Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

We had a fun time celebrating Halloween Cairo-style. The school festival was a hit, with good food, games, and trick or treating to be had. Overall, it was a great day!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Costumes Found!

I just had to share my excitement and relief for actually going to a store in Cairo and finding what I needed in only a few minutes! WHEW. The girls would have never ever let me live it down if they didn't have costumes for Halloween...there is always the opiton of a white sheet with holes cut out for eyes though. ;-)

Jackie will be Snow White, Julia will be Batgirl, and Jacob is Mr. Skeleton. They aren't the best quality costumes and the price tag was HEFTY, but hey I don't even care at this point!

Speaking of Mr. Skeleton, he is standing in front of the TV with his plastic dagger that the housekeeper bought him. :-0 Only in Egypt! Like Ariel says, they are about 30 years behind here with the no seatbelts, dangerous toys, and 80's cartoons...LOL.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Looks, Costumes, and Tears

Yesterday, Jacob and I went on a Halloween costume hunt for the girls. Jacob has his coustume (skeleton pj's..haha) but stupid me decided it would be a good idea to ship the girls costumes. Surely we'll have our household goods shipment by the end of October, I thought. Wrong! So, now I am on a hunt for two costumes in a city that does not celebrate Halloween. FUN! Many of the other expats bring their costumes from home or have them made, but I have heard there a few places that sell costumes for a hefty price. At this point I don't care the price as long as I find costumes. The girls will FREAK if they don't have anything to wear. We didn't have any luck though, so today we'll venture out again.

While I was out we stopped at the Carrefour Express, which is just like a tiny version of the big Carrefour. I wasn't in a heavily expat area like I live in, so I was a bit surprised by all the looks Jacob and I got by the men and the veiled women. We usually don't get too many stares around the apartment or schools, but here I felt a big difference. I also felt a bit uncomfortable with all my arms showing, but it could have been worse I least I wasn't wearing a low-cut blouse! As you know, Cairo is heavily Muslim, so most people are veiled here and dress very conservatively. If they aren't wearing a niqab, they make sure to cover all skin, especially the neck, arms, and legs. In Maadi, there are many expats who wear short sleeves shirts, capris, and even shorts without too many strange looks from the locals, but there are parts of Cairo where dressing like that would be unwise. You will definitely get ugly looks, possible harrassment, etc. It's best to just dress very modestly.

The girls are doing ok. Julia is loving school and so is Jackie, but lately she has been crying when we drop her off in the mornings. She doesn't cry during the day and she always has great things to say about her day and her teacher, but in the mornings it is hard! She grabs on to us and tears up and follows us as we're leaving (the kinder kids hang out at the playground until 8:10 am when their whistle blows) so I end up staying until the whistle because I can't stand leaving her like that, which makes Julia late for preK. Sigh. Motherhood is HARD. Seriously hard.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Our Weekend

We had a fun, eventful couple of days. First, on Friday night the family and I ordered a few pizzas and sodas and set out on a felucca ride with a Ariel's co-worker and his family. The felucca is a sail boat which cruises the Nile for about 60 LE an hour (about $12 US). The felucca is best taken at sunset and you can bring food and drinks for a nice, relaxing dinner. It was very nice, the breeze was fantastic, and the kids loved it. It was great to get away from the hustle and bustle of Cairo and sail peacefully on the Nile. We will definitely do it again!

Today we attended a birthday party of one of Julia's classmates at the Maadi House. They had a huge bouncy house, a popcorn and cotton candy machine, face painting, pizza and punch. I saw a lot of familiar faces from the girl's schools and the kids had a great time playing with their new friends.

This week promises to be a busy one...I will update soon!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday Already?

Wow, this week really did fly by. I can't believe we are already coming up on the weekend. It's funny how when the girls are in school and Jacob and I are at home, somedays go by so slowly, while other days time seems to be in fast forward.

So here we are, another week has gone by for us in Cairo. We are still adjusting, but definetely over any culture shock. Homesickness has set in a little bit (mostly for me and Jackie- but we are much more nostalgic than the rest of the family) and we are finally getting into a routine. Our apartment feels much more like a home, and any fears of Cairo (language barriers, finding our way, etc) have subsided. Jackie was emotional today, she shed a few tears at the playground before school started, but her classmates cheered her up and she was doing better by the time the bell rang. I think she is ready for the weekend.

Julia has a birthday party on Saturday and the CAC's Halloween carnival is next weekend as well as a planned trip on a felucca with some of Ariel's co-workers. I am slowly getting to know people and the girls have very successfully made many new friends.

