New Cairo: Shades of Brown

I live in New Cairo and yes, it is new. But sometimes it is hard to get my head wrapped around that.

When we think “new”, we imagine shiny and clean.

These aren’t the 2 words that pop to mind when I look at my neighborhood.

Shades of brown, dust, dirt, garbage and touches of colour scattered amongst is what I see as I walk daily to school and to my shops for much needed water, bananas and bread (oh and the odd Milka bar as well).

But with the shades of brown comes smiles, high fives and the odd person who stands out from the rest.

Once while looking for a restaurant, a lady offered to drive us there so we could find it. We got inside and she happily drove us to it.

Once while shopping, we paid too much for our vegetables and the man happily told me and returned the money.

Once while waiting for Jade to join me, the parking man offered me his seat so I could sit down.

Small gestures that mean a lot when adjusting to a new place.

So although shades of brown dominate my landscape, I see the colours and the vibrancy of the people who encompass it as well.

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Adjusting to Cairo?

I have lived in 8 countries. I have worked overseas before. This time, however, “adjusting” is taking longer.

Why?

Other times I was less (or not!) reliant on computers, the Internet, or anything else electronic!

This time I am. And it is a game changer.

As I have limited to no wifi at home, my life revolves around my phone and/or my school computer. Both have their good days and their not so good days.

As a result, any ideas of “perfection” when it comes to my blog and/or keeping in touch with other bloggers through their blogs, have sadly gone down the drain. At least for the moment.This has been my first lesson in adjusting.

Adjusting is hard work. In fact in Egypt it can be very sweaty hard work.

I literally sweat all day! Living on the third floor and working on a fourth floor means walking up and down stairs all day long. Especially when you teach Grade 4s who need to be taken and returned to the classroom numerous times throughout the day. So the gym has become my flat and my classroom. It saves money and it saves time!

I have been teaching for one week now. A typical day begins early for me (my choice!) as I like to beat the sun and get to work before I officially become one hot sweaty mess. Walking to work is minutes away so I am very fortunate in that regard.

The teaching day is busy, loud, slightly chaotic and sometimes resembles what I have previously experienced in Canada. And sometimes not. It depends on the day.

I have a classroom with desks and 22 students. I have 22 students, some who love to talk and others who don’t. Those who love to talk are entertaining at times but of course, need to be managed. All teachers know the thrills and the lows of September teaching but how is it that I tend to forget what September feels like each year?

As my school has a Ontario curriculum this means some changes for me as expectations and procedures are of course different. And of course, this school is set in a desert like setting in the suburbs of Cairo.

Students get to swim each week in the school pool! For those who teach like myself in schools without pools, this feels like a weekly field trip! Our first visit went fine until the girls needed to primp after to get ready to return to class. Yes, another adjustment for me and one that will involve some creative solutions in the future.

Each day after school, Jade comes to my classroom. For the first time, I am teaching at a school that she attends. We love this! Her adjustment is extraordinary. She was meant to do this. Her classmates are curious and friendly. A perfect combination for a teen in a new country. Jade even loves her uniform and the food in the cafeteria. And of course, one week into school and she is already sleeping over at a friend’s house. Can you hear me sigh with relief and gratitude that she loves it so much already?!

Usually after school, we walk to our local market and stores to run our errands. We have our fruit man and our bread man that we buy from daily. We have our store now that delivers our water and our heavier groceries to our flat. Delivery for the cost of less than a dollar! We have our pizza take out place and our Italian restaurant for more relaxed occasions.

We are slowly but surely finding our rhythm.

And as we do, we will change it all up next week when we fly to Sri Lanka to backpack for one week. Now that is the adjusting that I can get used to pretty quickly.

Take care all and thanks for bearing with us as we find our Egyptian feet.

Cheryl and Jade

Yes! Time To Move From Canada To Cairo

The world of travel is unbelievable.

Monday, I am living in the familiar. My world in Canada.

