Tuesday, May 18, 2004
posted by KKT at 8:30 PM
What Color is Your Brain?
brought to you by Quizilla
Thanks, Jen!! I'm not surprised as orange has been my favorite color lately - just look at my living room walls!
Monday, May 17, 2004
Cairo: May 12.2004
posted by KKT at 7:22 PM
All my inbound flight seemed to be lacking was a basket of live chickens as I wedged myself in between two sweaty Egyptian men in the second to last row of Emirates Flight 956 to Cairo. Moments after our captain announced our decent into the city, the passenger I’d been elbowing for the past four hours began to freshen up with aerosol deodorant and a brand of aftershave undistinguishable to my American sensibilities. Delightful. The view through my squinting eyes proved I wasn’t in Dubai anymore. Nothing but sand dunes and cable towers for as far as the eye could see. A hotel representative holding a sign with my name greeted me. He escorted me through customs, arranged a visitor’s visa, and hired a limousine to transport me to the hotel Jim had been staying at for the past few days. I began protesting such luxuries until I discovered that a “limousine” was, in fact, a circa 1999 economy car with air conditioning. “I’ll take it,” I thought.
A short conversation at the hotel desk revealed Jim’s room number and as I pressed the elevator button, he turned the corner with a huge smile and a bigger embrace. He always looks so good tome after not seeing him for a few days, so handsome and warm – like home. He rushed me to clean up and whisked me away to what he hoped would be a romantic dinner. A friend recommended this restaurant for its atmosphere and views of the pyramids, but we found neither. We chuckled over the mediocre meal and compared our surroundings to a 1974 Luby’s with an Egyptian theme. Neither of us could stop talking about what we had missed over the past few days and I was elated to hear of his success with business contacts in Cairo. Exhausted, we sighed with weary relief as we slid under the hotel sheets and back in each other’s arms.
We nearly overslept as I rubbed my eyes and Jim raced to select a tie for his morning meeting. I kissed him goodbye and got myself into the shower. Our driver, Mohammad, would be picking me up in an hour to take me to the Four Seasons. A blur of uniformed men greeted me as I made my way to the front desk and checked myself into our new room with views of the Nile. Jim would be in meetings until lunch so I grabbed my book (The Devil Wears Prada) and found myself a cozy chaise lounge by the pool. Just as I decided I’d had enough sun, Jim appeared. We returned to the room to get some lunch when I discovered a Calgary Flames hockey game on ESPN and suggested, much to the delight of my husband, that we order room service and have a picnic on the bed. I fell asleep and Jim cheered his team to victory.
Jim arranged for a private tour guide to take us through the highlights of Cairo in under two days and the first day would include the Giza Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum and a Papyrus shop. Our guide was fairly green and I could barely understand her, but she was very kind and I appreciated her obvious effort to give us a very informative background of her country. The pyramids were amazing as were the millions of artifacts in the 1902 museum. I definitely want to visit again after doing a bit of background reading myself! That evening, one of Jim’s colleagues invited us to dinner with his family and we were excited about dining with “locals.” Ayman and Rhannie are a delightful couple with two young girls and a baby on the way. It was nice to talk to them both and about their life in Cairo.
Day two of touring included Memphis, Sakara, and a carpet school. Again, amazing statues, artifacts, and more pyramids. The carpet school was a bit disturbing. Obviously, the guide has taken us to a few “tourist hits” for us to spend money on perfumes, papyrus, rugs, etc., but what I saw in the school was near disturbing. First, a man from the school gave us a guide of the “factory” portion of the school where children not much older than five years old sat hunched in teams of three creating silk knots at an unbelievable rate. Their little fingers moved so quickly, they blurred. The children stared intently on their work only to glance up with a smile for a tourist once in a while. It reminded me of Children of the Corn or something. It was actually creepy. Jim could see me squirming and tried to hurry our little tour along before I gave the “school teacher/tour guide/slave master” a piece of my mind. I sat quietly while he showed us rugs and rattled off prices in Dollars, Dirhams, and Egyptian Pounds. Instead of simply stuffing a wad of money into one of the children’s hands, we bought a hideous Egyptian Cow rug that symbolized the Goddess of Hope, blah, blah. I’m sure it will make its way to Jim’s office.
Our bonus day. During our second night in Cairo, we discovered that Jim thought we were departing on the 16th and we decided to change our flight and stay an extra day. Jim left early for one last meeting with Ayman and I took a taxi to the Kha-lili Bazzar to do a little shopping. We tried to do the bazaar the day before, but I wasn’t feeling well and cut the trip short. Besides, who can comfortably shop with a small, Egyptian tour guide following you around? So, the doorman kindly arranged a taxi to take me to the bazaar and he also offered to wait and return me to the hotel after I was done in an hour. As I made my way through the streets of the 300 year old market, I found many treasures and began to weave my way into a maze of alabaster statues of Nefertiti and King Tut, turquoise jewlery, silver platters, and papyrus paintings of the Final Judgment. When my watch read noon, the time my taxi should be taking me back to my cozy hotel, I found myself deep in the market, taking turn after turn that ended no where. Finally, I discovered a “major” street (i.e., it had cars driving on it) and yielded a taxi. I felt horrible for standing up the first cab, but was happy to be in a vehicle and moving back toward home base. Back at the hotel, I gave the doorman 50 L.E. and asked him to please give it to the first driver (who, incidentally, showed up later asking for his money). Jim and I grabbed some lunch and walked across the street to the Giza Zoo to burn a couple of hours before we headed to the airport. Almost immediately after we paid the ½ L.E. entrance fee, a portly, sweaty zoo employee began directing us to see the “baby chimp.” We began going in the general direction and he followed, continuing to point, and finally running ahead of us to open a door that clearly read, “No Visitors.” Now we understood. We would be getting a private zoo tour, for some undetermined amount of money, which we did not ask for. This man was so jolly and eager to whisk us around to all the “No Visitors” areas. We had the most amazing, although primitive, private animal tour in under 2 hours. We played with a four year old chimp, cuddled two baby lions, held a fox that fit in my palm, wrestled an alligator and snake simultaneously, fed a standard size Hippo (my life’s ambition is complete!), and saw several full grown Hyenas and Leopards! Jim negotiated our little tour and we walked away in amazement at the opportunity we just stumbled upon.