The guy who picked us up from the airport, Omar, has been so nice! He’s a fourth year architecture major (at AUC) from Dubai who has a Polish girlfriend, and he’s been interesting to talk to! Last night while we were waiting for Sherin, he and his friend Mustafa were telling me all about life during and after the revolution. It was extremely interesting. They said life felt very surreal. From the sound of it, neither of them was involved in the demonstrations, but they both had to defend their homes. Omar had 17 AIESEC participants come stay in his apartment, and another load of them in one nearby. His family isn’t from the area, so he wasn’t worried about them. Mustafa’s mother made homemade bombs to give to the men of the family just in case they needed them (he said this was pretty typical). He said that his mom is a housewife and he was shocked when he saw that she had made them. The only weapon in the house was an old sword they had hanging on the wall, so his mother made him carry that each time he went out of the house. They said that during this time, roads were blocked every couple of blocks, and the streets were chaotic. Among the best-guarded places was the major mall in the city and the Egyptian Museum. First the rebels guarded it, then the military. Everything shut down during this time. Once the revolution was over, order was restored. I have seen nothing that even hints that there was a revolution. However, Omar and Mustafa say that there are many more men with beards and long robes allowed in the airports. Before, they were considered too much of a security risk and were routinely detained for questioning. Anyways, I found their stories really interesting.
Omar took Sherin and I today to exchange money. The exchange rate is 6 Egyptian Pounds to 1 Dollar. I exchanged $500 and got 2000 EP (Omar said that this would be more than enough for six weeks, but I wasn’t so sure until I saw how cheap the food is!). Then, we bought SIM cards (the way they work in Egypt is basically pay-as-you-go, so it’s really nice!). That ended up being 35 pounds. Thankfully, mom had helped me unlock my phone before I left! We got big bottles of water to keep in our rooms, and then went to get falafel for dinner (last night, we ate shwarma). Each falafel was only 1 pound! Things are so cheap here.
I still haven’t gotten the internet set up as it needs to be. I’ve still been stealing wi-fi from one of the apartments nearby. Right now, only one of us can be logged into that at a time, and, even then, it doesn’t always work. Hopefully, I can go soon and get that taken care of.
We have a schedule tentatively planned for the next couple of days:
Tomorrow, we are going to see Sherin’s friend Elley who is here studying abroad at AUC. She is has been here for a year, so she’ll be showing us around!
Friday, we’re probably be going to pyramids with Omar! I really hope that those plans work out. Sherin and I want to spend the next two days exploring Cairo, and the pyramids are a must!
Saturday, we start work at Awlady! An AIESEC representative will take us for our first day so that we can learn the ropes. We will be teaching children from ages 3 to 6 and organizing activities for them.
I love hearing the calls to prayer every couple of hours, and there was a small sandstorm today, so that was really interesting. All in all, things are really settling down! I’m feeling much, much, much more relaxed about our situation here now that I have money, a phone, a schedule, and I know where I’m at in relation to the rest of Cairo. I’m really excited to see what we’ll be doing tomorrow with Elley!