Monday, October 26, 2009

Shitta and Kaka

Monday. We hit the French Cultural Centre for the first night of the week-long Latin American Film festival. The problem with most films that hit theaters in Egypt is that they arrive highly edited…so it was nice to watch a movie the way it was intended-sans any sort of censorship. The term director’s cut takes on a whole new meaning here. We saw Esas No Son Penas (Ecuador), a slow moving heavy drama of five female friends who are entering mid-life and all the issues that come with the territory. The best part of the film was the Arabic subtitles.    

Tuesday. We were invited to the American Cultural Center for its’ 30th Anniversary celebration. The joint looked loaded full of important people, but I suppose if you dress anyone up in suit and tie or an evening dress commands some sort of attention. The finger foods were delicious; the best of the trays were the grilled chicken, dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), and pastries.  As an added bonus (thanks to the commissary in Cairo) California Cabernet was being served. Ambassador Margaret Scobey delivered a speech detailing the history of the long friendship between the United States and Egypt. Gwen, the director of the center kindly made a point to take a moment out of her hectic schedule to introduce Ana and I to a couple of important people involved with the arts in Alexandria as well as the Ambassador. 

The VIP of the American Center-he took good care of me!

Wednesday. It was double-hitter night at The Russian Cultural Center. The evening kicked off with an art opening of paintings turned digital wall hangings of “abstract depictions of horses in motion and other subjects” by Russian artist Gary Zukh. I would say Gary’s demeanor was low key and humble, on par with a couple of outsider artists I met while living in The South. The artist reception was followed by Youth of Siberia Russian Dance ensemble and friends. We had the opportunity to preview the dance group the previous week and declared it was a must see. The theatre was situated in the lush courtyard of the Center. Some audience members couldn’t break away from their smoking or jabbering habit long enough to sit through an hour plus performance. Towards the latter half of the evening during one of the dances, a sonic boom of electronic instruments (could it finally be rock music in Egypt?) clashed with the Russians. The hybrid of sounds infuriated about everyone present, a few curious people wandered off, never to return. We behaved and sat through the final remaining routines and bolted off across the narrow avenue in search of live rock. Leave it to the Germans to be the spoiler of the night. The music was indeed live and coming from the rooftop of the German Cultural Center. Ana and I climbed up the fire escape stairs to a full-on party of mostly college age Egyptian boys and the occasional female flirting with the notion of dancing. Of course the concert isn’t complete without a vendor selling grilled cheese sandwiches with cubes of meat and cups hot Lipton Tea. The music could be described as indie rock infused with Arabic melodies.

The art of Gary Zukh

One of the costumes

Thursday. In short, Ana went her way and I went mine. Ana along with a Huck Finn, Jill Milk, and Don’t Pollute dressed in costume and went to a Halloween party about 45 minutes on the other side of town. Ana was a calavera (skeleton) and spooked many people en route including cab drivers and children. I ventured off with Darth Seth and Lianne for the Hash House Harrier Taxi Grand Prix 2009. The best way to describe the event is to think of a small scale version of The Amazing Race done solely in taxi cabs racing from pub to pub. Our efforts got us second place and sofa bound the following day.

Don't Pollute, Ana, Huck Finn, and Jill Milk

Hash House Harriers Taxi Grand Prix 2009 Trophy

Inside the Spitfire Pub-they asked not to be photographed since they were important Americans

Friday. Surfs up! I woke up early to hit the end of a two day swell. I tried a new spot near the Bibliotheca (Shatby). I drew a huge crowd of supporters who watched me get crushed and tossed in series of powerful and fast closeouts. I made it home back in time to join Ana and Barb (teacher) for lunch and felt hunting. The three of us piled in a taxi and made our way down to Mansheya, home to the fabric shop district. We hit a couple of shops trying to locate the hard to find felt and got caught in a Bermuda Triangle of sorts. The shop keeper was very insistent in helping us. He took our sample material and the paper we had info on and ran off. Long story short; I figured he liked the ladies (the owner had a crush on Barb and referred to her as our "mom") and really wanted hard to please everybody, he found what we needed, provided us with tea, coffee, and Arabic lessons while we patiently waited…all of this in 90 minutes. Again, this is what I love about the Egyptians; they make things happen even if it means going to someone else’s shop and buying the goods to resell at a slightly higher price of course. Si se puede!

