Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Egypt, Day 1

**This was written on the actual day it describes!**

Culture shock is an understatement. Today was a journey that left me feeling a little overwhelmed but still excited about seeing new things and watching the world around me.

As I left this morning, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for experiences like I had never experienced before. I got them, that’s for sure. We got to the airport, and they had cancelled our flight to Bahrain, so they put us on a direct flight to Cairo on a different airline. That was nice…having never traveled with children before (seeing as I have none of my own…), I realize that changing planes could have been a nightmare, hauling around a car seat and shepherding two little boys who have minds of their own. We got checked into the flight and headed to the terminal.
After finally getting through security, Jameson and Avery were excited to see the planes and watched them through the window. I saw a picture-perfect opportunity as the two little boys clambered to the window to see the planes, so I pulled out my camera and decided to snap a photo. Two guards immediately began scolding me, so I had to put it away. Oops…just call me an Ugly American. Ugh.

We made it onto the plane and found our seats. Take-off was smooth and the rest of the flight followed without any huge incident. After trying to provide entertainment for a four-year-old for three hours on a plane and keep him safe (i.e., get him to keep his seatbelt on when we’re trying to land), the plane hit some turbulence the last fifteen or so minutes of the trip. I normally don’t have much of a problem with motion sickness, but this was doing a number on my stomach. I regretted all of the Reese’s miniatures I had been eating during the duration of the flight. To make matters worse, a woman seated a couple rows behind me started puking her guts out. I didn’t know that people could make these noises! I was seriously about to lose my lunch. I think I was more worried about Laura, though, because if I was struggling, she (being pregnant), must have been on the verge of vomiting herself. Finally we touched ground, and I was ready to be rid of that plane.

My first impression of the airport: I thought that the terminal was old and in definite need of repair, but I was sure it would get better. As we made our way further in, I noticed that it was not modern at all—I mean, I’m not complaining, but it’s kind of strange to live in a world run by computers and to see that nothing here was. Luckily, I was traveling with my diplomat bro-in-law, so we didn’t have much trouble at immigration, and we had someone there to meet us to help with transportation to the hotel and everything. But I couldn’t quite be rid of the airport just yet.

As I’m sure anyone who’s reading this wants to know, I really needed to use a bathroom, and it was going to be a ways to the hotel. I went in and used the facilities and flushed the toilet. It didn’t look like it flushed all the way, so I flushed again and held down the handle…water began spraying and ended up on the back of my pants, about midway down on of my pant leg to my ankle. The three women attendants were worried about me, and they tried to help and gave me paper towels and got me under the hand dryer and were as helpful as could be…sadly enough, having only been there for a few minutes, I had no Egyptian pounds yet, so I could not tip them. Faux pas number two in just a couple hours. Annie, the awful international traveler!!

We made it to the hotel with the assistance of a very talkative and cheerful driver who was very kind and answered all our questions. And he negotiated traffic quite masterfully, as well. Traffic here is NOTHING like it is in Utah. You think driving is bad there? Try six lanes of traffic squeezed in where four lanes are painted. Try two people trying to drive in the same lane. Try people stepping out in front of you, left and right, almost oblivious to automobiles speeding at them. I was looking at their cars—most of them are a little beat up, but it makes sense with their method of fend-for-yourself driving. And for the most part, no traffic signals. Honking and crowds and shops galore— it was a lot to take in during the first few hours in a new country. I knew a little of what to expect when we arrived, but you can never fully appreciate a place until you actually experience it. I was claustrophobic, startled, intrigued, and in awe, all at once as we traversed the small, people-lined streets of the city.

We got to the hotel where we got some snacks and I took a nap. I love vacations for that reason (not the only reason nor the biggest!)—sleep when you want to, for the most part. Then Matt had a meet-and-greet type meeting for the convention he came for. Laura had gotten some tips on good restaurants in the city, so we decided to try our hand (feet?) at walking to a restaurant a little way down the Nile. It was a little tricky to find, and after pushing a stroller up and down about three thousand curbs, we finally found it with the help of a local woman who led us down the right street once we were close. What a time we had there! Avery’s got this temper thing going where he—as Laura puts it—likes to change his mind about everything, and when he does, you’d better be there to accommodate his every need. Jameson was pretty good, except for the putting sugar and salt everywhere and insisting that he pour the water for everyone. The food was wonderful. I got veal chops with oriental rice, and it was delicious. We ate, and discussed our experiences from the day, which had been crazy, that’s for sure. Attention spans are short for small children, so by the time dessert arrived, they were ready to be done. Avery is a mover and shaker, so he wanted Laura to hold him, but then he didn’t want her to hold him. Somewhere amidst all of the chaos, he kicked a glass and it broke. Uh oh. Laura’s a great mom and didn’t freak out, but handled it quite well. We also met a table of some nice guys from L.A. who had decided to just take a trip to see some places around the world. We talked to them for a bit, and it turns out they’re headed to Dubai in a few days. Laura told them a few fun things to do while they’re there.

And now, after surviving the taxi ride home, I’m sitting here thinking about how I’m excited to go see things tomorrow and that today is over. Don’t get me wrong…this post sounds kind of frustrated and weary, but I don’t mean it that way at all. I think the newness was a little overwhelming. But tomorrow, I don’t have to start over with newness…I’ve already got a base, so I should be ready for a few (smaller) new experiences for the days to come.

For now, I bid you adieu. Thank goodness my body is running on UAE time now so I can sleep when everyone else does. :)


Blogger Erika said...

OH man that bathroom story cracked me up!!! Yeah I'm finally reading your adventures, and I'm excited!

March 31, 2008 at 10:44 PM


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