30 April 2009

My English

First let me apologize for not uploading my computer. These last two days that have felt more like 5 days are to say the leat crazy. I don't get either home or to myself until midnight and by then I am exhausted. I had a nap today so I am better.

I am a linguistic sponge. I know about 20 arabic words..sort of, but I have completely picked up how the Egyptian English accent and word phrasing. It has been hard for me to...as my sister would say it...talk like yourself. I try not to talk to my group as much and so my Egyptian English just comes out. What is more frustrating is that I have noticed that I am typing exactly like I am thinking which now is Egyptian English with some French. I've had my second long Egyptian french discussion about when people get married in the states and how my mother does not pressure me to get married.

I love my host family. Thus far I think I am getting the most authentic experience. Regina is staying with our coordinator and she is very busy. The guys are staying in an apartment on their own. I am staying with Mona and her mother and I see Mona's boyfriend everyday. Mona's mother "mothers" me and it has been great and has made the transition wonderful.

By the way, I am not editing these posts so if I tell you my mother is behind a fag instead of behind a flag (those of you on FB know what I am talking about), just try to find the most logical choice.

I will get pictures up as soon as I can and maybe I will try to write some stories that are funnier.

29 April 2009

The wish list

I went to a bread shop today...that is another one off the wish list...wanted to say it before I went to bed. Bonne Nuit

My red belly

I think I must be shower handicap. Tonight I showered again so that if I got water everywhere, it would dry before morning and before someone else had to shower. It also gives me a little more time to sleep because there is a seven hour time difference and it is 1:30am (Thursday) here. I scalled my belly and it hurts like a belly buster in the pool (or the more politically incorrect indian burn). I am afraid it will blister which is perfect because I have a huge bruise on my knee and I don't know how is got there and my right foot just recovered from tripping on a sawed off post in sidewalk in Charleston and the torture I gave them in two separate pairs of three inch heels.

The bathroom however stayed dry. I only wish for a washcloth, but when in Rome....

While I have the public, internet chance (thank you Al Gore) I would like to say Thank You to Brad and Jack for presenting my cases and to David who had to sit through all of them. You may not think this, but I sure do....It was TOTALLY worth it for me (no sleep and all) Even if it is just for this one day.

The super street works

I have spent a lot of my day in the car. Egyptians drive differently. Car is King. Pedestrian DOES not have the right-of-way at all. I have crossed the street twice and never by myself. I almost got hit (not paying attention) in a parking lot.

There are three lanes and five rows of cars travel in each lane. ALL the major roads are super streets and I have thought of Bill quite frequently.

I went to Arab Contractors today. It is a consulting firm that does planning and historic "conservation" work. I got really confused with the conservation as we are in Cairo, but they meant preservation. They use GIS and their plans are very similar to ours. The main difference is their backgrounds. Most of the planners are engineers of some nature. I met two that did not have engineering degrees. They have similar studies that we have except they produce them in English and in French...enough about work.

This day has been incredible. I kept trying to tell myself to remember to write about that, but at the moment I am having a hard time remembering everything. My morning started with a much needed shower, unfortnuately I spent most of the time showering the entire bathroom with water. My PJs were SOAKED and so was my ego...incredibly embarrased. My driver is a Rotaract. (side bar..to anyone in Rotary reading this or can tell Jack...Take the Egyptians downtown instead of Concord Mills. They have been to Concord mills twice!! They have not explored downtown and have wanted to...even in the daytime) The Rotaract is very involved here; they are young and very hospitable. We ate lunch in a new cafe area (think Birkdale when it was built). I learned an Egyptian song and sang a solo at the Rotary Club. We went to City Stars which is a large and new indoor shopping mall. They take indoor malls to a whole new level. It was like 6 stories!

