Monday, February 28, 2011

Oh so stuffed!!

Hi guys,

My friend Ahmed called me tonight and told me he was coming over. So I cleaned up the house and waited . . . and waited . . . and waited . . . and, no Ahmed! So I decided to go out for dinner. (I made a big batch of casserole a few days ago and have been having it for every meal. I finally got sick of it and decided I needed something else.) Anyway . . . I finished my dinner and was on my way to visit another friend when Ahmed called. Yep! He wanted to have dinner. So I met him at another restaurant and (you guessed it) had another dinner. I was already full after the first one, but it would've been rude not to eat with him. I have some new-found sympathy for pregnant women after this experience! :) I'm not planning to eat for a few days!

Oh, another funny story. When I was having dinner at the first restaurant, a guy came in and ordered some food. He had a bit of an accent, so the guys at the restaurant started joking around with him. When they found out where he was from, they started cracking jokes. (He's from a small village in the south of Egypt, by the way.) And suddenly it hit me . . . they're treating him the same way they treat me! Maybe it's not because I'm a foreigner. Maybe it's just because that's how they treat everyone. Anyway, I laughed right along with them.

Okay, that's it for now. Time to sit and let my dinners digest! :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Home sweet . . . desert . . .

Hello Everyone . . .

I'm back in the desert. After many flights and many oceans, I'm back in Egypt!

I'd been following the news before I came back to see what things were like. And my first reaction is that things look just fine. There's nobody on the streets in my town, but I'd kind of expected that. I did see a tank of the side of the road yesterday on my way back from the airport, but it wasn't doing anything. I asked the taxi driver, and he said that things had been really calm in our town.

So, it looks like I've got some time off from work. I'm supposed to call the boss at lunch tomorrow and see what things look like. But aside from that, I've got cleaning, cooking, and chatting to do. Should be fun! I'll let you guys know how things go . . .

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Proof of life!

Hi guys!

Okay, this is a most tardy blog entry. Everyone still remember me? Skinny white boy? No shoes? Speaks Arabic? Lives in Egypt? Sound familiar?

Lately I've gotten a few subtle reminders that I haven't updated this thing in FOREVER. Okay, a few not so subtle reminders as well. You know who you are! :)

Things here have started to turn chilly. Today was 30 degrees (86 for the Americans), and I was FREEZING! That may not sound like much to you, but trust me! When you're used to 45 (American translation - 110), 30 is really cold. I've started wondering what it's going to be like when I get back to the States in December. I think I'm going to have to go buy some new clothes! Or at least steal some from my dad. I've given him enough hand me downs over the last few years that I think I could justifiably pilfer some of his clothes without my conscience bugging me too much! :)

I had a nice time in Cairo a few weeks ago. A friend came from the States for a business meeting, and was going to be in Cairo for a day. Yes, ONE day. It was a long time traveling for only one day with a friend, but it was totally worth it. It was also really good to get out of the town that I live in for a little while. I spent some time at the American University in Cairo with my friend while she had her meeting. It was nice to be around a group of educated, intelligent, refined, cultured young Egyptians. I've realized recently that I hang out with a pretty narrow section of the population; uneducated fishermen and sailors. Honestly, not exactly the best and brightest. It's been really easy to judge the entire culture based on my narrow experience. I think it took that trip to Cairo to confront the judgment and, well . . . racism that I've been nurturing. It was not pleasant to see, but definitely good to see.

My trip to the States is slowly getting closer and closer. It's still over a month and a half away, but it's close enough that I've started counting days. Part of me want to forget that the trip is coming. The whole "watched pot never boils" thing. But the rest of me is excited and full of anticipation. I've been having all of these western food cravings lately. My mom's carrot cake (you're baking me one by the way . . . and I am NOT sharing!), pumpkin bread (you know who you are :), mac and cheese, a really nice salad, club sandwich, fajitas (okay, that one's not really American food), and chicken noodle soup. The list is actually a lot longer, but I'm making myself hungry as I write and don't feel like torturing myself.

Unger, can't wait to see you man. We've got to go climb something when I'm back. If I still remember how, that is! :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Unlikely Philosopher . . .

I had an unexpected conversation with a friend a few nights ago. I was talking to a local bedouin that I've known for the last year or so. Out of all the Egyptians that I know, he's probably my closest friend.

