15 July, 2011

The Journey

I’m including this entry as one day because that is really what it was – two days strung together with no night in between!

We arrived at the Victoria airport at 9:30 am on Thursday, July 14 (2 hours before departure in case we had to clear customs).  We didn’t, so we used the extra time to have our last Canadian meal – breakfast at the Whitespot.  Good.  Our flight to Toronto left about 45 minutes late, but other than that it was an uneventful, comfortable, and nice 4.5 hour flight.  We had a prepaid meal on the flight and watched a couple movies.
We got to Toronto and started running since our next flight was already boarding.  We were in the right terminal but had to go to a very far away wing for international flights.  When we got there we each had enough time to visit the bathroom and then still had to wait in line to get on.  We made it!  This airplane was three lanes of three seats each and went back quite far.  We walked longingly past the first class section which had individual pods that looked mighty comfy.  We got back to the section of the common man and it was still okay because we only had two seats in our row and a bathroom behind us so we could recline.  This flight was 6 hours and we were served both supper and breakfast.  I don’t think I ever saw the sun go down.  Again movies, eating, this time a bit of dozing, but nothing like actual sleep.
Once on ground in London, we had a bit of a jaunt, we had to show our passport at a few places but no customs yet.  We took a bus (they drove on the wrong side of the road of course!) through a series of curvy roads and ended up at our terminal.  It was small and quiet and there did not appear to be that many people taking our flight.  Once on board, we were delayed for an hour due to lack of staff available for loading up luggage.  Then we had to wait for another take-off window.  There was about a 50/50 mix of westerners and foreigners, a few head-covered, a few not.  I’m not sure how, but we somehow got to Cairo on time, even after the one hour delay.  I think our flight was 4.5 hours.  It was all very confusing!  Again got served a pre-paid breakfast, dozed, and read.
We arrived in Cairo a little after 4 pm on the 15th.  Customs was a breeze – we just showed our passport (they didn’t seem to speak English), they asked “Rome?” and we said “No, Canada”, and that was it.  The airport was very nice, much like the Vancouver airport and a mix of people from all over.  We got to our luggage carousel, no problem, but only 1 out of 5 suitcases made it off.  We waited until everyone else had gone, Scott looked around for excess baggage to no avail, but in the end a gentleman came over and said ours might be one of the suitcases on the other side.  Sure enough, we went around to the other side of the luggage carousel, and there were all our suitcases, neatly lined up on the side.  Someone had kindly taken them off for us!  We had waited half an hour for nothing!
Finally we excited the baggage section to be greeted by a wall of cab drivers asking if we wanted a ride.  Luckily, the outgoing staff member from Scott’s work was a tall fella that could see over the drivers and he waved to us.  This was good since we didn’t know what he looked like or how we would find him!  He had brought a driver with him and they took us to our new home.  It was a bit of a hairy drive with weaving and bobbing, but not nearly as wild or as busy as we were expecting.  In retrospect, that is probably because it was a Friday:  A family and church day here.
Our apartment is immense!  We have so much space and at first it was confusing which way to turn to get to the room we had last been in.  We also cannot hear each other from one end to the other!  The furniture is brand new, comfortable, and elegant.  The outgoing staff left us to get settled after showing us around the unit.  He had left a bottle of wine for us in the fridge as well as some food basics to get us started.
We have three great balconies and Scott went out to enjoy one of them (a small balcony with no furniture yet).  I went out to join him and closed the door behind me to keep from air-conditioning outside – thanks for the training dad.  Unfortunately, the door locks automatically.  Unfortunately we had no phone with us.  Unfortunately Scott was in his underwear.  I thought okay, this is hilarious, but what are we going to do.  Scott thought, how could you have closed the door, and what are we going to do.  We tried for a few minutes to bust back in.  Well Scott tried; I helpfully offered that we could smash the glass.  We decided in the end to try calling out for help.  Did I mention that the streets were not very busy on Friday?
We saw a few people walk by, but no one reacted (either didn’t hear us or didn’t understand).  Finally, a man in blue was just outside the front door and he heard us!  We found out he was the Boab for our building!  We told him we were locked out and that we were in Apt ###.  He came back a bit later and said, no, there isn’t an Apt ###.  We finally figured out our unit number and so in he went again.  He came out and said the Apt was locked.  Apparently that door locks automatically too!  He went in again and came out with the outgoing staff from Scott’s work.  They would have to travel in to work and meet up with another staff member to get a spare key to get into our unit.
About an hour and a half later, after we had watched the sun go down and took turns sitting on a small pile of tiles in the corner (nowhere else to sit), they were there and let us in!  I haven’t stopped laughing about our first night here since.  I am still waiting for Scott to find it funny too.

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