Sunday, December 7, 2014

bits of egypt(soon to return)

I'm excited(and a bit nervous) to say I will be moving overseas in about 1 month, on or around January 15th. I will stay in Egypt with J until we officially move for his next post(shortly thereafter).

I'm looking forward to returning to one of the most beautiful and challenging places I've ever been.

I will most likely arrive sleep deprived, jet lagged, my guts in a knot and off to the left for days until I adjust. What a beautiful luxury, to wake up beside my love every morning, to walk through the streets as the call to prayer starts. It is always the voice of the mosque closest that you will notice first, and then the others echoing across the city. They come together and drift apart.

I love spending time on J's balcony. Wires hang low on the building, rooftops around me littered with satellite dishes. There is a busted green chair there, perpetually covered in a thin layer of dust(as most things are outdoors). Sometimes I will take the time to dust her off and other times I will carry out one of the heavy dining chairs to sit on instead. Here is where you will hear the call to prayers come and go, the incessant honking of traffic, the revving of motorbikes between double parked cars. In the courtyard below, cats will curl in the shade of plants or pick fights with each other. I will sit here peaceful, writing a bit while trying to completely convince myself that yes I am in fact there and not dreaming it.

me, forever on the balcony. photo by J

My first visit was around this time last year, during christmas and new years. We went to bed not long after midnight on new years eve(the sound of Egyptians singscreaming karaoke ushering us into slumber), but were awake again around 4am due to the neighbor's never-ending party a floor below. Techno at full volume, never-ending. J even went down to ask if he could knock it off, but it continued. Awake and annoyed, I suggested we go for a walk since there was little to do but grind our teeth over the bass beneath our feet. So we walked through early morning Zamalek, and the quiet was welcome. We walked to the Cairo Marriot and paid for their breakfast buffet. We stuffed ourselves on made-to-order omelettes, couscous and grilled vegetables. You could carve honey right off the comb at the bread station. Egyptians in the previous night's party clothes were seated at tables nearby. We felt handsomely rewarded for being driven out of the flat by techno music. We took our time walking back and when we returned there was nothing but beautiful silence below us.

Every arrival finds me determined to further prove myself in this unusual place. I practice arabic leading up to departure yet still find myself a bit shy to speak as much as I know. On my last trip, I paced and fretted for hours over what should've been a simple trip to Cairo Kitchen to get koshary. J was at work and I wanted the challenge of getting there solo. I studied the map and directions he sent me, feeling embarrassed I couldn't remember routes we've taken before. I am fairly awful at remembering direction. In Zamalek there are short cuts to everywhere, and together we often took them. All this to say I didn't make it there on my own, and silently kicked myself about it for days.

I love the Egyptian people. I love the way groups of teenagers will be leaning all over certain streets when school lets out. A moped might zip by, carrying three young children behind the driver. I love the random of taxi drivers and hearing "yah habibi" music floating through traffic. I love the sweet smell of shisha filling the air on Friday nights. The neon and music thump of a falluca floating by, kids climbing bridge girders across the Nile. Gin and tonics with journalists, coffee and soccer on a patio of rocks.

I'm thrilled to return and, for a short while, call her home.

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