28 August, 2014

In Conclusion

Well then, 1095 days in Cairo and I'm mighty grateful for every one.  I returned home to Canada last month and it's admittedly pretty hard to be in mourning when I've touched down in paradise (aka Victoria, BC).   But saying 'Ma'a Salama' to our time in Egypt was reeeally hard all the same.

There were a lot of things that made the posting so special: I had a blast teaching dance to students from around the world; my husband and I had wonderful friends and a pretty awesome social life; we got to do a fair bit of travelling (I've been to 13 countries now!) and have in excess of 10,000 pictures to prove it...

Would any brave souls like to come on over and be put through the most epic slide show of your lives?  No?  Even if I told you that at least 1000 of the photos we took were images of the outsides of old churches?  Still no?  Fine then.  No popcorn for you.

Beyond my own luxurious experiences and beyond the times of turmoil, worry, sadness and hope for the country, there are some steadfast aspects of life in Egypt that are pretty cool and for which I strongly recommend taking an extended visit.  Thus in no particular order, please enjoy.

The Top 5 Things I Will Miss About Living in Cairo:

5.  Being interesting.  Living abroad automatically gave me something to talk about to friends and family in Canada.  Also, being a foreigner in my own neighbourhood and always getting asked where I'm from; having strangers ask if their kids can have a picture taken with me... it all made me feel like I was a unique and exotic individual.  Fun!

4.  Forever being "welcome".  Nearly every single day I would get at least one shout out from a passing car or from other pedestrians saying "Welcome to Egypt!  You are welcome!".  Also, the guy that sits on the corner, the fruit stand guy, the barber, the cleaner and the security guard that always stand up, pat their heart, wave and ask how you're doing.  I definitely do not get that sort of fanfare when I walk down the street now.  I will MISS that.  Where is the love Canada?

3. Adventure Awaits.  Never did I ever have a day where I went outside and nothing noteworthy happened.  Sometimes Cairo could feel like a circus.  Seeing trucks piled sky high with products or even people; A man cycling while balancing 50 pieces of bread on his head; watching workers install a billboard 30 feet up wearing flip-flops and no sign of safety gear;  walking with arms loaded down with groceries and being simultaneously asked to buy mint, lemons, tissue, strawberries and mandarines and flowers... where exactly would I put it people?!

2. A Connected Community.  There would be no need to teach the lesson of The Good Samaritan here.  If someone is in trouble, no one politely turns their gaze.  No, they all jump the heck in there.  People drive with their windows open so that they can give directions to others that may be lost; Arguments that escalate to fisticuffs never get far because people come out of the woodwork to help break it up.  But wait!  There's more!  Here are a few examples that I witnessed first hand.  True story!

Example 1: An elderly lady riding the metro could not climb in and out of the carts by herself.  When it came to her stop, she just walked to the edge and reached her arms out.  At least 5 ladies instantly reached out to grab her and help her down.

Example 2: I was riding in a taxi home from work and the driver hit a pedestrian.  Not too hard, don't worry!  We were going slow because we were in total gridlock.  Well, the jostled pedestrian caught right up to us, reached in and punched my driver square in the face.  Okay, that is not the nice part.  The nice part is that people came flooding over, pulled the victim/assailant off of my driver, tidied them both up, talked them both down and gave my driver some tissue to press against his slightly bloody face.  The driver dutifully finished his fare and drove me quietly home.  Phew!  That could have been a whole lot scarier.  Thank you kind strangers.

Example 3: I was walking in a quiet residential neighbourhood with a friend when a couple of bees came by and swarmed me.  I must have been particularly sweet that day because when they landed on me, they refused to be swatted away.  Being the calm, dignified lady that I am, I proceeded to scream, spin in circles and shake my arms very effectively.  Well!  Within seconds, police officers appeared out of nowhere to come to my aid.  They looked very perplexed about the source of my distress and were unsure how to proceed.  The remaining bee was now down the front of my shirt.  Eeep.  Thankfully it was my friend that helped extract the wayward bee rather than the kindly officers standing at the ready.  Peace was restored and the brave men returned to their posts.

1.  Incredible Sights.  Before moving to Egypt, I knew about the pyramids and about the golden mask of King Tut, but other than that, my sightseeing wish list was pretty minimal and definitely incomplete.  ATV-ing amongst the pyramids; camping in the desert; climbing up sand dunes (and sand boarding down!); floating in a felluca sailboat down the Nile; walking awestruck through the temples in Luxor; swimming in the red sea, snorkelling around coral reefs and seeing spectacular fish...

Sounds pretty incredible doesn't it?!  I'm telling you: Go!  Visit Egypt!  Stay awhile.  Oh, and when you come back, can someone please bring me a falafel sandwich?

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