Sunday, August 1, 2010

Letters from Egypt: Riding Solo

I love being classified as a strong, independent woman; however, I’d be lying if I said that there are certain times when riding solo is no bueno and last week was the epitome of that feeling.

First story takes place with what you might think was a near death experience. As I saw the bright light and wondered if that buzzing was Gabriel’s trumpet,  I realized that no, it was just an Egyptian electrician that decided to cut through the wall outside my apartment that carried valuable wires for electricity access to my flat. Instead of rectifying the problem, clearly it was a far better move to just throw the cut wires back into the wall and cover them with plaster.


I walk in and think, “Wow, it’s bright in here.” Then I just figure that my eyes hadn’t adjusted since I was in a dark hallway. Open up my fridge and I tell you what, I felt like the sun was directly coming out. Call some friends to confirm what the issue could be and I’m told that perhaps it’s a power surge. I do what any reasonably intelligent person would do and flip my breaker – three times. I call my neighbor to see if she has the same issue – no, but she informs me our internet is down. I check the router. I check the tv. The cable box. Of course I check the power strip. Then check another power strip in its place. Still no luck.

Since it’s Thursday night, everyone is ready for a party,  I’ll be the first to admit that I was looking forward to a couple of adult bevs. So no one really wants to come out and check the problem. Luckily, my neighbor called her driver who picked up an electrician. I looked outside my flat and noticed that some kind of work had been done earlier that day. Then I noticed that someone had gone into the wall outside my apartment (once again, it was recovered with puddy so it wasn’t immediately noticeable).

Electrician comes and gives me the problem: apparently Egypt’s best and brightest drilled through the wall – although with the nearby cable boxes, it’s a no-brainer that there were WIRES located inside – and cut major wires which caused a direct current to flood my apartment ruining all of my electronics. I proceed to get my bowab involved, who tells the electrician not to tell me it is the building’s fault so that I will take care of the damages without having to go to the building manager. Then he begins to say how the building manager was the one that hired the electrician, made the decision and doesn’t want to take responsibility.
This is after the repairs had been made, but all of those lines had been severed
Long story short(er), I flip. I’m not one for patience anyway, besides, patience is over-rated (although I do eventually hope to acquire more of that attribute). It took over two hours to convey that there was a problem with my power although everyone repeatedly denied it. Six hours later, I have found the location of the building manager, brought him downstairs to see the mess that is my apartment, and then began arguing over his choosing of an electrician because CLEARLY his first choice was horrid, why would I want his next choice?
Electricity is now at normal currents, but the tv, cable box, internet router (extremely important for work), and iPod stereo are all destroyed. And that’s all I’ve found now, but I think everything else is alright since I don’t keep that many things plugged in.

My main point to this story is that while I relish in being independent, this was an undertaking that did not necessarily go in my favor and if it did, it took several hours later. Had I been with a man, maybe a husband, this process I’m sure would’ve been much easier. I have gone to visit the building manager almost every day in regards to the replacement of my items, although I’m rather pessimistic. Apparently, the building sent an electrician to inspect my items last night. Naturally they didn’t tell me in advance and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t just at home waiting for them.

Which brings me to story number two: Wisdom tooth extraction

I’m assuming that most developed countries follow this practice, but usually in the US, to get your wisdom teeth extracted, you are put to sleep as it is considered a small surgery. Ummm, not so much in Egypt. I’ve had problems with my wisdom tooth for so long that I just couldn’t take it anymore. After making an emergency dental appointment before my fun-filled weekend in Hurghada last week, I said this was the last infection I was going to put up with.

I called the dentist and informed him my mouth was still in pain and he scheduled me for an appointment – yesterday. I wasn’t too clear on what the appointment entailed, was the tooth getting pulled or was this just a consultation? So I go alone. He begins to tell me that he can do either, and I decide that it’s now or never. So I go through with it.

Confession – I’m shaking up a storm. I mean, let’s be honest here, NO ONE likes going to the dentist. So after about an hour of making sure my mouth is completely dead, he begins (he put on Season 7 of Friends though, if that makes it any better). I want to preface that I would definitely recommend this dentist, I also want to say that I guess I just wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

I have my eyes closed and he tells me to open them for reasons I do not know. At which time, I see all the tools going into my mouth, feel the pressure of cutting open my gum, pressure of moving the tooth around and then the yank. No, I didn’t feel pain as my mouth was deadened, I have to say that I in no way, shape or form wanted to see a ginormous tooth being yanked out of my own mouth. Of course, mine split, so there was tooth “shrapnel” left behind which caused the procedure to be even longer. I am forever scarred. I hope and pray to Sweet Baby Jesus that I never have to go through that again. I didn’t stop shaking uncontrollably until I finally popped a Vicodin.

Word to the wise, the doctor didn’t prescribe me Vicodin. Instead – all doctors prescribe here are things like Ibuprofen 600 and maybe 800 if you’re lucky. When he said that to me, I looked at him with this “You gotta be effing kiddin me” face. 

Here’s another rule for all of you that need some strong meds: BRING THEM FROM HOME because it is damn near impossible to get proper things here.

So in other words, sometimes riding and/or flying solo is not good, particularly in Egypt.


  1. (((HUGS))) Leanne!

    The wisdom tooth extraction sounds TERRIFYING! I hate even getting a cavity filled. I might have passed out!

  2. I had no idea your week was THAT rough. I'd have gone to the dentist with you if I'd known! I hope you feel better.

  3. Okay, calm down people. I had FOUR teeth extracted in one (long) afternoon in Montreal, Canada, and was only prescribed some serious Ibuprofin-style drug after. I survived. It was fine.

    Being put to sleep, on the other hand, is a major procedure and I would NOT do it for something like this.

    Just saying. ;-)