Anyway, we were having tea at a local coffee shop with a group of fisherman. He pulled me aside and told me something. He said, "I've known you for a long time now, and I know that you try to be everyone's friend. But you can't, because not everyone is respectable."

It was an unexpected nugget of wisdom from an unlikely source. Truth be told, I don't really know why it struck me the way it did. It's actually a total no-brainer when you think about it. But it made quite an impact on me when my friend said it. It was a freeing moment, like getting permission to be genuine.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gher mouteH

Hey guys,

Okay, so the words "gher mouteH" in Arabic basically mean "not in service." It's the recording you hear if you call someone and their mobile is off.

I think I've been gher mouteH by accident for the last week or so. I've been having some troubles with my email for the last few days. So if you wrote to me during the last week and I haven't written you back, I'm not ignoring you. I promise :) If you don't hear from me, try my other email account ( But do keep in mind that while my other email account is secure, gmail is not. So that being said, use a bit of discretion in what you write.

Matt's up in Cairo for a few days. It's the perfect chance to be lazy and kick back. But I was incredibly motivated this morning and decided to clean the whole flat. It was actually a funny moment. I had been listening to a podcast from a pastor in the States. Matt and I usually listen to his podcast together on Saturday evening. There's no church service here in a language I understand, so listening to the podcast is the closest Matt and I come to church. Anyway, our schedules have been out of sync for the last week or so, and we haven't had a chance to listen to the podcast together. So today I decided to listen on my own. The pastor was railing against lazy, passive men. I think I felt like being active and productive because of his sermon. So the most productive thing I could find to do was clean the house and do my laundry.

It made me chuckle. Probably not the most "manly" thing I've ever done, but necessary nonetheless.

The pastor's sermon was actually pretty good. He was talking about how men are to be defined by what they produce rather than what they consume. It flies in the face of what the advertising industry says. Hey, it even got me to clean the house! :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Black Honey

Two nights ago I went to the theater and watched my first Arabic movie. It was called "Asal Essoued," which means "Black Honey." It's the story of a guy who's born in Egypt, then emigrates to the States with his father when he's about ten years old. He spends the next twenty years in the States, and winds up working as a photographer. (This is all back-story)

The film opens with him arriving in Egypt on a plane. He's got both an Egyptian passport and an American passport, but only brought his Egyptian passport with him. He's expecting a warm welcome as an Egyptian coming back home, but he gets taken advantage of at every turn. Finally he calls a friend back in the States and tells him to mail him his American passport. When it finally arrives, he throws away his Egyptian passport. He spends the next few hours walking around, being arrogant and flashing his passport around. He finally mouths off to the wrong guy, and a group of young men beat him up and take away his passport.

With no money, phone, or passport, he decides to try and find his childhood home. He manages to find the place, only to be attacked by the neighbors who think he's a thief. There are several hilarious jokes stemming from the fact that his name is Masri. Masri is a common male name here, but it also means "Egyptian." So when he's trying to tell his neighbors who he is, they think he's trying to tell them that he's an Egyptian. It's a lot funnier in Arabic.

He gets taken in by his neighbors, and lives with them for a while. He spends a lot of time trying to get back to the States, with no success. He finally manages to get his American passport back, and boards a plane for the States. But just as the plane is taking off, he decides that he really wants to stay in Egypt. So he fakes a heart attack and gets the plane to turn around.

All in all, it's a pretty funny movie. I was a little worried about going to see an Arabic film because I didn't know how much of the dialogue I would understand. I definitely didn't understand it all, but I got enough to understand the movie. It was a lot of fun!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Interesting experience . . .

Hey guys,

I had an interesting experience the other night that would never have happened in the States. Well, maybe it might happen in a really small town, but nowhere that I've ever lived. I was buying a pair of pants from a store near my house. The owner and I agreed on a price. I took out my wallet to pay, only to realize that I didn't have enough money with me. The guy who owns the store told me, "No problem. Just take the pants now, and you can give me the rest of the money when you've got it."

I went straight home, got the rest of the money, then went back and paid. I figured the longer I waited before paying, the more likely it was that we were going to disagree on how much I owed him. As I was walking back to the store, I realized something. This would never have happened in the States. It's not even like the owner and I are friends, he just sees me walking down the street every now and then.