I thought it would be lovely to have breakfast on my new balcony this morning. I grabbed my cell phone and a pack of blueberry pop-tarts and stepped out onto the balcony, closing the door behind me so bugs wouldn’t get in. To great confusion it sounded like the door had locked behind me though... I set my poptarts down and tried opening it. It doesn’t open. I try the other side. It’s not opening either! Why would someone make a balcony door two flights up that automatically locks from the inside when it closes?!
So there I was. My first day in my new apartment and locked out of it. I wanted to enjoy my new balcony and I guess I was going to whether I liked it or not.
I realize I can’t climb down so I call a nearby friend. I tell him I can jump but it’s 2 stories up so there’s a chance of breaking a bone. He started heading over from his house and he says he’ll ask the doorman for an extra key. The doorman isn’t replying though so he says he’ll try breaking in. Before he can get to my apartment door I see the apartment next to me doesn’t have a window as it’s still being constructed. I contemplate making a flying leap from my balcony and into other apartment when I hear someone inside my apartment.
While laughing and unlocking the balcony door my friend tells me that if he even tried doing this on purpose to himself he wouldn’t even be able to as something like this could only happen to me!
I finally found an apartment that I’ve settled down in!
It’s just minutes from Mall of Arabia. The neighborhood is much safer than the one I left in Dokki. I can go running on the main streets and I have a couple of friends in the neighborhood if I ever need anything too!
Here's to new beginnings!
I found myself walking to Chili's again tonight. It was so good the first time (don't judge me)! So back to Chili's I went. As soon as I came through the door the staff recognized me and everyone stopped to greet me. It wasn't the normal greeting you get when you walk into a restaurant, these people actually remembered me! As soon as Ali saw me he smiled, shook my hand, and walked me to the both I sat in last time. The manager came to greet me as soon as I sat down and before I could decide on what to eat, Ali brought chips and salsa to the table and told me they were on the house! I couldn't believe how kind everyone was being. Ali then pulled a crinkled piece of paper out of his pocket. It was the thank you note I had left him.
He shook my hand again and thanked me for doing such a nice thing for him. I thought this was such a simple gesture and wasn't a big deal but I could see how glad he was that someone genuinely appreciated and recognized him for doing his job well. This clearly meant a lot to him.
After I ordered, the food came in record time and I was served a cup of tea, also on the house. Service was being taken to a whole new level at this point! Once again, I pulled out my journal and began writing while I enjoyed my delicious cup of tea. Although this time I was writing about my experience here.
After I paid for dinner, instead of writing another note I asked Ali if he would like to take a selfie with me. He happily agreed. After laughing at how silly we looked in our selfies he asked me what my name was. I took the crumpled up receipt and completed the "J" with the rest of the letters of my name. He thanked me once again for the kind words I had left him and told me whenever I decided to come back to the restaurant to call so that he could save a booth for me - my booth.
Always let someone know they're appreciated. You never know how big of an impact a small gesture could have.
A friend surprised me with a trip to Mall of Arabia today! As soon as we walked in we were greeted with lamps that sparkled from the second and third floors above us. The 3 floors on one side of the mall housed nothing but furniture stores! Every kind of furniture that you could think of was here. The “classic” furniture was my favorite. The detailing in the woodwork was so ornate and the fabric felt luxurious that I felt like a queen when I sat on one of the couches! Who knew a piece of furniture could make you feel like royalty?!
Eventually we moved onto the rest of the mall. There were a lot of brands that I recognized and even more that I didn’t. The mall has over 20 eateries, 23 gates, an indoor practice soccer arena, arcade, cinema, and a grocery store! The outdoor dancing fountain was my favorite as it reminded me of the ones I've seen on family vacations to Florida.
It's been three days since the water to my bathroom was shut off due to pipe repairs in the building. After three days without proper bathing I had to have some kind of shower! Since my bathroom was a bit far from the kitchen I bathed in the kitchen sink by heating up water in a pot on the stove. I then bathed IN the kitchen sink from head to toe. As a grown adult I'm sure this was a sight to see!
Have I mentioned how much I'm missing American food? ANY kind of American food?!
