Saturday, February 7, 2015

arriving

Hooray I'm here, in Cairo! Pretty darn jet lagged, but here.

Trip from Ohio to Egypt wasn't too bad at all. When you're traveling such a distance, it's best to expect a hiccup or two. Don't assume to the point of ruining yourself, but don't be surprised by any bumps along the way. Luckily mine were fairly manageable.


My first flight was delayed by just under two hours. I sent a whirlwind of texts to J all starting with "what happens if." I had a tight layover in Dulles and with each extended delay I knew my chance of making the connection was becoming slim. Gosh bless J for being the epitome of patience with me and my concerns. If I missed my flight, I could catch the next one at 9:50.

Which is what I ended up doing. I putzed around Dulles for a few hours, walked laps in the terminal and had dinner at a little place called Potbelly. They put tiny sugar cookies on their straws when you order a smoothie. I did tons of people watching, which is so satisfying in a place like the airport. My imagination spun out of control as I tried to imagine where the family across from me was going next. Each of them had a portable device of some sort, all with cords and plugs jammed in the charging station next to them. I wanted so badly to be fluent in German so that I could cut up with the two giggling german guys on my flight. Traveling has the ability to make you feel completely isolated but also a part of some bigger journey. J refers to traveling this sort of distance as "getting on the human conveyor belt." And it's true. Each airport is a little different but you learn to navigate the basics. Drink lots of water, be polite to everyone, and try to sleep when the sun goes down.

I get anxious for the long flights. Dulles to Frankfort was just under 8 hours. I stuck to my plan: eat dinner then get half a sleeping pill in me and try to snooze for the bulk of it, since it was overnight. I had the window, with an empty seat between me and the next person, so that as added perk--extra breathing/wiggle room always counts on those long hauls. I slept fitfully as I always do on planes. At least I didn't feel like complete hell waking up. I popped my contacts in as the breakfast cart made its round down the aisle.

Frankfurt was easy to navigate and soon I was sitting at my gate, surrounded by the beautiful sound of the arabic language. I felt calm and ready for my last stretch. The plane was completely full with passengers struggling to find space for their carry-ons. I shoved my own beneath the seat in front of me as well as under my own. I had the middle seat this time, and our plane was smaller so the seat backs didn't have screens. I'm glad I loaded my iPod up with comedy podcasts before leaving--that carried me through the flight start to finish. I was also constantly entertained by the egyptian man who just could not stand sitting down when the seatbelt sign was on. He tried, multiple times, to sneak into standing to tuck something away in the overhead bin. Each time the flight attendant, secure in her own seat, would hiss "Sir sit down, please," and the man would snap the overhead bin shut and sit down quickly. He could not stop trying it, which was cracking me up.

Our flight pulled into Terminal 3, undoubtedly the nicest of all the terminals at the Cairo airport. There were no busses needed to take us from plane to building--this time we had a walkway direct from the door to terminal. I know the routine at Cairo quite well at this point, so I hustled past slow walking travelers to get to the bank, buy my visa, and stand in line for immigration. Then its off to baggage claim, where I waited.

And waited. And waited. Until all the bags were cleared off the belt and I was still standing there.

Ah, of course. Here was my big ol bump in the road. It can happen if you get switched to a different flight. My bags didn't travel with me to Cairo, or Frankfurt as far as I knew. I gave my information to the baggage services and walked through customs feeling quite empty-handed with my backpack and laptop bag.

Just outside the door was chaos, per usual. People pressed together looking for their arrivals, as well as drivers asking if you need a taxi. La shukran, quick and polite. I found J with a big smile and a giant bouquet of flowers. They were a beautiful mix of maroons and whites and yellows wrapped in a bit of a burlap. My bags didn't make it, I told him. In my head I kept thinking of things that were in my luggage. Clothes, toiletries. Nothing life threatening or dire, which helped me calm down about it.

The traffic was madness getting back to Zamalek, per usual on a Thursday night(Egypt's weeks run Sunday to Thursday). J and I went to the Flamenco for one drink and then I crashed pretty hard at the flat. I think I slept 11 hours.


good morning, cairo

J had my favorite cereal and I devoured it as we caught up on Broad City and discussed the plan for the day. I was stuck in the clothes I traveled in, so we walked to Mobaco Cottons to find me a pair of pants and shirt to rotate into. I had to try on a few, but we found a pair. We also had lunch at Zooba, koshary for J and ta'amia(Egyptian falafel) for me. It was so very very nice to eat outdoors, in warm sunshine, especially after being in Ohio winter.

After errands we went back to the flat, and that evening had a great dinner with Maya. Unfortunately I woke up wide awake at 2am thanks to jet lag's grand entrance. Today included a 3 hour nap(much needed)

And would ya look what showed up today?


Hooray my bags!

More soon. But I'm here, I'm happy, and it's good.

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