August 12th, 2010
I am at my 1 week mark here in Alexandria. It feels like I have been here forever, well not forever, just a lot longer than a week. Ramadan started yesterday and we were supposed to turn the clock back one hour, I only discovered that when I woke up for my training at the university an hour earlier… The streets are now more ‘cross-able’ since most people stay home, there are no line ups in any of the food places during the day and everyone is supposed to be nicer during Ramadan. The only thing I dislike about this change from eating/praying during the day to the night is the cigarette usage. Because smoking is disallowed when the sun is out, once the sun goes down, everyone is puffing like dragons. Chain smoking gone exponential, hooray for my asthma!!
The cafés is the way of life in this city, I think I’ve been to one every day, I’ve tried chai frappes, fruity concoctions, hamburgers and the like. Once again, I don’t mean to complain, but everyone here smokes flavoured shisa (I am spelling it wrong), so added to that of the chain smoking, I am constantly living in a smoke chamber.
I’ve been to the University all week, learning about HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography), I know, my nerdiness revealed. It’s been quite the experience, granted, it is indoors with air conditioning and I get to independently work on my presentation. All in all, so far so good.
The sun is scorching here and I will spend this weekend (yes their weekend starts on a Friday) exploring Alexandria, because I will be off to Cairo on the 18th and go on a whirlwind tour to the major hotspots in Egypt before I head back to Berlin on the 29th.
Despite the garbage aplenty, ruthless drivers, gawking stares and smoke, I have noticed one thing in Egypt that I appreciate. Everyone is very responsive to charity. There are people on the street asking for money, people helping you park cars for tips, etc. And every time these people ready their hands, there is always an exchange of coinage. There is even a hospital for cancer children, entirely run by charity, here in Egypt. I guess you learn something new every day?
I have officially begun the no fries no explicit junk policy to my diet (yes, I have been eating fries every day prior, including pizza hut, kfc, Mcds’…). Now off to search for a siesta and vegetables!