Thursday, June 24, 2010

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. There’s not enough “background” noise for our brains to process or something like that.

We’re also suffering from light-switch-reversal. Off is on and on is off which isn’t too much of a problem until there are multiple switches on a switch plate. Then I find myself flicking lights on and off and on and off until I find the right one.

We also keep forgetting that toilets have levers on the sides instead of knobs or buttons on the top of toilets.

Rachel thinks that America is a land of surprises. Everything is a surprise for her. “Hey, Rachel! I have a surprise for you!” is what everyone says before showing her ice cream or a new/old toy or anything else.

We walked to the playground the other day and some dogs started barking at us. Rachel immediately started crying. She could tell they were close. I explained to her that these dogs, like most dogs in America, were behind the fence and couldn’t get out. Furthermore, they were actually kept as pets and their owners feed them dog food so they don’t roam the streets looking for small children to pick off.

She didn’t believe me at first but after we passed several other houses with dogs behind fences she started to believe me.

There are pet dogs in Egypt but most dogs she has seen have been feral street dogs so she had reason to be concerned.

The traffic is, of course, impeccably orderly. Stop signs and crosswalks and traffic lanes and everything. It’s all rather bizarre.

We’re still trying to get settled and get over jet-lag and have had a constant supply of family and cereal since we arrived. I’m sure we’ll notice more American abnormalities as our time here grows.

Rachel still isn’t so sure about living here. She will say that we live in America but also mentions that we are actually from Egypt. This evening Grandma was wearing an apron and Rachel said,

“Oh! I have one of those at my house!”

Then she stopped to process for a minute and realized that this is her house. “Oh, wait!” she said, skipping off to find her apron.

One day soon we’ll start to feel settled here, but probably not for another month or so, after Grover and weddings and mission farewells and so forth are all over.


  1. Welcome back! I can totally relate about coming back and it being weird.

    Maybe we will get to see each other sometime and I can meet your little tots.

  2. Awww yes. Welcome home. Chances are you'll never be hit by a car again. (Right?)

  3. Welcome home guys! Good luck with all the adjusting and settling in to this next phase of your lives!

  4. Yeah, the noiselessness. Something my parents in Egypt noted when I was video calling them on Skype when I first moved to the Mid-West :)