My host family is AWESOME. Youyou (spelled phoenetcally) understands english, but speaks French. My brain has been exhausted because I am operating in three languages, two of which I am not very good at and my spoken english has become very broken and I have a feeling it will translate to this blog. I have leaned about 12 new words today. Mona is my age and is Youyou's daugther. Her boyfriend is Amr (I'm still working on the proper pronunciation to his name. I think Bahaa was easier).

I left my camera at the Rotary meeting so I can't load pictures tonight. I will tomorrow, inshala (god willing). I thought the camera was lost so I am happy that I didn't loose the whole thing. Youyou's sister has arrived and I don't want to be rude.....bye (they use this word too..awesome for me).

28 April 2009

36 hours and still awake

There has been relatively no sleep for me and it is at the end of my second day. Looking at the clock I left about this time yesterday. I just wanted everyone to know that I made it to Egypt safely and am in the care of some wonderful people. I can already tell that I will be speaking more french than arabic as I think they picked up on the fact that I can repeat certain phrases back to them. I only wish my vocabulary was better.

I have so many great stories from the plane ride, but I am so exhausted. I'll get them up soon. Tomorrow we hit the ground running and I have my first vocational visit and Rotary presentation. Thursday is the pyramids....check that one off early.

22 April 2009

Fun with Fridge magnets

I think the picture is self explanatory, but the party is a longer story. Just testing out the whole blogging thing and pictures...thanks for the patience.
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19 April 2009

Egypt--One week and Counting

People keep asking if I am prepared and I keep telling them, "well, I'm getting there". I always want to be more prepred than I am, but to be honest, I'll get on the plane with just my toothbrush if I have to.

I guess I should publish why I am going to Egypt. Group Study Exchange is a program through Rotary International for non-Rotarians who are 25-40 and in a job that they can return to. It is a cultural exchange with some vocational study involved. I had to interview for the spot back in December and quite frankly didn't think that I did so well in the interview. I'm glad now, that the selection committee did not have the same sense. I found out the same day I interviewed (I was making an Irish stew when I heard the news...chopping and cooking help calm me down...the stew was horrid by the way)

There are five team members and one team leader going. You will hear me talk about them over the next month and I imagine that we will become rather close or at least close enough to know what really pisses the other one off.

Bill--our fearless leader--He works with herbal medicines and has various other start up companies. He also plays in a bass in a band.
Bryant--works for USBank and has beaten me in checkers. (See earlier post). He is from Cleveland and works as a northern translator.
Chris--is a police officer for CMPD. He has a very lovely wife Suzanne who I just got to know on Friday and hope she will come sometime to Women who Wine, and two children whom I've not met yet. Chris is from "all over".
Josh--teaches Spanish at Stanly community college in Albemarle. He has an adorable dog named Bella who has to have some Australian cattledog in her. Bella and Liddy get along.
Regina--works for Charlotte Mecklenburg School system and is working on two masters degrees. I don't know how she does it.
Me--it is hard to boil yourself down into a sentence. I guess that is why I have the blog.

12 April 2009

Why do I watch

Extreme Makeover. Seriously, it is like watching 3 lifetime movies at the same time. Tonight, the father was not shown and it turns out he died sometime in the last four months. Yes, I wear a Maybeline mascara that does run with the waterworks. The house was everything the family wanted (predictable), but the story was one of the saddest I had seen since the woman who had adopted her sister's family and all 11 of them were living in a two bedroom apartment. I think the more important question is why do I watch a show that makes me cry. I mean the at least the Hallmark commercials sneak up on you. (Oh yeah, and if you've seen the Publix commercial about the new wife in the family who feels shut out until the grandma gives her the sacred fruit/pound cake/parfait looking dessert...you know what I'm talking about). This show is relentless for the tears. I don't know one person who hasn't cried and I challenge you not to let it get to you.

To all a great Easter!

09 April 2009

Beta version--pics from Urban Adventure

These are the pictures. I only wish I could figure out how to put all of these together. Mind you, they are also in a backwards order. Where do I put the "tech help wanted sign"?
The view of Independence BLVD towards the motor mile (east)

View towards town on the Independence Bridge on Hawthorne Road.

