My Dad Hated Cairo

You know those questions you want to ask but you no longer can?

I have a few of those.

My dad, who had all the answers (you know how some dads just do), passed away with no warning and now I am left with a disorganized inventory of clouded memories.

Together we shared hundreds of travel books, travel stories, travel dreams and trips to South Korea, Cambodia, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, India and Europe. He had completed his bucket list, short of one balloon ride. I hope I can say the same.

He had seen a lot of the world. Much of it before tourism caught on… that sole traveller in a jungle in the Amazon with the blow dart gun when tour groups were unheard of and hotel bookings were done by letter months in advance. That intrepid traveller willing to do anything once, including swimming with the water buffalo in the Mekong River – as seen in the header. Note to dad: Sorry, I know you would not be happy about your tummy being exposed but I guess you are not in a position to do anything about it now . 🙂

And of all those stellar five star travel memories that we have shared, I only remember one place he truly didn’t like.

My dad hated Cairo!

Now my dad was a slow mover and in the travel world, this means an easier target. He was a beacon, a green light, a neon flashing sign, for all the touts of Cairo. Notorious for slowly trodding, slowly talking, slowly paying, slowly moving on, he would gather his adoring fans, desiring his attention, attention of course he never sought and never liked.

So as I plan to move to Cairo to live, I don’t remember which African country he loved the most… I can’t remember if he spent time at Lake Malawi… I can’t remember which refugee camps he visited… I can’t remember his tales of Israel and Palestine… I only clearly remember…

He hated Cairo! Ugh…

Sorry dad, but we are still going.

(In the meantime, I am in training to speed up my pace and quicken my mind so I can out walk and outlast the touts and their infamous maneuvers that my dad never forgot. And since we are going to live in Cairo, I know that our experience will be different and uniquely our’s. Especially when my daughter, who is accompanying me, is the most positive enthusiastic traveller out there. Her travel cup is always half full!)

Have you lost a loved one and had questions you wished you could still ask? 

My Husband Has Replaced Me

It is not looking good.

Chris has found a new love. And it is not me.

Competition has arrived in a smaller and cuter package, one that doesn’t talk too much and will listen to all his stories. This perfect low maintenance relationship has begun and I haven’t even packed yet!

Yes, Chris, otherwise known as “I love to mow the lawn and trim trees and nothing more”  has entered the first stage of You are leaving and I need to get busy to fill up my time. 

Hence, the ominous appearance of these on the scene.

The infamous pumpkin and sunflower seeds that now shine in Chris's life.

The infamous pumpkin and sunflower seeds that now shine in Chris’s life.

Now to be fair, we have always been a bit of a pumpkin driven family. Enticed by the lure of fall, our family has been known to spend great gobs of time searching for pumpkins, playing with pumpkins and ultimately massacring them in the name of Halloween. Left to rot outside in the cold winter, we only remember to put them to rest once the snow begins to melt.

And so it is not too shocking that of all the seeds to attract Chris’s attention, pumpkins won out. The sunflowers were a peace-offering that I would remain “somewhat in the picture” as these are my favourite.

So determined to have the prettiest pumpkins and the sunniest sunflowers, Chris has turned on the charm as he lovingly plants and tends to his new garden.

Chris planting the pumpkin seeds.

Chris planting the pumpkin seeds.

I actually caught him the other night checking them out. “Apparently” frost was forecasted and he was deep in worry that his new “friends” were in harm’s way. Pacing and sweating, he finally managed to fall asleep, only to run to the yard the next morning to triple check their security.

So until I leave, I am now playing second fiddle to the dirt in my backyard.

Oh and the promises have already begun. I will be able to meet Chris’s new friends when they are born. Apparently Egypt Air will let them accompany Chris from Canada to Cairo. Well it is a direct flight after all… 🙂 If not, then we can still skype I guess.

(Special thanks to Ally from The Spectacled Bean who suggested the title for this post. Be sure to check out her blog which is terrific.)

Does your significant other have a hobby that “takes over” at times or borders on “obsession”? 

O is for Overwhelmed

I used to be very organized. Especially when it came to travelling. I had a guidebook, some medical advice, travellers cheques and off I went.

No fancy travel clothes, no special lock contraptions, no researched backpack, and definitely no GPS. Just me, my clothing from where ever and a couple of items from a military store.

Then it all changed on me.

Specialty travel stores, clothing designed for backpacking, travel blogs, TripAdvisor, cell phones, and even selfie sticks.

I now “know” what I should take, how to take it, how long to go for, where to avoid, what to eat, where not to eat, what debit cards to bring, which credit cards not to bring, where to stay, where not to stay, and even what the bathrooms will look like. Even for countries like Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan!

The more I read, the less prepared I feel. The less prepared I feel, the more overwhelmed I become.

Two words… information overload.

Which leads to anticipatory travel anxiety. What if I take the wrong thing? What if the lock I buy is not as good as theee one that Tina The Terrific Travel Blogger recommends. (And for those of you not in the “know” the latest must have is anything from Pacsafe).

What I do know for sure

  • Cairo has a great place for gelato.
  • There are some decent Indian restaurants in Cairo (a must).
  • There are many scams with the camels at the pyramids.
  • The traffic is crazy and I am learning how to cross the street (thanks to YouTube).
  • All food can be delivered. In fact, anything you want can be delivered.
  • Become good friends with the doorman. Every building has one and he is the “key” to getting by successfully.
  • I won’t be able to read my own bills as even the numbers will be in Arabic. (note to self: study now!)

However

Back to the basics. To get better organized and to become less overwhelmed, we have begun to get our priorities in order.

