Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Letters from Egypt: Happy 4-Year Anniversary…To Me!

Four years ago today I stepped off an Air France flight from JFK (layover in Charles DeGalle) and landed in Cairo. I was terrified. A friend in New York had gotten me this book that discussed what to expect when you land – so that made me even more mortified. I remember the book detailed how to grab your bags in a rush so no one else grabbed them. You should’ve seen me scoop up these bags so quickly with the death look at anyone in my vicinity.

My employer was waiting to grab me, but I didn’t have a working phone. I used to dye my hair dark brown (among other colors), so she wasn’t expecting a blonde. I began going back to my natural color (so to speak) prior to relocating for fear that there weren’t decent hair places. Yes, I thought I was going BFE...literally. So I paid a thief to use his mobile… I call him a thief because he forced me to pay him so much. But you live and you learn, right?

I remember staying holed up in my apartment for 24 straight hours, mostly sleeping. When I finally did travel outside, I walked to the nearest food place all the while fearful I would never find my way back to my flat. I still didn’t have a mobile nor did I know my address (real smart move on my part). The menu was in Arablish – the part that was in English was items that I had no idea about. A beggar chased me, and then a man began chasing me. I remember the first time I took a cab alone. I was shaking so much in the taxi. I still remember where I went and I’m laughing right now just thinking about it: it was a five minute ride from my house. I was so lonely for the longest time. I missed my friends. I rushed back to my apartment every day after work just to chat on the internet with them. And it all feels like just yesterday.

Initially, I was only going to stay for at least 18 months. Then I said three years was enough. And yet, I’m still here. It’s been a fun journey though and I don’t regret ever moving here. Egypt is a magical place and gets in your skin. Stay away for awhile and you find yourself itching to get back. You know what they say: once you drink from the Nile, you come back for more.
I took this a couple of weeks ago on my friend's speedboat