Sunday, August 3, 2008

Letters from Egypt: Alexandria

Life gets busy, or so they say. I have been in Cairo for exactly 21 days and until this past weekend, I hadn’t done much.
My neighbors in New York were Egyptian, from the coastal city of Alexandria. They lived the past year in Alex because they are building a house and now I know why you have to be present to make sure any task is accomplished. Remember those days that I complained about the cable guy taking too long to arrive? I mean, they say he may show up between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. He never came until 3:50 pm, unless of course you happened to be gone to an appointment between 1 and 1:30. Then the cable guy would show up at precisely 1 pm. If an Egyptian tells you it will be ready in two hours that means two months at best.
I arrive at the train station two hours prior to my departure. Thank God (or Allah, whichever you prefer) for the iPod and games on cell phones. I played with a little kid and somehow managed to illustrate by hand my inability to understand my train ticket. Thankfully, the woman next to me was able to also illustrate where I needed to go since the language barrier proved to be an issue. I have a first class ticket round trip, meaning basically I have air conditioner. Once I arrived, Nada (friend) and Ziad (son) picked me up. It was so good to see a familiar face. They took me to what we would refer to as a country club and I saw Gigi(daughter) and Sheriff(husband). Then Nada and Sheriff took me to a restaurant that overlooked the Mediterranean. It was gorgeous. Live music, great food and a wonderful view.
The next day we went to a private beach located on the grounds of the Presidential Palace. We each had cappuccinos and just discussed life in New York. Then we found ourselves on a boat cruising the Mediterranean with the sites looking like what I imagine to see while on a Greek Island. It was so scenic, but we were brought back to reality by facing the crowds as we made our way to a famous restaurant, the Sea Gull. Live animals were everywhere including various types of monkeys, camels, small horses, birds and even roosters. To order your meal, you must go and pick which fish you would like cooked. At every restaurant they bring you various types of dip with bread (humus, babaganouj and the like), much like chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant. After coffee and Sheriff getting the musician to sing a song all about LeAnne, Nada and I went to the mall and then just drove.

They have since returned to New York and I am a little sad. Alex was so gorgeous and I’m very lucky to have just arrived and been somewhere that many newcomers would have taken months to have seen. I hope they return next summer and if so, I plan on spending even more time in one of the most gorgeous places I’ve seen thus far.

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