Thursday, December 28, 2006

Almost 0-2

Alright, it's been over 2 weeks since I last blogged (finals, anyone?), so, as I await my family's arrival, I've decided to condense 2 weeks of my life into a succinct ;-) blog entry. To be honest, it's a far more favorable occupation than cleaning or doing laundry.
I left off the week before finals, I think, when our world-famous celebrity decided to grace us with a visit. That weekend I studied (truly! Deya and I sprawled out on my bed and drilled each other over media vocab, among other things), watched a few movies, and had a wonderful dinner at an Indian restaurant in Mohendessin, Kandahar, and visited Deal's in Zamalek for an enlightening discussion with the Ames' and a few others. And then, ahhhh!, the school week began, and with it, the burden of looming finals. I am accustomed to finals week being fairly indolent; in other words, I take at most two finals a day, usually just one, they are spread out over 5 days, and I only have a maximum of 4-5. Not so in ALI. Sunday and Monday continued as usual with the normal class schedule and beautiful 8 am grammar sessions. Then, on Tuesday, I took half of my media final (the listening part where we attempt to understand and dictate a recording from BBC Arabic radio), the listening part of my colloquial final, and my writing final, although, because the professor had been absent for the past several classes, I feel like I may have done poorly on this exam. Anyway, Tuesday also happened to be Deya's birthday (yay!) so we hung out for a few hours, munched on unhealthy sweets and watched the first part of Casino Royale before she had to return home. For the rest of the night, I frantically studied but felt a descendent cloud of defeat settle over me as I stared mindlessly at the hundreds of vocab words swimming before my eyes and deperately tried not to confuse booby-trapped with besieged and 'to be propitious towards' with to receive. Of course, since my onerous grammar final was not until Thursday, I was still forced to attend 8 am class on Wed., head to my spoken Fusha final with Ahmed (do not get me started on that class and the inappropriateness and audacity of the teacher, ugggh), go directly to the vocab and reading comprehension part of my media final, and then have my oral interview in colloquial Egyptian. Returning home utterly eneravated, I rested briefly but then gathered myself up to celebrate Deya's birthday with our close group of friends and bid Albert goodbye one last time. We dined at a wonderful Lebanese restaurant in Garden City, Taboulah's (see picture) and sat for hours talking and laughing and congratulating Deya on the fact that she's no longer jailbait ;-)
Eli was flying out that morning, so we returned home for the night to help him pack, although I deserted them for about an hour and a half to walk Deya home, review my grammar and gaze longingly at the clock. Not wanting the evening's festivities to end at 10:30, we galvanized a few die-hard troops for one last hurrah at the bar Deal's in Mohendessin. You do need to understand that I was not that desperate to avoid cramming, but I was also wanting to spend a few more hours with friends who I will not see again for another month and a half. Also, all of the advanced students had completed their finals, so they had no worries about being in a proper state of mind at 9 am the nex morning. I left the bar at 1:00 stolidly sober, went straight to bed, begrudingly rolled out of bed the next morning at 7:00, perused my material one last time, and sailed into class at 9 sharp for the satisfyingly challenging final.
Flooding out of the classroom at 10:30, I glanced around me and noticed the world for the first time in what seemed like ages. So a sky still existed (albeit a gray-tinged smoggy one), water still trickled from the fountain in the courtyard, the pooping tree still splattered, and time still eased onwards. Many of my classmates were only here for a semester, and Thursday was the last day I would ever see them again-so I loitered, first in the courtyards, giving hugs and promising to keep in touch, if only via Facebook, then in the Pottery Cafe over smoothies and salads, recounting the past semester with nostalgia and fondness, vowing that our class will never be bested. Finally, the final farewells were murmured, the last embraces adminstered, and we walked away from each other, each on a different path away from campus, each with our own memories that converged, however briefly, at AUC, not just to learn Arabic, but to live in Egypt, alone, and endure life in a world that does not have dryers and Targets and English and Abercrombie.
