Sunday, September 03, 2006

Discovering Zamalek

Not too much to report. Most of the study abroad students are sunning away their weekend in El Gouna, a spendid resort town, for orientation, while ALI students (that's me) are priviledged to have their OR on campus. I've done alot of trekking around Zamalek the past few days, and I think I almost have a decent idea of the layout of the island. It's nice and small, so if you get lost, you either turn around or just keep going until you hit the river, which helps to orient you. I wandered to the Gezira sporting club, the Marriott, a converted palace and very posh (I never realized how strange it is to be a minority, and walking into the Marriott, surrounded by mainly white people, made me giggle at the ridiculousness of it all, how secluded most resorts are from the real world that surrounds them. Most of the people in the resort, dressed in shorts and tank tops, occasionally hop on a bus to the pyramids or the bazaar, follow a guide around the area, and drive back to their resort. I know I have alot to learn before I can ever consider myself more than a tourist, but at least I'm acclimating myself to the area, walking in the dirt and pollution and lovely Nile breezes. Anyway, off my soap box ;-) and to an Episcalpalan (sp) church, among other notable landmarks. The church was very interesting, as it offered serivices in at least 4 different languages-English, Arabic, Sudanese Arabic, and Swedish. A number of refuges from Darfur, in the Sudan, are members of the church, and it also offered support services to them. It also had a wonderful gift shop full of hand-crafted items, most made by refugees. I completed the decoration of my room by purchasing a camel table! It's very unique and was quite cheap. I ate dinner at a place called Cilantro, right around the corner from my apartment, where food is very cheap and quite good. I can't help but be amused by some facets of Egyptian culture, and one is the fact that everywhere delivers. Everywhere! McDonald's, KFC, Hardee's, pharmacies, grocery stores, and all the usual culprits as well.
Today, Frances and I attempted to go to church, but arrived too late (8:15!), so we ran some errands on campus, notably, a visit to the visa office on the roof. We walked through a portal, and suddenly found ourselves standing on the roof of the main building, overlooking Midan Tahrir and the Egyptian Museum. Apparently, AUC needed room to expand, so it constructed offices on the roof. After that, we visited the Gerzira sporting club in a attempt to find me riding lessons. We had to pay 20 LE to enter, but it was worth it! When maps show the club occupying half of Zamalek, they're not exaggerating! Wide, open green spaces and spacious avenues for walking greeted us, and then we found the stables. After a bit of failed communication with the stable hand, we walked back to the main offices, where we were handed a fee sheet for the year. I'm not entirely sure if riding is included in the fee (probably not), but I'm going to try to do a little more research. I may yet get my horse ;-) My landlord's attempting to replace the curtains in my window (they don't actually cover all of the glass), so he's been in and out. He's a very nice man, a hard negotiator, but acts more like a benvolent uncle than a landlord. I've rambled on about nothing long enough, hopefully I'll have pictures soon!

1 comment:

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