s also Italian. No idea how long he is staying. Honestly I’m in a state of constant not knowing so many things. It’s kinda liberating.

That is all, truly going to bed now.

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Citadel, CELTA, Crocodiles

Today, class, we will talk about three things:

1. Visiting the Citadel last weekend

2. Updates on the CELTA course

3. Return of the crocodiles.

(Just so you know, that isn’t how you teach a class. But for here, it is طيب – good.)

Last weekend, I met up with a friend from Morocco, Kate, and two of her friends and went to the Citadel, a very old fortress on a hill in eastern Cairo. Kate is participating in the AUC Presidential Interns Program, an amazing recent grad program that I applied to as well…and didn’t even get an interview for. I didn’t know Kate had gotten into the program, and assumed she was just studying at AUC. So when I met with her and her friends (also on the same program) and asked what she was doing, her response made me go, “Oh, good for you.” Internally I might have seethed a little. Not that I’m not happy for her (I am!) but it would have been so nice to been on that program. However, both Kate and her roommate/coworker Christine were also at AUC with me in January 2011…and I have to imagine AUC couldn’t have all the students on the PIP be evacuee students. C’est la vie. Although in some photos Christine took from her original time at AUC, apparently I’m in the background. SPOOKY! Moving on.

We met in Zamalek, where they live, and caught a cab to the Citadel. As stated, it rests on a hill overlooking the city. The walls of the Citadel are around 800 years old, and the famous Alabaster Mosque that sits on top is about 250 years old (that’s the same time as the US Civil War, everyone). The site was pretty crowded – but then again perhaps it wasn’t. Tourism has gone down so much in Egypt, most of the people there were Arab, with a few tour groups of Europeans. I don’t believe I saw any Americans there, apart from the four of us.

Come to Egypt, Americans! The sites you dream about, the pyramids, the Sphinx, the ruins and temples and mummies are all still here! Egyptians need you! Tangent over.

We went into the Alabaster Mosque, which is also called the Mohammed Ali (19th century ruler, not boxer) Mosque. It is done in the Ottoman style, which means it looks like a smaller version of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. But Kate, Christine, and I had to wear robes in order to go in. Being a woman in the Middle East can be looked at in two ways: a pain in the butt or you just get extra experiences.

But the mosque was beautiful, as most mosques are.


(They may look like Americans, they’re European, I promise.)

Very much the Blue Mosque, but less impressive.

Ah, lovely columns and walls and such.

Lovely robes for the ladies (but not all the ladies. I never understand the dynamics of this.)

The real reason people go to the Citadel is for the view. Which, despite Cairo being INCREDIBLY polluted, is quite a lovely view. It’s also quite breezy up on the hill, so you feel much cooler.

A very brown city, or, in Arabic, أسمر (asmr).

Al Azhar Park (Al Azhar is the foremost Muslim university in the world. And it has an awesome park)

Somewhere, in that hazy distance, are the pyramids.

We also went to another mosque on the complex, much smaller, but less people, so more peaceful. We caught a cab back to Zamalek, but he took us the long way…which is nice, since we got to see the pyramids a bit closer (Kate and I have never seen them), but not so nice since he asked about triple the price for the ride.

The CELTA is going well. It’s gotten more intense, since we are developing our own lesson plans now. But I’m getting by, haven’t run into any major hurdles. It is a lot of information and steps to remember…but real teaching won’t be like this, so hey, only 2.5 weeks left! My only issue is my health.

Which brings us to crocodiles! Blergh, I’m hoping they haven’t returned. Regardless, I’ve not been sleeping well. Occasionally, I get night terrors (or perhaps panic attacks, who knows, regardless I wake up with a big sense of dread, my heart racing and my breathing kicked up to 11). I’ve had them for the past two nights. Which super sucks, since the night before last, I went to a party with one of my roommates for British Council teachers (the apartment had a sweet balcony) and was out until 4am. Then I had two hours to sleep and only got 1.5 because of waking up with a sense of horror/dread.

Hoping for better sleep tonight…since I teach tomorrow for a whole hour! Crazy!

