Friday, April 30, 2010

An interesting series of happenings

In Cairo, it's pretty difficult to find an apartment without using a simsar, or real estate agent-y kind of guy. They take you around to different flats until you find the perfect one, then collect 10% of the total amount of your contract. Luckily we are only living somewhere three months, so this wasn't too substantial of an amount, especially since our simsar found us such a great place.

The other night, one of the simsars (we'll call him Mohammed for the sake of anonymity) came to the apartment to pick up a group of students, and in front of everyone got into an intense fight with the police, got the crap beaten out of him, and was I think arrested. We were all kind of in shock and totally confused until one of our teachers explained to us later what had happened. Apparently, he wasn't allowed in the hotel because he is a lower-class Egyptian, and so the hotel managers called the police when he came in to meet us. The whole situation was exacerbated by the fact he was acting kind of uppity about the whole thing since he thought since he was working for Americans he could get away with betraying the system. Well... he couldn't.

Then today, for some reason I can't understand, he took the whole program out to a fancy lounge place for dinner. He probably spent at least $600 buying us all dinner. The actual place we ate was sweet. It was a hookah lounge so there were all these people just casually smoking it, while studying or playing on the computer or having dinner with the family. The food was pretty good too, and my chocolate milkshake was amazing. Overall, I won't understand why he bought us dinner after we got him beat up by the police, but I will appreciate it!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The new flat

We just got back from signing a contract* (in Arabic) on a flat near the Maadi Club. It was quite the cultural experience. The flat itself is POSH. Everything is pretty much brand-new, there's a "washer" and "dryer" in the bathroom and A/C in every room. Awesome ceiling fans, and the owner is even installing a bidet/diaper sprayer for us. He is going to send his maid over to clean it once a month free of charge. There are huge windows with beautiful curtains, nice new couches and rugs. It's perfect. And we're paying the equivalent of $400 a month. Awesome, huh?

Now that we are through with that, I will have a snack of goat cheese and crackers, wash it down with mango juice, and take a nap. Tim is really under the weather with a sinus infection, so he's already out for a few hours. Tonight we have to go to an orientation at his institute followed by an opening social on the roof.

Egypt is beginning to grow on me. I think I'm going to like it here.

* the most interesting part in the contract: Tim is under commitment to protect the apartment like a "good family father."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Elevator fear remix

Remember how I'm terrified of elevators?

Elevators in Cairo: a million times scarier as American ones. We went to look for apartments today, and found one on the 11th floor. The elevator was teeny, and to get in you opened a little door yourself. And when you went up... YOU COULD HAVE TOUCHED THE WALL OF THE ELEVATOR SHAFT. The elevator was completely open to the elevator shaft. Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. Maybe no one has died on an American elevator in recent years, but now I have to do a little research regarding Egyptian ones.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Apartment hunting

Cairo, day three:

Today was spent tying loose ends and trying to find an apartment for a reasonable price. It's complicated though, mostly because there are four married couples who want to share an apartment, and the other three found an apartment without us that has three bedrooms and they want to move into it. We want to share to save on rent because, hello, this trip is already costing us an arm and a leg, so we're just trying to be flexible and taking it as it comes. It kind of feels like elementary school when no one wants you on their kickball team. We all know the feeling...

Cairo never sleeps. Egyptians are on a weird schedule since it is so hot during the day. Stores are open from like noon to midnight, rather than the typical 8-5. Of course, my body wanted to be on Cairo schedule, so now I never sleep either at night. Note the 2 am blog posts of the past two nights. Amir, unfortunately, is on a crazy schedule too, which may contribute to my crazy sleep habits of late. He didn't go to bed tonight until after midnight, probably because this morning he slept in until after ten. We tried to cut down on the daytime naps, but he was so crabby it was impossible to keep him awake. We tried to keep him awake two nights ago by going out for food, but he totally passed out in the backpack, then woke back up for three hours when we got home. Mostly, Tim just takes him down to the lobby and speaks Arabic with crazy partying Egyptians until he gets sleepy enough to bring back to the sleeping mom for some milk and sleep. It's working out, but it means that I sleep from 8 pm until midnight, then wake up, like now and don't go back to sleep until 4 am. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities for naps during the day. Oh, jet lag.

We went grocery shopping today, and the food is one, super cheap, and two, free of artificial ingredients for the most part. We bought some really cheap cookies and the ingredients are: butter, sugar, flour, vanilla. How awesome is that? No high-fructose corn syrup, no Yellow 5 or Red 40. My assumption is because corn is not subsidized like in the states, those crappy combinations are not as cheap to make or as mass-produced. They were very tasty cookies though. We also bought goat cheese, crackers, yogurt, water, two cartons of juice... all for 50 pounds (10 dollars). Pretty awesome, eh?

