Friday, September 09, 2005

I am in Egypt

I am in Egypt!!! Getting here was so stressful. I was in transit for about 26 hours. When I got to Calgary, I realized that I forgot my credit card that I was going to put my course fee on. I had it out before I left to make sure that the second half of my flight went through. Then the flight from Calgary to London sucked. My console wasn't working so I couldn't listen to the radio or the movie, and my light kept blinking on and off so I had a hard time sleeping. Then the plane had to circle for about 20 minutes before landing, making me feel very sick. I had a 4 hour stop over in London and then a 3 hour stop over in Vienna. The Alexandria Airport is tiny!! The planes stop out in the middle and then a shuttle bus takes you to the building, which is one room with dividers between the sections-immigration, luggage, customs. The traveler's VISA is just 2 little stamps that cost me $15 US. The school sent a driver (Hussein) to pick me up at the airport. I guess he is the main driver for the school. He has been in several countries around the world, including Korea, because he coaches discus throwing and javelin and such. I am in a very old building with a very old elevator. My room is on the 7th floor. It is soooo dirty.There are 3 bedrooms. 2 of the rooms are nicer but the fans in them don't work. The bathroom is very dirty, too. It is fairly big but the shower stall has no shower curtain (it has parts of a pole stuck on the wall. Half of the lights in the rooms are burnt out or missing and there is a leak in the kitchen ceiling, so there is a puddle in the middle of the kitchen floor. There is a tiny TV and a little fridge. There is a very small 4 burner gas stove/oven. After getting into my room, I realized that somewhere between the airport and my room, I lost my plane ticket (for my return flight). It somehow just disappeared. I was distraught. I tried to use the phone to make an international call and a guy answered... speaking English. It is a guy that took the course before and is leaving for Cairo tomorrow. It was about 4AM when I used the phone, but I guess he was up because he said he was downstairs. He was staying in the room next to mine. Today, I met up with him and he is showing me around a little bit. Some of the other students should be here by now. The driver said that some were arriving today and some tomorrow. Anyway, he showed me where a couple of Internet Cafes are and a few other places, such as a juice bar (I had fresh pomegranite juice), a great place for getting sandwiches, and a market. My room is very close to the sea (Mediterranean).The tram is very cheap... about 25 piestres. (I am not sure what the exchange rate is but the guy said it was about 5 Egyptian pounds per US dollar. 25 piestres is a quarter or a pound. Alexandria is not a clean city but the old buildings make it very interesting. I have heard that the people are all very nice and helpful. The city is a bit breezy because it is on the sea, which I guess is a blessing since it makes it a bit cooler. A lot of people come here from Cairo and such for their summer vacation. I have an orientation at the school tomorrow.I am in an Internet Cafe now, obviously. I think this one costs about 1 pound for half an hour. There is another one closer to my room that is only 50 piestres per half hour but it is closed on Fridays. Fridays is prayer day so a lot of shops are closed. Anyway... I have access to email at least while I am in Egypt. Keep in touch. Laura

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