Even after a bit of a rough week emotionally for me, we are happy to be here and trying to enjoy this new adventure. We have planned to see Barcelona in November and Venice in December, so I am getting really excited about that. Also, my Mom is visiting us in November, the kids are thrilled! I wonder how she'll do in Cairo!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Tidbits

Julia is feeling much better today. She was in a great mood on the walk to school and was even happier when we got to her class and put away her backpack and lunchbox.

Jacob sometimes cries when we leave Julia, not because he wants to stay, but because he wants Julia to come back home with us. Today, though, he left school without incident. Apparently, he saved all his tears for Miriam Market.

On our way home we stopped by Miriam Market for some juice and soda and granola bars. Jacob threw a huge fit inside the store and refused to walk and only wanted to be carried. So, I carried Jacob in the store while trying to balance all the other things in one arm. I bought him a lollipop and when I payed for it and gave it to him he had a big meltdown. "BUT I WANTED TO PAY IT! I WANTED TO PAY IT!!!!!" Then he began sobbing and sobbing. Hmmm, okay. Somedays Jacob is a real pest. He may be cute, but he is a pest.

Jackie was excited this morning because today is pottery class day at her school. She's been talking about it all week. She says she's making a flower vase. We'll just have to see what she comes home with.

Ariel and I are doing okay. Ariel has been busy with work and I've managed to meet a few of the other Moms at the girl's schools. They have all been extremely nice and friendly. I will admit that I've been feeling a bit homesick the last few days. I'm hoping that will turn around and we will have a good week here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Home Sick

Julia has been battling a bit of a cold this weekend, she is running a slight fever and has a stuffy nose. I kept her home from school today, while Ariel got Jackie ready and off to school with our driver. Jackie was in a good mood and excited for P.E. day. I'm glad she likes school so much at the CAC. It really is a great school, so far we really love it and her teacher is fantastic.

We had a low-key weekend. Yesterday, we ran a few errands and did some food shopping for the week. Overall, it was a good weekend excpet for Julia's sniffles. We all managed to get some rest and relaxation in.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lazy Friday

Today is the first day of our weekend. We woke up to smoggy skies and a smell in the air that I can only describe as tires burning. Rise and shine!

It's supposed to be 100 degrees here today so I don't think we'll be going out today. We had a busy week of school and it was a success, thank God.

Today, though, I have a headache and a blistery foot and I don't feel like dealing with the heat and grime. We gave the driver the day off. We had originally thought we'd walk to the CAC today (Jackie's school) to play, but we scrapped that idea. Instead, I'm going to send Ariel to the market for more things (another post on that later) and to the pharmacy for tylenol and nail polish remover- I doubt I'll be lucky enough to find it today though.

Tomorrow the housekeeper comes and Jackie has a Doctors appointment at noon. Then we plan to head back to Alfa Market and the Home Center for some linens and towels. We're still settling in!

Yes, I know I sound grumpy but I'm just feeling a little homesick for HEB and Mexican food and Target. I'll feel better soon. :-)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lost In Translation

Yesterday we called our local market to have 2 five gallon water jugs for our cooler, a loaf of white bread, and ziploc bags delivered. Like I've said before, home delivery here is awesome. It would be even more awesome if our arabic wasn't non-existant.

Ariel: I need 2 waters for the machine (yes, we speak like cavemen here, but it works to get our point need for useless filler words), one bread white, and plastic ziploc bags.

Market guy: Bags? For rubbish?

Ariel: No, plastic bags for sandwiches.

Market guy: Cheese?

Ariel: No, bags to put sandwiches in.

Market guy: Cheese in bags?

Ariel: No, plastic to put things in. They close.

Market guy: Oh. Ok.

1 hour later we received 2 five gallon jugs of water and a loaf of bread. No ziploc bags.

We need to learn arabic.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Day In The Life

Yesterday Mohamed, our driver, picked Jacob and I up at 10 am and took us to the Alfa Market. The Alfa Market is located on the corniche, which runs along the Nile. It's sort of like a Wal Mart in a third world kind of way, but it has a decent amount of things so I guess it's pretty nice, although I'd be lying if I didn't say that the smells from the meat area don't gross me out (think carniceria).

Anyway, we needed a few things which ended up taking forever because I didn't know where anything was. Also, I haven't been able to find nail polish remover anywhere. I have no idea where I can find that, maybe the pharmacy? Hmmm.

When I was checking out I managed to slice my finger on the plastic mop bucket I just bought and soon I had thick red blood gushing down my hand. The cashier saw this and wasn't at all fazed and when I asked for paper he just shrugged. I ended up ripping open the package of paper towels I had purchased and wrapped it around my finger.