What else did we do today? Bought phones. Phone plans are sweet here. I wish they were more common in the US. Two phones plus plenty of minutes to last us the summer ran about 300 pounds (60 dollars). We were just going to get one phone to share but with it being so cheap we figured we would want two since we won't be together too much during the day. I love the idea of prepaid minutes, plus the idea that you only use your minutes for calls that you personally make. Text messages use up less money than minutes in your prepaidness, so it's easy to send quick messages for cheap. Who needs unlimited anyways? Certainly not us because we aren't using them.

That's all for now, I desperately need sleep as we are having a meeting with the other couples in t-minus 6 hours. Tomorrow is our first Egyptian Wednesday. I need my rest!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Teeth, part three

For now, I'm foregoing a baby blog since the internet is shoddy and I don't want to switch between them to blog. Sorry to bore you with minute happenings in my child's life, but it's my blog, right?

Anywho, Amir is teething. His front two teeth are just barely about to break through, poor little guy. The first night we were here he woke up SCREAMING like I've never heard him scream and I thought he was dying of hepatitis from the street food we fed him. I almost jumped back on a plane the next day. But luckily the next day revealed the issue, complete with loads of drool, so we will stay here for now. Two nights and plenty of baby Motrin later, he's doing just fine but will be better once these teeth show their face. I kind of don't want them to though, because I think once he has them he won't be a cute little baby anymore, but will really look old. I like the vampire look too... I think it's funny to call him Edward:

Trip to the Pyramids

Cairo, Day Two:

Today we went to the Pyramids at Giza. Our tour guide was a short Egyptian woman named Annam and she was absolutely nuts. She told us today was her birthday and her first day on the job, but Tim and I were skeptical. The whole time she was explaining the history of the pyramids, she sounded like she was delivering an anti-Israeli rant. She was really intense and intimidating. Whoever says Muslim women are submissive... needs to meet her.

The pyramids were cool. They are huge. They are old. There are tons of Arab men hawking scarves and postcards. The funniest thing to me is that they will come up to you and try to get you to take a picture with them, then after you take it they will charge you money. We were prepared so we didn't fall for it, but we saw some other tourists doing so. Oh, and another crazy thing is they will offer to take a picture for you and if you don't pay them they won't give you your camera back but will instead threaten to throw it on the ground and break it. Pretty crazy stuff, just wanted to warn all of our readers in case you are hanging out in Giza anytime soon.

On the way back from the pyramids and the Sphinx, our lovely tour bus broke down. It was about 100 degrees, so we kept hydrated and let Amir frolic naked for a while in the back of the bus. Luckily, it was only about an hour before another bus came and picked us up. Just another happening to place a chip on the Cairo Bingo card.

Here's a deluge of pictures to document the trip (they hopefully need no captions):

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Welcome to Cairo

On Friday morning, we departed for our four-month journey in Cairo, Egypt and beyond. We flew to NYC and then straight on to Cairo. The flights were long, but we pretty much have the best baby ever (who will be referred to as Amir from here on out). He slept both of the flights, two hours on the four-hour flight and at least eight on the eleven-hour one (despite the fact that the baby in front of us SCREAMED for those eight hours plus some, I couldn't believe how Amir slept through it). I talked with the mom in front of us for a little bit, she was Egyptian but lived in San Diego, and she kept asking me if I was scared to take my baby to Egypt. I told her no, and she said she was terrified because her baby was born in the United States. She also told me that I shouldn't hold my baby by his hands and let him bounce. Apparent Egyptians are very protective of their babies, they rarely take them outside and you never tell them their baby is cute because it invites the "evil eye" due to your jealousy. It doesn't stop them from saying oogling your baby though. Amir gets CONSTANT attention when we're out, beginning with the passport control men who surrounded us and started kissing him and grabbing his hands and holding them. Strangers have reached out and held him, everyone smiles and coos and calls out to us. You would think they had never seen a baby before, but I guess it's not common for a baby to be out and about (and so darn cute).

On the plane:

We got into Cairo in the afternoon and took a bus to the hotel we're staying in for the week while we find apartments. The hotel is nice enough, right now it smells like cigarette smoke because we turned the air on, but it's fine. I'm slightly more paranoid about germs here, I probably should have bought more antibacterial wet wipes because we are going through them really fast.

