The Adventures of Mrs. Curly and Mr. Expensive: Pt. 1

So April has finally come round, and I have a firm grasp on it that I do not intend to release.
April means sun, heat, spring break, and finishing up the school year.
I have latched on to these tightly and won't be letting go.
You know what I will be letting go of though? Daily power outages. More sun means increased temperature. Increased temperature means everyone is using their air conditioner. Rising temps mean overloading the poor Egyptian power grid. Which means dark afternoon classrooms and nightly black-outs. Not cool.
You know, I've always kind of forgotten about April. It is easy to pass over; my mental calendar never marks any dates of importance during the fourth month. There are no major holidays (I always think of Easter as being in March), no major birthdays or annual events. It is the weird purgatory of months - not quite a part of the gloomy winter before, and yet not quite warm or pleasant enough to be considered a direct descendant of summer.
Easy to pass over. Easy to forget.
But this year is different.
Somehow, April came and smacked me right in the face. The concussion brought me to a startling realization: I only have ten weeks left in Egypt.
When and how did that happen?
It seems like yesterday that I just got back from Christmas break, and now, it is April?
April means that my family has already come and gone, and that Spring break is quickly approaching.
You get my point. April is weird for me. And this year, it is an abnormally apparent reminder of my expiring time here.
So, where does that leave me?
Contemplating my future here, and reminiscing my most recent adventures.
As aforementioned, my family finally made an appearance. Right here. In Cairo. (!)
This is kind of a big deal. My family doesn't travel. Like, ever. I think I'm the only one who has really caught the travel bug out of all of my relatives.
So last week, my mother and brother made the seventeen hour plane trek (yes, trek. It works for planes too) all the way across the world to my little old home in Gabal Asfar.
What an experience.
Now, I must be fair. My mother is a wonderful, beautiful, completely sociable person. But she hates travelling, dirt, and garbage. So I was a tad worried about how she would fair under my present living conditions. I was (very) pleasantly surprised by her completely nonplussed reaction.
She took it all in stride, overcoming the mountains of trash and "scary" food immediately. This was a huge relief for me, although I do tend to worry more than is necessary.
My brother was exactly how I expected him to be: completely relaxed, easygoing, and an easy target for shop owners. haha.
We started out their stay here in Gabal, living life in my shoes for  a week. My now worn-through dirty shoes.
They followed me to my classes, met all my students, helped the needy masses with my "unfair" assignments. haha. And they were a hit. An absolute hit. All my students adored them, although, I don't know many people who don't.
I think the consensus is that my ESL class is the favorite. They liked my family the most, and my family liked them the most. I mean, it is a classroom of seventeen young boys who find a role model in my brother, and a pretty lady in my mother. They win either way ;)
Now, as I've mentioned many times in the past, I teach the low-level introductory ESL course for students who struggle picking up English or have possible learning disabilities. So many of my students, even after seven months of studying, barely speak any English.
So the first day of my family spectating my class called for an introduction.
"Ok guys, this is my mother, Mrs. Kairie."
"Mrs. Curly? Mrs. Curly? Like hair?"
That got them all laughing pretty hard. Then came my brother.
"And this is my brother, Spencer."
"Mr. Expensive? What? His name is Mr. Expensive!"
Cue even harder laughter, from everyone now.
After that, word spread, and a solid majority of the school began referring to my mother as Mrs. Curly and my brother as Mr. Expensive. It was so endearing though; even now that they are gone, my ESL boys still ask about my "expensive" brother.
After class, one of my boys came up to me with a very serious look on his face. He approached me and said very quietly, "Ya miss, your mother is very good in the reading."
Except, read that with an Arabic accent.
"Ya miss, your mozer is very good in ze reading"

Spencer just told all my students the answers... so he was obviously the favorite. 

Mom had lapse in judgement and forgot about the "no touching" rule. haha. Oh well, I don't think Joseph here looks too upset. 

ESL absolutely loved Spencer. He has been gone for a week now, and they are still asking me about him

My brother also joined in the guys' PE class. He was a hit there too, although being as athletic and outgoing as he is, I'm not surprised. Here are a bunch of the senior guys (and Spence way off on the left side) after a soccer game.