As soon as we exited the store we stood around for a few minutes awaiting our driver. In true typical Cairo fashion, there were all these men standing around, horns honking, cars trying to squeeze into the parking lot and the spaces and just a lot of chaos in general. Alfa Market has these older men who act like parking attendants, they try to find you a space or help you back out safely in exchange for some baksheesh, which means tips in Arabic. One of them was in the middle of the parking lot standing around and ended up getting hit by a car. The force threw him on smack on his back. The attendant jumped up as if nothing had happened, the driver sped off without even noticing, and all the men standing around didn't seem to care. Jacob and I were the only ones who were even the least bit alarmed. Only in Cairo!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Jackie started school yesterday. So far she loves it. Julia started preschool today. She was in a great mood when I dropped her off, so I'm hoping she has a good day. Jacob cried when we left, but I know he's not quite ready for preschool yet. He is way too clingy.

The driver dropped the kids and I off at Jackie's school in the morning, then he took Ariel to work. After I got Jackie to class I walked about 500 yards to Julia's preschool and dropped her off. Then Jacob and I walked to Miriam Market for a few snacks and juice and walked the rest of the way home. Considering the fact that there are NO sidewalks and crazy drivers, we only almost got hit by a car once...that's a good day in Cairo. Ha!

Our housekeeper started today. She will be coming 3 days a week and she babysits! I hope she works out and the kids get used to her quickly. Right now Jacob is following her around, so that's a good sign!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Little Things

It's funny the quirks you notice when you travel to another country. Things are just a little bit different, it doesn't mean it's bad, just different.

Case in point- to turn a wall light on in a room you must flip the switch down instead of up. Also, our toilets don't have handles just buttons on top you press when you want to flush. Our washer is also quite small, and it takes forever to do a load and we don't have a dryer. Most apartments here don't come with dryers or even a place to put a dryer since you need proper ventilation in the wall to do so. That has probably been our biggest challenge. That and the amount of sand and dirt that infiltrate the apartment daily. If you want to have a clean floor you have to sweep and mop That's why a lot of people have housekeepers here, because they're cheap and the amount of housecleaning to be done is probably double what I do in the States.

On a fun note, everything delivers, which I love. If you run out of bread and water you can call the closest market and they will deliver straight to your door. Or if you go to the market to buy groceries they will kindly deliver the groceries to your home as soon as you leave so you don't have to carry them. Then they will bring them all the way up to your apartment and put them right in your kitchen. It is very easy to get used to!

The First Few Days in Cairo

We moved from the hotel to our apartment 3 days ago, currently our internet is down so I haven’t been able to call my Mom yet (we have a Texas based Vonage number through the internet) or check my emails, pay bills, etc. I feel so disconnected. The kids are glued to the TV right now watching Playhouse Disney so I decided to write a post on Word to copy on my blog when the internet is working again.
Jackie had her Kindergarten assessment yesterday at the American school. We were told they would email us soon with their decision. Decision? Jeez. I would think the bar would be pretty low for acceptance into Kindergarten. So we shall see if Miss Jackie is accepted or not. If she isn’t I don’t know what Plan B is yet, since we were pretty much counting on her getting into this school.
Cairo has definitely been an eye opening experience thus far. It is a gritty, loud, old city. Oh, and the humanity! How can I not mention the sheer humanity of this place. Wow. There are a lot of people who live here. I think I read somewhere the city is home to 20 million people*. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it sure does feel like a city of 20 million.
The kids are adjusting ok. They do miss home and their friends, but I think mostly they miss the routine and conveniences of Texas. They are creatures of comfort and ask for things like popcorn from Target and hot dogs and Chick-Fil-A. There is a McDonald’s here and a Pizza Hut, so they like that and the food tastes virtually the same as back home. I think the biggest adjustment for them is going to be food-wise. They are picky to begin with so grocery shopping here has been a bit of challenge. So far they have found they like the yogurt, and fruit, and they seem fine with the bread and cheeses and juices. They haven’t tried any meat except the nuggets from McDonald’s.
We miss home a lot, but we are still adjusting and haven’t quite settled in yet. I think once our shipment arrives we will feel more ‘at home’. Until then we are staying upbeat and trying to enjoy this crazy ride!

*According to Wikipedia the current population of Cairo is about 17 million. I was kind of close!

Now that we have the internet up and running I will post pics soon, I promise!

Friday, October 1, 2010

We Are In Cairo!

We have finally made it to Cairo. Jetlag has been awful but we are glad to be in Cairo at the JW Marriot. So far the kids have done very well, but of course we are still adjusting to our new home. More posts (the long flight deserves its own post) and pictures to come soon!