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Thursday, November 8, 2012

D, D, D, Dubai!

Over the Eid break, Ryan and I decided to go visit Dubai. For a couple of reasons...

1.  We have friends who live there and wanted to visit them.
2.  We'd heard from Bill and other friends that it was amazing.
3.  It was also a bit of a reconnaissance trip to get a feel for the city and figure out if we could see ourselves living there at some point.

Did I mention that we're planning on leaving Cairo next year?  Plans are still up in the air about where we're going exactly, but we're hoping to secure jobs before January, otherwise it's 12 timezones in 2 days to fly to Bangkok for the International Teaching Job Fair.

P.S. If any school we've applied to so far is reading this post, please feel free to hire us immediately and put us out of our misery.  

So Dubai is on the list of places we might end up moving to and we wanted to go check it out.

We arrived at the airport, and looking out the window I think I turned to Ryan wondering if we had actually left Cairo.  Everything was beige, ah just like home.  :)

Our rental car (that we booked two months previously) was unavailable because the company accidentally forgot that you can't rent more cars than you own.  So after waiting over an hour just to get to the counter we were directed to another company that still had cars.

Unfortunately my phone wasn't working either, so while we had the address of our friend Joseph, I couldn't call him and let him know we'd arrived.  By the time we got on the road and started driving towards his house it was several hours later than our expected arrival.  And then our gps, which I affectionately call George led us to a nice little neighborhood and deposited us in a roundabout with no houses matching the number we were looking for.  We drove around for a few min, and I had a moment of truly trying to remember what people did to communicate before cell phones.  Should I look for a handy owl or pigeon?  Smoke signals?  Then our saviors appeared in the form of 6 little boys playing soccer in the street.  Here went our conversation...

Me:  Hey guys, can you help me for a minute please?

Them: Share a look of mistrust between themselves, this lady will obviously try to sell us drugs. But then they realized they outnumbered us 2:1 (plus I'm pretty sure they stone you alive for drug possession in the UAE) so they approached the car.

Me: Do you know the Nettikaden family? They have a little girl named Mariska? (I was hoping maybe they'd played together at some point)

Them: No, what's their address?

I show them the sheet where Joseph scrawled his address for us, and we spent the next 2 minutes in a lengthy discussion about whether the number of the villa was a 7 or a 71.  Finally one of the older boys had a stroke of brilliance.

Them: Why don't you just call them?

Me: Yeah, I can't (explained the cell phone issue)

Them: Here, you can use mine (whips out a fancy sparkly blackberry) Did I mention he was like 9?

Me: Thank you so much (Then stare at this strange contraption in my hand for at least 5 seconds longer than is cool.  Where is the little slidy thing on the screen, how do you work this?) 

Them: Grabs the phone back and gives me a look of patient understanding (don't worry I'll help you grandma) and punches in the number, hands the phone back to me.

The phone rings, I get in touch with Joseph and he jumps in the car to come collect us. The boys then embark on many directions for places we could meet our friend that he would probably know.

Them: We'll take you to Spinney's.  Does he know Spinney's? He should meet you there!

It was super cute and they were really nice and helpful. And after a lot of hooplah we were finally able to make it to their house and relax.  

We spent the next few days in random pursuits, like driving around the city looking at the skyline, 

which totally reminded me of that futuristic city in Meet the Robinsons.

We walked through malls with aquariums, ice skating rinks, ski slopes and sky diving.

We went in the most amazing candy shop ever.

We ate awesome food. And went to the top of the Burj Khalifa.

Mariska and I watched Tangled. It was a really good trip.

So final verdict, could we live in Dubai???

Yes, though it's still a little too similar to Egypt for it to be our first choice.  So we're still hoping and betting on the job fair, and we now have a really solid plan B.

Thanks for letting us stay with you Joseph, Suneetha and Mariska! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A bit of randomness

It's been awhile since my last post. The start of the school year has been a bit rocky, but now things are settling down again.

For the month of August, Ryan and I had some interesting times in Cairo. We had a few weeks in the city of sand, at a time of year when there were fewer expats than normal, and even fewer Egyptians, since Ramadan was keeping everyone at home. We were able to drive downtown in 20 minutes, without any traffic, and hardly anyone walking around. Though Ryan almost cried when we realized the Hard Rock Cafe downtown had closed. It's a sad but true mark of how much the loss of the tourist industry has affected Egypt.

It was also a time for seeing lots of strange things that pop up Cairo, like trucks driving down the highway with 5 cows stacked in the back like dominoes.  Or jumping for joy in the supermarket to see premade pizza dough being sold in convenient little balls, only to realize on close inspection that these are not dough, they're butter..... yeah cause I buy my butter in 5lb balls, don't you?

So between the start of school being hellishly busy, fraught with injury and sickness, Ryan and I have been plugging along.  We even joined a gym in the hopes of climbing the stairs without an aneurism. It's working so far, though we have to trade the role of bad cop back and forth.  Someone has to be the hardass every 2 days and tell the other to put the shoes in your bag cause we're working out after school.... dammit! Then the whiny one pulls faces and threatens to climb back into bed because this is such unfair treatment.  But eventually we go, there's huffing and puffing, and no houses fall down, but we leave feeling a little bit better about our cardiovascular health.  Until we follow the workout with a trip to Chilis where we devour chips and queso with ravenous workout fed hunger.

We've also become a bit obsessed with the punch buggy game.  You know, that game you used to play in the car when you were 8 where you get to slam someone in the car on the shoulder and scream "punch buggy blue" when a blue Volkswagen beetle drives by.  Believe it or not there are a remarkable number of vintage beetles in Egypt, we see them all the time.  I have the bruises on my arms and legs to prove it. Don't worry they're from the overzealous teenager Bill brought home with him this summer, not from my loving husband who just gently touches my leg with his knuckles.  This may or may not have something to do with the death glare I gave him when he accidentally beaned me in the shoulder one time.  And apparently it's not enough to frantically scope the horizon for beetles, we've also added a Cairo twist to the game and you can get points for a "punch donkey" (a donkey pulling a cart down the road/highway/parking lot) and also "punch campfire" which is harder to explain.  Feel free to add these exotic Egyptian twists to your own punch buggy escapades.  :)

Ok, sorry about the delay in insights into what's happening in Cairo.  I'll try and post again later this week about our trip to Dubai last week.  Here's your teaser... I've never spent so much time in malls in my life.