Hallas

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Hallas, I had a great time Wallah, I swear. Inshallah, I will return. Massalama.

I am currently sitting in my room awaiting my 6am drive to the airport. I will write one more blog post when I return to the states, but I wanted to sum up my last weekend here before it all seems half a world away.. ehehehe.

 

On Thursday Adrienne, Xenia and I went out with a few girls from our classes. We had never hung out before and I can honestly say that I am sad that it took us so long before we did. Not only are these girls amazing, but they are different from the other people that we have befriended. We hung out with Asma, Nama and their friend Friyal who goes to school in England. The best part of this is how our relationship with Asma evolved. She is in our Islamic philosophy and Modern Arab History class. She is the most opinionated and argumentative person I know and while I was annoyed by her the first class, I just continued to warm up to her throughout the semester. She could argue any argument- one of her favorites being the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Asma is local and very down to earth compared to other local girls. But throughout the semester Adrienne and I would have discussions with her and we started to love her which culminated in us hanging out with her on Thursday. Nama took a little while longer to get to know. She is one of the nicest people but also is different than most local girls. She grew up in Switzerland and Malaysia and returned to her roots in the UAE just a couple of years ago. She said she feels kind of lost in her own culture because it is not what she is used to. Friyal was on winter break from her school in London and I really liked her. I really liked a lot of her opinions and the discussions that we had… plus we totally bonded over my dj-ing skills which were all 6th grade throw backs.

We first went to an Emirati restaurant (and for those of you who will argue there is no such thing as Emirati cuisine, it was an Emirati restaurant through and through). It was delicious and we all just sat around talking. We then walked through the wall and Asma, being the sweetheart that she is (but it is a secret as the stages of Asma are very similar to the stages of Bubba), bought us presents- for me a bracelet, camel pen and a camel stuffed animal as I am IN LOVE with camels (will be shown later) and for Adrienne a camel mug, camel pen and bracelet. We then went to Friyal’s house and hung out for a bit before going to the beach and eating this weird but mostly delicious food and drinking karak. The food, I can’t remember the name, was basically thin dough with different things on top of it- chips, egg and fish juice. As we returned to campus Adrienne and I were very sad that we hadn’t hung out with them earlier because it was really a different experience than we had had beforehand and we enjoyed every part of it.

On Friday Adrienne, Michael and I went to the souks so that I could finish up my shopping. Bur Dubai is by far one of my favorite places in Dubai as it has the most culture. We ate our way through the souks (samosas and something else) and then road the arbras (boats) across the creek and then back again to sit by the water and eat more and DRINK AVOCADO JUICE (which is fantastic by the way). We then met up with Israa and short Asma (she is a different Asma so I will say short Asma to differentiate). We ate Pakistani and walked around the streets as a sort of last hurrah.

On Saturday Adrienne, Rikabi, Hayley and I all went to the beach. The best part of this experience was driving through Dubai and looking out the window and seeing camels roaming the desert. My voice automatically went like 5 octaves lower and I just kept yelling “camelllssss, camelllsss, camellssss. LOOK ONES EATING FROM A TREEEEE!!” Everyone was a little freaked out by how excited I got, but CAMELS ARE SO COOL. They definitely contest giraffes as my favorite animals… who knows maybe my Arabic name can be camel just like in 7th grade when my french name was Girafe… ahh I was so cool.

It is amazing how much the temperature of the water changed from the beginning of the semester where the water was not even refreshing at all and the beach itself was torturous and now where the water was pretttyyy chilllyyy but worth it if you had a floaty as you could bask in the sun while staying cool. We had a really great time and then went to eat lunch where we ate manaeash (one of my FAVORITE meals here. It is basically dough with stuff on it and then folded over. I always get meat and cheese and it is delicioussss) and koshari (the Egyptian version of one pot slop). It was deliciousssss.

I finished all of my exams last week and only had a paper for dreaded Islamic Philosophy. I love the professor, but the class itself is torturous. Philosophy just does not make sense as a subject to me… but the book we read for Islamic Philosophy just makes it even worse. I was convinced that I would finish my paper on Saturday so that I could spend my last day saying good bye to people and having fun… but I obviously did not, so that was a big task for the day.

