1. I woke up early this morning and went to the bathroom, where I found about a million ants covering the door frame of the bathroom. They were not really coming from anywhere. They were just…there. Swarming. There were some flies, too. Neither coming nor going. And only on the door frame, where there is (obviously) nothing to be eaten. Out of nowhere.
  2. Adam poured his coffee into a  mug and it shattered by itself all over the counter.
  3. The fridge was open, and a container of koshary that was pretty far in on the shelf shot out onto the floor by itself.
  4. I was walking to the CSA and I saw a dog get hit and killed by a car, right in front of me. RIGHT in front of me. I tried to get a vet in time but it was too late.

I’m watching my back today…

Posted by: Jen | 13 September 2009

I Will Not Stop Working for the Next Two Weeks

I am mildly obsessed with Cafe Vivant on Zemalek.  We discovered it yesterday when I met with my newest Web design client, the editor of an Egypt-based news blog.  Should be exciting to design!  Currently battling with WordPress…

I’m also in the process (fingers crossed) of agreeing to design a site for an Egypt-based NGO, and another for an online Egyptian handcrafts store.  So much business–this is great!

Ally and Nicole get in on the 28th (lovely, that’s Yom Kippur and Adam and I will be totally drained and hungry when they arrive), so I want to do as much work on these sites as I can before they get here.  This means no play when I’m not at the museum.  NO PLAY, I SAY!

Posted by: Jen | 8 September 2009


There’s another (third) Barnard woman in Cairo!  Adam met her today–can’t wait to meet her myself.  She’s Jewish, too, so we’ll be synagogue buddies for Yom Kippur (strength in numbers, haha).

Speaking of Jewish holidays, Adam and I are off to Israel a week from tomorrow on the local bus to Taba, crossing over the border into Eilat on foot.  We’ll spend Rosh Hashana with his family, and hopefully see mine for a while as well.  Looking forward to replenishing our stock of fresh zatar from the market in Jerusalem… 🙂

AND Ally and Nicole are coming to visit in a matter of weeks!  We may even take them to Israel while they’re here.  It’ll be a tad crowded in our apartment anyway, as Adam and I are subletting to an Italian Ph.D. student for six weeks beginning on the 21st (more exciting news about which I almost forgot).

Whew, so much going on!  I’m off to work on the (never-ending) Center for Archaeology Web site.  Should be done soon, at which time I’ll share.

Posted by: Jen | 1 September 2009

Read Me

Wonderful short piece in the Times!

Posted by: Jen | 1 September 2009

Fact and Fiction

Thanks to some family friends living in Cairo for work (US government), Adam and I have had the chance to explore Maadi quite a bit this week.  We’re currently at the CSA, a club house of sorts where ex-pats can enjoy garden seating, iced coffee, and free WiFi.  Score!  Because you know our Internet isn’t going to be installed any time soon…

Maadi is interesting in that it seems to be an ex-pat attempt to de-Egyptianize Cairo.  Not in a nasty way, but rather in a sterilizing sort of way.  Everything here is much cleaner (yay!) than in areas where foreigners aren’t in the majority, with native workers doing most of the tidying.  And there are supermarkets to rival some in New York–I finally found my goat cheese and soymilk!

But for all of its charm from the point of view of someone who does need a bit of home every now and then, Maadi seems inauthentic.  It’s certainly a great escape, but at times it almost feels like the whole place is walled and security-controlled.

Speaking of: We had a great night out at the Embassy Club with those family friends, where we had some very un-Egyptian food and listened to a great oldies cover band (“The Fuuls”–if you’ve been to Egypt, you’ll get it).  But for Adam, who hasn’t been in the States since May, it was total reverse-culture shock.  Barbecue and American beers, and… Reubens?  Walahi!

I’m currently reading The Yacoubian Building, a best-seller about the relationships taking place in and around a real building down the block from our apartment, on Talat Harb.  It’s set about a decade ago, but is meant to offer a perspective on Egypt in-the-now.  Living right around the corner from the Yacoubian Building has been so interesting to me as a reader, and as someone who’s witnessed first-hand the strange and (more often than not) ridiculous goings-on in Cairo.  This is such an odd place, but we do love it for its quirks.

Posted by: Adam | 30 August 2009

Internet Troubles

So after about three weeks of trying incredibly hard to get internet access in our apartment, I was just told by one of the guys who sits outside to just give up and go straight to the owner. Here’s a summary of what I’ve gone through to get this done.

Two days after moving into the apartment, I went downstairs to the guys that are always sitting outside smoking hookah and playing backgammon and told them that I was interested in getting internet access in the apartment. “No problem!” they all said, “We’ll call a couple people and you’ll have it in a week.” Well I was excited. I had been going to a cafe in Tahrir Sq. (Pottery Cafe, actually a great place with surprisingly good food) every day to use their WiFi. I was sick of that. But according to the nice men outside, I would only have to wait a week.

