28 January, 2010

The Cairo Amazing Race!

Today was the last day of orientation. Thank goodness. Tomorrow is Friday, which means the first day that we actually get to sit down and relax since I got to Egypt.

Right now, as I write this, I'm extremely exhausted and ready to just sleep straight until tomorrow morning. But, I know I can't do that just yet as the football game against Egypt's rival Algeria is tonight in the semi-finals and I kind of want to see that. Also, in case you are wondering the picture to the left, I took on the Nile cruise that we took.

But, anyway. Back to the last couple of days. Well, Tuesday was more orientation. The typical morning of survival Arabic, followed by lunch and then a lecture on the culture of Egypt. After, we met with some Egyptian students that study at Cairo University and chatted with them. I talked to two gentlemen named Ramin, and Mohammed (I think). Ramin studies English literature and art, while Mohammed studies Geo-physics. Both are Master's students, but they were a lot of fun to talk to. I wish I had talked to more students, but I'm sure I will be seeing them around AMIDEAST as they are always invited to come and socialize with us. They like helping us with our Arabic.

Wednesday came around and it was once again the usual orientation in the morning. We then met for a lecture on the culture shock that were going to experience and the street harassment that is common for women in Cairo. We have already experienced some of the street harassment, like men hissing at us when we walk, cat calling, etc. But, some of this stuff is the same stuff that American men do as well. I guess, it's a universal theme to harass women.

After the boys left, the girls stayed with Nadia, our academic manager, and our Arabic teachers arrived. What we thought was supposed to be an "anti-harassment march" throughout the neighborhood, was actually girls night out with our professors. It sucked that my one flatmate, Garrett, was sick and couldn't go. But,it was so much fun. Yasmina, our survival Arabic teacher, took us to a Yemeni restaurant where we had so much food we didn't know what to do with it. It was really fun and very funny, especially because our teachers didn't even know what was going on. After the food, we were taken to a drink place to get sugar cane juice. It was very sweet, but extremely delicious and I would never have tried it if it wasn't for my Arabic teachers. Before we all departed for home, Yasmina and the others insisted that they buy us a box of sweets to take home with us. As if they hadn't done enough for us already. They are so sweet, and I'm so glad that I decided to come to Egypt, even if I wasn't exactly excited to leave.

The pictures above are the sugar cane juice drink which was delicious, the Yemeni feast on the table and of course, Yasmina with the two bags of treats.

So, that brings us to today. This morning was our last day of survival Arabic and then we began The Cairo Amazing Race! If you haven't seen the show The Amazing Race, it's definitely worth watching. We were split up into teams of two or three and given a mission to complete. I was paired with one of the kids in our program named Sean, and our mission was entitled, "Lions and Tigers and Bears...Oh My!", which meant that our first stop was the Giza Zoo. When we got there we had our picture taken at the front gate and then bought tickets to the zoo (which were 20 EPD...we later found out that they were only supposed to be 2 EDP and that we had been ripped off, which is rare at the zoo...but, it still happened.) Once inside, we proceeded to take our pictures with 10 animals and we learned the names of them in Arabic. Pictures will be up soon, once I get them from Sean.

After leaving the zoo, we continued to follow the instructions which led us to the opera house, downtown Cairo, the Ramses train station, and some other cool places where we had other tasks to accomplish. The only problem we encountered was on our way through our detour. We happened to stumble across a man who was very keen on helping us,which was fine as he did help us a lot, but he was also a perfume salesman and it was difficult to try and leave. I ended up buying a bit of perfume from him just so that we could keep moving, but that detracted us for at least half an hour or more. Once we escaped him, another one found us...luckily we were extremely rushed and told him no we could not stay and chat about the stuff. The other problem that we had was concerning The League of Arab States. No matter how hard we tried to ask them our questions, they either didn't understand us, or they refused to answer them. It was very difficult and actually it's what made me finish with the game.

We returned to AMIDEAST headquarter, also known as Babel Villa, and found out that we came in last. It was sad, but we had a lot of fun doing it. I feel like I've accomplished something by navigating myself around Cairo with no help. And I feel like I will be more willing to talk to people and ask questions. It was just a lot of fun!

And that brings us to now. Well, I'm waiting to hear on the plans for the football game as I want to watch Egypt vs. Algeria. Tomorrow is the first day that we have to relax and explore on our own, which I will probably talk someone into doing with me. It should be fun. And then, as if I haven't mentioned it enough, on Saturday I get to go see the pyramids in Giza and ride a camel! Cooool!

So, stay tuned, more's on the way!


  1. I think that you really need to be firmer with the hawkers on the street if you don't want to buy something. Also, watch out for pickpockets doing the same thing. One will distract you, and the other will snatch your stuff.

  2. I know how to say no to people. I've avoided a lot people with buying things, however my partner was not as good with that. I tried to leave three or four times with no success. Also, I know about the pickpockets. I dealt with them on Prague. But, thanks for the advice.

  3. Also, I didn't buy a lot...and it means someone will have a very nice gift when I get home.

  4. ^^ 謝謝你的分享,祝你生活永遠多彩多姿!.........................

  5. I think this person ^^^ is a spambot.