I woke up at 8 to go get manaeash with Feras, Michael and Yousef. I then had 2 cups of Karak and came back to campus and sat in Anna Ray’s office (our advisor for IXO who I AM IN LOVE WITH AS SHE IS THE BEST PERSON IN THE WORLD). We then listened to ‘Somebody that I used to know’ by gotye on repeat. I also just ran around the school saying bye to people and not really being productive paperwise. I then had manaeash and karak with Arsha who is another one of my favorite people. Arsha was in my arabic class and a) helped me out many times b) sat next to me so anytime our professor pointed to me for an answer and i didn’t know I would turn to Arsha and say “Arsha its your turn” and c) provided insight to the language as she lives in the UAE (orginally from Pakistan) and has picked up a lot of the language.

For dinner Adrienne, Michael, Anna Ray, Arsha, short Asma and I went to Ravi’s, the delicious Pakistani restaurant that I am in love with. Basically we ended up getting lost for like an hour but it allowed Anna and I to confess our love for each other and talk about our future lives and how they will entwine. We then had THE MOST DELICIOUS MEAL EVERRRR and I am still currently very very very full. Then Asma, Michael, Adrienne and I got lost on our way back to campus, explored Sharjah and had karak (I will not be able to drink it for a very very very long time). I then went to the lib and finished my paper which was exciting… not.

Now I am just awaiting my flight and expect to sleep the whole flight to London and then hopefully watch some tv on the way to LA so that I can sleep that night. This next day (36 hours long) will be the longest day of the year for me. I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am leaving and am awaiting my return to the states. However, I honestly had a FANTASTIC time at AUS. The thing I will miss the most are all the fantastic people that I met while I was here. They made the experience. Luckily, one of my favorites, Adrienne, goes to AU so I will be able to spend another semester with her before she graduates. The rest, I will see later in life. I urge everyone to study abroad as it really is an incredible experience and has taught me so much about the world, different cultures and how to adapt. This is one experience that I will never forget (plus I have my blog so I can relive it) and am excited to have another similar experience.

 

Again, thanks for all of those that made it. This was a fast written post just so that I can remember each of these events and also kill time before my flight. There will be one more reflective post from the whole semester. Love you all and see most of you soon!

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Pics from India

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INDIA: where I was the most popular tourist attraction

Helllooo family, friends and followers. It has been a long time since my last blog post, but the time has come for another as I recently returned from my WONDERFULLY FANTASTIC trip to India. This blog post is my break from school work as the past 2 weeks and the next week have been terribly work filled. Since I am leaving early, all of my papers, assignments and finals clash with classes and I have more final assignments and stuff at AUS than I ever did at AU which is surprising. I am currently taking a break from writing a research paper on the ineffectiveness of the UN’s sanctions on Iraq politically and their devastating effects on the civilians (I chose the subject). My goal for the night was to research and write the paper and I have finished my research so I figured I would use the break to enlighten all of you with the goings on of my life.

 

This adventure started last Thursday the 22nd of December when little Adrienne and I made our way to India. We arrived in New Dehli at around 5 in the morning on the 23rd to be greeted by Beneeta (Adrienne’s high school friend who comes to India every christmas break to visit family) and an armful of flowers. We then drove from the airport for about an hour to the family’s house in Noida, a suburb of New Dehli. I can honestly say that our experience started with a bang as driving in New Dehli is one of the scariest things EVER. First of all, cars are backwards- so the driver sits on the right AND I would say that there are not any real traffic laws as the lines on the road mean nothing as cars drive in the middle of two lanes or cars drive into oncoming traffic. There are a lot of bikers and cyclists who should check their leg and arm hair… because our car mighttt have rubbed it off.

