A Simple Parcel

Lilly’s birthday is November 5th. We had collected a few things to send and our friend Stacey Conners from home who works for FedEx set it all up for us. It was scheduled to be sent Monday the 12th, but, as the Egyptians say all the time “welcome to Egypt!” Nothing is ever simple. What should be simple is an adventure. There are large adventures and small adventures. This one was small.

Catherina from the school, who is wonderful, looked up the FedEx address and she wrote it out in English and Arabic. After school was done, Judy and I found a taxi, showed him the address and off we went.

We got to a street in an area called Smoha. He stopped the car and indicated:“we are here”. He gestured that the actual address was right around the corner so off we went. Around the corner was a ramp. At the top of the ramp was an elderly security man. We asked if he knew where FedEx was and he, in Arabic, gave us all sorts of helpful instructions. We set off again. There seemed to be nothing there.

We found another fellow. We got the FedEx point across to him. We pronounce FedEx differently so that took a few minutes. This man, and this has happened so much I am convinced that it is a cultural characteristic, walked us all the way to the FedEx office. Such a nice thing to do.
We thought that we were home free. But, oh no, we then were told that we had to go to the FedEx head office but, not to worry, said the smiling young lady, “it’s just around the corner”.
Off we went. Again. And we found it!

So in we go. It turned out to be the shipping department as far as I could tell. We gave an employee our package and Stacey’s documents. No problem so far. Then the guy says: “ Passports please.” Our hearts sank. Then Judy in a stroke of genius says: “Will our driver’s license do?”. “Sure”, the guy says. Excellent. This is going to work out. “But I have to inspect the contents to make sure the inventory list is true”. I remember some chocolate money I threw in at the last minute. Sweating a little bit. They beaver away at the package. Then I can see them taping it all up again. We’re over that hurdle apparently.

He comes over to us and gives us a bill. 75 Egyptian pounds. We cobble together the money. I give it to him. He says: “ No. It is 750 pounds, not 75.” Ten times what we expected.“ We gave you the invoice that we have to pay already.” I said.

I was getting a bit agitated at this point. One of the other guys intervenes and they have an animated conversation. Our guy comes back, cheerfully marks “paid” on the package and tells us it will go out that night. He also apologized a few times. We went out to dinner to celebrate.
And there we go, simple as pie, the package is on its way to Toronto, Canada!

Happy birthday sweetie!!

Food for Thought

“How’s the food?” Jonathan asked when we FaceTimed.

It is one of the things that you kind of dread or quietly stew about before a trip like this. I am trying to remember what I anticipated from middle eastern food before we left and I think that it had a lot to do with spices, street food and falafels. When Judy and her sister Catherine returned from Israel in the fall, they ranted and raved about much of what they had eaten but I think that I forgot to ask what it was exactly that they ate. I do know that Judy brought home a bag full of spices and cooked incredible meat balls with them.

So here is a little inventory:

1.Falafel — great
2.Hamburgers — gooey and sometimes inedible
3.Fruit — grapes and royal gala apples are the best, bananas and mangos are good, peaches are stringy, melons are decent and that is about it
4.Vegies — not great, oddly not even close to what we get from Amber Payne at Arc Acres or from Mary’s farm. Carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes are fine but not as good as home. And that is about it.
5.Shawarma we eat a lot of and get from a little place near the school often on our way home. There are three guys there who I really like; the order taking guy, the cash guy and the cook. They know us and are really friendly every time. They have definitely earned a pic on the blog!
6.Buns—just like the shawarma. We buy 10 fresh buns from a little bakery a couple of doors away from the shawarma place for three and a half pound about every fourth day. Same thing, they know us, they know our order, they treat us like gold.
7.Chinese —-great, on top of the Cecil Hotel, wonderful atmosphere.
8.Cheese — imported cheese like Gouda is good but do I ever miss extra old Canadian cheddar! We don’t eat a lot of cheese now.
9.Meat — no pork so no bacon. Another crime against humanity. Chicken and beef is really good though.

We have a restaurant called Eat Well’s about a ten minute walk from us with a beautiful outdoor eating area with palm trees and cushiony, couchy type seats that we like a lot. The food is good but not great. Too much salt. But there is a new one called the Lord Itchy which we will try soon. The name is irresistible. So is the artificial turf they laid in their courtyard.