Alas, one cannot dwell on the past forever, or you live in a world of regrets without hope for a bright tomorrow, and, I had one more goodbye to say, this one being perhaps the most difficult. Annie, my dear Annie, was leaving on Saturday for the States, and I had planned on spending all of Friday with her, but as I could only find a plane ticket to Dahab Thursday night, so our time was limited to a few too brief hours Thursday afternoon in the Khan. A couple other friends also needed to purchase some last minute gifts for people back home, and- as I have become known as the Khan expert-wanted me to be their guide, so we met in Medan Hussein and trekked through labryinth of tawdry and fascinating goods for several hours. Annie and I, in particular, felt very successful, as I found gifts for my Dahab travel companions (more on that soon!), my brother, and, of course, a few things for myself, including a sword. I fear mom will see it tomorrow and freak ;-) Annie and I broke off a little early, visited the Khanoon across the way and hopped into a taxi to spend a few more minutes together before we reached Cairo Khan. At the end, there isn't much left to say, other than remark about our purchases, the decrepit buildings we always pass, and our first few days and laugh determinedly over our naivte. Under the glaring lights of downtown, the jostling crowds and honking cars, I gave her a hasty hug and watched her navigate the street and enter Cairo Khan, a place that only really held memories for me because of her and the other girls that populated it. Sigh.
I never seem to rest, however, and I took the cab ride home, ate a hasty Metro dinner of chicken and rice, walked to the pharmacy about 20 minutes away to pick up insulin, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, sunscreen, etc., and then packed with indescribable speed. And now, in case you've been perplexed about my title, I will elucidate. Three friends-Sarah, Leslie, and Steve-and I had decided to spend Christmas away from Cairo on the beach in Dahab on the northern Sinai coast. Rather than endure the 10+ hour public bus ride, we booked four plane tickets for Thursday night at 10:30. Now, Steve and I live in the same building, but the other two live elsewhere, and we had agreed to all meet in front of my building at 8:30 to catch a taxi to the airport. When the clock inched past 8:45, I began getting anxious and called to verify their location. On their way, on their way. Fine, it is impossible to expedite Zamalek traffic, so we waited, met them, and continued onto the airport crammed cozily in their cab at 9. Traffic was typically bottle-necked, but not heavily, except that our driver seemed unable to accelerate past 30 mph, even on the freeway. Fine. Eventually arriving at the airport at 9:45, we unload our luggage slowly, as the driver is wheezing and appears near death, approach the doors and ask where the flight to Sharm El-Sheikh (Dahab doesn't have a airport, thank God) is. Not here, not here, Hall 4.
What! But our ticket printout says Terminal 2! After mulling around in heightened awareness at the approaching hour, we stop a tour bus and ask the driver. After he confirms the information, we swiftly agree to catch the next cab to take us to this Terminal 4. Suddenly, there appears a dearth in taxis, but we await impatiently and flag the next one down. He wants 25 LE, and without much negotiation, we literally throw our luggage haphazardly onto the roof and into the trunk and squeeze ourselves into the cab.
Quickly, quickly, we tell the driver as the cab eases to a halt before a mass of honking vehicles desultorily merging into several lanes to pay a toll required to either exit the airport or go to hall 4. Of course, our driver nonchalantly eases his way into the pack, allowing several vehicles to go in front while I groan in the back seat, wondering if I am just not meant to fly independently, seeing as I missed my last flight as well. Passing through the toll gates, we are briefly stopped at a stop sigh (ahh!), go through it and turn onto a deserted stretch of highway. Faster, faster, we all inculcate in our broken and panicked Arabic. Oh, thank God, there is Hall 4! Pulling our luggage off the vehicle with unrestrained abandon, I toss the money at the driver and enter the Hall. As I'm about to put my luggage on the belt to enter security, the guard asks me what flight I'm on. I tell him Sharm El-Sheikh, and he says it is closed. As my companions surge up around me, I gape and, I think, develop a horribly nefarious expression as I strangle out, Min Fudlik (please!), in a commanding, brisk tone. An EgyptAir employee scurries up and waves us in. Breathing a sigh of relief, I throw my luggage onto the belt, pass through the metal detectors (both forms of security are a bit of a joke, as no one cared that I beeped and I was never asked for I.D.) As we board the plane with the other passengers, some still checking in, our only concern is if our luggage will make the flight. Either way, though, at least we made it!
