Friday, August 27, 2010

jet lag and feluccas

Today started out late. Really late. I don't know exactly what time I woke up, but I'm fairly certain it wasn't before noon Cairo time. I showered, which was its own little adventure, because I had to carry everything with me that I needed, and technically we're not allowed to walk around dressed indecently in a towel. The shower itself was fine, except for the hardware. The shower head decided that it was a good idea to spray water up and sideways as well as down, and managed to get everything, including the bathroom floor outside the shower completely wet. That was alright though, since it didn't get my clothes, just my makeup bag, which I managed to dry later on the A/C.
After my shower, I spent a few hours in my room, generally being lazy since I knew nothing interesting was scheduled. I started to get really hungry and feel sick, though, so I eventually went out into the Cairo heat and humidity to find some food. Originally, I was planning to brave the streets and find a supermarket, but I was feeling so sick by then that I settled for an orange juice from the cafeteria, which was delicious. I met a nice girl who had just arrived and we talked while we ate/drank.
I think my favorite part of being here so far in general is how many new people I get to meet. I may not remember their names, but being able to have 10 new conversations a day with 10 different people is very fun and exciting. Even meeting back up with people I've met before is fun, because then we get to guess each other's names, once we've both admitted we don't remember them.
After my breakfast/lunch of orange juice, I returned to my room and took a nap before my next step of the day, which was dinner, and hopefully real food. Well, technically I took two naps, because I meant to get up at 4:30pm, but reset my alarm for 5:30 as soon as it went off the first time since I could barely keep my eyes open.
Dinner was good, although it also came from the cafeteria. I met even more new people, some of whom I went on an adventure with later.
Two girls from my dinner table wanted to buy cell phones, and since I was pretty sure I remembered where the cell phone store was, I offered to go with them, just to get outside the dorm for the first time that day. Eventually two other girls joined us and we headed out. At first we were stuck in a large group of people, who, it turned out, were not heading to the cell phone store at all, but to dinner. Oh well. We made our way back to the dorm to try again, and unfortunately, I managed to get us lost. Not badly lost, but definitely lost enough to not know the exact way back home. We wandered for about half an hour before running into a couple of other AUC students who pointed us back to the dorm, which was just down the road in the one direction I had been sure it wasn't. So much for my sense of direction!
cairo traffic - don't try to cross the street!
The RAs had arranged a trip for us at night, a felucca ride on the Nile, which thankfully I had signed up for yesterday, because it was full by the afternoon today. The meeting time was 8:30, but we didn't leave the lobby to get on a bus until 9:15, and we didn't make it to the boats until about 10. Traffic was insane, even from a huge tour bus. Everyone was done breaking their Ramadan fast and we headed home. The bridges between Zamalek and the mainland were the worst, but it wasn't great anywhere.
The boat ride was amazing. The captains unfurled the giant red sails and pushed us off from the dock and into the Nile. We cruised for over an hour, talking and taking pictures, and enjoying the desserts that our RA, Ayesha had brought for us. I didn't catch the name of the dessert, but it was delicious, and we all ate plenty.
looking north down the nile
The Cairo skyline from the Nile was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Filled with river boats, tall hotels and skyscrapers, lit from below by headlights and above by searchlights, it was an amazing sight. Too soon, the tour was over, and our boat took us back to the dock and the waiting bus. Traffic back to the dorms was, if anything, worse than it had been on the way there. People crossed the streets every which way, some only glancing quickly at the oncoming traffic before they made their move.
Finally, we made it back, and my new friend Emily and I tried to glean whatever information we could about our student orientation on the new campus, scheduled for tomorrow. None of the RAs had anything to help us, though, so we headed off to bed, with plans to meet up and catch the earliest bus to AUC that we could get. 7:40 has never looked so early before, and if I have any plans to shower tomorrow, it's time for bed.

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