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Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy 31st Birthday!

Well, for starters, this internet cafe hates me. I have been fighting with it for about 45 mintues and I am going to try my best not to let my sheer and utter annoyance at both this computer and the obnoxious men behind me not affect the entirety of this blog. But seriously, if this computer doesn't let me finish this blog AGAIN, or if those guys do one more obnoxious thing, someone is getting hurt. 31 definitely has a shorter fuse than 30. ;)

Aside from my little rant, 31 has been great so far. We spent a day in Cairo and probably did what most people do in a few days, all packed into one. We got a VERY early start and went to the Giza Pyramids. Wow. It was amazing. The sphinx was really my favorite. I just couldn't believe I was actually there, staring at such immense structures that were built so long ago. The pyramids are actually the only one of the original 7 manmade wonders of the world still in existence. We walked around and even climed around inside of one of them. It was great.

Jenny and me going into the Great Pyramid. Check out how large each of the stones that made up the pyramid are behind us. WOW!

Rahima and me at the Great Pyramid.

Then we went back to Cairo and went to the Egyptian Museum, where (my favorite part) was seeing everything that they took out of King Tut's tomb. It was so perfectly preserved. The amount of gold and the condition of all of the jewelry is really a marvel. I stood gawking at the famous headpiece for quite some time. We met up with Rahima's aunt Nahid, who lives in Alexandria but came down to Cairo to meet up with us and then to escort us back to Alexandria the next day. She took us to her cousin's house in Cairo for dinner. Their family has 6 kids, ranging from 22 to 3 months. They were amazing. The older kids (22, 20, 17 and 12) speak a lot of English and were thoroughly amused with me attempting to learn words in Arabic. They were so kind and amazing, that they insisted we stay with them for the night instead of returning to our hostel. So Rahima, Jenny, Amar (the oldest boy) and Aunt Nahid went to the hostel to collect our things and I was convinced by the 12 year old, Sara, to stay with her at the house. She and her brother, Mohamed, and little sister, Salma, spent the next few hours teaching me words in Arabic, quizzing me, and laughing hysterically at me. It was great. :)

Everyone together. Amany, Jenny, Aunt Nahid, Rahima, Samina, Mohamed, (front) Amar, Sara, Seif, Me

So my Arabic now consists of the following: good morning, let's go, spider (the essential words first, right?), I love you, I'll miss you, yes, no, man, woman, girl, boy, thank you, you're welcome, okay, hello, and no problem. I also have picked up a few choice hand gestures which I am sure will come in handy. That, and my biggest accomplishment is that I have learned how to read the numbers 1-10, so that I will no longer be ripped off by street vendors when I ask prices. Ha ha to them! They don't know what they've got coming now. :)

So I have come to the conclusion that negotiating really is part of Egyptian culture. It works in reverse inside of a home though. You see, when you are out on the streets as a tourist, everyone tells you a price at least 75% higher than they would tell a local. So you bargain EVERYTHING. It gets a little annoying at points. But inside a home, no matter what you say, they want to feed you more. So when you say you want two pieces of something, they give you six. If you say three, they give you seven. So, if you only want one or two pieces, you must refuse staunchly, and hope that maybe they will stop loading up your plate at two. :)

All of the food...or what is left of what we just couldn't eat! :)

After a huge dinner around 8pm, we ate fruit at about 9pm, cake about 10, and then around midnight Amar, the oldest boy was sent out for bread and things for (what we naievely assumed) breakfast. We came back and talked and laughed until about 2am, when they made cheese sandwiches and forced us to eat again. We couldn't believe it. They tried with fruit (bananas and tangerines) as well, but Jenny took advantage of a moment of distraction to polietly hide them back in the kitchen. :)
They all turned off the lights about 12:30 and sang Happy Birthday to me both in English and Arabic, and being around such a lively group made it feel really great. I am still having a blast and hopefully, with any luck, this blog will post and make my birthday complete. Let's all be thankful for small miracles. :)


Josef Gamper said...

We are glad to learn that you had such a wonderful birthday. The picture of the great pyramid reminds me of my enthusiastic past when I climbed up those big stones in the heat of the summer. Enjoy Alexandria. Love, Mom and Dad

Keiko said...

Happy Birthday! I wasn't going to say "Happy B-Day" until tomorrow, but I guess it's technically your birthday now since you are across the world! Sounds like you had a birthday you will never forget.

maria rosa said...

Happy Birthday!! What a wonderful way to get into 31. We miss celebrating with you and just for you I'll have an extra drink and toast you lots more birthday's like this one.

jnmtmn said...

Happy belated birthday. I did not forget, I have just been busy and do not really keep track of the day of the month:) I am glad you are having a great time and am still jealous. Hope you birthday was fun. Pics look great...what is the count on photos you have taken? I can not even imagine how many:) Well happy trails again and good luck.

ps: I bought a new camera.

Weezy said...

Happy, Happy Birthday! I feel like you are the one giving us presents all the time- in the form of photos, experiences and knowing you are living life to the fullest every day. What an unforgettable way to start your 30s! Besos!
- Luis

kareem said...

amazing! happy belated :)