The flight itself was beautifully brief, less than an hour, and we touched down around 11:30 (Egypt Air never leaves on time!). Having flown Egypt Air twice now, once to Aswan and now this time, I am at least neutral towards the airline, despite its inherent tardiness. All of the planes are quite modern with flip-up video monitors and a hilarious cartoon narrator that oozes sleaziness and creepy Arab man. Before each take-off, a soura from the Koran is recited, reminding, me, once again, that the church and the state are not exactly disparate entities in my new world. Disembarking, we wait for the luggage for awhile, and everyone finds his or her own but me, because mine is the last off (of course), we meet our driver from Dahab and prepare to leave Sharm and pass through a checkpoint. We are stopped, which is routine, but then our driver gets out and enters the rather small building/shack/hut that houses the military personel guarding the checkpoint. Through the open doorway, about 70% of the hut is visible, but our driver disappears into the 30% obscured from view. Meanwhile, the guards outside stare lewdly at us while twirling their rifles with careless abandon. It's after midnight and I'm rather tired and irritated and am ready to go out and 'talk' to the soldiers, but me friends convince me otherwise, so, after over a half hour in the hut, our driver emerges and we enter the surreal blackness of the Sinai mountains tinged with moonlight and deep shadow.
For the last obstacle of the day, we pull into the Penguin hostel/hotel, three of us having reserved rooms there and one next door, since the Penguin was full. Piling out of the van after an uneventful hour drive, we are greeted by the owner who looks over his reservation sheet intently and begins to assign us rooms. As all of us had booked our own rooms previously online, we were rather startled to be handed only two room keys. Where's the third, we ask with annoyance, as the owner is aggrevatingly placating and friendly.
Well, he smiles, since the driver said there were three of you, I assumed two would be sharing a room.
Is that what the reservation sheet says?
Well, no...
Exhausted of incident after incident, we finally tell him that Leslie and I will share a room for the first night if I can't find room next door. Simpering apologetically, he responds, I can wake up the person in your room and kick him out.
No, I respond with bare politeness, that's not necessary. I inspect Leslie's room, find it minimal and drab, and go next door to the Christina Beach Palace where Steve is staying. The owner greeted me and managed to find me a room for at least two nights and assigned me in room 20 and him in room 23. No, this is not just superfluous detail, I promise you. One of the porters follows me back to the Penguin to retrieve my luggage (good riddance!) and brings me to my room which, in contrast to the Penguin, is graced with deep oak wood furnishings, ample cheerful blue bedding, a beautiful navy blue tiled bathroom with a real shower (the the Penguin just had a showerhead and a drain in the floor), and a balcony door which I did not explore until morning. Granted, it did cost more than the Penguin, but it was entirely worth every guinea. I slept very well that night, my body desiring recuperation from the cold that had developed over finals week.
I arose the next morning beaming and rested, and, after showering, opened my balcony door to reveal a magificent oceanfront panorama of sun and sea and beach (see picture left), quite arguably one of the best rooms of the place. Now, this especially delighted me because, even though Steve had a reservation, I still got a much better view than he did ;-) Hee hee hee. My roommate, Akshaya, had decided to come up to Dahab for a few days before she left for America on the 25th, so all five of us, via the magical connectivity of wide-ranging cell phone coverage, met up in the Penguin restaurant for breakfast, everyone but me bundled up somewhat against the fiercely raging winds. I, of course, wore shorts and a tank top. Akshaya, staying in the Bishibishi a few doors down and across the street (owned by the same people as the Sphinx, where we stayed last time we were in Dahab), was just as delighted as the rest of us to admire the ocean, suck fresh oxygen into our lungs, and convalesce after life-sucking finals. That first day we mainly rested and wandered through the streets, browsing the stores along the waterfront and gazing in curiousity at the cliffs of Saudi rearing across the straits and concealing in its interior an entire movement of pilgrimers beginning the Hajj to Mecca.
After everyone else retired to their rooms to rest, Akshaya and I took a walk to the point of Dahab, dipped in the water, shrilled as it, combined with the wind, froze us, clambered out without much bravery, sunned briefly in some chairs, and eventually admitted defeat and headed back to town. On the way back we stopped at a beachfront 'salon' that we had questioned earlier about pedicures, and after Sarah met us and agreed to get one too, we bargained them down from 120 LE pp to 30 LE. I made the mistake of going first, and, because my feet are truly hideous, spent an hour having them scraped, smoothed and painted. By this time, it was almost sunset, so Akshaya went after me and Sarah declined. For dinner we met in one of the charming Bedouin cafes, the Penguin again, where we reclined against the pillows, absorbed the warmth of the fire, and, in my case, devoured one of the spectacular wonders of Dahab, the milkshake. After a splendidly uneventful evening, we went to bed with the next day's objective to relax!
