Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Getting lost and found

Whew! I had the most exhausting day! I got hopelessly lost once, semi-lost several times, rented an apartment in Arabic, walked for hours in stifling heat, got heckled at , abused, and otherwise sterotyped as an American female, rode two taxis, found out my ATM cards don't work, and returned home entirely ebullient on the scary streets. But getting lost is rather frightening, especially as you walk and walk farther into unknown territory, watching the scenery change from downtown to Old Cairo, the Islamic district. The stares I receive are so prurient, although every other girl I've talked with receives the same treatment (so don't worry, mom!) Men stare at every inch of you at their leisure, and they feel no shame at this. I've already gotten a few pretty good lines-I think one was "One hour of power?" Heehee! Many guys either whistle or hiss, most say 'welcome, welcome to Cairo' in that low voice.

Anyways, I retraced my steps after getting lost, returned to the AUC campus and the Hill House almost in tears. Dina, one of the admistrators, was very sweet and drew me a map back to my hotel. Before I left, I encountered a few girls who were looking for an apartment. Hey, why not look, I thought. Well, now I've signed an apartment lease for 10 months in a three bedroom, two bath flat in Zamalek, an island in the Nile. Finding it was extremely challenging, and I was lucky that one of the girls was fairly fluent in Arabic. We saw an advertisement on a tree (cheap advertising), called his cell, and he met us at the Hardee's and showed us several apartments. We finally settled on one with a view of the Nile for 3300 Egyptian pounds (LE), but then the owner came and raised the price to 3900. Well, that wasn't acceptable, so we negotiated, shouted, and bargained our way down to 3600. We accepted it, attempted to understand the Arabic lease agreement, and handed over our incomes (actually, I owe my new roommates a lot of cash because my ATM card doesn't work). Then the broker needed his share, so we probably over-paid him and left. We move in next Wednesday! I'm very excited! The Cairo Khan, where I'm currently supposed to be living, is alright, and I have very nice roommates, in fact, four of them. If you know me (and you probably do, since you're reading this), I like my space, and three people in my bedroom is rather uncomfortable. Plus, the hotel is smack-dab in the middle of downtown, a node for honking cars, shouting salesmen, and all night noise. The hotel is at least a fifteen minute (more like 25) walk from campus, but they never gave us a map, and negotiating the undulating crowds is like navigating a Minnesota road in a blizzard, almost impossible to tell what direction you're heading. I've got a map, now, so I only make a few wrong turns ;-)

I have discovered the perfect diet-the Cairo diet. Walk all day (literally), in sweltering, sultry, clothes stick to your body heat, drink a modest amount, and don't eat anything except a dinner. I think my tummy looks flatter!

There are a million thoughts tumbling tumultously through my head, but I'll stop now. Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

mrhebrides said...

Apartment Question: Is 3600 the price per month? I'm hoping to rent a place ASAP when I arrive. Do you find the place to be worth the money?