Two weeks later:

“So, will my internet be installed any time soon?”Man outside: “well we ran into some issues with the phone company, they won’t install it.” Me: “were you going to tell me this?” No response. Me: “well what can we do so I can get internet access?” Man outside: “We will wire you from a man who owns a shop next door.” Me: “great! how long will it take?” Man outside: “two days.”

A week later:

“Where is my internet? This is getting ridiculous.” Man outside: “we need the cable.” Me: “when you told me the internet would be installed in two days, didn’t you know that you needed the cable?” Man outside: “yes, but we didn’t have it. I just sent a boy to get some.” Me: “okay, so the cable will be here tonight and it will all be finished tonight?” Man outside: “yes.”

A week later:

“Will I ever have internet? Or are you scamming me?” Man outside: “you will have it in two days, maximum. I’m sorry, thank you for your patience.” Me: “I hope so…”

This evening, Jen and I were eating some sandwiches on our way to the cafe to use the internet when one of the men who normally sits outside the apartment came up to us and said, “you know they’re scamming you, it will never get done unless you call the owner of the building. I see you running up and down from the fifth floor of the building and I feel really bad, but it will just never get done, this is Egypt.”

At least some people are honest.

Posted by: Jen | 23 August 2009

Auf Deutsch!

Adam and I just signed up for our German class at AUC.  Woop!  Classes are so cheap here that I’m tempted to sign up for more, but I know I shouldn’t given all of the other things I have to do (like blog?).

We need Internet.

Also, despite the fact that ex-pats are not at all in the majority here, one still needs to produce a passport for practically everything.  I have to get used to carrying it around, which I hate doing because I always feel like I’m going to drop it by accident.

Blah, it’s 93 degrees here right now.  So hot, ahh!  We’ve been spending lots of time inside during the day, painting (we have oils and watercolors) and watching BBC World News.  Except when you watch this much BBC, you start hearing the same stories over and over again.  Free satellite is nice, but we need The History Channel or something!  We have lots of Arrested Development and Blue Planet to get through, however.

Oh P.S., we have a bit of an ant problem in our kitchen.  I thought I had smoked them out with Raid last night, but this morning they were enjoying some of our instant coffee.  They have returned… this means war.


Posted by: Adam | 23 August 2009

AUC Adventure

I was entirely unsurprised when Jen and I went into the old AUC campus today to register for our German class. It was a busy, loud, crowded raucus-filled room. I don’t know what else I was expecting, this is Egypt after all.

So we’ve registered for first level German, hopefully it’ll help us get ahead for grad school. Then all we’ll be missing is French…well I’ll also still need Greek, Latin, Akkadian, Ancient Egyptian and so many others, but this is a start.

Hopefully we’ll be wired for internet soon so we can stop frequenting Pottery Cafe and exploiting their WiFi, I think they’re onto us…

Posted by: Jen | 21 August 2009

MasseH il Kheer!

They’re playing copious amounts of Celine Dion songs in Pottery Cafe downtown.  They always put the tv in here on silent, even though Arabic music is way better than this!


Hello, and welcome to our blog.  We had planned to update sooner (and more often since I arrived on Sunday), but they still haven’t wired our apartment with DSL.  (This is Egypt–who wants to start placing bets on when it will actually happen?)  For now, expect that posts will be few and far between (sad face).  Perhaps we’ll write at home and then walk by here with our laptops in order to update…

So in brief, we’ve done a lot of apartment prep.  We bought a hookah, we moved the beds–uh, let me tell you that story in the next paragraph–and we bought lots of awesome (Halal, and therefore practically Kosher!) food.  We’re also into making giant bottles of iced coffee, since it’s hot as Hades over here.  We’ve been into eggs and veggies for breakfast, restaurant food for lunch, and sandwiches from the dude on our corner for dinner.  Also consuming quite a bit of Cadbury chocolate, and craving the surprisingly on-point pizza from Maison Thomas on Zamalek.  They make one with fresh tomatoes and goat cheese that is just out of this world.  Yet every time I look for it I can’t find goat cheese myself…

The bed-moving story.

We lift the mattress off of one of the twin beds in our room.  Then we encounter a dust ruffle.  Fine.  Upon removing said dust ruffle, we discover a body-shaped, body-sized mass in a black plastic bag under the bed frame.  I proceed to freak out and leave the room, ready to figure out how to call the police in Egypt (I’ve never had to do it, and let’s hope I never will).  Anyway, Adam slowly slid the bag off and found that it was a CARPET.  A carpet!  First of all, why wasn’t it out and being used?  Secondly, why would anyone store it in a way that makes it look like Adam’s been sleeping on top of a dead body for two weeks?  Exactly.

Ah, it’s dinner time.  I think we’ll cook something.  Until next time (which I hope will be very soon), folks!  Thanks for reading.  More ridiculousness to come, I promise.  After all, this is Misr!

Posted by: Jen | 8 August 2009

We have arrived (er, one half of us has)!

Indeed.  Updates soon!