I can't remember exactly which day I returned to the Funny Mummy, but I feel that it was this morning, the 23rd. Ahhh, the Funny Mummy, without question my favorite place in Dahab, where every staff member greets you with either your name or a flattering nickname in Arabic and spends all meal joking with you. The owner, Jimmy, is especially precious, a true character in every sense of that word, overwhelming in personality to some, but I find him hilarious. To be honest , returning to the Funny Mummy is like coming home, and it one of the main reasons Dahab is one of my favorite places on earth. Most people like it, but I absolutely, unequivicably adore it and know that I will be going back at least once during the spring semester, preferably when it's warmer, to snorkel, bake, and say good bye to my friends.
Anyway, I went for an afternoon walk, returned to the Funny Mummy to find Akshaya creating the menu boards for the Funny Mummy, supervised her for a while, flirted with the staff, and then took a sunset stroll to the point for golden mountains and gentle breezes feathering the water with rosy silver. Because of the hotel situation, part of our group was broken up for the evening. Sarah, Leslie, and Steve moved to the one true resort in Dahab, the Hilton, isolated in a sheltered bay a 5 minute cab ride or 40 minute walk from town. Akshaya was leaving the next morning, and I also didn't want to yet leave downtown, so I stayed another night in the Christina and than planned on moving to the Hilton on the 24th to join my friends. This provided Akshaya and I with a wonderful excuse, after our sunset excursion, to recline in the Funny Mummy around a roaring blaze, smoke sheesha, eat, drink milkshakes, talk, and entirely rewind in a laconic atmosphere. Jimmy's been renovating, shall we say, parts of the Sphinx, and he opened a brilliant new club that night with pool and foozball and a great sound system and bar. We checked it out, mingled a bit, and then I learned how to play backgammon under the tutelage of Jimmy, who also, while I made a quick phone call back home, managed to grab my phone and introduce himself to mom ;-) and then bid Akshaya good bye and tucked in for the night.
Waking up the next morning, rather late as always, I munched down breakfast, checked out of the Christina (managed to make a complete idiot of myself during the process by falling down some stairs and scraping my knees), went for a walk, ran into Steve on the way back, as he was returning from a dive, and headed over to the Hilton together. Honestly, despite the fact that it was Dec. 24th and most of the cafes and hotels displayed various levels of Christmas spirit, from a few lights to decorated trees and tinsel, I did not truly feel like Christmas was an imminent day away until I entered the Hilton. At the entranceway a fake Santa waved to guests while corny Christmas music barraged any tourist foolish enough to loiter in the central courtyard area. All over the grounds, fake Santas danced across the lawns, frozen in mid-leap or with mouths gaping, about to greet you with a resounding "Merry Christmas!" And then, visiting Sarah and Leslie's room, I saw their Christmas surprise, a mini tree decorated with glinting green and red balls, blinking lights and one staid Ramadan lantern and topped with a disco ball. After exploring the beach for a bit and oogling the comfy lounge chairs, I investigated the dinner options for Christmas Eve available at the hotel, and, with Leslie and Steve, decided to reserve three seats (Sarah didn't want to come) for a formal six course meal in the Italian restaurant for 30 extra dollars.
Perhaps I should explain a bit about the Hilton in Dahab, particularly serveral of the idiosyncracies we found in the service there. Overall, it was a very nice hotel, and, with the resident rate, reasonably affordable (350 LE per night including breakfast and dinner), and my room was light, fairly clean, and comfortable with a nice marble bathroom and balcony with hammock. Because the resort caters almost exclusively to Europeans, our group was a bit of an aberration in the general homogenity of the guests. In fact, walking out of the hotel one day I noted that, of the 15 or so flags flapping in the breeze, none displayed the stars and stripes. Instead, they represented France, Spain, Britain, etc., as well as a few Arab countries. Maybe they're less of a target for bombings, who knows, for the running joke is that if you see a group of Israelis, run in the other direction, fast. And, of course, despite the only 150 km separating Dahab from Israel, no Israeli flag was displayed. Besides the flag issue, the Hilton had a few other strange policies. The first morning we were there, my friends (I didn't because I put out the 'Shhh...I'm relaxing' sign) received a knock at 9:30 on their doors. As they were all in bed, none of them chose to answer it, so the employee, after waiting about 5 seconds, proceeded to unlock the door and let himself into the room to...check the mini bar. As you can imagine, this caused a bit of consternation among my friends, who appreciate their privacy, particularly the females. Also, into order to keep the resort relatively bug-free, the Hiton needs to fumigate the grounds about once a day, which is perfectly acceptable, except that their chosen time to perform this duty is at sunset when people are generally outside.
