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Monday, January 14, 2013

We're Back in Cairo

We arrived back in Cairo early on Friday and here it is Monday already.  Sorry for the delay for anyone expecting current news!

It was so comfortably warm in Minnesota that we didn't take the usual departing photo of a thermometer.  We left on Wednesday evening flying to Amsterdam.  Sunrise on Thursday found us just over the Irish coast as breakfast was being served.
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A ten hour layover in Amsterdam preceded the four hour leg into Cairo on a KLM flight which had us touching down at a bit past 2:30 a.m.  We thought we might be met at the airport but weren't sure because of communications problems with the friend who was going to pick us up.  After clearing customs, we picked up our bags and headed toward the door.  Omar approached us.

"Do you need a ride into town this morning?" he said.

"No, a friend is meeting us," I replied.

Omar stuck to us like glue.  And his instinct was good.  No friend was there to meet us.

"I'll give you a ride.  Where are you going?" Omar pleasantly stated.

Now, if we were in Chicago, Los Angeles or even Minneapolis, I'd be more than a little suspicious.  But this is Cairo and Omar is just trying to make a living.  He is a "finder."  He works in the travel industry, so has credentials to be in the travel hall behind security and is "moonlighting" by matching travelers and drivers.  Omar will not give us a ride but he speaks English and has the friendly personality typical of most Egyptians.

I negotiate a flat price for the half-hour (at this time of the day) ride across town to our apartment.  We talk with Omar about his family (good) and the travel business (bad) while we wait about ten minutes for his driver to arrive.  Driver speaks English about like I speak Arabic (I'm good for a couple of dozen very useful words including hello, left, right and here.)

But Driver is very good at multi-tasking.  He drives fast, carries on a cell-phone conversation the entire way, slows and points out several mosques and other sights to us, and never hits anything.  We pull up in front of the apartment a bit past 3:30 a.m.

Any concern about access to our building's front door goes away as I see that our bawab is awake and watching the street.  He knew we would be arriving "in a few days" and helped with the bags.

We spent the next couple of days visiting a couple of friends near the pyramids, updating our Egyptian cell-phones and adjusting our internal clocks.  Today we headed over to Carrefour (the world's second largest retailer) where we acquired Internet connections for the computer and iPad.

Our Carrefour is located in Maadi City Center, a small mall with another sixty or so shops.  Visiting Carrefour on any day is like visiting WalMart on the weekend before Christmas.  Unless it is Friday evening - then it's really crowded.  We stopped to check the flyer on the way in and noticed that they were featuring a Black and Decker Christmas Festival.  Christmas is celebrated here on January 7th.  Notice the Merry Christmas in the center of the flyer.
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We did notice several new stores in the City Center mall.  Linda has misplaced her athletic shoes so we stopped in at this familiar-named store, close to the Starbucks store to buy a pair.

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