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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Talk about 'STICKER SHOCK!?!?!"

Theson has asked me to ship a package to him in Cairo, and since mailing through the Post Office was proving to be non-useful, I proceeded to FedEx to expedite transit. Theson has a definite deadline in mind to receive this package, which is definitely NOT guaranteed, entering Egypt...but nonetheless off I head to the FedEx office.

All is going well, filling out all the necessary paperwork (the clerk and I are almost best friends as often as I am there), and then the clerk asks me, "why would he mail this through FedEx, when the shipping is almost as much as the item?" I'm like - "how much?" Check out these receipts for an item worth $400...

I can't even describe what my jaw looked like when it hit the floor. Theson will pay dearly now, as I called him IN EGYPT on my cell phone to get his thoughts on the matter.

I must say that when the clerk brought the billing up on the computer screen, the amount quoted was approximately $128 for June 1st Priority and $121 for June 3rd Economy shipping, but the final label printing out was as you see above. this clerk explained that "they were having problems with some computers and their calculations", which are scheduled to be rectified AFTER June 1st. Duh!!!! A lot of good that does us now! Anyway, I explained to go ahead and ship it and I will hold on to the receipts as evidence of the MAJOR miscalculations, and we will get it all settled at billing time.

But this truly made my day!! Enjoy!

Take care and TTFN.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Short take on Cairo traffic...

This is just a short video I was able to get as we travelled to The Citadel. You can see how the cars just make their own lanes and pedestrians literally take their lives in their hands, whilst trying to cross these wide and busy roads. You will see more cars with side mirrors broken off, because of the closeness of travel.

Another novel approach they have to "delivery" service or garbage hauling, is a small truck (i.e., Chevy S-10 or such) and load it to the sides of the bed, then take sheets of cardboard and line the bed...and keep loading whatever it is, just increasing the space upwards by adding more and more cardboard. The end result (unfortunately I don't have an ideal pic) is an unusually "top heavy" SMALL TRUCK!!! I saw 2 of these trucks on their sides at different times...I don't think the concept of "center of gravity" has ever hit home. I did find it humorous.

This is a shot of the street which runs in front of theson's apartment. You can see how narrow these residential streets are, and if you don't pull your side mirror in - WIPE OUT!! There are plenty of sidewalks, yet everyone walks in the street. A good reason for that is the condition of these sidewalks is deplorable - and the curbs vary from 9" (rare) to over 12" in some spots.

Another constant site is the "washing of the cars!"

Very early in the mornings, the hoses come out and the car washing begins. This one gentleman, must be an Egyptian bigwig, was constantly washing or "dusting off" his BMW, while in his silk suit.

Also, because of the sandy/dusty conditions, people are also often pouring water on the walkways to apartments and businesses, to reduce the dust/sand. Even the rusty, clunkers of black & whites (cabs) are being cleaned of the dust and grime - but I never saw the insides of the vehicles being cleaned. When it comes to the black & whites, I don't think that happens, they just buy air fresheners by the gross and keep hanging new ones over the old. This was a real treat.

Did I mention THE CATS?? Cats run wild throughout the city, almost feral. People will "hiss" at them to keep them at bay, they are NOT friendly domesticated felines.
The garbage is gathered during late afternoon and evening, and placed on the corners in bags such as this, and the little minions wait until the "small truck" comes to haul it all away. But in the meantime, the cats check it out to see what is there for them. In this picture there are 5 cats visible, but there is also another one down inside the pile - I watched it for quite some time, and I think it was like 20 minutes before the feline emerged from the bag. It certainly doesn't take much to amuse me!!!

I have to run for now, thegrandson has to get ready for bed, school night. Five more days of school till summer break - OUCH!!!!

Take care for now and stay well!! TTFN.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Vacation of a lifetime...thanks to THESON!

My good buddy theRuss, took me to the airport to set off on the journey of a lifetime, on Tuesday the 6th @ 2:50 pm. The flights were broken up between Washington, D.C., Frankfurt, Germany and into Cairo, Egypt. I have never been one to actually sleep in any moving vehicle...I may get drowsy but never really sleep, so after many hours of flying time I made it to Cairo on time, a little after 2 pm Wednesday (Cairo time - 7 hours ahead of our time). I tried to upgrade to Business Class on Lufthansa in Frankfurt, but a blatant NO was the answer. They actually turned up their noses when I replied that I would be putting the additional charge on my credit card...guess cold hard cash works for them. (Silly asses - the American dollar is almost worthless these days on the global market.)

Theson had taken a half day off to meet me at the airport with his driver Emad. Driving from the airport to his apartment was a great initiation into the driving (or non-driving) habits of the Egyptians. Cairo looks relatively modern with lines painted on the roads to designate LANES - but in reality they mean NOTHING!! Crazy drivers rely on their horns and lights to weave into and out of lanes or just make their own way straddling "lanes." Stoplights are there...all blinking yellow and trust me, there is no caution involved whatsoever. We stopped at a fruit market and got so much fresh produce (strawberries, peaches and cantaloupe) and theson stopped at another market and got Diet Dr. Pepper for me and of course some beer for him.

Theson let me take a couple hour nap, before we headed off to dinner with his co-workers, Ken, John and Ed at the Red Onion. Delicious steaks - I was impressed. John is engaged to an Egyptian girl, Basma, and she also was with us for dinner. Since we had time to kill before theson headed back to the airport to pick up theJay and theRachel, we went to the "Far East" bar. I had visions of this place before stepping in the door as they told me it was known for some rowdy fights at times...I was not far off in my impression. You walk into a very nice restaurant area (no patrons) and head to the back of the building - where all the action takes place, bar, pool tables and comely girls to attend to your needs. Basma worked at this place before becoming engaged to John. We only stayed about an hour or so, before heading home as I was super tired and needed to sleep.

