Monday, January 15, 2007

Day One and the Lonely Night

When I woke up, Lydia and Nahamia had bad news--they strongly did NOT recommend Kalimat, the language school I had planned on going to. Someone they know had a very bad experience there. Also, they were having guests and I would have to leave that evening. They knew someone who had a hotel downtown, but it was full. It turns out thier company had an empty flat in the area, so they would put me there. A Korean guy in their company came over and told me about his Arabic school, a Catholic one. Since I had been too freaked out to speak Arabic to anyone much yet, Lydia and Nahamia assumed I didn't know anything. So they recommended I take a private tutor at this Catholic school, and stay in the dorm behind a church nearby the school, but this did not sound very good to me. They had lots of connections, which was helpful, but this new opening up of options was rather stressful for me. So, they took me to the flat, which was very lonely. I spent a night writing letters and reading a Peanuts comic book I found on the bookshelf in the flat, and to be honest, worrying. Lydia and Nahamia knew someone who lived near the 'guest' flat where I was staying who went to the Catholic school, and she was going to meet me at 7 in the morning.

THE LONELY NIGHT: So, that night I was concerned about setting an alarm. My old phone gets no signal, but it does have an alarm, but it was dying, and my charger needed an adaptor (the plugs are different here). So I went to the little dusty electronics kiosk in the market square on the corner behind the mosque, behind the butcher. This is an insane little market, the ground is all wet and the walls are dirty and graffitied, but in non-sinister way. There are giant dead animals hanging, and tons of guys baking bread in an old brick oven. I think one of them, um, exposed himself to me. But I only saw the aftermath (the zipup, the giggles from the other guys). Yeah, Egypt. There is also the convenience-store-type booth where I bought phone cards and called my parents from the street corner pay phone. And a bunch of other little kiosks -- I got 2 apples, and 2 pieces of bread (only .50 LE--that's like... nothing! 5 cents?) but I was too scared to eat when I got back. I tried the new adaptor, and it worked, but then i found a space heater, and plugged it into that same outlet. When I tried to replug in the charger, nothing happened. It wouldn't charge. And then, the space heater died! What the crap! I searched the whole apartment for another way to get an alarm, but no dice.

I go back to the electronics booth lady (by electronics, I mean lightbulbs, cell phone covers, and converters, and nothing else discernable). She was super nice, and somehow we figured out my charger had blown, and that she was going to let me borrow her charger (which sortof fit in my phone) if i brought it back the next day. I have no clue how this was communicated, since she spoke no english. Her booth is only enclosed on 3 sides so she was keeping warm over a gas flame. it was crazy to see men with the traditional scarves and gallibiya on--they seem to break out the elaborate scarves more in the winter to stay warm (there were a bunch of them bundled up outside the airport). Anyway, I take it home, and have a moment of panic when it doesn't work, but then i realized it had to be plugged into the right outlet (one didn't work) and only half-way plugged into my phone, and angled correctly to stay in contact. So. I set my alarm, I try to sleep, but I wake up a lot. But I still overslept, becuase I messed up my am and pm. But never fear, it all turned out alright!

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