The Number 1 Priority is Chocolate Chip Cookies

We have been sampling recipes that don’t require any fancy schmancy kitchen tools. And we have succeeded.

So now that we have a chocolate chip recipe to take with us, we just need to find the magical travel store that has a sign that says, Are you going to Egypt? You need all this stuff. Buy, pack and take! 

In the meantime, my prep area still looks like this!

Yes, the photo on the right is my advanced method of learning Arabic! Yes, that too needs to be better organized.

Moving from Canada to Cairo with the Family C from A to Z

Have you ever felt overwhelmed when preparing to move? 

M is for Meatless

The nurse looks at me, questioning.

Be careful of the water, you know. I suppose you will be doing most of the cooking at home. Right?

Well, yes. Except when it comes to meat.

Why?

I don’ t even cook meat at our house here in Canada. I definitely won’t want to be cooking it in Egypt.

Are you a vegetarian? (eyeing me suspiciously now as she also glances at Jade)

Yes, but Jade isn’t. 

Then what happens here in Canada?

Well, Chris cooks it, of course 🙂 

I wasn’t always vegetarian; having grown up on hamburger helper and then tuna helper, when it was invented. How could one be meatless living in the cold prairies; the land of the casserole?

But then one night, this happened. The perfect eating formula for becoming vegetarian.

eating in the dark + ravenous hunger + steak + not cooked = soon to be very sick and scared of meat

This led to a multiple day stay at a MASH field hospital; a finely run establishment set up by the Italian medical soldiers  in Beira, Mozambique. Finely run if you understand Italian and you are male.

Me, being neither, had other opinions.

Only a mere year later (after being wrongly diagnosed with a serious disease and having fought off the Italians who had wanted to remove my appendix) I learned that my steak was the guilty culprit. Free to go, free to travel now, I celebrated with hitting the road again and this time avoiding…

So when it comes to Miss Nurse’s concerns about Jade’s meat eating in Egypt, I did some research only to discover that almost everything can be delivered in Egypt.

So cooked meat for Jade will be on speed dial, I guess. Whew! Survived that motherly guilt once more.

Happy eating, whatever you eat, from Cheryl and The Family C; travelling from A to Z.

What is the worst meal you ever ate?

D is for Different

Everyone went to university (or so it seemed). I went to The Netherlands to repeat grade 12 and take grade 1 Dutch.

Everyone found a job during university breaks (or so it seemed). I went to Suriname to volunteer in the jungle and returned home broke and somewhat malnourished.

Everyone thought I should work in France and ski in the winters (or so it seemed). I said no to that job (what was I thinking?) and went to law school instead.

Everyone wanted to work as a lawyer after finishing law school (or so it seemed). I said no to law and went to Cambodia to volunteer in the jungle, AGAIN.

Everyone said I shouldn’t change careers and return to university as I would never find a job at that age (or so it seemed). I did anyways and began to teach right away.

Being “different” or going against the grain, has always worked for me.

At least…until the other “D” word happened and then it abruptly changed.

Divorced was different (or so it seemed); but not the different that I had been seeking.

And then I heard.

I could never do that. I could never give up my child 50% of the time. 

And I heard this not once. Not twice. Over and over (or so it seemed). And each time, the sting stung, just the same.

The tune may have changed but the sound is still there. Albeit an easier one to hear.

I could never go to a place like that. How can you do that? Does your child really want to go?– in reference to moving to Egypt this time.

I don’t know. I guess, I am different?

Maybe, but this time, like most of the other times, it is the “good” kind of different.

At least that is what I am telling myself.

(And maybe being a little different, creates a kind of different for those around me.) I don’t know. Take a look, and let me know 🙂

Happy A to Zs from Cheryl and Family C.

A Is For Afraid

Afraid.

One. Solitary. Word.

So much encases that one word.

Afraid to even say I am afraid.

Complicated? Yes.

I am married to the most supportive and caring husband and together we have 4 daughters. We are a blended family and with that comes a lot of joy and a few extra complications. Recently we moved so my husband could follow his dream job and in doing so, almost all was perfect.

Except for one thing.

I am unemployed and I don’t like it. In fact, I hate it. And to make matters more complicated, there is very little hope that this will change.

So I brainstorm. I look for ways to make this all work. I have done this before. I can do it again.

EXCEPT BEFORE was before a blended family. Before responsibilities to ensure others’ happiness as well as my own.

This is a completely different ball game from when I chose to move to The Netherlands, or from when I chose to move to Suriname, or from when I chose to move to Cambodia or South Africa or Mozambique or Lesotho.

This time it involves separating a family, parents in love, sisters who enjoy each other.

Jade's pics 2013 feb-oct 163

This time it is the World Series, the game is in extra innings and I am up to bat. The stress and the fear is palpable. At least mine is.

So even though I am afraid, we have decided to make this difficult decision to temporarily separate our family in the hope that the positive outweighs the negative, that the rewards outweigh the challenges and that the glass remains half full and not half empty.

This is also why I started to blog.

I may need some reassurance when it gets a bit rough and I question why I do the things that I do.

And as the hotel manager states in the movie,The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end.”

(I have accepted a contract to teach in Cairo for two years at a school that one of our daughters will also attend. This is her second move in two years so this has been a family decision; one made together. Fortunately, she is a bright open-minded teen who adores new experiences, particularly those that involve travel, learning languages and finding her way in a new culture. She could pass on the food however.)

You are welcome to join me this month as I blog using adjectives from A to Z that highlight my OTD (obsessive travel disorder) for the A to Z Challenge.

Happy Travels,

Cheryl