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Monday, February 19, 2018

Settling in at our Cairo Condo

Within the first week or so of our arrival we settle up the utility bills and get connected to the Internet.

The electric bill is usually the first to arrive.  Electricity is paid for in cash and collected in person by the gentleman who reads the meter.  (I keep forgetting to get a picture of his hand-held computer but will do it if I see him again this year.)

He had a couple of bills from last March and April that he had obviously been carrying around for some time.

The total comes to 336 Egyptian pound or roughly $19. (Remember, that's for 2 months.)

Next up is the Home Owners Association fee of 150 pounds per month.  This is not collected in the same way as in the U.S., where it is automatically deducted from our bank account.  My neighbor across the hall, Mohammad, is the property manager here- he would gladly surrender the duty if someone else would take it.  I enjoy paying this one since I will get a glass of tea or maybe even strawberry milk and get caught up on all the local news.  No business can happen without the obligatory cup of tea. The $8.50 per month seems quite reasonable since it includes water, the services of our bawaab, who cleans the stairway and halls most weeks, and electricity in the common areas.

The garbage man comes about three times a week and for that we pay 20 pounds a month, well over a dollar.  Inflation has hit hard in Egypt as this was only 10 pounds a month when we first moved in.

The Internet is our biggest expense.  You may recall that we had gotten this under control last year with a land-line and DSL service. So far we have about $40 invested in our internet service.

This year we have no dial-tone.  Checking around revealed that all the phones on the block had been out of service for a few months - but service would be restored from a new cable this very week!  That now seems to be the case for some people in the building, but not us.  I suspect the trouble lies in this newly painted wooden blue box which encloses the phone company's POP (Point of Presence.)

We have some of the best minds on the west side of the river working on this problem.  Unfortunately, the area's crack telephone trouble-shooter died over the past summer.  I will keep you posted.

So we are back to using 3G wireless service from Vodafone where we buy data by the Gigabyte.  It took an hour and a half at the Vodafone store to get ourselves set up on this service again.

With that accomplished, Linda wanted to download a new book from the Minneapolis public library.  This, however requires a WIFI connection and Wireless won't do.  So we were off to the Cafe up the street.

The cafe has a new name and new proprietors again this year.

If you look closely at the picture above you will see that the place is still decorated both for Christmas and the New Year.

Egypt6-5 Egypt6-4

As soon as we input their password, Linda's Kindle downloaded the library book from Amazon.

Back in the Cairo condo, she can now read at leisure.  What did this WiFi connection cost us? Just two cups of tea at the cafe, about a dollar.


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