I remembered seeing a Chili's here once and so I pulled up google maps to see if one was close by. I was in luck! After my kitchen sink bath I decided to walk there to fulfill my American food cravings. The mile and a half walk would be refreshing and relaxing and the food would taste even better after some light exercise.
Once dressed I set off on my walk. I wasn't wrong in that my walk would be relaxing. Who would want to take an uber when you have the time to go exploring on your own?
Before I couple open the entrance door, there was a gentleman holding it open for me while greeting me with a warm smile. (I don't know about you guys but this small act and expression can set a wonderful tone for the place I'm about to enter.) He sat me in a booth in an empty area and handed me a menu in English. My server, Ali, came to me shortly thereafter and while his accent was a bit thick we were still able to communicate well enough. I haven't had soda in a while so I ordered a diet coke, fried chicken, french fries with honey mustard, and corn on the cob. A meal fit for an American Queen! While waiting, I drank an entire mug of soda and somehow downed 2 more even after the food came! The food was spot on and tasted just like Chili's at home. The meal hit home and my server was so courteous and quick to respond to me. After dinner I sat there for about an hour writing in my travel journal and he continued to check on me long after my meal was boxed up for the walk back home. I really appreciate good service so I wrote on the back of the receipt thanking him for everything and letting him know I was a bit homesick and this had done wonders for me. I signed it as "J " and headed home with a full and happy belly.
After showering today, I found myself drying off in front of my fan as my bath towels were still drying on the line. I had a movie playing and the AC was also on. With the noise in my apartment I didn't think I heard the doorbell the first time it rang and aside from that, the doorbells here sound like a bird chirp instead of the usual “ding dong”. Once I realized someone was at my door I turned the fan off and hit pause on my movie. At this point I wasn’t sure how long they’d been at my door so I start rushing to get dressed when the person at my door began holding the doorbell down, making the cute bird chirp sound like a horrific screech. After just a few seconds they start beating and pounding on my door!
I realize I need to call for help. I dial 3 friends…no answer. Great.
The doorbell is still sounding like a bird being tortured at the end of a megaphone and the pounding continues. I’m fearing for my life thinking that no one in their right mind would greet someone at their door this way so I run to my bathroom and start looking for a way to escape or defend myself.
There’s a small window. I wonder if 4 flights of stories would be too high to jump down? Of course I knew the answer. Why aren’t there emergency staircases here?! Realizing I’ll have to face this person head on, I start looking for a weapon.
Then it all stops.
I’m shaking and feeling helpless. I want answers. WHO was that?! Were my friends playing a terrible joke on me??
I make my way quietly to the door and look through the peep hole. No one was standing there. Not a single person looking back in anger. Not a single friend falling over from laughter.
Moments later when I regained composure, was fully dried off and properly dressed, I noticed I had a missed call from the building manager. She always called prior to anyone coming to the flat if she was having them come to fix something. Had she forgotten to call? Still, I remind myself that their actions at my front door had exceeded inappropriate.
I call her back and she proceeds to ask me if I have a problem with anyone in the building. Baffled, I tell her I’ve never met any of the other tenants and I didn’t even know what my next door neighbor looked like. She informs me that someone had called the police and told them that I’ve been “having guests”. In areas where people are less educated, a foreigner can sometimes be presumed as loose or easy because of what they see portrayed in Hollywood movies. So because friends had come to check on me in my flat when I was sick, someone assumed that a Moulin Rouge ordeal was taking place (which is illegal) and found it appropriate to report me. The terrible misunderstanding was easily cleared up and as furious and insulted as I felt about it then, I can only laugh about it now.
“Come what may”. – Moulin Rouge
You wouldn’t believe the time I’ve had with this apartment! A guy came two days ago to fix the AC. It worked up until today. I woke up feeling hot only to find the AC unit wasn’t responding to the remote. Yikes! It was supposed to be a scorching 113 degrees Fahrenheit! I called the building manager and she had the same guy come out to fix it again. It turns out the AC unit is fine but the electrical switch was not. She tells me she’ll bring an electrician by around 7pm … 4 ½ hours from then. I felt I would melt away. 4 ½ hours go by and the electrician came to fix the electrical switch. He situates everything and as he’s leaving I make my way into the bathroom and notice the lights aren’t coming on. Mama mia!! I caught him just before he walked out and he was able to fix that switch as well. Now the only thing not working is the washer. But I’ve been washing clothes by hand up until this point so I may as well keep my streak going.
