25 April, 2010

Surviving Egypt

Well, I managed to make it through the week with the parents. I guess that's a plus. I now just need to survive the next two weeks and my life will be absolutely grand. 

It never seems to fail. No matter where I am, the last few weeks of the semester always gang up on me and I find myself stressing, not sleeping and as always sick. Egypt has once again blessed me with a wonderful cold due to the pollution and odd mix of being hot and cold. And of course, my mind won't let me sleep due to all the work I have to do and I can't seem to be at any state of relaxed until after next week. And this week isn't going to help either. I don't have any time to do anything! I had off today (Sunday, thank goodness!), followed by two days of classes which isn't bad, followed by a four day trip to Luxor. This should sound so amazing and awesome, but at the moment, I'm just dreading all of the work that has to be done in the next two weeks. 

As for the week that just went by, it was rather enjoyable. Mom, Gram and Ms. Gail were here for the week which was both chaotic and enjoyable. My schedule, as per usual, got all messed up and we had to be extremely flexible. But, I did get to do a lot with them. 

On Sunday, I met them for dinner on the Nile at a boat restaurant called "The Place". It was rather delicious and wonderful. Then on Monday, my night class was moved to Thursday, which meant that we were able to go out with Nigel and the rest of the Past Preservers Team for drinks and dinner. 

Tuesday was a lot of fun as I was able to take Mom, Gram and Ms. Gail to the Egyptian Museum where I was able to give them a "tour", followed by lunch of Koshary from my favorite Koshary place in all of Cairo. I then had to bolt to get to AMIDEAST for a discussion about American culture with a bunch of Egyptian students studying English. I also had a movie night around 6pm, where I got to talk with the director about her film. It was an interesting film about marriage in the Middle East. The unusual thing about this film is the focus is not a Muslim family, but a Christian one. Yet the language they use to talk about marriage was the same, which leads me to believe that the idea and traditions of marriage may not exactly be religious, but cultural. 

After my movie, Gram, Ms. Gail and myself went to Al-Azhar park for dinner, while sadly Mom stayed home as she was sick. Dinner was rather good and peaceful. 

Wednesday was back to classes for me, while I sent the parents to Saqqara, Dashur and Memphis for the day. I met them for dinner, where we went to Radwan and then made a trip to Khan Al-Khalili. My bargaining skills really came out here where I managed to get them several souvenirs at pretty good prices. 

Thursday was one of the longest days I have ever had. I got up and met Mom, Gram and Ms. Gail at the Citadel for a tour with my classmates. It was one of the most interesting tours that we had been on thus far. I didn't really realize how big the citadel complex actually was. It comprised much more that just the Mosque of Mohamed Ali. There are two other mosques there as well,which we saw. The Mosque of al-Nassir Muhammad and the Mosque of Suleyman Pasha, the original Turkish style mosque to be built in the area. I really loved the architecture of the complex as it reminded me a lot of the old castle complexes of Medieval Europe. It makes a lot of sense though with the fact that there were once Mamluk palaces in the complex area. Sadly, though they have been destroyed. 
The Mosque of Mohammed Ali.
Inside the Mosque of Mohammed Ali.
Mom at the Mosque of al-Nassir Muhammed.
After our visit at the Citadel, Mom, Gram, Ms. Gail and myself went to the Giza Pyramids. We didn't get there as early as we would have liked to which meant that the trip was cut a little on the short side...their driver really wasn't of any help at this point. He sort of didn't like the fact that I didn't want to do things his way and thus didn't help us any when we were there. We walked around the Great Pyramid and over to the second Pyramid. They were just in awe with them. We then walked up to the Panorama view by way of the sand between the second and third pyramids. Once we got to the top, they saw the view and then we took a camel ride all they down to the Sphinx. While we didn't get to see the Sphinx up close, we did get to see some amazing views and we got to ride all the way down to the Sphinx. So, hey there was that. They seemed to enjoy it a lot and that's really what matters. 
Mom and Gram on the camels as we started out ride!
Ms. Gail on the camel a little further along in the ride.
The four of us in front of the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid at the end of the ride!
After our adventure at the pyramids, I headed off to class (which had been rescheduled from Monday) and then off with my friends to a costume party with some British kids. It was an 'S' party which meant you needed to dress up as something that begins with 'S'. So, I went as Sookie Stackhouse (an easy costume as I had my Merlotte's shirt with me), Shruti was Sweeney Todd, Moose was Sparkly, Rebecca was a Sorority girl, Haley was a Secretary, Garrett was a Sailor, Ann was Sunshine, Will was a Soccer player, Lindley was a Soccer fan, Sean was a Sponge, Max was a Suspected Terrorist, and Maria was a Saudi women. I think we did a pretty good job on our costumes considering that we didn't get the memo until just about the day of the party. It was a lot of fun and I'm glad I went. Also, of all the people at the party, only one British kid actually knew who I was and he was a pretty cool kid.

I left the party at around 2:30am with Sean and once again found myself locked out of the apartment building. For some reason, I always end up locked out if I stay out later than midnight. I got to bed around 3am and found myself up and ready to go around 9am, though I was moving slower than normal. 

Friday found me with breakfast at Lucille's with the parents. Oh pancakes! I absolutely love them and this is really the only place in the city you can find them. So enjoyable. 

Following breakfast we wandered around Maadi for a bit looking at the shops before heading off to my apartment to gather a few of my belongings. We left my apartment and then headed over to the Nile for a boat experience down the Nile.We took a sail boat out. It was quite nice and peaceful. A wonderful way to end a trip to Egypt.

Once we had finished on the boat, we headed back to the apartment where they were staying. We ordered food online from Chili's and relaxed for a bit, before everyone began packing their things for the flight home. 
Gram cruising down the Nile on the sailboat.
The sailboat moving along through the Nile waters.
Yesterday morning, I got up and rode with them to the airport. I held back tears as I watched my mother, grandmother and friend depart back to the land of the United States knowing that soon I will be heading back, but not soon enough.

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