Saturday, June 27, 2009

Things we never thought we'd see

Most days in Cairo seem so normal now. Other days, though, still make us cock our heads and gaze on in wonder at this place we call home. Today was one of those days.

Andrew and Rachel went out to Tora again--to fix that blasted tire. The innertube was faulty so we just had to pick up a new one and it seems to be working better now. While they were there, though, they saw two billy goats going head-to-head in the street. They looked so aggressive that Andrew was afraid they'd start charging. They didn't and Andrew and Rachel were able to walk right on by, which meant that they also got to see a balcony-turned-pen housing a whole herd of goats. Andrew said there were like 15 or 20, and it was on a little balcony--part of someone's house!

Later we went grocery shopping to get some perishable food items and when we came out of the store we heard some obnoxious meowing and hissing. We looked under a car and saw a pair of cats mating. The female didn't look too happy about it, but the male was definitely dominating the situation. Seeing that wasn't exactly out of place and we tried to give them some privacy. The driver of the car, however, didn't notice those two were underneath his vehicle and threw his car in reverse and ran over the copulating felines. Meow! Hiss! Thud! Screech! Silence.

Andrew's in the middle of a big project--he's making a homemade air conditioner of sorts--and he had to run out to get another part since water was spraying all over the bedroom instead of running down the hose and into the street....On his way home he almost got attacked by two other cats who were fighting in the street. They started hunting him and he tried to make a break for it, but the cats were much more agile. Luckily, a bowab was out watering the street and he turned the hose on the cats, saving Andrew from being clawed to smithereens.

The Knapps threw a spur of the minute party at the Maadi House and we were invited to come along. When we were walking past the Arab Legue building we saw some men dressed in nice business suits, taking pictures of each of each other holding big machine guns. I don't know why. It kind of made me think of Paradise Now. At least they weren't dripping in bandoliers and waving some extremist/jihhadist flag while yelling profanities and cursing America. I felt silly for being so skittish after seeing that; it was like I had turned into a conspiracy-theory-loving local who whispers "spy" and "espionage" and "under cover" whenever I see people taking out a camera. Relax.

On the way home from the Maadi House we almost got hit by a bat. It wasn't one of the small mouse-sized bats that we see all the time, either. This one was like a small flying cat. We dodged it and it flew into (rather, it fell or crash-landed on) a car instead. And then it just sat there. At first we thought it was dead. We went to get a closer look and it started screeching and clawing its way around the roof of the vehicle. It was injured pretty badly. Its wing was all scratched up and its thumb was bleeding quite badly.

Our friend Hasan saw us stop walking home--he's always looking out for us and worries when he doesn't see us frequently enough--and came to see what we were looking at. We told him there was a "thing" on the roof of the car, but we didn't know what it was called. He went and pulled himself up so that he could see onto the roof of the car (more like an SUV, really) and found himself face to face with a bat. It flew at him and he jumped down. They were both pretty startled.

The poor thing couldn't fly to save its life at this point. It had no control, was all lopsided and crashed after going only a few feet. We were all looking at it on the ground when we were joined by some kids who had been hanging out by Hasan. No one seemed to know what to call it. One little girl called it a mouse (فأر/fa'r) and later Hasan asked Rachel if she had seen the swallow (عصفور/'usfur). A lot of words were thrown out, but they were all words for animals that we knew, and none of them meant bat.

The bat eventually crawled off into the dark of the bushes, probably to be at peace from our prying eyes, so we bid our friends goodbye and continued on our walk home. It was weird to see how a bat looks at things up close--seeing but unseeing. They aren't blind, but they certainly don't see the way we see. Not with the way this bat was looking at us.

When we got home I looked up the word bat in my handy-dandy Usborne picture dictionary. It has most words that I would want to know at this point, I think. The word is خفاش/khaffash.

Today was a fun day. We ran a lot of errands, got to go swimming, and were treated to a wonderful supper (thanks, Knapps!), but it was just one of those days when we said, "You know, I never imagined I'd ever see that," more than once to each other. An odd, odd day.


  1. Goats and cats and bats, oh my!

  2. Apparently most of the Egyptians never thought they'd see a bat either...they didn't even know the word for it? Wow. That's just super interesting. The Hispanic kids I'm teaching had a hard time finding the word for "tambourine". (it was in the story we read). BTW, I didn't know you did TESOL! You're right, the practicum is hard. At least my mentor teacher person is competent, and since I'm doing it in the summer, it's short. MUCH much better than student teaching. Like a billion times better.