24 hours of madness

There is so much to say that I’m not even sure how to condense it for this blog!

Yesterday was Halloween, and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself here in Egypt, which is cooling down considerably, while my family back in the States was getting slammed with snow. If you know me, you know that Halloween is my favorite holiday next to Christmas. Why? I am inexplicably fascinated by the traditions and folklore surrounding Samhain and all stories behind Halloween. I am perfectly content collecting candy corn and stumbling through corn mazes while relating the origins of the Jack-o-lantern to any poor fool who’s close enough to listen. Leading up to Halloween, I watched a vampire movie with my friend – 30 Days of Night, a movie that will probably cripple tourism in Alaska -, had an interesting party, and painted a picture of my favorite orchard farmhouse. When it came to pumpkin carving, I picked one up at the store and watched it for a week before carving it with a severely damaged kitchen knife. Then I called the market and had them deliver – by bicycle – two more that I carved out in the course of an hour. Some may say I’m obsessed, but as an American, it’s my responsibility to spread Halloween tradition as arduously as we spread democracy.

To celebrate Halloween, the school ran a costume contest. I obviously signed up to judge it, and happily scored children on their costumes as they paraded nervously around the courtyard. I took my job very seriously. After school, I went with Rebecca to make a purchase I’ve been looking forward to for a month: I finally bought some real sheets, a comforter, and a duvet cover. In the long run, it’s been bad because a, my room looks like a bordello and b, getting out of bed in the morning has become slightly more impossible.

where am i? with grade 7

Then it was time to celebrate Halloween. I took my least-rotted pumpkin and headed over to my friend’s house where we watched the remake of Fright Night – not nearly as good or eerie as the original but Colin Farell wasn’t bad to look at -, lit the pumpkin, and lamented the old days when Halloween was scarier and we were littler. I miss apple picking and pumpkin picking and hayrides and haunted houses equipped with strobe lights and masked marauders, but this was the best we could do, and it sufficed for me. I nervously caught a cab home, as apparently the Egyptians are pathetically confused when it comes to discerning between Mischief Night and Halloween; roving groups of juveniles patrolled the streets with egg cartons, but I made it home unscathed. Someone needs to explain to these savages how Halloween is really done.

pumpkins + vampire movies

Today was largely uneventful until the ride home, when our bus eased alongside a truck filled with goats and a man who was slaughtering them. We’ve seen some pretty bizarre things here in Cairo, especially on the ride home, but this took the cake. We all groaned and yelled as we watched goat after goat succumb to the Egyptian man and his knife, and we quietly turned our heads while snapping pictures like the voyeurs we are. Once we’d left the goat slaughter-truck behind, we were rear-ended by some guy. The goat truck passed by alongside us again, honking, goat carcasses flopping against the windshield.

silence of the rams

[SIDE NOTE: We have off beginning on Friday for Eid, a feast festival that marks the end of the Haj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. The roots of Eid are grounded in the story of Abraham, where he is about to sacrifice his only son because God – or Allah – has asked him to. As he’s raising the knife, from what I remember from Sunday School, he’s stopped by an angel and told that it was all a test, and he passed. So for Eid, people who can afford it purchase livestock and slaughter it, saving 1/3 for their family, 1/3 for their close friends, and 1/3 for charity and for people who can’t afford it. What’s baffling to me isn’t the slaughter of the livestock, but the insanely similar parallels between the Bible and the Koran, and how despite these similarities, there’s such animosity between both religions. How can your religions be founded on the same stories and same moralities yet be so vicious toward one another? Either way, I suppose Eid explains the rooster that’s found its way to our school. It’s definitely an Egyptian rooster, judging by its midday crowing. I think it’s broken.]

Once home, we were enthralled to watch our boab replace our lightbulbs, many of which have been out since we moved in. This was cause for celebration, as we finally got to see what our hallway looked like in the light.

Then it was off to rugby, where we trained for an hour and then had our first full-contact game. To be fair, it was a scrimmage, but it was the first time we tackled and rucked. We started off with tackling drills and I had a blast slamming my shoulder into girls’ thighs and being knocked to the ground. I was on the wing, and I caught a pass and – FINALLY! – made my first try! It was super exciting, even though it’s probably equivalent to making a layup in basketball. Either way, I was super stoked, and jetted to the try line untouched.

What else? I’ve booked my flight to Greece for Eid – I know, my plans change every other day – and I’m stoked, tomorrow is the last instructional day of school, and I have some extra soft sheets to burrow into tonight. On the downside, Holly is leaving tomorrow to go home. She says she’s coming back in January, and we all hope she does. I’ll miss lounging on the sofas with her and watching Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen while eating takeout. I hope she comes back.

And to round it all off, the story/book I’ve been writing for four months is about to be finished. I have never been so caught up in an idea before, and I’ve never handwritten almost two notebooks worth of material. The easy part is over, though; the hardest part will be editing and caulking, or filling the numerous plot holes I’ve left since I began the tale in Argentina back in July. This was an idea that’s been tickling me for three years, so it’s about time it got out.

Happy and sleepy. Off to bed.

Categories: Egypt

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