American University in Cairo

Trip Start May 31, 2007
Trip End May 20, 2008

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Thursday, September 27, 2007

Spent the last few days in Cairo doing logistical stuff.  Easy stuff usually but in such a huge bustling congested city as Cairo...pure exhaustion!  Picked up my Tanzania Visa today at the Embassy, a short taxi ride but yesterday one that took over an hour because my driver didn't know where to go and asked for directions about 15 times.  I know how exhausting it was for me, I can only imagine the way the driver was feeling.  This all for 10 Egyptian Pounds, the equivalent of roughly 2 USD.  It's an incredibly difficult and stressful job and I feel for the drivers who at times are difficult to deal with regarding pricing for non - Arabic speaking westerners...of which I am one!

In contrast, the embassy was located on a winding tree lined back street and once inside, I could finally relax for a bit.  Found a taxi back and we were at the hostel in 15 minutes including traffic delays.

The American University in Cairo is a few steps away from where I am staying.  Heavy security surrounds the entrance but once inside (minus your id which stays with security) it is like any other university I have visited albeit with many young females wearing headscarfs.  Its great to see the enthusiasm for learning...which I believe gets lost a bit when the responsibilities of life weigh us down.  So many different nationalities interacting, striving for knowledge and meaningful interaction.  They have an extensive bookstore so I picked up a few Africa guides, a guide to Travelers Arabic by a British Publisher with such handy tips as how to ask for the location of the nearest British Embassy, a book on Iranian Women, a book about Islam and a book about Egyptian Women...should be good reading when I arrive at Sawa Camp on the Red Sea tomorrow!  Decided to take a long bus...should be interesting leaving Cairo at 6:00am...  The bus goes to the town I need but it has to drop me off somewhere north of the town and I'll have to walk down a dirt road to get to the camp...should be an interesting little adventure.  The proprietor of the camp said that I was to have the bus driver call him for directions when we reach Nuwieba...I'm sure that'll go smoothly.

Tonight for dinner I broke down and had a pizza from Pizza Hut and a sweet from Micky D's!  Arabic rock playing at the latter and the call to prayer playing at the first.  So many intricately scarfed young women, a few with the full faces covered.  A Spanish tourist in shorts and a tight singlet (or tank top) was arguing with the man behind the counter at McDonalds...she didn't realize that the cost of the meal did not include the 10% tax.  I explained it to her in Spanish and they both smiled as she paid the extra 1 L.E! 
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