He wanted me to e-mail this pix to him

Saturday. Lobna (the French teacher) and her daughter properly introduced The Bibliotheca to us. The Bibliotheca is a resurrection, version 2.0, “a commemoration of the Library of Alexandria that was lost in antiquity” it also serves as a cultural hub housing facilities for the visual and performing arts in addition to a planetary science and conference center…you can call it the Swiss Army Knife of culture. We spent a couple of hours combing through artifacts of Alexandrian history from the Pharaohs to the Romans to the Christians ending with Islam. We also had a chance to view ancient manuscripts in an area what I would regard as “the cave” due to its’ lack of lighting. There wasn’t enough time in a day tour the entire facility; at least we have another adventure with Lobna to look forward to. Later in the evening Ana and I returned back to Mansheya to attend an acapella concert preformed by Malga Roma Alpine Choir at St. Catherine’s Catholic Church. The somber performance paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Italian war memorial at El Alamein. On the way home our taxi driver said that there was going to be shitta (rain) this week as we drove past the fruit vendor selling kaka (persimmons).           

Stolen from Wiki-thanks Wikipedia

The Shepherd  

Streets and Sweets


Banksy in Alex? 

Hot tea

Coffee and Backgammon two favorite pastimes. 

Street art

Street cats

Hot Tost and Crazy Crisps

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Smoking and Fashion

I thought I'd do less talking this round and show a couple of photographs instead. I've been on a hunt down for more anti-smoking campaign posters...and there is no shortage bee-ah.

What is the going rate for a pair of lungs and heart?

Siesta time

Sheehsa and Shay (tea)

Taking Christmas orders now

I told you they had Salsa in Egypt

The arrangement of fliers must be sending a secret message

You know you want these

So is it XL, XXXL, or 5XL?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Alex Can!

In the next couple of weeks Alexandria will be transforming into cosmopolitan city, adopting elements of neighboring Cairo…very much including the huffing on a tailpipe air quality that has been sticking around in these parts thanks to an almost dormant southern breeze and the burning of trash on the outskirts of town and train tracks. The haze is thick and gray trapping in the 90 plus degree heat, makes you almost wish for the breezy summer heat.

On Saturday, we joined our friends Ji and Lianne for a daylong open air music festival at Qait Bay fort. We were immediately discriminated based on our nationally and skin color. The woman at the ticket booth wanted to charge us the non-resident rate of 25 pounds versus the nominal Egyptian rate of 2 pounds. We provided proof that we were residents and she told us that it didn’t matter, “you are not Arabs!” Maybe she could have doubled as spokesperson for the equality booth inside the venue. There was an event organizer near the entrance kind enough to help us sort through all the political nonsense to get us through the gate.

The Fort

"Just take a couple of more steps back..."

Inside the festival we explored along the top walls of the fort thinking how nice it is to have a tourist destination that doesn’t treat you with kid’s gloves and puts the responsibility on the visitor. For example, there is no fence, wire, guard rails, or nets when to keep you from falling off the walls, if you fall…bummer dude, don’t stand on the edge next time. We saw a couple of kids running around and in poor taste I was secretly taking bets in my mind on who would fall out of the fort first. Fortunately we didn’t stick around long enough. Once on the ground floor we were treated to an assortment of booths and vendors. The music from the first group was fab., the members looked slightly disorganized but they had the crowd chanting along to their festive offerings. The puppet show between music sets was unlike any I’ve ever encounter and I’ve seen plenty in my life including an R rated one in Atlanta. The show included a bootleg Bert (as in the beloved Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street) along with a fez wearing Turk and two men running in front of the cut-out booth with microphones trying to blow out the speakers with their voices. The Palestinian dancers were up next and they had fans that went out of their way to be there sporting their decorative PLO scarves and all. We stayed a couple of songs and called it an afternoon.

