Friday, June 25, 2010

Monday and Tuesday and a bit of Wednesday and Thursday—or—my whole week has blurred together and I need more sleep

This is me on my birthday. I look tired because my birthday was on Tuesday and we got in on Sunday night. But look how green Utah is—they’ve had a wet spring, apparently.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bedtime for two

Sharing a bedroom is the best thing that ever happened to bedtime. I’ll admit that I was a little nervous to put the girls in together—and not just because Miriam has been in our room since birth and I was sad to let her move out, either. Turns out, though, that bedtime has been far less painful the last few nights than it has been the last few years. And I don’t think it’s all jet-lag, either.

Welcome to America

The first thing we noticed about America was the absolute soundlessness. It’s so quiet that at night you can hear crickets chirping. That’s the ultimate quiet.

It almost feels like we’re in a vacuum.

I read somewhere once that Cairo’s decibel level is on par with a freight train, constantly. In fact, the daily average is 85 decibels, which, according to Dangerous Decibels is enough to cause permanent damage after just one day.

That totally explains why our heads have been buzzing since we’ve arrived.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I’m special.

Today is my birthday. I’ve lived for a whole quarter of a century. Old, I know. Do you want to know another thing I know? I’ll tell you.

I’m special.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cairo-Istanbul-Chicago-Salt Lake

By midnight we had loaded all thirteen suitcases into the van and were headed off to the airport. Our final drive through Cairo was bitter-sweet. For days on end we kept telling each other thus-and-such was the last time we’d do this-and-that in Cairo. The ride to the airport certainly finalized those statements and that was sad. We’ll miss Cairo. But we were happy to be on our way home and I was already anxious to get the travelling part over and done with.

I hate flying.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

You know you’ve been in Egypt too long when…

Your landlord shows up at your door unannounced at 11:55 PM…and you’re cool with that because, hey, you weren’t planning on going to bed for a few more hours, anyway.

You tell time by the call to prayer.

You judge the seasons by whatever creepy crawlies are taking over your apartment. Or by what fruit is for sale.

It’s 30°C (86°F) outside and you wish you had remembered to bring a jacket.

The weather forecast is always the same—it’s been 40°C (104°F) for weeks now.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A bit of Meme

Miriam is a bit of a dare devil. I never would have suspected it of her, but she is. In our apartment we had this raised area with two steps leading up to it. Miriam would climb up there and then slither along the top step, perilously close to the edge and not caring a bit. She also liked to get up on her hands and feet and rock back and forth. I kept waiting for her to pitch forward and fall down the stairs face first but she never did. Luckily.

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Every time she went down the stairs face first it was very much on purpose (and very much not a mother-approved method of going down the stairs).

She’s recently started pulling herself up to standing position on couches and coffee tables and such. Often when she’d pull herself up on the coffee table in our living room Rachel would push it toward her until Miriam was clinging on for dear life, almost parallel to the floor, with her feet too far under the coffee table to be able to recover her balance (also not a mother-approved activity).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Unemployed…in Cairo!

Andrew’s dad and I sent a chain of emails back and forth a few days ago and our conversation kind of ended with him saying, “So, you are in Cairo, unemployed, not in school, and homeless. Andrew has done well for you….”

That basically sums up our life, yes. But we’re not worried. We have a plan of sorts.

We’re all moved out of our apartment and have been staying at our friends’ place—they are in the States on home leave. Rachel keeps asking two things. 1) Where’s Tuesday? Tuesday is her friend who usually lives at this place and whose bed Rachel is sleeping in. 2) Is this our new home? No, it isn’t.

We’ve been trying to get her to understand the concept of “moving.” It’s been hard since she doesn’t ever remember moving and also because we’ve been trying to explain the concept of “being between apartments.” Tonight we had dinner at the Perry’s and walked past our old apartment building on the way.

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We had a wonderful evening and when we were leaving, Jamie asked us if she could give us a ride home.

Rachel turned to her quite confused and visibly disturbed. She choked a bit and managed to squeak out, “Ummmm, we actually don’t have a home anymore.”

So, there you go. We’re homeless, jobless, not in school, and stuck in Cairo…at least for a few more days when everything will change again. I kind of feel like we’re in The Princess Bride. You know the part where Vizzini yells, “And you: friendless, brainless, helpless, hopeless! Do you want me to send you back to where you were? Unemployed in Greenland!”

We’re not friendless, though, since we’re staying at our friends’ house with some other friends and just had dinner with previously mentioned friends at a different friends’ house. See? Plenty of friends.

We’re not brainless because Andrew just got his master’s degree.

We’re not helpless or hopeless because we have plenty of both.

And we’re not in Greenland.

So it isn’t like The Princess Bride at all but you catch my drift.

AUC Forever

Andrew’s graduation ceremony was yesterday. The semester ended almost a month ago and we’ve seriously been hanging around Egypt just for this. I voted for skipping the ceremony and going home early but Andrew insisted that he wanted to participate. Then about two weeks ago he was like, “What was I thinking!? We should have just gone home!” But I think by yesterday he was back to being happy that we decided to stay.

It seemed like a rather formal affair. They sent out fancy invitations and letters of detailing protocol: no cell phones, no cameras, no children. They even arranged special bus privileges for the guests of the students. So we got a babysitter and headed out to campus at the appointed hour.

The bus was fifteen minutes late. So we stood at the bus stop munching on pistachios and watching people cram themselves into buses like sardines.

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Just around the river bend!

So many titles ran through my head while trying to make a title for this post, most of which had to do with Steamboatin’—a musical my brother and I were in when I was in grade 3 and he was in grade 5. I’m sure he remembers even though it was, oh, seventeen years ago.

