Breakfast with Ashley turned into a grocery shopping extravaganza today that I didn’t mind one bit. In fact, the trip embodied all the things I love about living in Cairo. At the Metro, we ran into Simon. It happened like this. I was buying yogurt drinks and Ashley asked, “Are those any good? Are they high in sugar?”
“I don’t know, they’re probably bad for you. But Simon buys them.”
“Are you talking about me? Those aren’t the ones I buy.” Simon had been standing behind a pole, which wasn’t all that surprising. It’s nice to run into people out and about, although it’s sort of discouraging to realize you’ve been buying the wrong yogurt drinks for the past month.
Afterwards, we walked to the other grocery store that has milk and, I learned today, a juicer. We purchased orange juice on our way into the store; you tell the woman outside which juice you want, she writes you a receipt, and then you come back out and pick up the juice. As I headed home down the sunny street, I thought of how happy I am to live in a relaxed environment (minus the school) around such incredible people.
1. I’ve been running before school, at around 5:30am with my friend Ian. Cairo is a different place that early on; the streets are empty and dark (forget streetlights – they’re few and far between), only a few people are up and around. I carry my pepper spray when I walk to the Metro to meet Ian, and I run with it in my hand. Ian said it’s probably more useful to use on the stray dogs that sometimes come after you in packs, but luckily, we haven’t seen that yet.
2. My boss asked me if I would take over Grade 5 for the rest of the year. This means I have maybe 2 prep periods a day, and insane amounts of time with 5th graders. There are two classes of them, and each one meets each day for 90 minutes. Why they need to spend that long in English class each week is beside me, but I sold my soul into misery because I could use some extra cash. Without divulging too much, let’s just say the negotiation process has been a learning experience for me. Guess who can drive a bargain all of the sudden? When I told Simon what I did and how I did it, he was totally shocked. But I’ve always been a bit of a pushover, so this was a great feeling.
3. My friend Mo is a phenomenal cook, and he hosts very classy dinner parties. Last night, we had dinner with him at our friend Matthais’ house. Mo cooked duck, and it was the first time I’ve tried it. It was, needless to say, amazing. Anna made some olive bread type thing that was delicious, and we sat around chatting until Marie suggested a charades-esque game called “Time’s Up!” All in all, I felt very grown up and warm. It was a very good time, and the game had us in stitches by the end. Later on, I met up with my friends at an engagement party that is unlike American engagement parties in that you don’t need to be invited.
4. Speaking of engagements, the woman I work cafeteria duty with (who also teaches me Arabic) told me that she is getting married next week and I’m invited to the wedding party. I’m really excited about this! More to come when it actually happens.
5. Cairo apparently has a casino. After getting beers after school with Simon on Thursday, I stopped by Ace with Ashley with the intention of just stopping by. Instead, we ended up joining Andrew and Ian at the casino, where they gambled freely and we ate our share of free toasties and consumed free beer.
As I was finishing up this entry, Susannah came home with a story. She and Shannon were coming back from Metro this afternoon in broad daylight when a man in his mid-twenties came running up behind Susannah and grabbed her with both hands. Then, he took off running to where his friend was standing. They were both shocked, and headed home. But the guy came running up again and was about to grab her when Shannon landed a heavy kick on his knee and Susannah screamed. They walked home quickly, but the guy and his friend continued to follow them along the road. The men apparently looked serious and weren’t laughing about it. They told me that the only person around was another Egyptian kid on a bicycle.
Unfortunately, there’s not much to do in situations like that, as it isn’t really illegal in this country. It was shocking mainly because it was daytime, and you hear of stories like that happening at night. Either way, it angered me, and I’m super happy that Shannon was there to deliver a kick to his knee. When he came running up a second time. Ugh.