This post is going to have a suspicious amount of (cellphone) food photography given the lack of food I have actually eaten since arriving to Egypt.
On that note, the arrival went very smoothly. No real delays or lost luggage, my Lufthansa Transatlantic flight gave me a free glass of wine AND Bailey’s and a pretty decent movie selection (2 of the 3 I chose were Egyptian, for the listening practice) and although I just about passed out from the long walk through what felt like ALL THE AIRPORT in Frankfurt, that went pretty smoothly as well. Had a nice long layover that allowed for a nice little European breakfast–pastry and coffee–and eventually was on my way to Egypt.
Upon landing, it took me a hot minute to figure some things out, change money, buy my visa from the bank where I changed money (costs USD 25, incase anyone is wondering) and shuffle down to get luggage. I arranged for pickup by my hostel, Dahab Hostel/hotel because it was about $9 and really, you can’t beat that in any taxi you’ll catch at the airport. Took a minute to find my driver, but when I did he was pretty chill and we had a nice conversation in mixed Arabic and English during the ride here.
The hostel itself is clean and basic. I admit I was expecting perhaps a hair more given that my employer recommended it to me, but the only real problem I’m having right now is that it’s about 97 degrees/36 celsius and THERE IS NO AIR CONDITIONING. Really ruins my motivation to get up and explore. Really, REALLY ruins it. The fan on my ceiling doesn’t cut it. Also the elevator is hilarious–very old school, you get in a little box via opening a wire cage and manually shut the doors behind you. It goes up to the 6th floor (my hostel is on the 7th) but if you want to go down, well…either you better hope the last person going up got off on your floor, or you’ve gotta hoof it, because there’s no way to call the elevator to go down. Go figure.
Despite this, the wifi is pretty solid, and it’s all on a rooftop which means the breeze is great, noise is muffled, and sunsets are beautiful.
I’ve done only the smallest bit of wandering so far, enough to grab water and snacks and find my place of employment. I’ve actually come across the shocking problem of not finding any supermarkets so far. Granted I’ve only wandered a bit, but all I’m seeing are little snack shops with water and wafer cookies/chocolate/etc. I got through day one by just buying some giant doughy rolls from a bakery & nibbling on leftover snacks from the flight, but tonight after achieving local phone setup I decided I’d hunt down real food. Not being in the mood for KFC or McDonald’s, it took me a while to find somewhere that looked legit, but I happened upon a place that my taxi driver had recommended called Tom and Basal, which sells the Egyptian national dish, Kushari.
Kushari is a carbivore’s dream. With a base of various pastas, chickpeas, and rice with toppings involving tomato sauce and other things I’m not capable of labeling, it will basically help you power through the day. Mine was actually pretty good–or perhaps I just felt that way because I was semi-starving. Also it cost about $0.75 for that huge bowl so um…definitely the working Becky’s meal. It came with some sauces to add on, one of which was yellow and smelled strongly of garlic (so I didn’t try) and the other that was a little spice factor (so I only tried a little). There was definitely more than enough for me in that little dish, so I shared with a visitor who came creeping up the second he heard a plastic bag…
For the unaware, cats are the Middle Eastern version of squirrels or raccoons. They live in dumpsters, are often dirty and unwanted/threatened by establishment owners, and want your food. All your food. It’s really hard for someone who grew up as a hardcore animal lover in the West to adapt to this at first–I used to want to adopt every street cat and take it home for a bath and some feeding. But you’ve gotta pick your battles here, and that’s not one I’m likely to win anytime soon. So I’ll just stick to sharing meals with the little guys on this quiet rooftop terrace for now.
And that’s it for the arrival.