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When the Mummy’s got your Tummy…Write a Post

I apologize for not posting in the last 3 days since my arrival in Cairo. A number of not-that-great reasons are behind it, but right now, I have Mummy’s Tummy. Or, as we like to call it in the States in regards to Mexico, Montezuma’s Revenge. (Here it is also known as Pharaoh’s Revenge, Nile Piles, and the Cairo Two-Step) Meaning I am out of commission for doing anything tonight, in hopes of being well enough for tomorrow, which is very important.

Why? Because tomorrow I begin my CELTA course. The whole reason I’m here when I am, so yes, need to be well for tomorrow. But let’s talk about from touchdown on, and then get back to this sad, icky point. 

When I landed at the airport on September 12, I have been traveling for 17+ hours, was tired, smelly, disoriented and already wondering, “What in the world am I doing?” One step at a time is what. I got my visa, exchanged some cash, went through customs (“Where are you from?” “America.” “Go right through then.”), got my bags (they all arrived safely!), find the cab driver picking me up (arranged before hand), and head off into Cairo.

My goodness, I had forgotten how much sand is a part of life here. The buildings are sand-colored. The air is sand-colored. Even the clothes and people at times are sand-colored. And of course, there is sand. Everywhere. It doesn’t matter that Cairo is a sprawling metropolis, sand and dirt and dust are a part of the environment, a part of existence. If you don’t like being dirty, or having your surroundings be dirty, Cairo is not your dream city. 

We eventually, after getting lost a bit, arrive at my new home in Agouza. Matt, my British flatmate, was there to let me in. We chat a bit as I unpack (I promise, pictures of my room and apartment will follow). Alex, my Italian flatmate, gets home with his girlfriend, who is a British Egyptian and is returning the next day to England, where Alex will follow her in a month and we’ll get a new flatmate. Some other friends of Alex’s come over, and Matt kindly made me dinner, since obviously, I’ve nothing in the fridge. We watch Hunger Games, people order food, and as is the general way in Cairo, stay until 1 am. I’m beat at that point (beaten with a stick and a golf club, really), and crash in bed. 

Next morning, I get up super early: 7:45 (which is 1:45 am on the East Coast), planning to be productive. Instead, after 2 hours, I get the shakes and have to take a nap. I wake up early afternoon and decide I REALLY need to start my day, if only to get food. I walk from Agouza to Zamalek, my would-have-been old neighborhood, if the first time in Cairo worked. I walked to the Barclays, the bank I’ll be semi-using in Cairo, and walked to Alfa Market, a large supermarket. I bought my groceries, then caught a cab back – and was able to direct him in Arabic back to my apartment. Considering I didn’t have a smartphone telling how to get there or back, pretty impressive.

I made my first dinner that night, just a simply stir-fry of rice noodles, frozen veggies, and chow mein sauce. 

The next day (Friday, for those keeping track), was the first day of the weekend. Friday and Saturday are weekends here, by the way. I had planned on going to Carrefour, the French hypermarket (think Target or Walmart) with some branches in Cairo, to pick up some more goods. Instead, while trying to fix my web camera, I feel asleep. For 7 hours, and woke up around 1 am. Nutso. Went back to sleep, which brings me to….

Today! Got up. Made breakfast. Left for Carrefour, which is a good 20 minute drive away in Maadi, the expat neighborhood. Get into a taxi, realize 5 minutes into it, “I need a restroom, now.” Tell the driver this, he pulls over and says we have a flat…which we do. I can’t wait, so I get out and start walking to the Four Seasons, which I saw we had passed. I can’t make it that far, I go into an office building instead. Find a different taxi, continue my trip. My taxi driver doesn’t know where Carrefour is and has to pull over multiple times to ask for directions. We eventually get there, I get sick again, then go shopping, then get my phone taken care of, then go and buy Antinal – the Egyptian version of Cipro. Get in a taxi, get back to the apartment, am overcharge by the driver (whatever). 

And that brings me here. Chilling as I wait for the medicine to do its job. 

I should mention we have two cats in the apartment, Stella, a SUPER FAT tabby name after the Egyptian beer, and Bob, a white albino cat with beautiful blue eyes. They love to hang out in my room – and fight. And run around. And in general be a very cute nuisance. Pictures of them soon, I promise.

I do have more to say, but I’m getting too tired to write more. But tomorrow is CELTA – and I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about it after my first day.

Wish me luck in my health and luck in my program!

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