Palestinian dancers au go-go

Puppet show

M.C. Flavor Farooq

AlexFest has arrived and will be in effect until the end of October. The event is a two-week multi-cultural festival including, the visual arts, lectures, film, sports, music & dance, theatre, comedy and more for the entire family in venues throughout Alex. The brainchild of the event spoke of how Alexandria is portrayed in travel books as a day-trip destination where people come to see “dead things from the past” and how crucial it is for the world to see Alex as a city alive and full of energy. Another representative from Britain praised Alexandrians for being “honest” and “truthful” and decided to try his brand of truth by telling the audience of 500 plus attendees that Alex lacked “good restaurants and a reliable transportation system” he continued down his list…I’m sure his speech didn’t win any new fans. Perhaps, people like to tell the truth better than to receive it. He and others continued to reassure the audience of the potential the city has to transform itself into a cultural center on the Mediterranean. The organizers along with the audience chanted endless cries of “ALEX CAN!” throughout the evening…It was Cesar Chavez and Barack Obama all over again.

Last night Ana and I attended the welcoming Gala, we had the opportunity to preview some of the week’s upcoming featured performers. Flamenco guitarist Fernando Perez and his ensemble got the show underway; he opened his set with more traditional flamenco styling’s and ended the evening by belting out a more upbeat contemporary urban tune ala Argentina’s Gotan Project. Next on the agenda was the cell phone symphony played by various audience members, “Standard Nokia Ring Tone in D minor” was a crowd favorite! Equally impressive was the “Youth of Siberia” Russian dance ensemble who dueled against the Egyptian Dance group. The costumes and the routines of the Siberian dancers awed the audience…a must see. In contrast, the Egyptian dancers worked the crowd into a sing-a-long frenzy. Even the people who sat behind us used the backs of our seats as their personal drum kits. I can definitely see “Youth of Siberia” on world-class theatre stages around the globe while their Egyptian counterparts performing their Pharaohs routine on a cruise along the Nile. We were also treated to solo vocal performances in the style of Opera, French, and Broadway. I wish to note that the pianist and violinist duo accompanying the vocalists had better fashion sense. Chocolates were distributed and sampled during intermission.

Dressed to kill-in the bad way

Tonight we’re off to see a Latin American film from Uruguay at the French Culture Center. Everything in possible in Egypt…VIVA ALEX!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Protocol Diaries

Well it seems that the swine flu scare has literally hit home. Ana caught a cold this past weekend and according to the school’s protocol she has to be out for a minimum of seven days and because of guilt by association, I’m out for five days. I’m not sick and we don’t have the swine flu, the bird flu, or the flu Manchu…so what gives? Wording in protocol that sort of went south…just part of the growing pains in dealing with something new. I can say that we all share some frustration. We are not allowed to be on campus but we live on campus…I go down to my room in the morning to make lesson plans and eventually get chased back upstairs. We have the option to leave campus if we’d like, I’ve been taking advantage of that. Since I have an abundance of free time, it seemed like a good idea to keep a log of some sort, something not quite as obnoxious as Twitter.

The Protocol Diaries Day 2

Tonight is Open House for the lower school, this is the main event for parents to meet with their children’s teachers and unfortunately Ana will be missing it. Tomorrow night the Upper School will hold theirs. At this hour my status remains in limbo.

There has been this imaginary line in Alex that I’ve been meaning to cross, to go beyond. I created this line because that is where my city map ends, but thanks to Google, there is continuation of a city aching to be explored. I set my map to the satellite version and there are some nice houses with pools out west, the streets also look a little more organized in that there is less curvature and bends. Perhaps one day, we’ll take a ride in that direction.

Surround sound

Love the boats

Business Casual at the beach

As for today, I walked off the map, past Qaitbey/Qait Bay and just followed the shoreline until I came to a naval base, since I lacked proper credentials, I turned back around and got lost in a couple of neighborhoods. It was then where I met Mohamed, a 10 year-old who was doing an excellent job of ditching school and toning his “stranger approaching” skills. We walked and talked for about five minutes until he spazzed off into a dark side street.

Part of mural story

Kids swings at the beach

I crossed back into familiar territory ready for a late lunch. The phone operator at school had mentioned a foul and falafel eatery named Gad, as in gadfly? Or maybe it is God with a southern accent as in, gad dam sum bich, gits da heils off my prop-per-t. Anyhow for under a buck (4.50 EGP) I ate a mini falafel sandwich, a mini hummus sandwich and washed it down with a bottle of water. It was definitely the Egyptian version of a value meal. Next time I will try the “Mexcan Hat Dog” (yes, that is how it was spelled) posted towards the bottom of the menu.

