This morning after taking the Arabic placement exam at AUC, I walked around a bit in the area near the AUC campus. I had lunch w/ a few fellow Georgetown ppl and another girl and a guy at this café called Cilantro, where I also had lunch yesterday
. It's definitely not authentic Egyptian (it's more like a Starbucks in the US), but was air-conditioned and had perhaps the best iced coffee smoothie-type thing I'd ever had (ok, that's stretching it, but it was a really good iced coffee!). Then I went w/ Gisella, the other girl, to this upscale shopping mall near the campus. It wasn't very far away, but getting there involved an intricate combination of street crossings at (I think) Midan Al-Tahrir - the Times Square of Cairo - something but completely freaky and slightly exhilarating after the fact, but we made it, alhumdu-allah! The shopping mall itself was nothing special - just a lot of little souvenir shops and nice stores, and not lots of Egyptians actually shopping there - although it led into a really nice, palm-tree filled courtyard at the Nile Hilton hotel and was also near the Egyptian Museum, so that was kinda cool. It's strange how lots of things here seem to follow a pattern of desert oasis, desert oasis. 'like the way the city is built mirrors the land. There are even island oases in the middle of the busiest roads (this assists in the street crossing process). I still can't get over the traffic here, and the sheer busy-ness of things here. It's so random, too. There'll be a donkey cart on the streets, followed by a Mercedes, then a bus crammed w/ ppl and w/ a few men hanging onto the outside. The cabs nearly hit ppl and no one even stops at the red lights or anything, but somehow, it all works. How it does confounds me..
Anyway, I'll write more later today, or tomorrow (and pictures are coming soon too! I promise!). I'm feeling pretty good here; I'm just kinda going w/ things and trying to mitigate the effects of culture shock that I know are/will set in soon... I know I'll miss people, but right now I'm just enjoying myself and overwhelmed by the newness of it all, so that hasn't set in as much as I'm sure it will soon... Yeah this is such an interesting experience... it's really amazing to finally be here.
Peace and Love all!
Okay, so after visiting 5 countries in 4 days (USA, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Egypt from Aug. 20- Aug. 24... crazy, eh?) I'm finally here and beginning to get settled down in Cairo. It's interesting so far, a bit more Westernized than I had expected (but then again that might just be where I'm looking), sunny and hot (but actually not unbearably hot; I just I had prepared for the worst in terms of the heat, too. Cairo is definitely hot, but tolerable enough). The food here is decent so far, the ppl are a bit over-eager to help, but nice, and my student housing (read old, 70s-style hotel) is far from most everything, but nice other than that.