Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Crying over spilled beer

A couple of hours ago I experienced one of those “life lessons”  (maybe you might refer to it as something else such as an “OH SHIT” moment). Ana and I were chatting with another teacher who I will call Tex because I have yet to see him wear an article of clothing that doesn’t make some sort of reference to the country of Texas…be it his Hooters shirt or Astros jersey, I think he also stole the state flag from the capital to hang in his apartment. While some of the staff have been concerned about placing our Drinkies orders, Tex has been hem and hawing over where to buy cigars. I feel his pain; the adjustment can be a challenge if you are accustomed to a certain lifestyle. For example, I can’t just wander down the steps from my living quarters and waltz outside the gate to the corner market for an IPA, any beer for that matter. Now, if I had cravings for a bag of taco flavored Mexico (an Egyptian brand of chip) that would be effortless, a cinch, no problemo, totally doable. Finding beer or spirits requires a little more investigation if you aren’t in the know.

God Bless Drinkies for their four brands of beer (Stella, Sakara, Heineken, plus the bold offerings of Meister Max!) and their home delivery policy of 45 minutes (or in my case to school). On our second day of orientation we were given a brochure with a price menu and alcohol content of all the products they sell (wine and spirits included). Here is what their website states verbatim: “Drinkies, the beverage shop is the retail chain of Al Ahram Beverage Company. With 42 shops across the country operating daily and counting, Drinkies offers all the company’s alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages. To give more convenience to our consumers, Drinkies operates a daily call center for home delivery. During the coming period, ABC will be operating new shops with new retail design making shopping at Drinkies exciting and fun.”  I’m not so sure entering a store with a lone refrigerator and a shelf with a couple bottles of booze qualifies as exciting and fun.

The big fuss on campus from the chain of command was we had to place our adult beverage orders this week since Drinkies will be non-operational during Ramadan. I heeded my boss’ advice and placed mine yesterday. Within the hour the school’s receptionist called my classroom to inform me that the driver was here with my case of Stella (an 18 oz. Egyptian lager). Carrying 24 beers up four flights of stairs induced quite a sweat, so that prompted me to cool off a couple in the freezer for when evening rolled around.

After dinner, we went on a walk with another couple and ventured off into new territory. We walked past one vendor who was selling tortillas so we scored a bag for about 30 cents. I got hissed at for snapping a shot of people trying to crowd onto a bus…I won’t try that again. Ana and I learned about the block that had 4-5 fish food vendors and figured that we were in a fish friendly neighborhood. After the walk we retired back to the couple’s home for a nightcap. I brought over a beverage from the freezer meaning to take out the other three bottles.

Fast forwarding back to this evening, we are talking with Tex and I realized something bad, thinking about the beers I had placed in the freezer the night before. I ran upstairs only to confirm my worst fears…three frozen Stellas with caps halfway blown across the icebox and frozen liquid adhering the lifeless bottles to the freezer’s bottom. At that moment, the day’s final prayer was getting underway, I stared out the door into the sky of sound thinking that Allah was sending me a message.

For further Egyptian beverage information check out:

Beverages in Egypt

The Parent of Drinkies


  1. Hi Ana & Bob, I'm happy to see that you've settled in and are exploring the city. Personally I would have had the veal with a nice bottle of Chianti and some faba beans. Ring a bell? LOL! Take care and I'll be following your blog. I'll email you this week.
    Un bacio e ciao!

  2. I had that Sakara beer on my cruise - it was pretty rough. Actually, at the bodegas next to the ships in the harbor sold regular beers that we would bring back on the boat. You should check out those markets next to the cruise ships to see if they have anything interesting to sell to the tourists.