After our many close encounters in the car, we returned to Beneeta’s family home. We slept and when we woke up in the afternoon (we were really really tired) we met her family and headed off to the market to explore, buy sari’s for Adrienne and eat. After watching Adrienne try on countless sari’s, she finally picked out two, one for her sister and one for her and we went on our way. This is when we played a very dangerous high risk game called ‘eating Indian street food’. Her whole family was devastated but Adrienne and I hoped that our times spent in ‘less sterile’ countries (Mexico, Iran, Jordan, Egypt and Oman) had left our stomachs stronger than those who had not. We then waited for many days to find that in fact, our time spent outside of the U.S. had been helpful as we remain healthy (well Adrienne does have a cold).

 

The weather was cold. Adrienne and I had two perspectives on the weather 1) was that we were excited to go back to Dubai where it was not cold (weather in India has made us much more thankful for the chilly temperature of 70) and 2) that this is our preparation time before coming back to DC and dying because, as stated above, we think 70 degrees is chilly. Luckily, I did not get sick, Adrienne caught a cold and I have steered clear of her ever since  as I have THE WORST IMMUNE SYSTEM anyone could ever hope not to have.

 

The next day we took the hop on hop off bus around New Dehli. Our first stop was the Lotus Temple which welcomes people of every faith to pray and enjoy. Even though it was a Saturday, it was school field trip day as there were HUNDREDS of school trips there. The Lotus temple was beautiful but it was also provided the start to an odd trend, people wanting to take pictures with me. The first incident was when a male teacher came up and asked if I could take a picture, thinking that he wanted me to take a picture of him and his female students I said yes but before I could reach for his camera I was surrounded by probably 10 high school girls. I was utterly confused as he ushered me into the center and said CHEESSEEE and then thanked me and they walked on. Adrienne and Beneeta thought this was hilarious but also found it so odd as it was not what any of us were expecting.

We then took the hoho (what the bus is called) to this minaret place (unfortunately i forget the name) to look around. The minaret is the tallest old minaret in the world and is surrounded by beautiful architecture and ruins. While we were there I took pictures with around 50 people, different groups coming up and asking if they could take pictures with me. There were even more who had friends ‘pose’ near me but while blatantly pointing their cameras at me and taking a picture. I figured there were only so many times that I could be mistaken for my famous cousin Rebecca, but the requests kept on coming. I thought about singing a little bit of Friday, but decided I didn’t need to draw any more attention to myself. I have heard of people taking pictures with tourists and while I am clearly not Indian, as one fan pointed out by saying to Beneeta, “you’re indian… but she’s not”, but I am not blond or a ginger (which you should take pictures with them as they will be extinct in 1o0 years) so it was just an odd experience.

We then explored Dilli Haat which is a touristy market and instead of buying things, we ate food and lots of it. Indian food is delicious. It is spicy and flavorful and bland food no longer cuts it for me. We then went to a different market which was not as touristy to shop and what not. I bought some beautiful things and was looking around when a guy started pestering me and I thought he asked to take a picture but instead to go eat some snaps (?) with him and ultimately I was like listen my Indian friend’s dad is coming so you better get lost (Uncle Fred I am including this story just for you so you know that I will not be captured away and married off or what ever happens in Not without my children which I have yet to watch even though you have told me to watch it like five times).

This whole trip was basically meant to block out the fact that Adrienne and I were away from our family’s and not getting to celebrate Christmas. This worked out pretty well with only a few reminders of Christmas. On Christmas day, Adrienne, Beneeta and I were accompanied to Agra (where the Taj Mahal is located) with Beneeta’s Uncle, Aunt and three cousins. The Taj Mahal was beautiful. Unlike the pyramids, it was not underwhelming. What I found unfortunate is that if you are not Indian you get a high value pass which costs about 500xs more than the Indian pass, you get a bottle of water and shoe covers and get to pass all of the lines. While this seems great, it is a HUUGEEE guilt trip as you pass all of the Indians in a line of hundreds of people to go into the Taj Mahal. While the outside of the Taj is beautiful, I cannot honestly tell you what the inside is like as you are packed in with hundreds of other people and hearded like cattle from one room to the next. It is very difficult to not be trampled and at one point Beneeta and I were being smooshed against a wall as people pushed past us to the doorway. I am sure the inside was beautiful, it would just be nice if I could appreciate anything other than the marble wall I was getting to know.

