Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pictures

Here are some pictures of my most recent adventures!



The Suez Canal. This is actually the separation between Africa and Asia.




A famous, old church in the center of my city



The Hanging Church: built on ruins in the 7th century.


The oldest mosque in the city. I think I look like a gnome.

I also got to see the place where Joseph and Mary supposedly hid from Pharaoh in the 1st century and visit one of the two synagogues in the city. Who would have thought? A synagogue, church, and mosque all in one day!

A couple of days later, I went to a pre-wedding celebration for a friend. They had men actually sewing the mattresses and pillows by hand in the middle of the street while everyone celebrated with dancing and cheering. I was clearly the only foreigner there and got more than my share of attention--especially when they tried to make me dance and realized that I've never danced like that in my life and when they caught me eating with my left hand. Oops! I think I can relate to animals in the zoo on a completely different level now.

When in Rome...

Hair removal is all the rage here and I, apparently, have the arms of a gorilla so there was no other option but to remove it. Simple, right? My sister and I went to the store and bought "Sweet" which is a sort of wax made out of sugar I suppose. We melted it in warm water and then she turned it into a taffy-like substance and then proceeded to smush it on my arm and rip it off with all the hair included. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of moaning and screaming. After about an hour of this, she decided it wasn't good enough so she would also use thread. She took some thread , put an end in her mouth, held an end in her hand and twisted it all around in a way so that she moves it across my skin and the thread grabs and rips out all of the hairs in it's way. Finally, after about 1 1/2 hours I was finished with having hair ripped out of my body and the results? The smoothest skin I've ever, ever had in my whole entire life.

Was it worth it? Still not sure because it's been over 12 hours and I'm still in some pain and my arms are still pretty red.

But you know what they say: When in Rome, do as the Romans!

Here is the halfway picture so you can compare the difference.

(This is the "I'm amused but in a lot of pain smile!")

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Goin' to the chapel

For those of you who are worried about me not finding a husband over here, rest assured. There
is no lack of available men here. In the past 8 days I have received 5 marriage proposals: 3 taxi
drivers, 1 waiter, and 1 hair stylist. The hair stylist said he only wanted to marry me if I had
money though, so I think he's out. The taxi drivers were all in their 40s and 50s, so I'm thinking
the waiter is my best bet. He's only a couple of years younger than me and we would get to eat
all the free burgers we want. I'm thinking I'm going to hold out for some more camel-bride trade offers though. Mom and dad, what do you think?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Keep on keepin on

Sorry I haven't updated much recently. I'm pretty much into the routine of language-study-sleep, language-study-sleep, language-play with friends-study, sleep, etc., etc. I really do love it though! I'm progressing a ton and can actually keep a long conversation in Arabic!!!

Last weekend my church had an international night where everyone brought food from their home country and then performed. There were at least 15 countries represented. My favorite were the Sudanese and Nigerian people. They wore these incredibly bright clothes and the women wore starched scarves on their heads and they looked like beautiful, brightly-colored crowns. They sang and danced and played the drums. It was a blast!

I celebrated iftar with some friends again on Friday. The adventure of that outing was getting there. The right side of the road our micro-bus (think broken-down van) travels on was under construction so we just drove down the left side of the road swerving around the
oncoming traffic. As I said before, every day I make it home is a miracle!!!

Tonight my sister is coming over and she's going to help me make dinner for some friends.

Next week is the post-Ramadan celebration where everyone goes out of town. I had a great opportunitiy to visit Luxor with some friends and we were going to stay in this incredible hotel on the Nile and everything, but when the travel agent went to get the train tickets, they were all sold out. Bummer #1. Our next option was to stay in a Chalet on the Med Sea, but apparently it's cold this time of year. Bummer #2. It looks like I'll be staying home, but hopefully we'll get to go sometime soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fishy, fishy




This one's for Joy (and anyone else who remembers the last time I ate fish in a foreign country)!!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Letters and Packages

 I've had a bunch of you asking about sending me mail.  Unfortunately, you can't send anything to me here because I don't have a mailing address.  I don't even have a mailbox so, if by some strange circumstance the letter/package you sent actually made it to my address, there would be nowhere to put it.  I'll have to have people bring stuff in to me.

 I have a friend coming to visit mid-November and she has offered to bring stuff to me.  If you would like to send me something, email me and I'll send you her address.  She's living in Switzerland right now, so keep in mind that you'll have to mail it there.  If you don't have my email for some reason, just leave a comment on the blog and I'll get it to you.

Oh, here's a mini wish list:
  • just a letter from you would be wonderful!  pictures are great too!
  • coffee ground for a french press.  They only have instant coffee here and let's be honest--it's not very good!
  • The Interior Castle of the Soul, by St. Theresa of Avila
  • mix CD's with music that reminds me of you
  • York Bites
  • some Colorado snow ;)
  • a neat keychain for my housekeys--the ones that I lost yesterday.  Oops!
Thanks for your help!  Have a happy day!!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Not much going on in these here parts

Not much new here this week. It seems as though I'm actually getting into some sort of routine! Here are some fun experiences to note:

  • I spent Thursday night (11:30pm-4am) downtown with some dear friends drinking fresh mango and pomegranate juice, eating ful and timea (sort of like hummus and falafel), and Arab dancing in a river boat on the very important river in my city. It's been one of my favorite times here so far!
  • I finally learned the Arabic alphabet and am learning how to spell, though it's not as easy as it looks. There are only 3 vowels, you can't begin a sentence with a vowel, many words don't actually have vowels though they have vowel sounds, and there are duplicates of most letter sounds in the alphabet (though some would argue that they're different sounds). My favorite part about it though is that there are no articles (like Russian I hear). They're much more straight and to the point: You come my house, rather than do you think you could come over to my house? It's great!
  • Due to the time I spend with non-native English speakers, my English skills have already degressed to, "You go to the store now?" or "I come to your house tomorrow."
  • Hopped in a taxi to go home the other day. He started taking me a strange way and then stopped and apologized, telling me he couldn't take me anymore. I had to get out of the taxi and wander around until I could find another taxi to take me home or find someone who knew the general direction of my home. To top it off, I was ultra-foreign that day, wearing my Chicago Cubs t-shirt.
  • I've watched more American TV here than I watched in the states. My roommates and I have a nightly viewing of The Office. Being here, it seems we just need some culture we're used to to wind down.
  • Recently, I've been asked where I'm from a lot. My favorite trick to play is to tell them in Arabic that I'm from the country I'm in. They look surprised and then say, "No, no you're not." Then, I tell them I'm American. They usually say, "Oooooh, American! Welcome to our country!" But, on Sat., a taxi driver began to talk faster and faster and louder and louder in Arabic after I said that. The only word I could pick out of his rantings were "Bush! Bush!" Anyone surprised? I just agreed with whatever he said and then he turned around (while driving) and shook my hand welocming me to America. I could write pages and pages about conversations I've had about the U.S. government, but I'll just leave you with that story.
  • Yesterday I got 1/2 kilo of tomatos, 1/2 kilo of cucumbers, 1/2 kilo of yams, and 1/4 kilo of lemons for about $.60.
Well, I'm off to study for a bit and then head to another language lesson!