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.

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