Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In which I make a new friend

My friend had a friend visit from his study abroad program in Germany this weekend (ironically the same program my Phi Mu sister Clare is at), and I got a call on Friday afternoon inviting me, and anyone else who wanted to come, to a felucca ride with them. There only ended up being 5 of us, but it was a lot of fun, and I decided I would go with the two of them to the pyramids Saturday morning. So then I went to the pyramids. Which was a long, crazy, ridiculous experience that started at 6:15 AM. I got to Tim's apartment at 6:45, and he wasn't even up yet. Travis (the one who was visiting) let me in and we proceeded to wait around for Tim for awhile. Whatever. I didn't actually care. Then we went downstairs to the supermarket he lives on top of to get bread and cheese for breakfast, and we hopped in a cab and we were off. The reason this whole expedition had to start so early was because Travis wanted to go inside the great pyramid, and they apparently only sell a certain number of tickets to go in it each day. We got some (or friend whose parents were visiting got there like an hour later and there weren't any left, so we were glad we went early). We spent what seems like forever wandering and taking pictures in every possible touristy spot (these are THE pyramids, after all), bought some statue things for a pretty decent price after quite a bit of haggling, and Travis and Tim each took a camel ride (but I wasn't in the mood for a half hour stuck on a camel with an Egyptian man, so I passed. Then there was the ripping off. Travis got ripped off, then Tim got ripped off. I kept my wits about me and avoided it. Whatever, you can't do tourist in this country without getting ripped off, I got somewhat ripped off last time I went to the pyramids, I think it's a right of passage. Then we headed back to Tim's apartment to drop off our purchases before going to khan al-khalilli, a huge touristy bazzar in Islamic Cairo. It turned out that Tim was feeling sick and so he didn't actually come with us, so it was just me and Travis that went. Before crossing the road from where we were dropped off to get to the khan, we checked out Al-Azhar mosque, which is beautiful and I'm glad we decided to check it out. Then came the shopping. I've never done so much haggling in my life. Travis was very impresses with my bargaining skills, and he got most of what he was looking for in our 3-4 hour trip. I was exhausted. Then we met back up with Tim and some other friends at Odeon, a rooftop bar/thing on top of a hotel downtown. Travis and I were exhausted so we headed back to the dorms after not too long and Travis literally fell asleep on a chair in the common room for awhile before Tim came and they went back to his apartment.
Despite being exhausted (and my mother thinking I forgot), I called my aunt when I got home because it was her birthday. I had gotten her a birthday card quite a while ago because I saw it and loved it and my mother had left it on the counter for her in the morning. She apparently enjoyed it quite a bit. I was glad I could make her smile.
The next day was Sunday and we had classes, but Travis obviously didn't because in Germany that's still the weekend. So rather than have him stuck in Tim's apartment all day, I skipped my afternoon classes (for the first time ever, by the way) and headed back to Zamalek early to go with him to do more touristy things. This was also election day. I saw a scuffle outside a polling station and what looked like some people being barred from entering a polling station. I took a picture of the scuffle. It's on Facebook. Travis and I went to Old Cairo, which is the Coptic (Christian) part of town and saw some churches and stuff, and then we headed back to Islamic Cairo because he really wanted to go in some more mosques. Which I was cool with, as al-Azhar the day before had been my first mosque, and I love Islamic architecture. We decided to try and take the Metro, which we didn't realize doesn't go anywhere near where we were headed, so we just took it downtown and saved ourselves some money on the cab we still had to take. The mosques were beautiful, and it was really cool, including one entertaining/annoying encounter with a man who basically stole our shoes in an attempt to get a tip from us to get them back. then he got mad at me for only giving him two pounds (in the future, don't steal my shoes, asshole). Then we returned to the khan because Travis wanted a few more things (he basically did almost all of his Christmas shopping in these 2 days) so I broke the bargaining skills back out. Tim met us there, and we got some yummy dinner at some Syrian place in Mohandeseen before heading back to Tim's apartment. ( I feel like I'm forgetting something in here, possible update later) After hanging out at Tim's apartment they walked me back to the dorms because I had to get some Egyptian coins for Travis and his plane was at like 3AM. Saying bye was really strange because 48 hours previous I had never met him, but we had spent most of those hours together, and I have no idea if I'll ever see him again. Probably one of my strangest friendships ever. But I certainly had a good (if incredibly exhausting) weekend.

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