Tomorrow will be the one-week anniversary of my return to Cairo. In the week, nothing out of the ordinary has occurred. I have spent every day either eating with Mo, working out with Nelson, or drinking with Ian. Now that Ashley is back, I’ve made time for both eating and drinking with Ashley.

During the day, I’ve done my best to make this new apartment my own. Ian says it’s called nesting, and I’ve done a fairly good job. To be fair, the apartment was very homey to begin with, which is why I snatched it up. It reminds me of a cross between Beth’s house and what I imagine a good ol’ country home might be like. There’s lots of white and wood, and when I pour filtered tap water into my mason jars while Old Crow plays from the living room, I feel very peaceful.

Lovely, refrigerator-worthy artwork by my cousin’s adorable kids ❤

To give you an idea of how exciting my life is right now, I’ll give you the two major highlights of the week. Brace yourselves.

1. Maadi Water Shortage

Cairo is experiencing some sort of water shortage that arbitrarily impacts random areas around Maadi. Last night, after fitness, Anna and I were discussing this shortage while Mo vehemently swears that there is no shortage. Marie claims to have seen a stack of waters at a kiosk hidden behind a wall. All I know is that when I called my sources, they were out.

The sacred filtered water tap.

According to this article, the Ministry of Health shut down seven bottled water companies for not being “up to code.” This in turn increased the sales of reputable bottled water sources like Nestle and Dasani (the brands we buy), which finally resulted in a massive shortage of bottled water. It’s an irritating little equation. What’s scarier is that the same article quotes the Director of the Food Safety Information Centre as saying that “80% of bottled water production in Egypt does not follow Egyptian standards and specifications.” This is doubly frightening because a, it’s scary when something as necessary as water isn’t up to standard and b, Egyptian standards aren’t very high to begin with.

I’ve always been astonished at the large percentage of the world’s population that lacks access to clean, potable water, and this is the sort of information that really brings it home for me. I really lucked out this year having a filter on my tap here at the apartment, but even that isn’t very reassuring. Perhaps it’s time to boil the filtered water, or buy a snazzy little iodine pen.

2. Kitten Shortage

Living alone often leads to prolonged conversations with no one, so I think that owning a kitten might at least be beneficial in that it would give me something animate to talk to. My first choice would have been a puppy, but it’s cruel to leave a puppy alone in an apartment for nearly twelve hours a day.

The stray cat population in Egypt doesn’t seem as bursting as the stray dog population, but there are cats and kittens to be found in every garbage pile in the street. Still, part of me wanted to actually buy a kitten from the store. Store-bought kittens are fluffier and may not be as disease-ridden.

As of yesterday, my apartment was unequipped for a kitten. I bought a bag of cat food and some litter. Then, Mo put me in touch with a girl named Jessica who lives just around the corner from me. Jessica’s apartment came with some unwanted cat supplies, and so I stopped by to relieve her of them. (Fun note: I apparently had Jessica’s number in my phone already. Turns out she’s a runner and I had tried to recruit her for the Pharaonic last year.)

Jessica gave me two garbage bags filled with a cat litter box, scoopers, cat food, a cat carrier, and a cat leash.

“Someone just left all of this in your apartment?” I asked her.

“Yeah. I didn’t clean the litter box all the way but I did empty it. It was full and hadn’t been cleaned out when I got here. And I’m allergic to cats.”

I was very happy to take the cat products out of her apartment and clean them in my own. I set up a little room for my new kitten and eagerly headed out to go get it.

As luck would have it, the kitten was no longer there. The only one left was cute enough, but had some kind of infected, watery eyes.

I bought an iron instead.

So that’s the extent of life in Egypt, folks. I head off to work tomorrow for a week and a half of meetings, and I’m embracing my goal of organization: clothes are ironed, lunch is packed, school supplies and purse are all set to go. Watch out, world!

Peaks: Skyping Sarah yesterday for quite a long time, chatting to Susannah and Annie and my family back home. I love talking to my family, but it’s also really comforting to know that I’m keeping in touch with the friends I made here last year.

Valleys: Hurricane Isaac, headed for New Orleans – and the Gulf Coast – on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I’m truly hopeful that the damage, if any, will be minimal.

Photos from home, bowls from Vietnam, and paintings from New Orleans

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