Anyway, back to Christmas Eve day. After a sunset horseback ride along the beach and a quick shopping spree in town (to buy mommy a present, although I also found myself a present ;-), I returned to the resort, hastily changed into something decent, and met up at 8 with Leslie and Steve to enjoy some sophistication. Indeed, it was quite pleasant to be seated at a table with a some British tablemates and discuss, in English, the world and our lives without having to stammer in Arabic or describe my marital situation. To add to the evening, we split a bottle of wine, although it was rather small for the price, and enjoyed haute cuisine amid guitar serenades and Christmas carols. Afterwards, we returned to Leslie's room and popped in her computer the movie Aladdin from Sarah's collection to amuse ourselves and give us a little taste of home. I don't think I've ever had a Christmas Eve quite like this one, where, in the span of 5 hours, I galloped on the beach, dined in a restaurant surrounded entirely by Europeans, curled up with three friends to sing "A Whole New World" with Aladdin and Jasmine, and then stepped outside to hear the mosques call the evening prayer. It's a bit callous to mention this, perhaps, but it's also rather amusing to think that I spent Christmas with a Jew, atheist, and Buddhist at an American resort chain surrounded by Europeans in a Muslim country. Talk about a cultural experience!
On Christmas Day I arose, yawned, and joined my companions for the yummy buffet breakfast, that served beef bacon and salad for breakfast, among the usual staples (no pork, though). As I was walking alone to the breakfast nook, there appeared before my wondering eyes a vision of jolly old St. Nick...on a camel. Stupified, I shoved aside the little British kids following him, snapped a few shots, and then continued on to the conquest of breakfast. Then, we retrieved the tree from Leslie and Sarah's room and transported it down to the beach where we resolutely staked out a beach front location and proceeded to snap away to capture the memories of our little tree on the Red Sea. A few other guests also requested a few moments with our tree, and we gladly complied, because it is a holiday of giving, no? and it was amusing to watch other people pose in their swimming suits and try to distinguish their nation of origin. For the rest of the day, we lazed around like beached seals in lounge chairs, swam a bit, trolled the beach and waded aross the bay to the point, and enjoyed a few sundowners of Finlandi non-water and fruit juice as the sun dipped below the rocky sentinels of the Sinai. Then, of course, a giant cloud of white DEET appeared in the distance, and we snatched up the towels, grabbed our belongings and the cute little tree, and literally sprinted for our rooms as a roiling cloud crept through the resort and engulfed anyone standing outside in noxious fumes. Hmmm..not exactly the way I pictured sunset on Christmas Day, but as I huddled in Leslie and Sarah's room, I couldn't help but giggle at the hilarity of it all. After a brief nap, we went to dinner and then Leslie, Steve, and I caught a pickup into town to hang out for a few hours at the Funny Mummy. Returning fairly late that night, we got into a cab, told the driver where to go, and were repeatedly asked if we wanted anything else. I'm a bit slow, I'll confess, but Leslie finally realized he was asking us if we wanted drugs (Dahab is known as, errmm, an easy supplier of a certain plant ). After vigoriously replying no, we fell into a brief silence until the vehicle was stopped by a bunch of men who surrounded the car and shouted at the driver, for, apparently, a key. It was relinquished, and we proceeded onwards as the driver began a lilting soliloquy of random words in Arabic that were in no way related. Oh, God, don't let him kill us...We arrived at the Hilton safely, said good bye to Steve, who was flying out the next morning, and bedded down for the night.
The next day was also exceedingly lazy, filled with much sunning and swimming and, for me, a walk into town where I met Sarah for a late lunch and chill time at the Funny Mummy. As a cat lover, even I find it difficult to approach any of the stray cats in Cairo, as they are all mangy-looking, diseased, rabid, and malicious. The kitties in Dahab, however, are actually quite clean and cuddly, so it was wonderful to stroke the felines of the Funny Mummy and name them and have them curl up at your feet against the warm bricks of the fire. After another round of backgammon with Jimmy (I lost, and had to buy him a chocolate bar), I wandered a bit with Sarah, and then, instead of catching a cab ride home, received a free ride from Jimmy in the Sphinx's jeep. I now know why Egyptians don't like lights, because they think it wears down on the battery, although I have not discovered why they all carry the crazy driving gene, and why some are more affected by it than others. After a bit of off-roading fun and an illegal manuver in front of a cop (Jimmy waved to him and he waved back) we returned safely to the Hilton.