Paddle wheeler rollin’ down the Mississip’!
Won’t you come and join us for a steamboat trip!
Paddle wheeler standin’ proud as she can be
All decked out and waiting for some company!

Step inside
(Just step inside)
We’re goin’ on a steamboat ride
(We’re goin’ on a steamboat ride)
Come with me
(With me!)
We’ll travel down in history!

It went something like that, anyway, and while judging from the decrepitated condition of the boat, this ride promised to be a ride through history, there was nothing remotely inviting about taking a ride on it. Our original plan was to ride downstream to Kanater, the Nile locks, and play around there for a while. However, no boats were running there when we arrived at the water bus station.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Packing with Miriam

We’re busy packing over here. I don’t know how I’ll ever finish but since we move out of our apartment tomorrow I guess it will magically happen. It’s crunch time.

We had a brief interlude in the middle of the week this week during which I stopped packing in order to become acquainted with the porcelain throne in the bathroom. Miriam was sure to keep the packing going while I conversed with the toilet about some 24-hour stomach issues.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Not a problem

Traffic here is crazy—I think I’ve talked about it before—but somehow I’ve managed to steer clear (haha, no pun intended) of getting hit by rogue vehicles the entire time we’ve lived here.

Until Thursday evening, that is.

I’ve had many close calls but have never actually been hit. I tend to be a bit more cautious than Andrew is when leaping into traffic because I usually have a child or two somewhere on my person. That was still the case on Thursday evening.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Now fully collapsible!

We were gifted a Kelty Ridgeline Framed Baby Carrier when our friends Sara and Kevan left for the States. That means we’ve had it for about a year now—and it’s been useful and we’re grateful for it. However, it’s bulky and no matter how we fiddled with it we couldn’t figure out how to collapse it or fold it or make it smaller in any way.

It doesn’t fit well in taxis. It doesn’t fit through metal detectors. It doesn’t fit through Hezekiah's Tunnel. It’s great when there’s a kid in it but not so great when there isn’t a kid in because it’s huge and doesn’t fit much of anywhere.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Amelioration

Sometimes Rachel likes to make her life easier. This doesn’t mean that she makes life easier for everyone else around. It simply means that she does things to make her own life easier.

For example, in the joy and confusion that having the Palmers live close by has brought into her young life, Rachel has had to make up a few nicknames. Her sister, Miriam, has it easy. She just gets called “my Meme.” Again, Rachel says this to rhyme with “theme.”

The other Miriam, though? She calls her “Bidmeam.” As in Big Meme.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Donkeys at Dar es-Salaam

We’ve visited Dar es-Salaam twice with Josie. I wanted to get Andrew a nice galabia before we left and had come across a store that had ones I thought he’d like—I just didn’t have him with me to try them on so I had to bring him back to it. We decided, while we were getting his galabia to get some more traditional clothing.

Isdals—full khimars, or head-style abayas—have been becoming increasingly popular here in Cairo. I started noticing them last year sometime, but I don’t remember seeing them much before.

Zagazig

I’m not going to lie: We originally opted to visit this city solely because of its name, hoping that there was something else cool enough about it to warrant a trip. Zagazig? Who wouldn’t want to go there? It’s like zigzag…only backwards. Granted, they don’t say zag-a-zig in Egypt. They drop the Gs so it comes out like za-a-zi, but still, it’s a cool name.

Zagazig is a bustling town in the Delta, with a population of around 279,000, according to Wikipedia. It claims the ruins of the ancient city Bubastis, or Tell Basta, named after the feline goddess Bastet, and is possibly the city Pi-beseth, mentioned in Ezekiel 30:17.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Kerdasa Bazaar

Way out by the the Giza Plateau is a little street lined with stores displaying colourful wool carpets and stylish galabias . It’s the Kerdasa Bazaar and on Sunday Josie and I joined our friends Clara and Catharine (and several other members of the branch) on a shopping spree there.

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Ain Sokhna Finale

After church on Friday we headed out to Ain Sokhna for one last hurrah at the Red Sea. It was wonderful, of course. Rachel was so excited to start playing at the beach.

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Bowling at Bounce

Our friends invited us to go bowling with them and we jumped at the chance. We actually like going bowling…we just haven’t been for a few years. We hadn’t realized that there was a bowling alley here, but there is. It’s called Bounce Sports Entertainment.

Bowling is not exactly a popular sport in the Middle East.

Mohammed and Ahmed were evidence of that. Those poor blokes were bowling their best and ended up not doing too well at all…not that I was checking out their score board or anything, but…their final scores were in the 30s and 50s, which is so, so sad.

Mo, who is five, scored higher than them.

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No vegetables today

Last week we went to the Houses’ house for dinner. I made Andrew hold Miriam while we ate because I wanted, for once, to be able to eat without her sitting on my lap. She makes things tricky.

Half way through the meal Andrew got fed up with Miriam grabbing at everything and asked, “Are there any cucumbers left?”

Everyone at the table stopped eating to stare at him, jaws dropped, forks froze in midair, and silence reigned. We were all thinking the same thing—did he seriously just ask for cucumbers?

“For the baby,” he said, breaking our stunned silence. 

With that little misunderstanding cleared up we made sure to pass the cucumbers and then went back to clearing our plates.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Toy shelves

The girls have a new game where they pull toys off the bottom shelf until there is room for them to get on the shelf themselves.

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Not as short as Daddy’s

Last night I convinced Rachel to let me cut her hair. She hasn’t wanted me to, insisting that she likes it long, but I just couldn’t take it any more. Every morning I have to fight her to let me brush her hair, to let me fix her hair. I have to fight her to let me shampoo her hair, rinse her hair, condition her hair, rinse her hair…

We battle over hair too many times a day.