By Friday, I will be living in the unfamiliar. My new world in Cairo.

Hard for me to comprehend beginning the week in one country and ending it in another.

You step on a plane and a mere 12 hours later, you exit to a different life.

So as we get ready to make the move, I want to thank you all for supporting me and my family!

I can’t wait to begin sharing our Egyptian adventures with you as soon as we:

  • finish Canadian check list ( I can always hope, right?)
  • drag our 5 bags and 2 of the heaviest carry-ons the world has ever seen to the Toronto airport
  • find (hopefully) our 5 bags on the Cairo carousel happily waiting for us to retrieve them
  • drag said baggage to our furnished (thank goodness) flat in the heat wave
  • unpack baggage, sleep, and try to find something to eat and drink with their currency
  • begin to make the new Egyptian check list which (from what I have read) will be never ending!
  • and when I accomplish my first task (Internet), you will be certain to hear from me from Egypt!

So until then, have a great rest of the summer and be happy and healthy 🙂

Talk to you later from Cairo,

Cheryl

(PS. A special thanks to my husband for the going away gift. He grew the sunflower for me. It looks like he has successfully replaced me after all!)

Uhmm… I Have A Few Bags To Check

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Today is official unpack and repack day since the whole packing thing is not going so well.

I am wondering if Egypt Air would notice if I showed up with a few extra inches and a few extra pounds here and there. I wish there was a way to distract Mr.or Mrs. Egypt Air so they didn’t notice.

Any ideas on how to get away with the above? If so, please let me know pronto. 🙂

International Paring Down Day

Did you know there is a National Hug Day, A Purple Day (and I have been missing out on this for years and I am obsessed with purple), A World Turtle Day, and even An International Left-handers Day?

So I have decided to declare June 15 to be International Paring Down Day.

I usually love to pare down, to minimize, and to declutter my wardrobe on a regular basis.

Two words…cheap therapy.

Well usually…

Unless the paring down involves what will go on a trip and what will stay behind. And when it is not a trip and more of a move, this whole paring down thing begins to suck.

Unlike the old days when I could sweet talk the person at the airport counter into looking the other way at the amount of luggage I came bearing, there are rules now… and strict ones at that.

So no suitcases are going. Only hockey bags for all that hockey my daughter and I play… NOT!

And even though Cairo has 4 seasons sort of, I have deemed their winter not a true “winter” in my books, and have pulled the plug on all those bloody thick sweaters that take up way too much room.

Yay! Back to having some space.

Now what am I going to do about these boxes filled with my wonderful teaching crap materials? I can’t teach without this stuff, whatever it is!

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Out goes more clothes. Books out rank clothing any day! Unless you are talking about anti-bug clothing which my daughter wants to take.

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Just kidding 🙂

Are you a pro at paring down when you move/ travel or do you struggle and resist? Have you ever been stuck paying extra charges at an airport for overweight luggage?

When Saturday Becomes The New Sunday

When Thursday is the new Friday and Sunday is the new Monday, then hump day becomes Tuesday.. – Cheryl

Confused? Me too.

In Egypt, the school week ends on Thursday and begins on Sunday.

You know how many times I have taught the calendar in Canada? Colouring it, labelling it, playing with it in Grade 3 land? I have this calendar thing totally memorized.

And now… at the ripe old age of (be kind), I have to relearn it?

Chris and I have been practicing. When it is Sunday, I remind him that I will be working. When it is early Saturday afternoon and his weekend is just underway, mine will be ending. The more we practice, the worse I get.

I simply can’t imagine beginning my work week on a Sunday.

I guess Mondays are going to be a whole lot better!

And Tuesdays which are no big deal in Canada have now been upgraded to a much higher status.

And no more TGIF.

It is all about TGIT.

That has a good ring to it.

Yikes! It is Saturday already. My weekend is almost over 😦

(Thanks to My Spanglish Familia who sent me a ticket to quote land. I have had fun travelling there. I may not come back.)

What is your favourite day of the week and why?