Whew! What a whirlwind!
As I write this, I am finally laying on my bed in beautiful Zamalek, Cairo. The only downside is the room smells like a cafeteria lady mopped it with a bucket of her underarm sweat. It’s exactly the same smell. However, after a significant amount of time with both the window open (hot, hot, hot!), and the air conditioning on full blast, I think I may have freshened the place up a little!
Aside from the stink, the room is quite amazing. HUGE, because three of us live here (though neither of my roommates have arrived yet), and very well laid-out. Each of us has our own desk and ample closet space.
All of my flights were easy and quick, though unfortunately that meant I didn’t sleep at all. On my first flight, from Minneapolis to Chicago, I sat next to a boy visiting from France. On my flight from Chicago to Frankfurt I originally had three seats to myself, but the boy sitting across the aisle ended up moving to sit by me. He’s studying abroad in Russia this semester, and we played Tic-Tac-Toe for the better part of seven hours. On my last flight, from Frankfurt to Cairo, I sat next to a girl from Luxembourg who speaks about a thousand languages.
The only thing that surprised me about the trip over were the airports! Frankfurt, which I expected to be orderly and neat in the usual German style, was a wreck! Aside from the construction, the departures screen often only displays your terminal, not your gate, so you have to wait forever to figure out where you need to go. My ticket said B25, so after maneuvering through construction and crowds of all sorts, I made it, only to be told B62 was my new gate, and I had to go through security again to get there. Basically a mess.
The Cairo airport, on the other hand, which I had expected to be as frenzied as if the final battle of Armageddon was perpetually approaching that very airport, was BEAUTIFUL. Open, clean, and practically empty. The man who picked us up was hilarious, always clucking at us as if we were his little chickens and he was our impatient mother.
“Yalla! Let’s go!” Followed by a melodious and perpetual, “AUC!!!! AUC!!!!”
After a bus ride that would have impressed circus performers (which is the act where a thousand people jump out of a car? Ours was a thousand suitcases), we were able to relax in Zamalek for several hours. At 8:30 we all went to get cell phones and dinner, Ramadan making the late hour necessesary.
It’s been an adventure already!
Author’s note: I wrote the post above in 2010, when I studied abroad at The American University in Cairo for a semester.