The Amazing Race... in Cairo!

Trip Start Jan 22, 2010
Trip End May 29, 2010

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Egypt  , Al Qahirah,
Friday, January 29, 2010

Today is my sixth day here and I've already had more crazy experiences than I can even explain. Wednesday night the three female Arabic teachers took just us girls out to dinner…and I tried Yemeni food for the first, and possibly last, time in my life. At this restaurant, the menu was all in Arabic and nearly everything had meat in it…luckily one of the teachers helped me find cooked vegetables with rice on the menu and I was ready to go. The servers covered the tables with large pieces of paper- like the kind you can color on with crayons- but I had a feeling the crayons weren’t coming. Then they set down soup in front of everyone before anyone had even ordered a thing. Hmm ok. The server came to the table and after placing 3 large plates of yellowed rice with chuncks of mystery meat on the table, said they were out of meat- but not to worry they could get some more. Uhhh ok. I assumed my bowl of vegetables was actually vegetables although I couldn’t even tell you what kinds. They then brought out three huge circular pita type breads and literally plopped them on the table…. it became a HUGE mess, and of course napkins and silverware were non-existent. Even the Arabic teachers were weirded out-, which wasn’t very comforting.

Then they brought out more meat, and I have NEVER seen any type of meat like this before- it looked like they had just removed ribs from an animal and placed it on a plate. The bones were sticking out the meat was black and yellow…needless to say if I wasn’t already a vegetarian I would have become one on this very night. After the crazy dinner, the teachers walked us to a little hole in the wall juice bar (literally They ordered sugarcane juice for all of us- aka pure liquid sugar. Naturally it was really good! After this evening ended I had had my fill of new foods for the day, to say the least.

Thursday marked the last day of orientation and it ended with an activity called "The Amazing Race in Cairo" and yes, it was exactly like the show. We were put into groups of three and each group was given a separate mission- I was with Lindley and Ryan and we were headed to an art museum for our first stop. Along the way to various destinations around the entire city of Cairo we had to take photos and collect various things such as, a run down taxi, a cheesy keychain, a coin with a hole in it, and Egyptian food we hadn’t tried, a new friend we met on the way, etc. We also had to answer questions about the places we were assigned.

After eventually finding our way to the museum and making our way inside, we made friends with the curator, who helped answer all our questions on the paper and we managed to get a picture with him as our new friend J Then we jumped into a taxi- my first one in Cairo- and headed to Ramses Train station. We had to take a picture of the clock tower, find the price of a ticket and the time of the next train- NOT as easy as it sounds. Apparently everything needs to be written in Arabic, (who knew?) and thankfully Ryan was with Lindley and I because the comments and stares from every single man at this station were becoming overwhelming. I have NEVER in my life been so blatantly stared at by every single person on the street- most of the time their comments are in Arabic and I don’t know what they are saying, but so far I’ve hear “hebeebeti” (my baby) and been told I love you three different times, had 'I want to kiss you’ whispered in my ear, and to top it all off was called a witch hahaha (mixed reactions around here)- I would be flattered if they weren’t around my father’s age (No offense Phil).

Anyway, after the train station we hopped on the Metro subway- my second time on here. We ran to catch the subway just as it was about to leave, and Ryan and Lindley jumped in the car and RIGHT after Lindley got on the door slammed shut in my face…There I was standing there with my mouth hanging open in the station, and the train started leaving as Ryan and Lindley tried to pry open the door (it didn’t work). The Egyptian man standing next to me was cracking up and waved his hand and said, “Say bye-bye.” While I would have rather sat down on the floor and cried, it was way too dirty…. so I sucked it up and decided I would just take the next train and meet them at the stop we had agreed on. I made my way to the women’s only car and got on, and finally felt slightly relaxed. We managed to find each other at the next station and all was good- Kinda funny when we look back on it.

Then we walked all around Downtown Cairo looking for a specific koshary restaurant. Koshary is an Egypt specialty food and consists of macaroni, lentils, rice chickpeas, onions, and a type of tomato sauce. We finally found it, said screw the race, and sat down and enjoyed some lunch! It was soooooo GOOD- my favorite Egyptian dish by far. We had to take a picture under the restaurant sign and of the koshary, then we were on our way again. After wandering around downtown (not intentionally) we pretty much decided to give up the race, but still wanted to try to see some of the areas, without rushing. I kind of like doing things in my own time J. We were supposed to locate the Arab League headquarters, but after truly losing our way and becoming beyond frustrated we decided against that part and hopped in a taxi to our next stop- the Opera House. We began our walk back to school after the Opera House because we were done…Along the way we ran into a small papyrus store…and since papyrus was on our list of things to collect, we walked in and ended up talking to the owner for about a half an hour. Immediately we asked him all of the questions we were unable to answer, such as History of the Opera House, the Arab League, traffic in Cairo, and a coin with a hole in it.  He answered every question and all of a sudden it seemed like we had been to every single task- and we hadn’t! It might be called cheating, but what can u do? We got our papyrus (which was really nice) and tore it up, rubbed it in dirt, etc, so it would look “really old”. We felt satisfied, and kept going on our way. We ended up back at Babel Villa (the school) around 4:30pm (we had left at 11:00am) and we expected everyone to be sitting there waiting for us, and didn’t really care. Turns out…. WE WON!!! We were the first to arrive and received the most completed tasks hahahaha funny stuff! Our prize is Matthew providing us dinner one night- not bad. After all our complaining, frustration, and disregard for the game it was pretty hilarious that we won.

And I have to grudgingly admit that even though it was a miserable experience at the time, it did teach me how to take a taxi, ride the metro, and talk to random people on the street, which will only help me later on. Matthew said the point was to “push you beyond your limits” and I can honestly say I have never been pushed so far beyond my limits in my life.... (which is probably why I didn’t like it ;) So much happened in only two days, and everything I have done is so new and challenging it gets overwhelming. Tomorrow we are headed to the pyramids- much more to come I’m positive. I can’t wait to meet a camel!!!!!!!! 
Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • You must enter a comment
  • You must enter your name
  • You must enter a valid name (" & < > \ / are not accepted).
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address


Janet on

Hi Ann! I am enjoying reading your blog, and am so proud of you. Have fun and keep writing. Love, janet

Ashton on

Holy cow I can't believe that taxi is a... taxi. Jeeze oh petes. Thank goodness you were assigned in groups! haha Dude, do the other women who live there get hit on this much???
Can't wait to see the pyramid pictures!!! And I really wish the mail system didn't suck pathetically so I could send you some stuff. :(
Find some more yummy food and get on a non-woman's only train. Those jerks!

AMD on

hi Ann!! I love this thing, I love getting all the stories and pics-- sounds like ou are having an amazing time!! I am anxious to hear about the pyramids and of course see pics too. The food sounds super interesting. Keep us posted!!!!

Andrew on

Ann, you are kind of funny you must get that from me. To bad I realized it when you are across the world. I bet you thought Kashi was that nice high fiber cereal you coat with some Silk soy milk. As far as dining out start drinking beer and wine with it, always makes things taste better. The kids say hi and Meradith gets a kick out of looking at you in the pics. Love Ya.

Dad on


Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: