I'm no stranger to the Immigration Office in Cairo. The first time I'd ever been was last year when I'd lost my passport and before I could fly back to the states I needed to replace the one I had lost and obtain a stamp verifying the flight I had come in on through the Egyptian immigration computer system. I was fortunate to get a new passport in just a matter of 24 hours but it was hard work getting that stamp. It was always so crowded and hot as they only had fans and no air conditioning at the immigration office. It was easy to get lost in the crowd or pushed around in the sweaty mess of visitors and overall it was something I never wanted to experience again. After going every day for two weeks to the immigration office, running up and down the stairs, and visiting window after window, the systems were finally up. I was finally able to get what I needed to get back home!
Although for a different reason, almost a year later and I was back. I'm suppose to be visiting family in Seattle for a few weeks at the end of July and needed a longer visa that would allow me to travel and come back into Egypt without paying for a new visa altogether.
This time wasn't nearly as bad. It was still blazing hot but the crowd of visitors wasn't nearly as bad and we didn't seem to have to run around as much. After getting a few passport photos taken for the papers, paying for a residency visa and a return visa, all that was left was to leave the passport for a few days for processing. I left my passport, worried it would be lost in the stacks of forms and passports behind the counter but know I didn't have a choice if I wanted to get my visas squared away and come back into the country without problems.
While there, I had the opportunity to speak briefly to a woman from Georgia (the country) who began an online relationship with an Egyptian man 4 years ago. They finally met in person just that month. He proposed and they were trying to get their papers worked out at the immigration office. I really wanted to speak to her more but they were in line in front of us and were done with their paper but it was my turn next. I hope they were able to fix everything and will have the best of life together.
Finally, at the end of the day at the immigration office, my friend took me to tour Cairo University. It was incredible to see the old architecture. i love stepping into buildings with rich history. It feels like the modern world as I know it is placed behind me and I take a step forward, back in time.