So I feel like I am a quite a while in Egypt now (since Jan. 2012) and I want to make up the balance between the things that I favour and not. Of course, mentioning the bad aspects on subjects is always easier; so let me start with the good things:
Count down with me from 10 to 1.
10. Clap my hand, I am joking
In my first week I was astonished. It seemed like everyone was joking in this country: from the café to the bakery to the office. Everybody likes to joke and the best part: when you make a joke, clap my hand! Walking in to a café you can almost predict that the guys are telling stories with a sheesha or domino’s every time a new joke is made, hands are clapped. Actually I have to admit that it feels comforting because you both laugh and you give a confirmation of that. I never really did this, so sometimes when I make a joke and I put my hand out for a clap it is a nice to get clapped
9. Mosques are everywhere
What you can say about churches, temples or most religious buildings. One thing is for sure: religion gets an important place in life. In the Muslim world not different, minarets tower above other buildings and from inside some are really wide, open and beautifully decorated. Cairo and Alexandria until now do have the most beautiful mosques I have seen and in the smaller cities the mosques are also smaller.
For instance on Salah Salem Road in Cairo are several mosques which are modern, different and worth a visit. Wait for my special about Mosques in Cairo! (by end June)
8. Everybody knows you in the neighbourhood
Since day 1 I have been known in the neighbourhood. We are (together with my roommates) the only non-Arabic people in the block. Together with my partner in crime I visit the café, bakery and food shop. When coming alone they ask me where I left the Spaniard. They mix the names up every now and then, but that is fine for me.
People do talk in the streets, you tell the news or you pass by for the news. Since some of my friends became a couple, they started to ask me if they were married. Unfortunately not, but they were almost faster then me in noticing this!
7. Cheap food and cost of living
To get around from a living in Egypt is not that difficult. Many people make not more then $ 100-200, – a month. So living from a Western Scholarship is considered royal. Of course, I do not know the right ‘Egyptian’ ways to live cheaply, but it is very good possible for an individual to come by with this money. Breakfast costs less then 1$,- and dinner is less then 1€,- (if you buy in the right places)
Renting and even buying a house is compared to European standards quite okay. For 1 Million Pound or a little over $120.000, – men can have a nice house or apartment.
6. The Weather
My country knows rain, clouds, a cool summer and a mild winter (mild refers to not more then -5 degrees Celcius). Egypt is hot, dry, skyblue and hot! In the cities I can be too pressing with congestion and temperature at the same time. The wind can ensure for cooling and especially in the evenings (or starting after 4 PM) the temperature starts to be pleasant. Winter in Egypt differs throughout the country (as does the climate of course), winters in the South are very pleasant but Cairo and more North can become cold with the feeling that you need a real coat. In general, I like to walk to work with the Sun welcoming me with warmth and light.
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