On the way to catch a cab back home, a group of comic books written in Arabic at a newsstand caught my attention. I peeked inside one and really fell in love with the way the printer processed the colors. The drawings were humorous and simple. Each book is a story that follows the day to day life of a middle age man (the main character) in his small village. He interacts with the butcher, most of the time he is at odds with his wife, is fond of his donkey, and he tends to pal around with his tea drinking buddies. After combing through the bunch, I found myself a stack of keepers.

I think the ride home through the maze of traffic in the hot sun was designed to see if I could keep my food down. I barely passed.

The Protocol Diaries Day 1

The day started with a masked cafeteria worker delivering our breakfast of apples, bananas, and yogurt. After the hearty meal I snuck down to the art room under the guise of “Peaches the Cat” to prepare lesson plans for the substitute. The half hour of frolicking on campus about wore me down so I returned back to quarantine central to priced airline tickets to Morocco and researched riads (old houses turned into bed and breakfast type of accommodations) in the cities we hope to visit during winter break. It looks like we picked the perfect time to travel; we’ll be there just in time to take advantage of high season prices. After stretching my brain, I was due for a nap and just when I dozed off the phone rang, it was my AP Art students calling from my classroom talking into the phone I touched a lot yesterday. They all took turns asking questions. Since I was up and about, maybe it might be a good time to go hit the surf but the swell info on the web didn’t look like much was going on. Sigh.

Lunch was rather uninteresting…next time beets arrive on my doorstep someone is going to get the cooties. Ana has been doing a fine job improving her Super Mario Brothers skills on the Swiss Army like DVD player we picked up a few weeks ago…it came with 600 games, 2 mics for karaoke in addition to having an FM receiver, USB port, slot for smart cards, reads all region DVDs, CDs, MP3s, LSDs and PCPs. The rocket launcher was really the selling point. All this for about $50 USD. Mario Brothers was followed by Mulholland Drive. Leave it to a David Lynch film to make you feel molested even on the sunniest of afternoons. After the movie, it was time to dress-up as Peaches again to head over to Mary’s to exchange monies for my big adventure along the Corniche.

It was true, the waves were flat as a pancake. The water was clear and the snorkelers took advantage of the low surge. I felt a little envious. I continued my stroll through Sidi Bisher and Miami up to Montazaha. I found a fake Drinkies store called Drinks; they only sell beer and for a slightly higher price. The sheesha and coffee establishments lining the Corniche were half filled with many scarved ladies huffing hard and downing cans of Coke, it was good to see some variety. I turned back around at the Sheraton and noted a potential adventure. There was a line of tourist boarding a coach to who knows where; I was wearing my pseudo Burberry J Crew clearance rack (from the outlet) shorts so I was an easy fit. (Maybe I could be at some oasis right now instead of on the couch writing this.) The walk came to an end when I turned up a block of stores and stalls selling interesting interpretation of Nike, Converse, and Adidas shoes. Imagine Mr. Potato Head and apply that concept to shoes and you’ll get an idea of what I witnessed and what your life is missing. The pair of Adidas with the extra stripe was tops…it must be better if it has an extra stripe, right? Dinnertime was fast approaching so I headed up the street to catch a cab, but not before being physically pulled into a seafood market by an older man speaking broken English. He understood it well when I crossed my fingers over my eyes like “Xs” to demonstrate that I would die if I ate shellfish. He sent me on my way.

The steak dinner was tasty. Ana and I got a mysterious call around 7 pm from a mysterious person and got picked up in a mysterious vehicle and were taken to a mysterious location for something…mysterious. We were delivered back to campus an hour later unharmed.

To make up for the lag time in the late morning, I ventured out to Metro to buy breakfast foods for Ana and a small packet of gummy bears to celebrate negative test results.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Good Pigs, Bad Pigs

We are back in the thick of things this week. School has re-opened after being closed for almost a month, thanks to the H1N1 pandemic. For the record, we closed the school on our own accord as a safety precaution. A person from the Ministry of Health in Cairo came to the school and wouldn’t leave until we “volunteered to suspend our operations,” had absolutely no influence on our decision. 

