27.04.2010 - 27.04.2010 30 °C
About a month ago I moved from my 1st floor apartment at the southern edge of Al Rehab to a 5th floor apartment overlooking landscaped grass, palm trees, apartment buildings and the desert in the distance. It’s a lovely view, especially because the sky is so clear and blue at the moment.
From the balcony I watch the gardeners sitting in the shade of a tree listening to music on their phones or wrestling each other to the ground. Not much gardening goes on around here but then what would you expect from boys who are only around 12 to 16 years old?
I’m on holiday at the moment, which is giving me a little time to consider where I am and what I’m doing at the moment. I try not to be an over thinker anymore but it’s definitely worth stopping every so often just to look at everything objectively for a while. I’ve been in Egypt for 8 months and I’m about to start term 3 at school. This year has gone by very quickly.
The last eight months in Egypt have been a great recovery from the aspects of living in Taiwan that had dragged me down. I feel like I’m back in the right job again and my general quality of life has got a lot better. Of course there are many things that I don’t like about Egypt but I always try to remember a quote I read about travel. It that said foreign countries are not designed to make us (the traveller) feel comfortable, but to make its own people feel comfortable. I agree with the essence of the quote but I think that Egypt is perhaps not designed to make even its own people feel comfortable.
My husband and I frequently compare life here with life in Taiwan. We reminisce about places we used to eat, scooter rides into the mountains and the amazing transport system. By contrast, Egypt is a much harder place to get around but has much easier access to food. The home delivery system is impressive here and with wages being so low it’s easy to make someone very happy with the equivalent of a 50 pence tip.
Last week I took the public transport system for the first time into central Cairo. I was meeting my Egyptian friends at one of the metro stations and they sent me instructions for how to get there. I felt quite triumphant that I managed to do the journey with relatively little hassle and I now feel I have gained a sense of freedom. I much prefer to travel like a local and part of feeling like a resident is being able to find your own way round.
As strange as it seemed to have a women and children's metro carriage it was a welcome defence against the insatiable stares of Egyptian men. The public transport in Egypt is very cheap by western standards (5 stops on the metro was only 10 pence!) and what cost a total of 70 pence return from Al Rehab to Cairo would have cost 15 pounds in a taxi!