Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Oh no! I'm one of "Them!"

There are many adjustments one has to make when living in a foreign country. The biggest personal adjustment I had to make was sleeping in the summer months.

No matter how hard I tried I just couldn't get myself to stay up all night and sleep in the morning, you know, around 3 or 4 a.m. I understand why Egyptians go out at night, it's just too damn hot, but to sleep during the morning, I mean until 11:30 or 12:00 just seemed impossible and unnatural to me, and something I just refused to change about myself.

Well, it's taken me two years, but I finally did it. Of course I do this now when Hassan isn't here, and my friends aren't around. OK, where is everybody? Mira and I stay up late, yes, 3 a.m., which means we wake up at 12:00 or 1:00 p.m. (unbelievable I know), and then get going around 9:00 p.m. We go to the souk, shopping, or do whatever it is we want to do at night along with everyone else. It isn't the going out that night that bothered me, it was being unable to change my sleep pattern, and Mira's sleep pattern to stay up late.

Hassan's cousin, Dalia, tells me that she stays up late every night, and I ask her, why, how, etc. It's unfair for me to judge her anymore, because I'm just like her.

Of course, last night, or should I say this morning, at 4 a.m. Mira said "Mommy, let's just stay up all night." Right, I'm thinking. I told her if she went out on the balcony she would hear the Adhan for Fajr (Dawn) prayer. I just love hearing the Adhan, but for Fajr it's very special. An awakening of sorts. Well, she never made it to the balcony. Right after she said she wanted to stay up all night, she fell asleep watching Andy Griffith that we have on DVDs. So there I was by myself watching Andy Griffith, again, by myself, until 6 a.m. when I finally made it to bed. I thought that I would set my alarm and try to get up "early" you know, around 11:00 a.m. but it didn't work. I turned off the alarm and rolled over until 1:00 p.m.

Going out late at night here in Rehab during the summer is like trying to fight downtown Cairo traffic. There is no place to park at the souk (marketplace), and if you are lucky enough to find a place to park, I mean a legal spot, which are few, someone will double or triple park you in and you're stuck there in your car honking your horn until someone meanders their way out to their car to move it; on average about 5 minutes later. So, after getting frustrated with being double and tripled blocked in, I decided to park the car outside the souk and walk around.

I think to myself, what are all these people doing out at 1:00 a.m.? I look around and most are just enjoying the nighttime, smoking sheesha, eating, eating, eating, shopping, running around, getting their cars washed, doing whatever it is they don't do during the day.

I don't know how I will readjust my body to getting up early for school, but it will take some doing. I have read that to change your sleep patterns, you need to go to bed early by 1/2 hour every night. Hmm, it may take a month to get back into my "normal" sleep pattern by then. But then again, when have I ever been considered "normal?"



Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mira's in Swimming Training

In Egypt, if a child or teenager wants to compete in swimming competitions they need to pass a certain number of tests or "stars" as they're called. Mira is in her first training period to earn her first star in September.

While Mira knows that she's not the best in the class, yet, not the worse, when she doesn't do well she just answers "I don't care. I just want to swim."

OK, well, for someone just wanting to swim, she goes to the club 3 times a week for an hour and a half each training session to swim just for fun. Not only does she go, but she goes religiously.

Mira's freestyle is not the best; ok it's really bad. I think it's because she wasn't given enough instruction on how to turn her head and breathe while she raises her arms. But recently after finishing a grueling two weeks on freestyle, the coaches moved the swimmers to the backstroke.
Finally, something Mira understands. Now I don't think the backstroke is that easy, but for some reason this is Mira's strength.

Not only did she do well, she came in 1st place out of the entire team of 18-20 swimmers in the 100 meters. I'm so proud of her. What's even better, she didn't make a big deal out of it, so I have to.

I'm so proud of her!!



Saturday, July 14, 2007

Torn Between Two Countries

I am making my best effort to keep in touch with my friends who are traveling abroad this summer. Between exchanging emails and IM as best I can because my pc is not working properly, I have come to the conclusion that those of us who consider more than one country as our home, experience the same feelings.

For whatever reason we moved to Egypt - and for the most part we enjoy it here - taking into consideration all of the frustrations -- believe me there are many. But foreigners all agree, the best part of Egypt is its people Egyptians and ex-pats (ok, good and bad, but overall if you find friends here, you are very lucky).

Secondly, we feel as though we want to be in the US (or whatever country one would consider home) for its conveniences (too many to mention), family and friends we have there. But after being in the US for a short while, ok, let's say 3 weeks, we come to find out that the same problems exist only on a different level.

I really don't want to get into specifics here but overall, we are torn between living in Egypt and the US.

Yes life is simpler in Egypt -- ok too simple sometimes -- you know, like finding a place to tie your camel or having your donkey pull your groceries for you without them falling off the bed of the wagon, but once those simple issues are resolved, you can enjoy time with your friends. Just make sure your animals are well fed.



Monday, July 09, 2007

Hassan returned to the US once again. I don't know how long he'll be gone - he doesn't know yet either. It seems as though we can't seem to decide on what to do long term.

In the meantime, I'm trying to keep Mira busy so I enrolled her in swimming classes 3 nights a week for 1 1/2 hours each so she can compete in swimming competitions in the future. She loves swimming, and it's taken some convincing to get her back in the program. When Hassan was here she had no interest in swimming, just spending time with Hassan.

Mira's swimming training begins at 8 pm three nights a week. It's a wonderful time to swim because the sun has set, and I get to enjoy some quiet time alone. But it seems as though my quiet time alone has just gotten to be too much for me.

Maybe it's adjusting to Hassan being gone, or not working over the summer, but it seems as though my friends have all but disappeared. I have two friends that I can count on over the summer, but even they are busy with their own families and work.

My friends from school are traveling, and we get to stay in touch through emails and blog postings.

I have always had a difficult time making friends with Egyptian women. I don't know why, but I just don't get along with them or they don't get along with me. It's not that I don't want to be friends with Egyptian women, but our points of view are too different to ever find common ground, at least that's my opinion.

I won't give up on making friends, though. You never know what an individual is like until you get to know them.