The last day in India was spent in Noida going to a local market and preparing for our return. The worst part about returning, other than leaving India obviously, was that Adrienne and I had a midterm the day we got back. We had meant to study and prepare before hand, but obviously we did not so some of our trip was spent doing homework, but the majority was left for the plane ride home…. which is another story. I enjoy flying, but I HATED our flight home. I was sitting in the middle, which honestly I do not mind but this experience was one of my worst (only beaten by the one time the fam was flying back from LA and there was a 6 year old who screamed the wholleee flighhtt hommeee). As I said I was in the middle. The guy on my right felt the need to put his foot up the whole ride which pushed his body on top of mine and well exceeding his personal space. The woman on my right was doing the same. I am not that small of a person, I have broad shoulders that have a tough time staying in my own seat, let alone when 1/3 of my seat is taken. Then they both continued to push further and further into my space while I was trying to study. The only thing that made me feel better was writing a note to Adrienne that said “I am seriously so angry right now. The people next to me do not understand the meaning of personal space. I cannot move my arms and am completely squished. I want to slap them both. But really, what would make me feel better is sticking my pen up the woman next to me’s nose while she sleeps”.

 

We finally got back to campus around 5 am where I slept, skipped my two classes in the morning to study for my exam and took my midterm…and I am sure everyone in the class is very interested to see how that went.

 

I am now preparing for my last week of school as my last day of classes is Thursday. Adrienne’s brother and sister are here and we are taking them to the beach tomorrow morning (I am going to come back tan, safely tan for those of you who are going to warn me about skin cancer and what not) and hopefully to eat at Ravi’s as I only have limited Ravi experiences left. But my main goal is surviving this week mentally and academically. You will probably not hear from me until my departure looms. Love you all and Happy Happy new year.

 

 

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Three and one month marks.

Today is a weird day. It marks the third month that I have been here, but also marks the even greater recognition of only having one month left in the UAE. This recognition makes me excited, but at this point also makes me long for more time. I am glad that I did not study abroad for a year, not because I couldn’t handle it or miss DC and everything terribly, but I think that one semester is a good amount of time. I know that if I was staying for another semester I would be ready to leave 2 months in.

This experience has been absolutely amazing so far. I have learned so much, made so many great friends and explored a new part of the world. I do not want to think about only having a month left, but that seems to be on my mind everyday. I want to make sure that I am making the most of my experience and I feel like I must do all I can in this last month. Instead of going on and talking about what I have been doing, I am going to make a list of things that will be hardest to leave and what I am looking forward to returning to in DC.

The top five things I will miss:

1) The experience- when I return to the UAE, because I plan on it, it will not be the same. This is because everything I know here is temporary, the buildings, the people and how I see the country. This country is constantly changing. It tears down its history to build ‘history’ and ‘culture’. The friends that I have made here are from all over the world and many are just here for school. Many of them will graduate either after this semester or after the next, potentially leaving the country for good. So even if I came back next year, my time spent here would be so different.

2) The people- I have met some of the nicest and most interesting people here. They have taught me so much about each of their individual cultures. They have broken stereotypes, rules and norms for their cultures and societies. They have really opened my eyes and I just hope that I have done something similar for them.

3) The food- The food here is delicious. It brings in so many different cultures, flavors and mixes that it is seriously delicious. I have become so used to it, that I am depressed thinking about leaving it behind. I have fallen in love…. with Pakistani food. Ravi’s (the restaurant I have raved about many times before) is seriously my favorite restaurant. The chicken jalfrasi is just fantastic. I have also become accustomed to the food. As I wrote in one of my first posts: I had to ‘eat around the chilis’ in my meal. Now, I seek out the chilis and hope that there are enough for me.

4) The weather- who knew I would have fallen in love with the weather. I almost died on my arrival, but now I walk outside at night and want a sweater… in 70 degrees. I dread going back to DC where death is a real possibility. People keep saying ‘you’re from Vermont, you should be used to it’. I wasn’t used to it then, I will DEFINITELY not be used to it after having 8 months of summer… THAT IS AS LONG AS WINTER SEASON IN VERMONT! I even went to the beach today (it was populated with millions of jelly fish- kind of like in San Felipe that one year but smaller).