...and get plenty of rest

Cover your mouth

During that non-student contact time we’ve had to turn our campus into a distance learning institution, which meant posting assignments on-line and pray for the best since our students had no prior training or experience doing this. Being that this occurred during Ramadan, the schedule between the teachers and students varied greatly, meaning they were way out of whack. Our day stated and 9 am and ended at 3 pm…about the time most students were getting started with their day. Since this process was new to both teachers and students, there were lots of questions that resulted in filled e-mail in-boxes and tied up phone lines. Ana had it much worse, in that she had 10 classes to plan for, whereas I had 5, including an AP class. We became slaves to our computers well past midnight since the night/evening time was when most students were awake.

Cover your mouth redux

She lives with chickens

In the end, was this format for delivery of instruction effective? The bigger question being, did the students learn? How do you evaluate their performance? Without sounding accusatory or malicious, the student culture here is different. Students have a tendency to “help” each other; they work in groups at school and at home to fulfill their homework obligations. In a western sense this might be regarded as cheating and there are instances of outright copying. But what do you expect if you assign handouts and fill in the blank assignments? Does the act of correctly answering a question equate to learning? This made me think about my teacher preparation program and how I was taught growing up. I would say more so now than ever, there is a lot of pressure to seek the” correct answer,” as if a test is the end product of an educational experience. There are exit exams back home students take to graduate and what do they really mean?

In the culture I grew up in, we place a lot of emphasis on the individual, that is not the case here by a long shot. Individualism and being alone in this culture is viewed as something sad and undesirable, it would be disrespectful to the family to move out of the house unless you are moving abroad for school /work or getting married. Some of the local teachers even told me there is a stigma parents face if their grown children leave home for other reasons than the ones previously mentioned. To bring my point home, one of my students wrote a powerful monologue about the loss of her brother; she reflected how she would go into his room for a pep talk, the smell of his aftershave in the bathroom, his overall presence…it moved me. You know what happened to her brother…he got married and moved a couple of blocks down the street, but to my student that loss had a profound impact on her…who am I to define what loss means?  

Pork haters don't shop here

Getting back to the Swine Flu, there is talk that we might close school again. When we were in Cairo I was reading the paper that the public teacher’s union wants to scrap the year. It is more than likely that there will be school closures perhaps for the entire country. The sad thing is the purpose of closing schools is to keep people from gathering…what a joke. Ana and I went to the mall when the schools were closed and it was packed, as are the streets, no matter where you go, people everywhere. Egyptians just go on with life. I suppose if the government wanted to make a concerted attempt to contain the spread of the virus, they might want to close public gathering places like they did in Mexico City, but I’m willing to wager a kidney this won’t happen. However, there is good news for us, there is pressure to keep the foreign and private schools open, it just goes to show that social class and the dollar has its’ privileges.
While we are on the topic of pigs, our friends at school Seth and Krystal have taken us to the dark side, to Monaco, a Coptic butcher shop who sells the “P” word…PORK. The shop was spotless and sterile, more so than a doctors’ office, I’m not a huge fan of meat much less pork, but when you can’t have something, you get stoked. We bought a half kilo of bacon and it was exciting to see them slice it up in front of us, yes, it is the small things in life. As soon as I post this, I’m gonna go fry it up in the pan!

Let the good times rolls

Full speed ahead!


One last comment about pigs… Last March, President Mubarak ordered all the pigs in Egypt to be killed due to the H1N1 pandemic. His decision has created a new problem since the country relies on pigs clean up the garbage. There is plenty of trash around town, any takers?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hello Cairo

Ana and I had been speculating when we would take a weekend jaunt down to Cairo, well my friends, that weekend finally arrived. There is quite a bit of history in the city of 12 million and it has to be taken in doses. Ana had been bugging me about going to the pyramids (the well known ones in Giza) and I told her, “we’ve already drove past them twice and we ate lunch while looking at them, what more do you want?” Somehow I don’t think I persuaded her, it’s just matter of time before you see the obligatory posting of an American couple posing with camels and pyramids. Just in case you’re wondering, both the pyramids and Sphinx are located in Cairo, actually in the burbs to be more precise, they are what Newark is to New York and if that isn’t the best of both worlds maybe I should also mention that KFC and Pizza Hut are right within walking would be a lot sweeter if there was a Walmart as well. I admit it, I haven’t exactly been excited or the least bit proactive in getting up close and personal with the remaining wonder of the ancient world. Perhaps the documentary I watched on the Discovery Channel when we had free cable was sufficient enough to satisfy my cravings.

