Monday, September 3, 2007

Out of Africa (Well, Cairo)

Sorry about the lull in updates. Things are pretty hectic here, and the only time I'm in my room is for the five or so hours a night I sleep. But let's get this show on the road, because I have plans soon.

So. We got up to go to the Red Sea. We were told we had to be at campus at 8 AM, so that meant we would have to take the 7:30 AM shuttle. Since we're in Egypt, there were no shuttles waiting for us. So all 200 of us kids from Zamalek had to catch cabs in groups of four. It took forever to get that many cabs. The cab ride was absolutely nuts, too, because for some reason our driver was blasting the craziest Arabic music I've ever heard. So this awful woman is screeching like a banshee as we're careening through traffic. It was wild.

When we got to campus, there was mass chaos again. No one knew what to do, there weren't any buses, kids were missing, and long story short, we left about thirty minutes late. And then we stopped at a gas station for a while to wait for our security guards to arrive. So things were already not going as planned. When we arrived at the hotel, no one knew what to do, but we were quickly herded directly into an auditorium. How was your trip? Good? Okay, now sit for a three-hour orientation session. What made it even worse was the fact that it was a question and answer segment, and I think AUC students are all either insane or really funny jokers. People asked about crocodiles leaving the Nile and entering the city, what to do if they wandered and got lost in the middle of the desert, and where Tomader thinks are good places to eat. Then we sat through presentations introducing us to the Student Union and the "Friends", who are there to help us/take Tomader's verbal abuse. Finally, they let us go, but said that we couldn't go to the beach and would have to all sit in the lobby for an hour. Sweet!

Two hours later, we were given the keys to our rooms. We were grouped in threes alphabetically by our last names. The quality of the room you were given was up in the air - some people got waterfront rooms with balconies, while Beckett had to share one king-sized bed with two other guys. We got two twin beds and a cot, and our room was right by the water. So I was happy. Although they only gave us one key for the three of us, and only one beach towel. One of the jerks I was stuck with decided he was going to hang on to the key and I would have to find him if I wanted to get into the room at all, even though everyone else was leaving their keys at the front desk so all three could have equal access to it. But whatever, the less I had to see of the guy, the happier I was.

The Red Sea was great. It was warm enough to make us have to got out frequently because we were getting a bit too hot, but it was so much fun. Plus we could walk forever and never not be able to touch the ground. It was so shallow - big deal, Moses, I could part this if I wanted to. So we lounged around on the beach all day, and that night we went to a "bellydancing show" which was anything but. It was hosted by this gay little Italian man who was incredibly annoying. For some reason this Italian woman in a bellydancing costume sat on a pillow on stage and smoked shisha with him the whole time, but she did no dancing at all. Some other woman (with enormous breasts) did all the dancing, but it wasn't bellydancing as we know it. It was just a lot of swinging her arms and shaking her ass. And she barely did that, because for every song she just called random guys up on stage and made them dance with her. As the night progressed, I started to notice that she had called all the guys from the first three rows up, with the exception of me. So I began to empty my pockets and think up some cool dance moves.

Then things turned sour. This guy came out, kind of like a Whirling Dervish, only more circus-like. He was wearing a multicolored skirt and some sort of crazy getup, and he just spun in a circle for about ten minutes straight. It was actually kind of cool, until he took off the skirt, stopped spinning, and then just spun the skirt over his head like pizza dough. He did that part for another 5 or so minutes, which got really, really boring. Suddenly, the Italian announced that he would need two people to compete in a spinning competition. So of course Tara starts pointing at me, and next thing I know, I'm being dragged up by the Italian. The other guy they pulled up goes first, and he makes it for 25 seconds, which is absolutely pathetic. So then the Italian and the clearly gay (even though he claims to be married) Whirling Dervish start to put the skirt on me, but before I know it, they've torn off my shirt. So I do the spinning shirtless for some reason, and I make it for 30 seconds before I stop (I could have gone for days, but what would be the point?) Well, I was feeling quite ill, but then the Italian guy grabbed me, threw me over his shoulder, unintentionally (I think) pressed my genitals against his face, and started spinning me around more. I was so close to throwing up. And now I keep getting recognized by AUC students. I hate Egypt.