5) The Dubai skyline- while all of the exchange students have complained about Dubai…. everyday, there is nothing like driving on the highway and seeing the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) looming ahead of you. People talk about the Chicago skyline… well I now understand. One of the most beautiful moments I have witnessed in this country was when on our drive to Mirdif City Center we pulled a U-turn and saw the BIGGEST sun I have ever seen going down above, beside and then disappearing behind, the Burj.

 

The top three things I will not miss:

1) Isolation- AUS campus is ISOLATED. I will never complain about Tenley Town (the part of DC that AU is in) ever again… or at least for 2 months. There is only one shuttle daily off campus and that is at 6pm which returns at 11. You cannot walk anywhere and if you did want to, there really isn’t anything to walk to.

2) Curfew- I thought my days of worrying about what time I was getting back home were over….. little did I know. It is now too cold to sleep on the beach and it is illegal to sleep in cars…. so we either are back by curfew and get pleasant welcomes, or we are back past curfew and…. well nothing has ever happened but you still feel guilty.

3)Limited wardrobe- I have become fairly creative with my clothing, but there is only so much variety that I can create. Luckily the weather change will require a completely different wardrobe because I am so sick of this clothing. There are so many days that I wake up tired and all I want to pull on is…. and then I don’t have it (this is often sweatpants).

 

The top three things that I am looking forward to in DC:

1) My Banger girls and boys- I am excited to spend your last semester, and my last one with friends, with you all in DC. Your pics make me jealous, but I know that my reunion is eminent and am enjoying every moment here in the UAE (Adam this counts as another shout out).

2) Food- while I will miss the food in the UAE, I cannot wait to have soup (preferably not lental), COFFEE that does not cost me $8, bagels and cream cheese, Chinese food, pizza and what ever else I have been deprived of. There is little variety in my diet since the campus does not have a cafeteria, just a few restaurants which do not serve many appetizing options so I cook most of my meals. However, with my budget and desire to cook elaborate meals, the variety provided is also very limited so there are certain things I cannot wait to not eat again.

3)  I am not sure what the third thing is. There are many little things that I am looking forward to and here are just a few: playing sports (IM BBALL CHAMPS 2012 anyone?), independent travel, having an income, wearing sweat pants, fast internet and familiarity.

 

The scariest part about knowing I only have one month left is the VAST amount of work that I have to finish. I have papers, quizzes and who knows what else. I also have to take my finals while classes are going on since I am leaving early…. while I want to make the most of this last month… I will definitely be spending most of it awake… and I apologize for those who encounter me.

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Cairo

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“Do you love Egypt?” “If I say yes, will you stop throwing corn cobs at me?”

So for those of you who knew I was in Cairo last weekend, I returned safely. For those of you who didn’t know, it was for the best. It was truly a great experience and I need to really thank Nadia who was a fantastic tour guide and it was fantastic to see her again.

