Truthfully, it was a grueling trip to Alexandria, Egypt. We began with not getting a full night’s sleep on Thursday as our fire alarm went off in the building at 3:00 am. once that happened and the police and fire fighters arrived only to find nothing, thankfully, we just could not go back to sleep. Did we smell smoke, something not right? Did we hear a crackle? Sleep without sleeping until getting up early to finish last minute details. This included errands, and then the dreaded packing of the final clothes. Three Army/Navy surplus duffel bags, one big blue REI duffel, and one of our old cherished Danish H2O bags later, we were down to our trusty Patagonia bags that have been with us on many trips home and abroad. As no surprise to my family, I had more school supply items than personal garments and shoes. Those who know me are probably very shocked, but remember, there are awesome stores here in Alexandria.
Oh yes, on to the trip. We decided to just stay up as we had to leave for SFO by 2:15 am. With our adult children lovingly and patiently putting up with my craziness, we made it to blastoff time. Tara kindly dropped us off on her way home to San Francisco. We were second in line, and that is quite important to me, as many of you know. We were checked in with a hiccup – the agent couldn’t get the machine for baggage to work. Thank goodness we were there early. Checked in with our tickets and carry-ons, we were off to the TSA. Having our GOES clearance is awesome. Sailed through and to the gate. Then to sit and watch for one of our colleagues. We found each other and then waited a little while longer for the boarding process on Jet Blue. Here is the tough part. Jim and I had the last row which meant the sits stayed in the upright position the entire flight. Poor Jim is still dealing with very swollen knees. The family beside us with a child having bathroom issues did not help either in trying to get any rest. At least 5 1/2 hours later we landed in New York. We navigated our way to the proper terminal and then onward to the Gate area. Right across from us was a pub serving breakfast all day. Yes! Bacon, sausage, and eggs!
As we finished I had the intuition to check on our seats. Sure enough, unbeknownst to us we were to recheck in for new boarding passes. Glad I have the sixth sense as we were able to get our new boarding passes and the also had a huge consequence – where our luggage would go. Whew! We were able to board with no problem, all three of us sitting together and in seats with reclining ability! Now for a flight of 9 1/2 hours. Egypt Air was really nice. Comfortable for a long overseas flight and they had my meals perfectly made. They were quite delicious for airline meals. They somewhat reminded us of our many trips on Singapore Airlines with the warm towels, nice headphones, and booties. (Most people know our flying rules of never taking off our shoes. We not only want to be sensitive to those around us, but also it keeps our feet from swelling as badly and not being able to get the shoes back on. Even with compression socks it is just not polite.) Back to the trip. We landed safely, disembarked, bought our visa for $25 (reimbursed), and then through customs to the waiting welcomes of Nathan, Randa, and Mohammed. What a wonderful and warmly sincere greeting! Then the walk to the vans and forward to our venture through Cairo and toward the Pyramids of Giza. Lunch was at a former hunting palace for a former king and it now a hotel. Everything piece of wood was hand carved. We were fed a feast of wonderful dishes while gazing in awe at these grand old pyramids. We then continued our trek to Alexandria, a three hour ride. Fascinating scenery kept us in awe.
We were given keys and directed to our apartments. Did we ever need sleep. It did not come easily as we are in a big metropolitan city. Like any city, it never sleeps. Since we have arrived, we did get a bigger apartment which is much better for the big guy. We have more room to have people over. We have been in our office and classroom. More on this later. We have been so busy with orientation and becoming acculturated. Arabic lessons are fun and it is refreshing not to be bombarded with the testing mindset of teaching. More on this later. Yesterday we ended the busy day with dinner in the Villa at our Head of School’s apartment. Wow, Nathan has a tremendously inviting rooftop. The food was excellent. Today was a trip to a private beach, swimming in the Mediterranean, and tomorrow is a full city tour of Alexandria ending with dinner at our Principal Randa’s home. What an indoctrination to Schutz American School. The rest of the regular faculty come in this weekend as we start our week on Sunday.
I cannot say enough about how we have been greeted, excepted, cared about, and made to feel genuinely welcome. More will come as next week we get into meeting the rest of the faculty and staff, share about Jim’s office and my classroom. Oh, yes, and the funeral going on behind our apartment is another experience you will read about. Just wait!
Whatever, just don’t believe everything you read or see in the news and general media. This land is a place of pure awesomeness!
Living the Crazy Life,