I must also say, one suitcase did not make it to Cairo with me...but I was guaranteed it would be at the apartment by 3:30 am. Surprise - it was!!! Minus quite a few items though. I was pissed. Not a lot of value to the missing items, just the principle. Damn TSA - says you can't lock your luggage anymore, therefore the baggage handlers make a killing on stolen loot. Assholes!

When we all woke up on Thursday morning, Emad was making breakfast for everyone before we headed to the Egyptian Museum. (Weekends for theson are Thursday and Friday - most of Egyptians, also.) My comments on the Egyptian Museum are not all that great. For a country with such ancient history and artifacts...it is not displayed well or in any great order. From what I have read though, not a lot has been updated in the past century, other than displays relating to King Tut and recent finds. Since no cameras were allowed in the museum, this is a pic of me and theson in front of museum.

Afterwards, we headed to Khan el Khalilli, the Egyptian bazaar. Some of the shopping areas are real tourist traps, but we managed to get off the beaten path and found an interesting art studio (see Nomadic Tendencies blog.) Theson rather succinctly covers the trip, and if you go to the link to his site...it will save me time in repeating the events.

I will be back to add more soon, but am trying to relax after 2 days in a row of baseball games. We just got home from one and now have to feed the little critter at 7 pm. I cleaned my back deck this morning into early afternoon and am ready to put some meat on the grill for a cookout tomorrow. I may only have one person here or I could have more - I never know.

Everyone enjoy this Memorial Day holiday weekend! TTFN

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Takes awhile...

Although I got home from Egypt late last Saturday night, it has taken awhile for me to re-acclimate myself. I am not getting enough sleep that is for sure - and I am tired as all get-out!

I have to tell everyone and anyone who may read this blog...I HAVE THE BEST SON IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE! He could not have treated me any better during my visit - the proverbial super host. I will never have a Mother's Day present as wonderful as this trip!

Is this not the most awesome view of a World Wonder? Unfortunately, Cairo rates in the top 10 cities as to being the "smoggiest!" I don't think they have ever seen a CLEAR day. This picture was taken from atop The Citadel. I also took a 360 degree panoramic short film from this high point.

The weather was quite warm (hot actually - 101 degrees one day). Very sandy and dusty, yet not humid at all. **Only 50 degrees and raining when I returned home!

I am still coordinating (drafting) a blog of sequential events, but don't want to bore everyone.

Major cleaning today (wash the curtains and get down and clean the crevices type) and I am plain old exhausted. Hopefully, I will be able to post more pics and accounts of my trip tomorrow.

I've been catching up on everyone's blogs - so now I have to get back in sync again.

Everyone stay well and TTFN.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm Home!!!

I am presently trying to cope with a severe case of jet lag...but to let you know, you can go to flickr site and view the pictures I have downloaded so far. I have a couple of videos I will put on here showing the CRAZY driving rituals in Cairo...totally insane! Nap time...wil be back later.

**I think I have found the problem with my "flickr" account. I did something dumb awhile back, and will try to change that, but clicking on the site now - will show the Egypt pictures. There are 3 sets.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Many adjectives to describe Cairo, Egypt...

I have been kept busy the entire time I have been here (I arrived last Wednesday, and my body has been "through the mill!"

I am amazed most at the overcrowding and the conditions under which some people live. Where theson lives (Old Maadi) is considered a "rich" area of Cairo, and we have seen some really deplorable areas also. Everything done for you is meriting a "tip", and these Egyptians are very persistant. When we toured the Pyramids in Giza, although we had decided to give the tips to one person to be distributed, the other guides were poking us from behind asking for "secret tips." I find this so sad.

theJay and theRachel have been travelling all over the countryside in spurts. They were gone for 2 days to Sharm el-Sheikh (southern part of Egypt) and just left for an overnight train ride into Luxor (and will return by train late tomorrow night).

All the walking has been hard on me, yet probably good for me at the same time. I'm going to go for now. Much more later when I get these hundreds of pictures downloaded to my Flickr site.

Everyone take care and TTFN.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Usually I am pretty well organized and can pack a bag better than most - that is if the object is getting the most in one - NOT necessarily keeping it within the baggage weight limits!

Theson has so many requests of things to bring him - and most are "weighty" items. Such as a power supply for his X-box, 2 bottles of Aveeno lotion (for Jules), 2 bottles of HOT SAUCE, blah blah blah. So yesterday afternoon after getting everything in my large suitcase, we were trying to weigh the damn thing and it kept registering at 56-59 pounds. With the luck I have, I went to the Internet to check out weight restrictions and fees - all the fees changed effective midnight LAST night. That's me - day late, dollar short! An overweight bag fee went from $50 to $100. Now doesn't that just suck? Back to the drawing board.

Thedaughter brought up 2 smaller bags (and I have decided not to take my tiny rolling carry-on) and we evenly distributed the contents. Each bag now weighs well under the 50 pound limit. Yippee! I will just carry a tote-like bag and my computer bag - and I am good to go. I never thought it would be this hectic - hell, I cruise every year and I guess it has just become a routine thing - but flying international is a new experience for me.

I may not get to Alexandria, as it is a 3 hour trip each way and theson will not be able to go with me - and I know he has a wonderful driver, but I don't know him that well and 6 hours travel time with a stranger does not appeal to me. We will see!

Still things to do, so I will try to blog from The Land of the Pharaoh's!! Everyone stay well and be back later!

Chickie - my heart goes out to you on little Chi-Chi's passing! Thinking about you.