Sunday, September 28, 2008

Meat Matters

Sharia Petticoat

Leaving Egypt so unexpectedly, left us with a very fast forward of the ten things we would like to see.
Friday we chose for the Souq al Goma’a, (Friday market). A great place for photography and if you, like me, want to see what is going on at the other side of Cairo - the rough side - definately have a look!
We set off in a taxi, with a very vague description ‘under Al-Tonssy flyover between the Southern Cemeteries and the Khalifa district’ –. I was very skeptic we would find it straight away. But our taxi driver understood right away where to go (he smiled and thought of course : ‘Hope YOU know were you are going’) and we got there in less than 15 minutes (driving from Maadi ).

Having read many things about this market, also called Souq Al-Harameya, ('Thieves Market'), we were prepared for it all; overcrowd, stolen goods, exotic animals (for sale), dirt& trash, pocket pickers, junk and poverty. And yes, it was all out there.
Arriving just after 9 am, it was already very overpopulated. At some point we ended up in this isle of men’s ‘fashion’ and we completely got stuck. Strangely enough, when all these men spotted me (as the only woman without veil and obviously foreign) they all parted smiling. Wow, I felt like Moses crossing the Red Sea! We passed beautiful old furniture, millions of antique phones, shoes, and tons of other stuff.

We were very excited to see Heineken for sale (during Ramadan, hurray!!) but a quick look on the expiration date on the bottom of a can made us change our minds.

We discovered there were many strange objects for sale. I found it incredible to see that people were making a business, selling heads of dolls, second hand soap, remote controls of televisions that are probably extinct now, and small pieces of just ANYTHING.

in the beginning I was kind of overwhelmed with the smell of garbage (I think 80% of the goods sold here come from garbage bags), and sight of poverty.

It makes you realize that there are millions here struggling to make a living. But after a while walking around, it is great to see people endless bargaining, friendly smiles and attempts to try sell you anything.

At some point we got a little bit in trouble taking pictures of a bar. There was an old lady who started shouting and made a big scene. Since foreigners are quite rare here, people notice everything you do and taking your camera out can make some people feel uncomfortable. Don’t forget many Islamic people have religious reasons to object having their picture taken, so always respect when people tell you to put away your camera.

We left after one and a half hour, because the crowd and the heat were getting a bit intense. But I would have liked to see more things. The food section and the animals for example. Although we didn’t really buy anything, except for some very large ‘antique’ handmade spikes, it was a great trip.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Today started at 5.30 am. A loooong day with a lot of organizing and carton. All is packed plus we have tickets booked for the last day of this month.
Of course like all the other moves, also here some very last minute decisions to throw/ give away things, but I like that a lot.
The only anoying thing today was listening to the sound of tearing tape being strapped around the boxes, 'Sssssssssccccchhhhhhhhhhhhtttt!' 'Scsssssssssssssccccccccccccchhhhhhhhtttttt!!!'
I couldn't really escape from the house since I needed to check every time that all our own things made it in the box and not the landlord's. We never took any furniture to Egypt so it all went very fast.
A few small incidents had happened but this was because I wasn't such a attentive mum today. The Ciccia was covered from head to toe in A1 cream. I thought she was having a great nap, but when I came to check, she sat contently in her bed, greasy as a snail, the cream almost finished.
After that, when the moving company had gone, we looked all over the house for her shoes...and discovered they were probably already on the way to the airport. So we took her barefooted to the shop. Isn't it great when you are two, you don't worry about anything, not even if you are left without shoes.
Right now thinking about Amsterdam - .... family and friends just a bike/train ride away, Grolsch in the Vondelpark..., the city museum, a job for me, hmmmm....! Doesn't sound too bad.
Tonight was the last BBQ -or parpecue as our neighbours would say.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Last Drop

Things were looking up yesterday. The relocation company has been picked! The hotel decided that our move will be organized under the inspective eye of 'Tubbs'. Yes, the open-shirt man!

They didn't choose MY favourites (AGS for example, thanks Connie that was a good tip) but anyway our things are going to leave the house, INSH'ALLAH on Saturday. That is a relieve already. After the booking of this packing day, I immediately started to stalk another department in the hotel, concerning our flight tickets. I didn't have the guts to book the flight tickets yet, with the uncertainty of not knowing when they could start the packing, Murphy's law, you know...