My observations about Cairo thusfar:

1. It's dirty. There is garbage everywhere, all over the sidewalks.
2. It smells. The market we went to today was SO STINKY. It smelled like a rotten-fish-urine-raw-meat kind of fragrance. There were weasels running around at our feet. The vegetables looked delicious. There were huge barrels of every kind of lentil you could imagine, spices, rices, pasta, everything. I can't wait to actually start buying food when we move in and have a kitchen.
3. There are stray cats everywhere, they are scrawny and live in the garbage.
4. The food is amazing, and so cheap! There are shwarma street vendors all over that sell these pitas full of beans, falafel, baba ghannoush, etc. that sell for one pound (which is like 20 cents).

That's pretty much all my observations. So far, so good. I can't wait to really start seeing more and experiencing all that Cairo has to offer after I get used to the dirt and the smells. But for now, I must attend to my baby because my husband fell asleep. There will be much more where this came from...

Monday, April 12, 2010

My take on Parties of Tea

The results of this poll illustrate why I think the tea party movement will ultimately find little success as a political movement. Bemoaning high taxes has always been popular, as well as cutting government size and spending. Accompanying this was a poll asking what the American public thought was the best way to reduce the deficit, 65% replied "cutting programs" as opposed to 5% who said we should raise taxes.

The problem comes when a party becomes organized enough or a serious enough contender to actually have to put in a platform of what programs they will cut to lower taxes while also lowering budget deficits. Take a look at the graph and you'll see that not a single area of spending has more than 1/3 of the country in support of cutting it. Except, of course, foreign aid. But unless the tea party wants to run on a reducing foreign aid campaign (which counts for less than 1% of the budget), they are going to have to stick to very vague populism to gain a majority of support. That will be increasingly difficult as the economy recovers.

In honor of the Masters

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Falling off the bed

This morning, Atticus started his nap on the bed...

and ended it on the floor.

We had no idea until Tim went to get him, and asked me if I had put him to sleep on the floor. Nope, nope I didn't. He put himself there.

Not a tear was shed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Gordon, of good hair and Wikichase fame, is also a film star, one of the qualities that we failed to list when speaking of him earlier. This short film shows Gordon's interpretation of his own tortured genius which defined his high school experience. It is worth a watch.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The other blog

Day at the park and 7 month post on the other blog. Leave a comment if you want added.

Day at the Park

Cait met me on the way home from class at the park and we had a picnic of salmon salad and played on the jungle gym. Some of the pictures are blurry. That is either because the camera was dropped in the salad, or the camera just couldn't handle the specialness of the moment.


This video is sideways but worth it:



Not really an aesthetic decision, more of a practical one: Honor code and Egypt sun.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


We are thinking about buying a DSLR camera. Any suggestions? We need something that is easy to figure out, affordable, and portable.

7 Months!

Oh man... 7 months! Where has the time gone? Atticus is still the cutest and greatest baby we know. He is happy, healthy, and just plain fun to be around. This month has brought with it our first bouts of sickness (I blame the vaccinations we've been injecting into him), and let me tell you, that was NOT COOL. First, he had roseola and then RSV. A whole thing of baby Tylenol and a borrowed vaporizer later, we've overcome. On to new and better things with the warm weather creeping on in.

At 7 months, Atticus loves:

- Trying to make out with mom. I guess he gets it from dad, but he is always eating my face.
- Showers with dad.
- Swinging at the park.
- Bouncing, bouncing, bouncing... still.
- FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD. Sweet potatoes, asparagus, salmon, potatoes, peas, apples, bananas, etc.
- The laptop.
- Scooting around, especially to get the laptop.
- Dance parties.
- Aunt Allison.
- Sticks. He can hold one all the way home from campus.
- Arabic class.
- Forward-facing in the Moby/Sleepy Wrap.

Atticus hates:

- Medicine.. DIE DIE DIE little syringe.
- Sleeping longer than one hour at night without having some milk.
- Wearing clothes and diapers.
- Getting stuck when he's crawling around.
- The nose sucky bulb thing (does that even HAVE a name?)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I said sexualize on TV

Went to a link so the video wouldn't play every time you pull up the site.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Don't tell Tim...

but I just made this his facebook profile picture.


We will potentially be on the news. ABC4 at 6 or 10 tonight.

Just a heads up.

Will post later on interview for those who miss it.

Baby-led weaning: The sequel

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Do you ever...

feel like you should do exciting things just so you have something to blog about? I do. I wish I didn't. Or rather, I wish I did so many exciting things that it wasn't anything I could worry about.

Good night.