We tagged along with our friends Huck Finn and Jill Milk on a train ride from hell. We remained convinced for the duration of the ride that the passenger car was trying to simulate a walk-in freezer. The mixture of blowing cold air and cigarette smoke pouring out of the vents next to our feet plus random stops in the middle of nowhere for up to thirty minutes at a time was a little too much. We took matters into our own hands and hijacked a pair of seats when one of the smokers went to go do his thing, we figured that if he likes smoking so damn much maybe he’d like to sit next to the vents and go hog wild with second hand smoke. To add insult to injury, I took his paper and started on his Sudoku. When he returned he reclaimed his paper and found another seat.

We finally disembarked into human Tetris an hour and half after our projected arrival. Huck Finn knew all the tricks to avoid getting ripped off by taxi drivers, so we headed directly for the metro station and took a tram as far as we could and caught a cab to Harry’s Pub (located in the basement of the Marriot). Harry’s was pretty spectacular, an old murky bar with decades of cigar and cigarette smoke embed into its wooden walls. If you are singe man on a business trip and looking for some company for the evening chances are pretty good that you might find some here. We finished our pricey but worth it imported Belgian beer (non-inclusive to the 10% tax and the 12% service charge) and crossed the street over to Maison Thomas for what is billed as the best pizza in Egypt (owned by a Coptic family equals ham, beer, and wine). Delicious indeed. After our filling meal we walked to our hotel in the heart of Zamalek (an island on the Nile River in central Cairo-home to many Embassies, museums, the Cairo Tower, expats, and best of all...trees).


The following morning, Ana and I walked on a bridge across the Nile to catch a taxi to historic Islamic Cairo to go to the Khan el-Khalili (the mother load of all bazaars established in the 14th century-there is even an argument stating that if it wasn’t for the Khan, Columbus wouldn’t have discovered America) It is said that you can buy anything there; jewelry, clothing, spices, crafts, kidneys, etc. To tell you the truth we didn’t have the full-on Khan experience mainly because we went on a Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. Many shops were closed but that didn’t hamper our joys of exploring the labyrinth layout of the streets and swanky sales pitches like “come into my shop, I have something you have never seen before.” How could we not be curious? I’ve seen my share of souvenirs, crafts, and sweatshop crap over the years, so I was sort of hoping for something more exotic than a “stuffed jackalope,” needless to say I felt a little slighted when the shopkeeper produced an assortment of magnets and rulers. The junk and the bootleg selection was tops, Ana noticed a child’s shirt with a yellow ducky and the phrase “Lucky Dick” on it. We did manage to splurge and buy a wall hanging for our poor old bare walls. Overall the Khan was enjoyable and needs further investigation. We left in agreement that the Grand and Spice Bazaar in Istanbul trumps this one.

Our new wall hanging

8th wonder of the world- The Bearded Building

North of the Khan Khalili

The second part of the day was spent in Zamalek exploring boutique shops and enjoying Thai for lunch. It confirmed that we miss our selection of food offerings back in San Diego. In addition to missing food, clean air also ranks high on the list. The air quality in Cairo sucks, literally sucks the life out of you. Denver’s historic brown cloud and LA’s smog would be like a fresh tank of oxygen in these parts. At the hotel I did a little research on the air quality and the reports paint a pretty grim picture. We ended the evening with a bucket of KFC and some slaw at the foot of the Pyramids tossing chicken bones to the camels chanting U-S-A, U-S-A. Ok, not really. We did manage to have three-hour plus dinner with our friends at The Moghul Room in The Mena House (a hotel you can’t afford). The fare is Indian like you’ve never tasted set to the backdrop of a live trio preparing to seduce your taste buds. The interior was crafted all the way down to the salt and pepper shakers (which the owner thought we wanted, so she eyed us a couple of times). It was the high point of the trip.     

Yummy for your tummy

And just like that we were back on the streets of Giza hailing down a cab to haul us back to our little island. The main thoroughfare was congested and crowded, the driver dodged children and families trying to cross the road. After several minutes of that nonsense he opted to backtrack and hop on the freeway. Since air conditioning isn’t an option in cabs, this meant getting pelted with chunks of dirt and debris accompanied with warm air at high speeds weaving in-between semis and the occasional pedestrian.

Sights of Zamalek

The train ride back to Alex was a little less freezing and the smoke was replaced with ringing cell phones and crying babies, you have to compromise somewhere.