I’m sitting in my brother’s apartment in Dokki, Cairo, Egypt. It’s February 21st. It’s a small neighborhood on the West side of the Nile. It’s as dirty as anywhere else, and just as crowded.
I arrived late at night, hopped in Nasr’s car and drove quickly to where my brother lives because there was no traffic at that time (no traffic for Cairo, which means there was still traffic). We smoked a bit, hashish with tobacco, which I didn’t enjoy so much, and to be honest didn’t feel like I was high. I was hungry though, but that had more to do with not eating since I’d left Moscow almost 8 hours ago.
It was night and things were quiet and not assaulting on my senses, and so culture shock was delayed. Yet, I woke up late, 2:00, 2:30 in the afternoon. My brother and I are getting ready to go get a bite to eat and walk around a bit, towards the place where the boy whom he tutors lives, which is apparently a bit south in Giza, near the Nile–I think.
Anyways, I’m expecting culture shock then. I can hear cars honking, barely, and faint sounds of voices shouting. My nose won’t stop running, and I think it’s because of all the dust in the air. My allergies are slightly buggered.
Today. Today I’ll be wandering, alone at some point, in a country where I only mildly speak their language, and forgot to pack my Arabic-English dictionary.
Later, or tomorrow, another day, I’ll tell you about how I lost most of my money on the way here. That isn’t really a good story, in any sense of the word good. It was a lesson, which I will endlessly repeat. I need a fucking nanny to travel with me who always checks my seats and shit before I go. See, I’m getting frustrated with myself just thinking about it.
I had my passport, flight information, extra money, pencils, change, and a granola bar from my mother in my small little half-day pack that buckled in the front and sits at the small of your back. Well, I double checked my seat when I exited the plane in Moscow to wait for 7 hours for my next flight. I went through a minute customs, pulled out that bag, grabbed my tickets and passport, presented them, stuffed everything in there and moseyed on through this security where the lady didn’t understand that I wanted my camera hand checked so the film wouldn’t get ruined. She didn’t understand and just kept repeating, “security procedure”, but in a Russian accent, which I don’t know how to type out.
I wandered this tiny terminal full of duty free shops for the rich. Think, Versace, Prada, liquors, tobaccos, etc. Everything was in Russian, and not English Russian, but in their alphabet, which I can’t recall its name. So, I wandered and wanted a cup of coffee, but the guy didn’t speak english and just kept pointing to a sign that said in English, “all major credit cards accepted, and Roubles.” So, for cash, the American dollar was not king, and also there was no where to change your money for roubles. In other words, I was f-ed. I had to go against my moral objections as a traveler and eat at the TGI Fridays, and bought a 8 dollar basket of chips with some salsa. Mind you, I’d still not realized I lost the other 100 I had on me.
I sat at the gate, quietly, amidst all these Russians. It’s amazing the amount of patience you can conjure when you’ve nothing to say to anyone, and even if you did it wouldn’t matter because they wouldn’t understand you anyways. I slept a bit, uncomfortably on the chairs. I woke and wandered some more. Then I went back to my gate and a Chechnyan guy started speaking Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) to me. I haven’t spoken Arabic since December, and have not even looked at an Arabic word. I couldn’t remember shit for the first five minutes and just kept nodding and smiling.
Finally some bits started to come back. In the end, I realized I’d lost my bag with about 30 minutes before boarding began. I tried to explain to the lady at the gate, she just smiled and after I told my story as slowly as possible smiled some more and pointed in a direction, so I went in that direction.
This post was from about a month ago. I haven’t edited it, but rather, now in the future, will simply post it so you can see a bit into my life from then. All mistakes included.