So how does a trip to the hospital sound? Sorry you’re finding out this way mom and dad! I didn’t want to scare you but now that it’s been months since my fabulous trip you can no longer worry. I’m fine!
I woke up having to need to use the bathroom and had horrible stomach pains. They were so frequent and happening every couple of minutes and were so bad at some point I was yelling and crouching over with each pain. I knew something was very wrong. Everyone was at work but I tried my luck by calling friends to let them know I needed a doctor and hoped that someone would be able to get to me quickly or send a doctor to the flat. I was fortunate that even one friend answered. He called around trying to find a doctor while I tried dressing myself. I never knew an everyday task could be so difficult! He called back saying a doctor couldn’t come into the flat unless someone else was present and I didn’t want to wait on an ambulance so I requested an Uber and made it to the hospital in just 10 minutes.
After explaining the symptoms to the doctor it was determined that while the local food is absolutely delicious it should not be consumed by someone (especially a foreigner) with a sensitive stomach day in and day out for almost a week straight.
The nurse tried giving me a shot in the butt to alleviate the symptoms but I felt so dizzy and lightheaded that I lost all color, started sweating, and grabbed the trash can to puke. Very rarely do I get embarrassed but I immediately felt the need to apologize. Ever have one of those moments as an adult when you just want your parents there telling you everything will be alright like when you were a kid? This was one of those moments.
With the shot finally in my bum and the color back in my skin the doctor handed me 4 prescriptions and sent me down the hall to the pharmacy to get them filled. Again I requested an Uber and was thankful to be heading back home until the driver rear ended someone! Traffic was pretty busy so it was just a bump and the driver in front of us moved off to the side of the road but when my driver got out of the car to check on the vehicles he forgot to put the car in park and away I went! Because that’s how I roll…in the backseat of a driver-less car. Thankfully he realized his mistake and jumped back in the car to put it in park before we hit someone else. I actually found it pretty funny despite everything and thought maybe he was just having an off day. That was until he almost t-boned someone else on the way home. Maybe he thought he was in a demolition derby game? I eventually made it home without a scratch on me, surprisingly! My friend left work just to come check on me and make sure I was okay. It’s very relieving to have someone you can count on when you need them the most. Especially in a foreign country!
I wasn’t able to stand much or lay on my back for the rest of the week that I was recovering. I barely ate but still put myself on an extremely healthy diet and lost just a bit of weight in the process. I was just happy to see things getting back to normal from both ends of the spectrum if you know what I mean.
My goodness so much has happened! I can’t even seem to be able to finish journal entries! I’m going to be slightly less descriptive with the past days as it’s too much to tell and I’d like to finish this entry today!
Some friends came to pick me up and we headed to Gouna. The first day we just relaxed and hung out by the beach. Unfortunately, I cut my foot pretty bad on rocks in the water. While it bled a bit, I didn’t want to leave the beach to wrap it up. So responsible, right? I ended up limping the entire 3 days in Gouna because I was walking on open wounds the whole time.
The second day I hung out at the hotel pool with friends all day and it was amazing. I think I stayed in the water almost the whole time. If I ever get a pool for my future home it will be a well spent purchase.
On the third day a friend and I took a flight in a tiny hang glider plane. To say it was incredible is an understatement! The beaches and water are enough to leave you in awe but when you look out into Gouna, the city is beautiful beyond measure. Boats, palaces, and a pier that stretches about a mile out into the sea. In that moment there was no doubt in my mind that I had made the right decision by coming to Egypt. Even if this one day is the only good thing that comes out of it, it would be worth it.
So, I’m taking this breathtaking weekend trip with friends to a beach about 3 ½ hours away from Cairo and I’ve yet to unpack! Call me crazy but adventure called me first.