SO this adventure started on Thanksgiving. We had a delicious thanksgiving dinner at one of the professor’s house (the food didn’t compare to Aunt Fay’s though, but honestly no one’s could). Adrienne, Michael and I then hopped on a plane at 11:20 to Cairo…. except our plane didn’t leave at 11:20… or 12:20 butttt more like around 1:20. I am always curious why they find problems with the plane only after you have boarded. You would think they would check it out BEFOREHAND… but alas that was not our fate. Michael and I were seated next to each other and Adrienne was in front and while I would have LOVED to sleep.. Michael is like a 6 year old child and needs to be constantly entertained which ended up with us taking 94208390483209 funny pictures of ourselves and annoying the guy in front of us. So when we finally got into the air and landed in Cairo it was 4 am. For those of you who know me (not even well) I get very grumpy when tired. Beginning in 6th grade whenever anyone would get grumpy at a sleepover they would call it ‘pulling a Rachel’ and my father was unfortunate to have the job of waking me up before school where I probably told him to get out as my alarm was going off in 5 minutes almost everyday (in my defense, who likes getting woken up before their alarm? and there were plenty of times that he came in on a Saturday and told me to get up for school also I like my sleep, they are called sleepovers for a reason). So I was fairly kind at 4 am because we were in EGYPT the land of the Pharoahs, Moses, the plague, Mehmet Ali Pasha (I had to add that in for Modern Arab History) and the REVOLUTION. And I probably would have been fine if Michael’s checked luggage didn’t take an hour and twenty minutes to arrive… at which point I was so angry that I couldn’t help but take it out on the ‘Ministry of Tourism’ official who accompanied us to ‘plan our trip’. A) There is not a legal government in Cairo… so there goes the ministry of tourism. B) They refused to listen no matter how many times that I nicely told them that we were meeting someone and she would act as our tour guide and C) it was 5:30 IN THE MORNING! but finally we got away which is when Adrienne said “It’s funny that you get cranky when you’re tired” which of course made me even happier. (but it is also okay because Adrienne is really grumpy in the morning and every time we would wake her up for breakfast we would get a lovely reply and Michael gets grumpy when he is hungry, so it all worked out)

 

We finally arrived at our Hotel in Zamalek which is an island in the Nile which is the up scale part of town where most of the ex-pats live (Nadia included) and is far away from Tahrir square.  We went to bed, woke up at 9:30 for the free breakfast and went back to bed (which became a routine every morning) until Nadia arrived. Nadia and her roommates were throwing a big Thanksgiving dinner that night with over 20 people coming, so she needed to head home to help cook but she sent us to the Pyramids. We arrived at the pyramids and all of a sudden 10 young adults started rushing our taxi, which was probably the most nervous I was all trip. They all wanted to be our tour guide through the pyramids which we kept refusing until finally our driver got them off of his car and drove us in. In my mind, the pyramids are these grandiose structures with cats roaming around and carvings and what not- they have done a good job marketing them. The pyramids are awesome, obviously. They were built centuries ago and are still standing, but they are very underwhelming. I am VERY happy that I saw them, but the whole time I kept saying is this it? We then saw the sphynx, which also was cool, but much smaller than I thought it would be. Our tour guide did get us a lot of really cool pictures and he kept asking Michael if Adrienne and I were his two wives, which Michael kept refuting and finally the guide asked for my hand in marriage for one million camels (Adam you told me not to accept less than 500…) so I figured this was a pretty good deal, however marriage is not in my near future, so I had to decline. Also, I didn’t think 1 million camels would fit in my backyard in Vermont/would survive the winter. (I also didn’t tell him that one camel would have been enough BECAUSE THEY ARE SO COOL) Alas, I came back unbetrothed.

 

We then returned to Zamalek and prepared for Thanksgiving dinner where we met a lot of ex-pats and locals. Many of Nadia’s friends, including some of her roommates are journalists who have been covering Tahrir square. For those of you who don’t know, Tahrir square is the downtown part of Cairo where the protests have been going on calling for Democracy in Cairo. It has been pretty violent and many of the people I talked to had been tear gassed, harassed or shot. However, the media has created this HUGE hype about it, some of it is true. It was crazy to hear some of their stories especially from the people who went down to bring medical supplies to help the injured. I would like to add here that a lot of the stuff that has been coming up on the news- like the 3 Americans who were arrested- has been their own fault. The 3 American students went to Tahrir with Molotov Cocktails and intended to ‘take part’ in the revolution which has been kept fairly quiet. They were then arrested and have claimed innocence and it has become a huge international affair. They were stupid.

Thanksgiving dinner was delicious and as all fun parties have to, it culminated with a good game of Mafia. It is fun to play Mafia with people you don’t know because you have nothing to base your claims off of. At one point, I fell asleep in my chair and Adrienne leaned over and asked “What is that guy’s name again?” and I woke up looked at who she was talking about and yelled “IT’S THAT GUY!” and then proceeded to convince everyone that he was the Mafia… and I was correct. I can honestly say I do not think we’re friends anymore as his defense was “She was sleeping, how would she know. I haven’t been anything yet”.

