Saturday, May 8, 2010

Letters from Egypt: Difficulty in Simplicity

Today I learned how to change a light bulb.

 This light fixture has live wires exposed.  

“Wow, what a moron” is probably what you’re thinking, at least that’s what I would be thinking as I read that opening line. And while I spend a significant time discussing the realizations I’ve come to by living in the sandpit, I have warned you that the simplest tasks are made more difficult and for what reason?

Hence, back to my light bulb escapades.

I began a month ago trying to change out the blown bulbs, but to no avail. How many people does it take to unscrew a light bulb? Well, in Egypt, apparently two. First of all, the light fixtures are cheap implementations that are so jerry-rigged that you don’t know how to get your hand in there. Please note Exhibit A:

It would appear as though you can just put your hand through the top. Not true. Then you begin unscrewing the bulb, only to find that the bottom also moves around. As glass shatters in your hand, you’re thinking WTF. Perhaps that was just one bulb, let’s move on to the next. After four more tries, I finally realized that each fixture/bulb is much of the same. And then, I encountered a new problem.

People will tell you that Egyptians are so crafty and that they can fix anything. Yes, perhaps they can temporarily fix problems with a simple procedure that entails taping and throwing things back into the wall. Next thing you know, you have live wires exposed throughout your humble abode. And yet, the electricians wonder why they get shocked so often (ah hem, they also fail to turn off the breaker because that takes brain power and more energy).

This simplistic operation is not uncommon. As I’ve also previously mentioned, you will find many taxis that have parts fall out while in motion only for the driver to continue on his way until the car is no longer operable. When the car put puts to a stop, then the driver returns to get that apparently much needed part. At which time, he just throws it back in hoping that the car will work.

I have finally changed all the light bulbs in my apartment, well, almost all of them with the exception of the live wire exposed bulb. We’ll just leave that be and hope that an electrical fire doesn’t ensue in the near future (or at all for that matter).

Place of the Week:


N&B Stables

If you’ve been to the pyramids in hopes of horseback riding and/or camel riding, then you know what an extremely difficult and exhausting experience that can be. First of all, you encounter solicitors that will just NEVER leave you alone. Then you get hit up for ENORMOUSLY OUTRAGEOUS prices (if you do the conversion, you might think they’re reasonable, but they are NOT). And finally, you will come across many stables/owners that do not take care of their animals and you will see some in such horrendous shape that there is no way you can enjoy what is supposed to be a great experience.

I’ve been through all of those scenarios, so I’m happy to report that I’ve found a stable that is reasonable, takes good care of their animals and is just a pleasure to work with. A friend of mine has her own horse here, so she shared this secret with our group and I thought the rest of you could use some help.

Welcome to N&B Riding Stables. In case you can see the phone number, please phone ahead to Nasser himself at 010.889.5364 and the landline at 3 3820435

You will be given exact instructions on how to get to the stable with the option of riding past the pyramids or simply just around their property. We paid 100LE to ride for a couple of hours. If you want to go into the pyramids, that’s an extra 60LE for a ticket (or if you have a college student ID then 30LE – hey, my college ID no longer looks anything like me, but I still use it). After the ride, Nasser even sent someone to get us a couple of beers as we just sat around. They have food like foul and tamaya as well as soda, water and tea.

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