My final full day at the Hilton dawned gray and chilly with biting winds that tore branches from trees and whipped the sand into mini vortexes that cycloned across the land. Secluding myself in my room for part of the day, I ventured out a few hours later to discover the sun was peeking out from the clouds and the gale had subsided into a calming breeze. Another friend from school, Jon, increased our number to four again and once again gave us a male figure to revere ;-) You see, I'm in the middle of Palace Walk, and it's set in Cairo in the 1920's amid a society of consummately subservient females who never, ever leave their homes.
I had run into a old friend of mine from last time, the horse guy, and he had given me a free ride the day before and I had agreed to a ride along the beach today. Well, agreed is too mild a word, as I leapt at the opportunity to go riding again in Dahab, especially when he offered me the same horse that I had ridden on Christmas Eve (you see, everyone in Dahab is connected). Jon, who's a much better rider than I am, was intrigued and so I implored him to come and then Sarah considered coming as well, so I ended up bringed along two extra riders. Two horses were swiftly found for them, while I mounted my trusty Brandy, and Sarah, who's never ridden before, was led the entire way on foot while the guy told Jon and I to gallop off as we pleased once we reached the sandy beach. I was full of a bit of trepidation, but it soon dissipated as I kicked Brandy into a rolling canter and sped off after Jon to the far point while Sarah plodded along behind us at a walk. It was so wonderful to be on a horse that was neither too feisty nor too lackadaisical, but responded fairly readily to my commands. Eventually, all three of us met back up to ride back into town, Sarah resembling nothing less than a princess astride her beautiful stallion led by a faithful retainer. After the ride, Leslie came to meet us and we enjoyed, at my urging, one last night in the Funny Mummy amid milkshakes, calamari, fire, and joking, with a bit of Jimmy thrown into the mix.
Although the night was gusty and a bit nippy, the four of us were leaving the next day and wanted to make one more shopping run, so we hunched over into the cold, found an ATM, and marched into the shopping district, passing a sheep inside a gutted building tethered to a rope. The anachronism of that image amused me far more than it should, and I snapped a picture, knowing the sheep would soon be served on Eid El-Kabeer, Dec. 30, to celebrate Abraham's sacrifice of the ram instead of his son Isaac. After shopping, and finding a beautiful scarf store inside of which we loitered for an hour and spent too much money, we spent our final night at the Hilton watching Star Wars.
Although it was sorrowful to leave Dahab the next day, my regret was tinged with anticipation that I would return with two weeks to my beloved town and show my family my favorite haunts and let them discover its charms and quirks (and milkshakes!). My three companions were not leaving for Cairo, but, after a week in Dahab, were ready for a change in scenery, so decided to share my minibus back to Sharm and spend the next few days there. We swung through town one last time for a final farewell to Jimmy and then cruised through the mountains and into Sharm, passing the checkpoints with no issues this time (I feel like this guy had better connections), dropping off the three of them in Naama Bay to find a residence before despositing me at the airport. After the usual chaos of Egypt Air, I checked in and made it to my gate with about 1/2 hour to spare (I've developped rather poor flight habits) but couldn't find my flight on the monitors. Questioning a few people, I discovered it was a bit delayed, so I stood around for awhile and then noticed a sudden surge of people through another gate, although no flights were listed on the sign and no announcement had been made. Typical, I thought, as I learned this was indeed my flight leaving through a different gate. I made it home safely, set up a tour for my family with a wonderful guide recommended to me, who met me outside my building and discussed plans over tea and shisha in a nearby cafe, and celebrated Steve's birthday with a bunch of friends at Abu El-Sid's.
All I have to say is, if you perservered through this, congratulations, and Aunt Mary, be careful what you wish for! ;-)


Megan said...

Yay - you finally posted again! Thanks for giving me a nice 20 minute break from work (hee hee!). It sounds, as usual, like you had quite the adventure. Enjoy your visit from the parentals and your break from classes. :)

Mary said...

Aunt Mary is very happy. Enjoy your visit with your family and I'll just have to read all about it. Love you Laura.