More than a month (!) has passed since my sister visited us in October. I’m terribly behind on blogging but determined to catch up.
Abby was over the moon to pick up her Aunt Jamie at the airport.
Having my sister here was just the motivation we needed to cross off some major bucket list items in Cairo.
First and foremost, the pyramids! There are signs that say please do not climb, but you try keeping kids off of them while listening to a long-winded tour guide in 90 degree weather. I thought the weather would be much cooler. I thought we should semi-color coordinate our clothes and take a nice family photo for potential Christmas cards (something I haven’t managed to pull off in about 5 years). I had a vision. I thought we should have Jake come for the first part and then it’d be easy enough to send him home with the nanny.
I thought a lot of things and they were all wrong.
BUT! The pyramids were really cool to see. JR, my sister and the big kids actually went underneath one of the smaller ones in what our guide called “an Egyptian sauna”. I was especially impressed by the Solar Boat, this massive wooden boat that was found buried beneath giant stone pieces in front of one of the pyramids. Ancient Egyptians believed this vessel would carry the pharaoh into the afterlife.
We took my sister on a felucca (small boat) ride on the Nile and let the kids tag along. I went back and forth on whether or not I was supposed to put them in life jackets (which we don’t own) or at least a puddle jumper for William. But I’ve never seen anyone, American or Egyptian, do that so we felt reasonably safe with our adult-to-child ratio and just went for it. I’m much more concerned about crocodiles, to be honest. Sure, everyone says there are no crocodiles in this part of the Nile but everyone knows that:
We spent a morning shopping for bargains at the Khan, and since my sister is a foodie, she was excited to sample the different cuisines and restaurants here. She was also the first member of our family to visit the Egyptian Museum. The rest of us are holding out for the opening of the brand new one, which will hopefully open in 2020 (read more here).
The week went by too quickly, as it always does, but we are so grateful for the time spent together. Come back soon, Aunt Jamie!
One whole month of living in Egypt! Here are my first impressions:
- It’s hot. I mean REALLY hot. I’ve basically stopped checking the weather forecast because it is hot and sunny everyday. People say it’s different because this is dry heat, but I think when it’s hovering at 100 degrees (or more) daily, calling it dry heat doesn’t matter. I’m certainly not dry, because I start sweating the moment I walk outside. Straightening my hair is pointless.
- It takes a lot longer for mail and shipments to arrive. We were spoiled in Tbilisi! Our UAB (smaller air shipment meant to hold you over until the rest of your stuff comes) arrived at the same time as our HHE (all of our household goods, aka, the rest of our stuff), three weeks after we landed in Tbilisi. Now I know that was a fluke, but the wait for our UAB, or any planned delivery of it, is wearing. We are tiring of the same clothes and toys, and very much ready to make this apartment our home.
- We also won’t have our car for 3-4 months, so we are walking much more than we did at home. Our neighborhood is nice and it’s been fun finding new places to take the kids or go out to eat. There’s something like a country club that we joined nearby (but not as fancy). They have a swimming pool, lots of green space, playground and restaurant as well as offering classes and other events for kids. It’s a 15 minute walk from our place which isn’t too bad, and we are enjoying all the opportunities to swim with the kids.
- The work week is Sunday-Thursday. I wonder how long it will take until that feels normal. The schools are on the same schedule, so what’s interesting is I suspect when we leave here Abby will be surprised to learn that Monday-Friday is the norm back home.
- Speaking of school, Abby had her first day of Kindergarten! The school told us that we could ride the bus in with the littler kids on the first day, so I planned to do that. When the bus pulled up she turned to me and said, “Mom, I think I want to go alone.” So I did what any helicopter mom would do and raced to the school in an Uber to walk her into her classroom and take a few photos. So far we are really impressed with the school. The campus is really nice, and everyone we’ve met there is super nice and welcoming. She is taking Arabic 4 times a week, plus an Egyptian culture class. Gym is twice a week and includes a uniform, definitely not her favorite as it cramps her style. But right now the school is offering their swimming courses and we’ve already seen a big improvement in her freestyle stroke after just a few classes!
- The commissary (a grocery store on a nearby government compound) is amazing. We have had commissaries at our previous posts but they weren’t like this. The sign at the entrance says “Where your dreams come true.” You can get most of the American groceries you need there, and there’s a wide selection of brands. Wonder sandwich bread! Doritos! Tyson chicken breasts! The best thing is that the prices are reasonable, as opposed to a huge mark up usually found on the local markets.
- We have a really nice apartment. The layout works for our family, and the people in our building are all friendly. I think we’ll always miss our house in Tbilisi with all of the green space but the kids are getting along just fine here. As an added bonus, our good friends and next door neighbors from Tbilisi live directly below us with their two kids!
- Grocery and food delivery are affordable and super convenient. Jake was low on diapers, so I used an app to order a pack and they were delivered 2 hours later. The store charged me 134 Egyptian pounds and I tipped the guy 30 pounds. Grand total was $9.91 for delivered pampers! Last week I used a different app to order from Gourmet Egypt, kind of a smaller version of Whole Foods. They delivered bananas, onions, bread and sweet potatoes quickly and pretty cheaply. It’s so convenient to order groceries from your phone – I could really get used to this.
- JR and I celebrated our anniversary with a felucca (traditional wooden sailboat) ride on the Nile. It was relaxing and a great way to spend the evening.
On to month two, and if we are really lucky, we’ll get slightly cooler temps and the rest of our possessions!