Saturday, July 11, 2009

Letters from Egypt: I Made It…ONE YEAR

One year ago... and now

The past few days I’ve been reminiscent on exactly what I was doing a year ago. I was preparing for this move, full of fear and anxiety, and trying to soak up my last days with the people that meant the most to me. I cannot believe I’ve now been an expat in Cairo for a year. There have been plenty of good, a few bad and well, I can’t forget the ugly.

At my six month mark, I wrote about things I’d learned. One of the most important and valuable pieces of advice I can give you if deciding to make a move overseas is to keep an open mind. There will be days that you are so frustrated (remember my computer fiasco), there will be days of extreme culture shock (men vs women) and there will be days that you’re so lonely you don’t want to get out of bed. No matter how often your phone may ring, how many friends drop by your apartment or the kindness from random strangers – you will miss home, it’s inevitable. However, it’s the small things that make you happy that you should focus on and I feel this is no different even if you’ve never lived abroad.

So what makes me happy about Egypt? It’s funny how most of my joys revolve around food, but I am a foodie and I make no quams about that. You see, I’m a BIG fan of pickles. A great thing about Egypt is the fact you can get pickled veggies no matter what place you eat.

I like the fact that my kiosk (outdoor convenience store) is open 24/7 and delivers right to your door. Cairo is the perfect city for anyone with social anxiety disorder. You can have everything imaginable delivered and if you can’t, you can just send your boab (doorman) to pick it up. You can go forever without actually stepping outside your home.

I couldn’t have imagined meeting some of the people I’ve encountered. Some, I have to say I could care less if I ever see again, but the important lesson is that each taught me something. Some taught me that no matter what age, how many countries they’ve traveled, supposedly cultured – they don’t know their “ass from a hole in the ground” (that’s a Southern expression quite often used by my mother). Others make me realize the person I want to be, show me true strength and give me the courage I need to move on.

What would I miss the most about Egypt as of now if I had to leave – shisha, rooftop chats by Lisa’s pool, going to Ace for a beer with Elaine and venting about the latest Nigerian crisis, going late night to Abou Maar with the carhop shouting lively “Oh, the American,” my editor, passing by the Nile no matter where I’m going, just to name a few.

Here lately, everyone has been asking me what my future plans entail. I have said many times throughout my blog that I would just wing it, see where life takes me. I’m no closer today than I was yesterday in deciding my future. I know that I want to stay for another full year – in part thanks to my partner-in-crime Natalia (whom I made a promise I would stay if she did) and at the same time, I’m frightened once again to think of what I will do after. However, I feel like God gives you a tap when it’s time to go. If you ignore that, He gives you a nudge. Ignore that and He does it for you. I’ll know when it’s my time, until then – here’s to another year of more-to-come Egyptian adventures.


  1. Hey LeAnne,

    I heard a story recently -- told by a priest during a sermon but not too preachy -- about a guy who was in a hurricane and stayed in his house. As the water began creeping up, a guy in a rowboat came by and said "Hey, come on. I'll get you to safety." "No," said the fellow. "I'll be fine." Then the water creeped up to the second floor of his house and the water patrol folks in a motorboat came by. "Come on," they said through a megaphone. "You should abandon that house." "No, I'll be OK," said the fellow. Finally, he was on his roof, and a helicopter hovered overhead and threw down a ladder "Come on, buddy. Climb aboard." "No thanks, I'm fine," he said.

    At the pearly gates, he asked God "Why didn't you save me?" God answered, "Man, I sent you two boats and a helecopter; what more did you want?"

    Be sure you read those signs the right way. Sometimes that's hard. You're a smart girl, though. I think you'll do what's right when it's right.

    Love you bunches. Congrats on your anniversary!

  2. It sounds like you came to Cairo about the same time I was there last year. I haven't been back. I have just started ur blog and have enjoyed and recognized some of your experiences. I wish I had known a few of the restaurant suggestions when I was there the last time. I like what you said about knowing when it is time to move along. I am one of those that tends to ignore the nudges and wait for being kicked out on my ass!