I have had 4 days of my Survival Arabic class and have learned A LOT! I often find myself wanting to speak in Spanish. I have no clue why. I rarely try to speak English. But I keep thinking and wanting to respond in Spanish. On the positive side of things; I can sound out words and say them when I see them written in Arabic. I can count to 10...100 if I am awake and alert. I can say, "Hi" and "Good Bye", as well as have a few simple conversations about things like food, and prices of food/taxi fair. I am really happy that I took this class because it gave me something to do during the day and made me get my body on Egypt time. ( I still know people who are staying up until 6 am and then sleeping until 2 pm.)
Monday was pretty uneventful except for a trip into town...which became a trip to City Stars. We got into town on the AUC bus. Then found out that the next bus back to the school wasn't until Midnight. (and if you know me I am totally not an evening person.) So my friend Alison and I got a cab and went to City Stars. The cab ride was CRAZY! Picture rush hour DC traffic....with no lines on the road....and a cab driver who is young and willing to take risks. We were weaving all over the place. Making lanes (well there are no lanes....but if there were, we would have been making new ones). I am positive that riding in a cab in NYC after this trip will be a piece of cake! (There were a few times where we were so close to the car next to us that I could touch them IN THE CAR without any effort...it was an interesting experience) But none the less these guys seem like they know what they are doing.
Then we got to City Stars. (City Stars is a HUGH 7 story mall in Cairo. Name a store and they have it!) I had arranged to be taken back to school by Sarah (who totally saved me that night! THANK YOU SO MUCH!) and so while she was eating dinner we wandered around and checked out the stores. I was shocked to find quite a few Lingerie stores. What was defiantly the weirdest part of the experience was during Iftar the whole mall was empty. All the stores closed and everyone headed to the food court. WHICH WAS PACKED!! There were no seats so people were sitting on the stairs and on the floor. Also what I thought was pretty wild is that there is a place to pray in the mall itself. So maybe Monday was more interesting then I thought! :-)
On Tuesday I went to Khan el Kahlily Bazaar and it was AMAZING. (the bus driver got lost on the way there...which is not uncommon...and so we only got to spend and hour there but it was worth it!) I got a scarf which is so pretty. (I love bargaining for things!) They had lamps everywhere that reminded me of Aladdin. Tons and Tons of trinkets, scarfs, rugs, ornate boxes, and lamps. (This is totally where I am going to get souvenirs!) In order to keep track of everyone in the bazaar people looked for blonde heads. If you got separated from the group you just needed to spot a yellow head and head that direction! At the end of the evening we chilled at the coffee/Shesha bar until to bus came. I had fresh Mango juice. Words cannot describe how good it was! The tea was also wonderful and so different from the states. When we were getting ready to leave we attracted a lot of attention. Nothing bad, just a lot of waving and people saying "Welcome!". (The kids seemed the most amused by all of us!)
Wednesday was fun. After class the school provided us with Iftar and entertainment. The food was AMAZING!!! Mostly because I got to eat veggies!!! I MISS VEGGIES SO MUCH! The food here is very meat heavy, very good...but lots of meat. They set up a stage by the library and tons of tables for all of the international students and first year students. We had greenbeans, carrots, and peas. As well as chicken, beef sausage, and rice. I had water, pepsi and apricot juice to drink (IT WAS YUMMY). For desert we had pudding with nuts in it. I was full and happy!
After we ate a club on campus played a movie they made. It was supposed to show arab history through time and be a comedy. But everyone at my table got distracted when in the first 5 minutes of the show they had characters appear in black face. I was sitting at a table with 7 students (2 were African American) and 3 profs. All of the students were staring with their mouths open. The profs didn't react. So an interesting conversation got started about how, yes minstrel shows are not part of Arab history. Therefore, they probably don't realize how offensive black face is. But still, it really hit a nerve, and we all had a MAJOR case of culture shock. (Not being able to flush toilet paper was odd but you get over it. Seeing people in black face and no one reacting but the Americans. Was really weird because that ideas is so ingrained into out culture. But it is in no way present here.) Afterwards they had a DJ come and play music. It was fun to watch people dance because they don't touch each other. (They kind of hop) I found it amusing.
Yesterday I had a Bedouin night....but this post has gotten LONG so it will just have to be by itself!
P.S. Hopefully I will be able to figure out how to post pictures with my blog soon!