Now it is going to look like our things are going to arrive before US in Amsterdam. The hotel can not find suitable tickets for the 1st of October (Eypt is celebrating Eid El Fitr from the first of October).The tickets I proposed would cost over $1000 each and they don't feel like paying that. Cheapo's!! Aaaah!

Alright, let's not throw the towel yet, I will find someting for sure. WE ARE GOING TO LEAVE ON THE 1ST OF OCTOBER, WATCH ME!

Now, Excuse me, I have to go and try wash my hair in this bucket of water (see pic).

Of course just when you don't have much time, the water starts to cheat on us as well. This morning there was a small stream of water and stupid me, didn't pick up this signal early enough and managed to save only half a bucket of water.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

With this heat in Cairo during Ramadan, who doesn't want to take a nap...

The last man here, I spotted today at the Maadi Metro station. I had to go to Korba to cash a check. When I came back, two hours later, he had moved to a different spot, but was still asleep!

Monday, September 22, 2008

11 tourists kidnapped in Eyptian dessert

CAIRO, Egypt (CNN and BBC) -- A group of 11 European tourists and eight Egyptians have been kidnapped in the southern Egyptian desert and apparently taken to neighboring Sudan, an Egyptian government spokesman said today on the 22nd of September.

The tourists included five Germans, five Italians and one Romanian, a spokesman for the Egyptian prime minister, told CNN. The Egyptians were said safari company employees, the owner of the company, a security officer and drivers.

The Egyptian government believes the kidnappers have no ties to any terror group. Negotiations are under way to secure their release.

Minister Garana told Associated Press news agency that a ransom of up to $6m (£3.24m) had been demanded.

Kidnappings of foreigners in Egypt have been very uncommon in recent years.
But BBC Arab affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi says an incident like this could dent Egypt's reputation as a safe destination for foreign tourists and deliver a blow to an industry that brings in $8bn a year.

Previous incidents in Egypt:

  • Several clashes took place in Egypt's Nile Valley during the 1990s when President Hosni Mubarak's government battled Muslim militants.
  • Militants killed 58 foreign tourists in the southern temple city of Luxor in 1997.
  • After 2004, attacks on foreigners moved to the resorts of the Sinai peninsula, where 121 people, including tourists, were killed in several bombings.

For the full story read: and

Mission Impossible

The relocation fever has started.We are trying to move before the first of October.

A very ambitious project, I know.

The relocation STRESS has also already started. Unfortunately.

With our landlord not wanting to return our $2000 dollar deposit (rental contract demands completion of one full year. On black and white our landlord is completely correct, but what an AS#&*OLE considering our circumstances) and demanding us to move out (if we don't pay more rent) before the 1st , I just can not help starting to feel a little desperate about this whole situation.

Marito’s employer wants three quotes of moving companies, so I was all day yesterday on the phone trying to get some people in my house for an estimation. Keeping in the back of my mind that these companies could be working on post-summer-Ramadan-speed, I contacted almost 15 companies. Just to make sure I was going to get my top 3 in my house the next day. Of course after Typ0’s horror story I also had to double check all companies work with international packing standards in any country of the world. So I called, called and called. In the end I started to sound like someone who had been selling cars for the past 40 years.

This morning, I was feeling quite optimistic, since I had the promise of 3 companies to come over and look. The first to arrive, I even had to laugh. Instantly had think ‘Tubbs’!! (Crockett’s partner in Miami Vice). The buttons of his fancy shirt open, all the way to at least to his belly button, I swear. I didn’t even dare to look that far.

He bored us endlessly with his company presentation, pointing out all their offices across the world (do I care they have 10 offices in New Zealand if I move to Europe?!), advantages (endless, endless), what their boxes looked like (hmmm very pretty indeed!), how pets during relocation were treated (we have baby, not a dog!). At some point I had to whisk him out of the door, because the next company would be coming over in 10 minutes.

During this second viewing I started to realize that relocating from Egypt is not very simple and this whole project could take about two weeks. Receiving quotations take around two days, of course with door-to-door they are dependent on estimations of their foreign partners. Oh, and did you know that in order to clear customs they need to take your passport for one or two whole days? Plus waiting for the hotel’s decision, which company may take on our shipment, waiting for the approval of payment…..etc, etc.

Oh let me tell you also -the cherry on the cake - from the 29th of September all companies are basically closed in Egypt. Challas!! For one whole week. Eid El Fitr and Armed Forces day.

Tomorrow Saqqara is on plan, while we wait for the quotes and a little bit to remind ourselves why we used to like living here so much…!