My mom enjoyed being a spectator. Both of us appreciated watching from the sidelines ;)

So, during their time here, I took my mom and brother on a variety of adventures. They were here for just over ten days, so we had a good amount of time to do some exploration. The first five days were spent in Cairo, and the latter five days we enjoyed in Luxor.
As exciting as it is made to sound, Cairo really doesn't have many tourist destinations.
There are the pyramids.
There are the pyramids....
That's really it. haha.
There is also the Khan Il-Khalili, which is a giant shopping market, but most people haven't heard of that and don't come to Cairo to experience it.
I decided that going to Giza and the Khan would be the most fun and/or adventurous (at least for my mom...) things to do in the area.
We went to the Khan first, as it is open very late and could be visited after my classes finish in the afternoon.
Now, I love the Khan. It is exactly what you picture in your head when you picture an "Arabian Nights" type market. Bustling shops, piles of spices, teas, scarves, wooden boxes, cultural clothing. It is a feast for the eyes. And it doesn't hurt that I love shopping.
Some of you might also know my mother. I knew she would like the Khan, because if nothing else, she enjoys shopping ten times as much as I do. So just picture my mother, clad in all pink, making her way through the market bargaining for scarves and camel bone carvings like a boss.
Just kidding, I did all the bartering. 
But she was wearing all pink and bought a lot of scarves.

Everyone kept remarking upon how young my mother looks; and apparently how similar we appear! I'm not sure I agree with the latter, but she certainly does have youth on her side.

We brought Chris and Phil along for the ride, and everyone got along swimmingly. Spencer had a good time making friends with all the shopkeepers, although as a result he was a very easy target for someone to be ripped off. haha

Our happy family :)

We ended the night with juice at a local juice bar. Always my favorite way to finish a day.

I was exhausted by the end of it! Four hours of open-air shopping with temps in the 90's will do that to you though. 
Excursion number two: destination Giza.
Now, this was a new one for most of our group. Only Austin, Jeff, and Chris had been to Giza before. For those of you who don't know, there are several different pyramids sites in the Cairo area, Giza being only one of them. We have all been to Dashur and Saqqara already which you can read about here. So that means for Mary, Phil, myself, my mom and Spencer, we would be going on a brand new adventure. 
When you think of Giza, you, as I did, probably imagine something very National Geographic-esq.
You know the image.
Three pyramids, the Nile flowing gracefully in front of a palm-shaded oasis shadowed by massive sand dunes interrupted only by the massive stare of an aging sphinx. 
What you fail to be told in National Geographic though, is that there are more people present at the pyramids trying to sell you useless trinkets than there are people there interested in the history. On one side, there is a view of the three main pyramids, with sand dunes in the background. If you turn around though, you are met with busy Cairo traffic, a KFC and a Pizza Hut. And there is trash everywhere.
So, not exactly what we expected.
I tried not to let that deter from our experience though, although it is difficult to ignore the trash bags flying in the wind, obscuring your view of the only remaining ancient wonder of the world.
We took along my new grader/one of my senior students, Bagy, as our interpreter. If you ever find your way to Giza, it is a MUST that you bring a reliable interpreter with you. Otherwise you will be completely taken advantage of. 
We spent about an hour walking around, seeing as much as we could. After our previous experience going in side the Red Pyramid, we knew that crawling down into the claustrophobic's worst nightmare of a tomb in the pyramids is definitely not worth it.  So a lot of neck-craning was involved instead.
After staring up for so long, Bagy went and got a good deal for all of us to take camels around in the desert for over an hour.
That ended up being really fun, and although it was major thigh workout, worth the effort involved.
Of course, our camel-leaders all picked Spencer out as the weakest link and would slowly cut him off from the rest of the group, and then try to charge him more money and sell him things. haha. We took care of them though, and had Bagy yell at them a few times in Arabic. It solved the problem.

Phil questioning the sense in petting my camel's head.  On the right is Joey, one of my other students and our other student translator for the day.

Bagy, my new grader and one of our tour guides for the day. 

Austin tried to get away with as many different poses on the camel without the camel-guys yelling at him. It was all good fun. 

Camels are funny looking. 

My mom didn't think she could handle a camel all on her own, so her and Mary shared one. haha

Jeff running off Indian Jones style.

Phil and I fulfilling our tourist duties by taking a photo in front of the pyramids atop camels.

Spencer was given the head-wrap of one of the came-guys... and then charged money for wearing it. haha. I warned the kid. He enjoyed it nonetheless. 

You know, this may be the best pose with the sphinx I've seen. Props, Phil.

Our happy little family, sans my dad, in front of the sphinx.

What I learned from my trip to Giza:
1) The pyramids at Giza are not as impressive as at Dashur and Saqquara (in my opinion)
2) There is tons of trash, noise, and general lack of respect for what we consider to be one of the greatest monuments in the world.
3) The sphinx is small... pretty sure the one in Las Vegas is the same size.
4) I ate at pizza hut from where the above photo was taken.
That last one wasn't something I learned, just something semi-absurd when you realize the proximity.

And, given my incredibly lengthy and probably verbose post thus far, I think I will call and end to "Part One" of our adventures. Inshallaa, tomorrow you can read about our trip to Luxor!

End Pt. 1.
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