Later that night, Tara, Beckett, Kyle, Catherine Catherine (don't ask) and I decided to sleep on the beach and watch the sunrise, mostly to avoid all of our awful rooming situtations. We went down to the beach at 2 AM, but a guard wouldn't let us go on it because Tomader told him not to (seriously, he let Egyptians on the beach), even after we found cigarettes for him. But he said we could go in the pool. So Tara and I instantly jumped into the pool, which woke up all the students who had been sleeping in chairs around the pool, waiting for the beach to open so they could watch the sunrise. Plus it attracted some other guards, who kicked us out of the pool and said the beach was open. When we went to the beach, a guard tried to send us back to the pool, but we told him what had happened. He called his superior officer over, who asked, "What's happening?" The poor little guy answered (in Arabic), "The world is broken." But all was good, and a big group of us got to sleep on the beach.

Turns out it was kind of a bad idea. It gets pretty cold in the desert at night, especially when you're right on the water. And we had no blankets or towels or anything, and Tara and I were wet. But Tara managed to talk one of the guards into fetching a blanket for her (she gets free stuff all the time), so she was okay. She climbed onto my chair and I got under the blanket, but she didn't like my still-wet shorts, so she moved to Beckett's chair. Then things got crazy and she was totally naked from the waist down, because she had taken off her suit to dry, and she gave me her skirt to use as a blanket. But Beckett kept his clothes on and remained a perfect gentleman to this half-naked, attractive Iranian girl lying under the blanket with him. Even though we were kind of miserable, we had a great time together, especially in our attempts to force poor, shy Kyle to make out with Catherine Catherine, who is ridiculously hot and really likes him.

Finally the sun came up. It was really beautiful, and it was the first real sunrise I've ever sat and watched all the way through. Then we went back to our rooms to get some sleep. But my room had, like, five guys in it for some reason. I didn't question it and just went to sleep. Two hours later, I was woken up by all the guys walking around in only their boxers, and someone loudly saying, "Just let me poop!" I just rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. That wasn't possible, so I just went to the beach to catch some sleep, which I never ended up doing, since I spent the rest of the day swimming and playing ping pong. Isn't my life so difficult?!

7:00 that night, we all boarded our same buses for the trip back to Cairo. But since AUC was in charge of things, nothing could go right. Our bus was completely messed up. The air conditioning didn't work, and the exhaust and heat from the engine was directed into the back of the bus rather than the outside air. It was well over 100 degrees in that bus, and we were all choking on carbon monoxide. We literally spent the whole trip giggling and passing in and out of consciousness at random. Although on Beckett's bus, the girl next to him vomited into her hands, so I prefer mine.

The next day, we got up bright and early to go on another AUC trip to the pyramids and the Sphinx. It was really awesome seeing them, since I hadn't seen any pyramids yet and I've been wanting to see them since I was, like, five. Although we had to stick with our huge, obnoxious group of kids, and we were on AUC's schedule, which allotted us only 15 minutes at some places and bypassed some really cool-looking things. We'll definitely have to go back, and I totally have to ride a horse or a camel.

We got to go inside some tombs and a pyramid (the Titi Pyramid, nonetheless, which had us all giggling like the 20-year-olds we are), and it was incredible. Everything was at least 4000 years old, but in many places the paint was still on the walls. And the hieroglyphics were beautiful and it was all incredible for a history nerd like me. Cameras were not allowed, but I'm a huge rebel, so I snuck some quick pictures. Suckers!

Today I had to register with Tomader, which was actually kind of scary. She made the girl before me cry, but I held it together. She forced me into some classes I don't want to take, but starting Wednesday we can bypass her and just drop and add classes at the registrar office, so I'm going to do that. Although I don't suspect for one moment that my actions will escape The Tomader's notice, and I fully expect her to break down my door any second.

I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of life in Cairo, and now I'm prepared to add classes - which start Wednesday - to the mix. Although I hear classes aren't that difficult, and once I change my schedule around, I should only have classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. Two day week, baby!

Now I must go. Beckett and I are meeting Emily from Madison and her roommates for something - not quite sure what yet. Tomorrow I have absolutely nothing to do, and I plan on sleeping forever. I can't wait.


You are not allowed to take nor see this picture.


Same goes for this one. Although this one is pretty cool.


I had slaves construct these ones just for me.


Touching the Step Pyramid, which, I believe, is the oldest thing in the world.

1 comment:

Shiksa Mom said...

Dad is very jealous that you've touched things older than he has. Could you bring home a few of your slaves, I could use them around the house.