The next day we went to Islamic Cairo which was fun. We saw a bunch of mosques and part of the military museum. We then had Koshari which is a well known meal there. It was created in the 70s during global food shortages and is basically an Egyptian version of the Black family’s  ‘One pot slop’ or ‘Mulligan stew’. It is rice, noodles, fried onions, chicken and something else. And then you put on this spicy sauce, a tomato sauce and a lemon and vinegar sauce. It was really delicious and very cheap as it is a poor man’s dish. We then went to the souks where we bought our Egyptian souvenirs. It is always funny to see what the vendors will say to get you to enter their shop. Michael is Chinese, and for him they kept saying “Hello Mr. China, come to my shop” or speaking in Chinese to him, which we all thought was funny. For Adrienne, who is Iranian, they would say “You look Egyptian! Egyptian price for you!” and I honestly don’t remember what they would say to me since I would usually just ignore them. In one shop while Michael and Adrienne were making their purchases, Nadia and I were taking pictures together and then the shop owner wanted to take one with me. This inspired Nadia to tell him that I was famous in the states, which he obviously believed and said “Oh yes! I have seen you on tv!” During this whole charade I pretended to act modest and blah blah until he asked for my signature, which I gave him, but unfortunately he didn’t even offer me a discount or anything.

The next day we moved over to Nadia’s because we were going to spend our last night at her apartment. She had to work, but her roommates took us to this delicious restaurant. We then walked around for a bit and headed back to Zamalek where we got our hair did. Adrienne had mentioned a while ago that she wanted to cut off half of her half, and this isn’t a normal cut off half of your hair, but literally cut the hair off half of her head. She said she would do it in Iran, but her family refused to take her and since Michael wanted to get his hair cut too, they decided to do it. I must say, Adrienne handled it very well, even as one guy yanked his comb through her hair. It looks amazing and I was pressured into doing something with mine. Since it is finallyyyy long, I decided to just get a body wave since it would only cost me $30 while in the states about 100. So, we went to Cairo and got our hair did.

The next day was election day in Cairo, so Nadia had the day off. It was really interesting to talk to people about the election. Half of the people were excited to vote for the first time and while not fully convinced it would mean much, were going to wait in line to vote. The other half were not even going to vote because they knew the election would be rigged. Most newly ‘democratic’ countries allow other countries to come in and supervise their voting, Egypt did not. None the less, Monday was a big day for Egypt. We drove to the Nile and ate breakfast and then walked around and took pictures ending up downtown. Cairo is well known for their harassment. People constantly told me “if you think Jordan was bad, wait until you go to Cairo”. However, I did not find this to be the case. It probably had a lot to do with Michael, but the only time we were harassed was when we were downtown and by these four 10 year old boys. They kept following us and yelling to us and it culminated in them throwing corn cobs at us. But every time an adult male saw this he would stop us and yell at the boys and make us wait until they had walked off (they would really just wait around the corner, but it was the thought that counts). Apparently, Egyptians are really trying to turn this negative stereotype around… it just has to leak down to the younger children. At one point, this guy had intervened after he saw them throwing corn cobs and threatened to throw rocks at them, which we all yelled NO NO NO NO it’s okay! When he brought them up to us to apologize they asked if we loved Egypt (Nadia translated) and she was like just nod vigorously, and I responded “If I say yes, will they stop throwing corn cobs at me?”… which is where the title comes from.

 

Overall, Cairo was a great trip completely made by Nadia’s generosity and fantastic tourguiding skills. And even though we went because we were supposed to have Monday off of school for Islamic New Year, the holiday was moved to Thursday, so upon our return, we only had 2 days of school and honestly what a great week.

This weekend is the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the UAE’s existence. I am heading into Dubai in about an hour to celebrate and go to the souks. It is really great to see the people (many of whom are not Emirati) rallying around this holiday. It is curious to me that some people are celebrating a country that is younger than them.

 

Again, thank you for those who stuck through. It was long.

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