Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fancy Flat, Fancy Felucca

We are finally in our new apartment, which I have been told is called a "flat" by most of the world.
View from our main balcony.
It is beautiful in a weird, ancient, traditional way and I love it.

We are on the second floor, but because of the high ceilings, it is actually four flights of stairs (plus several steps up to the apartment building). We live down the ally from four of our friends and very close to the bus stop and a local grocery store. The neighborhood has private security everywhere and is called “Compound Hadayek El Mohandeseen”. We are about a 10-15 minute walk from school, so I plan to walk every day rather than take the bus.

The living room is huge with plenty of space for an air mattress when people come and visit.
Welcome baskets!
Living room.

The kitchen gives us some worry, only because the gas stovetop and oven are ancient. It is hard to light, especially the oven portion, and nothing has a temperature monitor. I am sure we will produce some interesting dishes.
Kitchen with scary stove.
Washer is in the kitchen. Dryer will be on a clothesline outside or in the bathroom.
The bathroom is large with minimal storage, so we will buy some hooks for the bathroom and a drying rack, as we do not have a dryer.
Huge bathroom.
I love the tub!
My room is wonderful. I’m not sure which is my favorite part, but I love the ornate antiquity of all the furniture.
Beautiful room.
Hard, but decent bed.
Perhaps my favorite, the wardrobe.
The private balcony off my room.
It took a long time to drop off everyone at the six different apartments in this neighborhood. I started unpacking right away and took a break to walk to the grocery store. It is not a long walk, but we had to be careful to only get as much as we could carry back.

After that, we unpacked some more and then headed to the bus stop for a school-planned trip on a felucca in the Nile. A felucca (also called a “dhow”) is a small sailboat that seats about 10-15 people. Our group hooked two boats together and had two “captains”. We drank and ate kushari, a traditional vegetarian dish with beans, rice, macaroni, onions and either garlic or spicy tomato sauce. It was delicious!
Our felucca.
Sun is setting on the Nile. 
Sun has set.
At some point, we decided to act out Titanic.
At some point, we decided to act out Pirates of the Caribbean and steal the drinks from the other boat. He is using a corkscrew as a sword, I think. 
Panoramic view of the Nile from our felucca. 
It was weird to have my principal and headmaster pouring drinks and so relaxed. I am very used to teachers and administrators being so separate, and more generally, bosses not being so relaxed with employees. It helps to feel like I can be myself and everyone appears to be more like a family. Since nearly everyone (including administrators) is an expat, there is a certain stick-together quality about the group. I can’t wait to meet the rest of the staff.

A side story: during Ramadan, everyone is fasting. Because of this, we waited to eat until after sunset. These are long, hot days and dress is even more conservative, making this a difficult but holy time for many Egyptian people. Our boat captains were no different. They had not eaten since 3 a.m. and had worked outside all day in long sleeves and long pants (high: 100 degrees). At 6:30, the call to prayer came and they retrieved a bottle of water and a cup of soup (to share between them). They waited patiently through the prayer and at the end, opened their items to “feast”. This was a very moving act of faith and sacrifice for me and has opened up thoughts of faith and religion in my own life.

We returned to the apartment around 9 p.m. (the Nile and downtown Cairo is about one hour away, depending on traffic). I finished unpacking, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to sleep with the clutter of suitcases. It was nice to settle-in and I am trying to keep a list of things we might need. We will return to the sensory overloaded Hyper 1 store on Sunday or Monday to get the rest of our house wares.

Tomorrow, we visit Saqqara, an ancient burial ground that dates back to 3100 B.C. I can’t imagine that I can see and feel something that is more than 5000 years old. And I thought the Civil War was history. Better get to bed! More pictures and blogging tomorrow, hopefully, and I want to put my “Bloggie” camera to good use and get some video blogging going!
I'm on a boat.


  1. Your flat looks really great - I love the furniture. It is so good to see a photo with you in it, and on the Nile no less! I am so glad that you have had a great start, and seem to already have a support group surrounding you. Every morning I look forward to see what else you have to share with us. The other day, Stan told me he missed you. I do too!

    1. Stan misses me? Ain't that sweet! Tell him I miss him, too.

      I also love the furniture, especially the ornateness. Mostly because it's hilarious.

      I miss you all! Tell everyone hi for me! Reading these comments is the highlight of my day.

  2. Amazing caPtions...did you go to college?: "I am on a boat"

    1. "I'm on a boat" is a reference to what SNL hilarious sketch with Lil' Wayne?

      "I'm on a boat, m*****f*****s!"

  3. I am so excited for you! Your apartment looks great and comfortable. Looking forward to the next blog.

    1. Thanks, Gwen, for reading and commenting! I hope you are still subbing because Matt, the new music teacher at Nieman, has your name!

  4. I look forward to reading you blog every day. Love the pics, especially the last one of you on the boat. (Don't pay any attention to that smart-*ss daughter of mine.) Your apartment looks really nice. Send more pics when you've finished moving in and "fluffing" it!

    1. Hi Patti! Not sure how much fluffing there will really be. My roommate brought some decoration stuff with her, but I just brought some personal pictures to hang on the wall. I may purchase a few things, but only if they are cheap.

      I do hope to do a video blog that tours my apartment and neighborhood pretty soon.

      Don't worry about your daughter....I would expect nothing less!

  5. Wow, fascinating! Your flat looks great. Love, Juli

  6. Love the flat... you are "uptown"!