The bus stop sign.
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07 April 2009

My Urban Adventure

I am a suburban employee. Not only do I work in a suburb of Charlotte, I also guide how the growth of the suburb will go. When I get a chance to feel like a big city girl, I take it. Today (thanks in part to my mother dropping me off) I got to take an urban adventure. It all started with the day of doctor visits. Everytime I need routine doctors visits I try to schedule these all on the same day. It makes going to the doctor less stressful. Usually I can knock out 3 at a time. Today was special because the Egyptian inbound team was making their presentation to the Charlotte Rotary. So after the dentist who is on the 14th floor of the Grant Thorton building, I walked to the Crowne Plaza. I think it needs to be said that there are frost and wind advisories all day and I am in open toe shoes. On this trip I was picked up by the wind at least 3 times. Not by much, but it was a concerted effort to remain grounded.

I found the best coffee shop called Kokomo Cafe. They let me chill out for an hour. The only downer to this cafe experience was loosing at checkers to Bryant who by the way looks different in a suit.

After the presentation, I walked down Trade to wait on the 27Monroe Road bus. This is where the pictures of the bus sign come in. A guy waiting on the 15 bus began talking to me and coming closer. He first wanted to know where my boyfriend was. I told him that he worked uptown and we just had lunch. This was a lie but it seemed like the time to lie. At least I didn't make up a whole pretend life for myself. What I noticed was this man made me uncomfortable, but I didn't know why. I'm sure he was trying to hit on me (completely not my type--I'll start with the smoking and end with the bad teeeth and overall creepiness). He asked me if pink was my favorite color because my exposed toes are shaded in pink (I think blue would have also been a good guess considering they were almost frozen solid). But I went with green. I was wearing my great green jacket and feeling very Mary Tyler Moore. We eventually parted ways, but it got me thinking about the types of experiences that you have outside of your car and the interactions you can't get in traditional suburbia where the car is king (to say that Charlotte is a transit-oriented city would be a considerable stretch of the imagination).

I got on the 27M and got promptly off at St. Martin's on 7th near Independence Park. Once finished at St. Martin's,I went to find the 39Eastway bus. This required a bit of a walk onto Hawthorne. I had just missed the bus and decided that I would walk to the 9Central which is a bus route I am more familar with as it is my main line into uptown. When I say familiar, I really mean " I have taken this route twice". On the bridge over Independence Blvd, a man stopped me and wanted to know how he, as a pedestrian, got onto US 74. For those of you that aren't familiar, that is Independence Blvd. I shrugged my shoulders and began to say that it would be very hard and a very long walk to go where he was headed, but I got him to Monroe Rd and then to Westover. He seemed up for the hike. He had an hour and a half to waste. I thought about all the things I would rather do than walk to the motor mile on Independence, but to each their own.

I continued my walk to Central. The railroad company was working on the tracks, there were detours which is also affecting the bus system so I decided to walk to The Plaza and of course along the way there are a couple of antique stores so I decided that I must stop because I am still looking for a fire king candy dish/cookie jar for Shannon. (Still to no avail...Asheville here I come). Shannon needs a "pushin' present" because quite frankly the baby is getting everything. This could also be considered a belated house-warming present. Well, once I was at the Plaza, The walk became, "I'll just make it to the next bus stop" until I was so close to home, it seemed ridiculous to get on the bus just to get off one stop down.

What you must know is that this entire journey is done in two and a half inch heels. There is a saying that a woman can do anything a man can do and she does it in heels. Like I said earlier, I embraced my inner Mary Tyler Moore and just gave my beret a big whirl in the air...heels and all.

The pictures that you see are my views on the walk. I am practicing this blogging thing before I go to Egypt...one might say this is the beta version and is still in need of serious tech support. I have 18 days to work it out, so thanks for hanging in there.