What a month it has been! Overwhelmed has been an understatement in a good way. Right before we landed the flight crew were standing by our seats pointing out landmarks for me to take pictures. They were very helpful and so nice. I would only fly first class on a flight that long. It was much better than I expected but I do love to fly. Once we landed other passengers were telling us welcome and hoped our stay was good. I was thinking this is going to be great.
The person meeting us at the airport was there, took us to identify our luggage, through customs, and into a van in about half a second. Not really but it wasn't long. Didn't have time to stand around and get bored.
Once we were in the van our driver was off and running. I took pictures from the airport to Ma'adi thinking this is cool. The drive lets just say the speed limit, red lights, stop signs, and the lines on the roads are JUST a suggestion. Imagine getting home on a race track-yep it was like that!! I wish I had a dash cam because words can not do that ride justice!! I loved it. There is a method to the madness and they have it down to an art.
Okay we finally (about 20-30 min) turn into a community of multi-story buildings and turn on onto a street and honest to God my first thought was We can drop James off and I can get right back on the next plane, but I didn't say a word, until we pulled up to a building. My exact word was "James" and he says I know its going to be fine really. Our building was really nice-it was the other buildings that were not finished oh and the road was not paved and there was trash everywhere!! Yes trash every where. Cats running around and dogs too. I swear I was thinking just breath because this is not what I signed up for. Okay we get out of the cab and go into the building and its beautiful. We go up to our apartment and its the whole floor and its perfect. Wood and tiled floors, lots and lots of room and ready for us. Right after we got here we had a meeting and they took us to a restaurant to eat. The food (had a hamburger) had a different taste as I have since discovered that all the food has a different taste-not bad-just different.
I have to say that I was stunned at how much trash was around. The street not being paved was explained that they had re done a pipe and had not fixed the road yet. Remember that NO ONE gets into a hurry-except the drivers of course. The buildings not being done and there are a lot of them is that they are redoing this whole street and all at the same time. Not one building one at a time but all of them at the same time. Remember one one gets into a hurry. If they finish them completely they have to pay taxes so there you go.
Since we arrived they have cleaned up the street as far as some of the trash, it is for sure better than it was the people for the most part are very curious and stare but are nice enough. i do have to say that the ones that I have had issue's with have been the women. Go figure. Not a lot but some, for instance at the grocery store they intentionally stand in front of my cart (no I am not making this up) or try to put their stuff with my stuff and have me pay for it! Yep I know what your thinking and yes I said something. I had the manager over to the checkout 2 times and I still paid for 2 Pepsi's. Language barrier-women attitude-being from another country-we get people trying to rip us off a lot. We can buy American products but they are very very expensive, and if you go to a store where the prices are not on a product-guess what happens there-keep in mind the receipt is in Arabic! So it is very important that if you are going to go shopping take someone with you until you learn enough Arabic to keep from getting cheated.
We have gone to a couple of sightseeing places and both places were not completely what I expected. For instances the pyramids are not in the middle of nowhere. The town is right there. The canal that runs along the road to the pyramids is (and I am putting this politely) is NASTY. Dead horses and donkeys, people fishing in it, people throwing their trash in it, needless to say I was shocked. On the road to the pyramids! I had not read that or seen it in any pictures. The Sail Boat ride on the Nile was very nice. Did you notice the pollution? It is horrible-on a good day. The Nile was not all trashed up but the water was very murky. Okay now about the train ride to Alexandria. The train-keep in mind I was so excited because I had not been on a train ride ever. Okay from Fort Worth to Dallas to see the Mavericks play-but that's it.
I have never seen so many people packed into a train car in my life. The car that we rode in was not first class but business class. It was not clean but not unbearable. They served food that some people ate but I couldn't get past the cart that it was on-yes it was that bad. The ride to Alexandria was nice-lots of farms in between towns along the way-it was a nice enough ride. The stay at the Sea was great. Our hotel was beautiful-I will be staying there again. The staff went out of their way to be helpful and were so nice. I love the beach-the sand is not as pretty as Florida but I loved it. Okay the train ride back-well lets just say that the non-stop train stopped 4 times-only once for sheep crossing the tracks-the other times for vendors to get on and sell bread or whatever-remember they serve food in business class-not against anyone making a living just paid extra for non-stop.
It was so nasty that I thought I would have a heart attack before I could get off that train. The only thing I will say is that I will not be riding the train again. The next time we go anywhere away from Cairo I will be in our vehicle, our driver will take us and come pick us up. I am not that snobby, it was that bad.
We had a driver pick us up from the train station and take us home and I was never so glad to see him in all my life. Keep in mind that on the trip there we had security around us the whole time. Once there we had a guide and security with us to site see and take us to lunch-but because I wanted to spend the night instead of return the same day we did not have security with us on the return trip. We did not need them we enjoyed getting to the train station and visiting with a family who it turned out that lived close to us and were on their way home from Alexandria as well. They were 2 brothers and one of them had his wife and 2 daughters and the other had his daughter. They were the best. Then there was a stand owner-selling drinks and snacks on the platform who visited with us ans he was so nice.
Now keep in mind that about dark is when this country comes alive. So when we were picked up from the train station and on our way home after 10:00 pm on a Friday night the traffic was horrible. The people were out with their families just walking in the streets and the cars its like worse than the rush our traffic during construction at home.
We miss a lot of the festivities because we go to bed around 10:00 our time here so its just getting started. I love seeing all the people out in about. We don't hear anything inside our building except for the single guys on the team having parties and inviting locals in. Then it gets loud but not often enough to be a problem.
We still have not received our shipment so yes in the pictures I am wearing the same outfits over and over-we were told that we would have our stuff in a week once we arrived-never happens!! 4 people on out team got their stuff yesterday. We dont know when we will get ours-I will never wear this cloths again!! Just kidding-but it will be awhile.
We have finally in the last few days gotten into the "country club" I guess they finally got our paperwork to go through. Yesterday we finally got our passes to go to the BX- its like shopping at a big connivance store. Except the prices are better-and hey we are not getting ripped off!! Cherry Garcia (Ben and Jerry's) it was so good. I bought a crock pot!! I have been looking for one since we got here.
Its fun to go to a store and ask if they have something specific and see what they take you to-by the way its never what you have asked for-and if the say they understand English-well that does not mean they understand English!
Because I don't want to sound like its a negative experience I am going to say again. I like it here, 98% of the people are wonderful-just like home-once you know which stores to avoid-you don't get ripped off-just like home. I like going to the pharmacy and buying just about any prescription over the counter for nothing near what you would pay your co-pay at home. I love that no matter-and I mean no matter what you want they will deliver it to your home no matter what time of the night it is. I love the fact that you can go into a store-if you choose to go get it-and they have tons of people there to help you.
So here is a little about what its really like here. I would love to stay another year if we are offered. My first choice would be to go somewhere new, but I would rather stay here than go home. I just wish my friends and family would come here. It would be perfect if y'all were here.
So I will try to blog every day about life here, so more to come.