A Typical Weekend in the Bubble
Saturday night. The end of our weekend. The boys go back to school tomorrow, and afterschool activities start this week, which we’re all looking forward to. T is going to be doing soccer and flag football, which we both find a bit amusing. He’s come to Cairo to learn how to play American sports. X is going to be taking cooking and baking.
Weekends here are relaxing, at least for now, despite the errand running. Fridays we have to stay close to home because of all the demonstrations and the early curfew. I know this is a bit perverse, but I enjoy our Fridays all the more for their limitations. Yesterday, for example, the boys watched a movie on iTunes while I slept in. Then I got up, we tidied up a bit, walked over to the CSA where I could get a decent coffee and the boys had an early lunch. We walked home and I read a little, wrote a little, and took a nap. Then we went over to the school were I swam laps, X played basketball in the pool and T played soccer on the field with some boys he knows. I sat on the bleachers and read a little more as the sun set. Glorious, really.
Afterwards, we wandered over to one of the local grocery stores that caters to expats. X was thrilled to find Double Stuff Oreos—something that, as far as I knew, he’d never set eyes on in the U.S. Like a good Egyptian, I slipped the produce guy and the meat guy each a little cash so they’d pick out the best stuff for me. Before I knew it the produce guy was going through my baskets checking out everything I’d bought to make sure it was all up to snuff. He got one of the shop hands to swap out a few items for me.
While we were checking out I started talking to the manager as part of my personal crusade to persuade one—any—of the stores here to carry Greek yogurt. The boys were chatting to him and as a gesture of what he undoubtedly saw as kindness he gave the kids a big bottle of Coke. They were laughing, because they knew I wouldn’t offend him by saying them they couldn’t have it. So there was soda at home that evening. The boys, needless to say, were thrilled.
Saturday morning we spent moving the furniture I’d bought from departing expats into the house. I am now the proud owner of a desk, a bed, a chair and a rug. It’s all terribly exciting. We had an encounter picking up the furniture, though, that is best described as awkward. A friend’s housekeeper here had recommended a friend of hers—let’s calls her Penny—whom we tried out for a week. She wasn’t great so we told her we were going to try someone else the following week. (Which we did, and she was terrific.) Penny was not pleased.
When I was buying the furniture from the outgoing Brits, they told me they were leaving that day but I could meet their housekeeper “Penny” on Saturday. I mentioned I’d just tried and not hired someone of the same name. “Oh, ours is fantastic,” they told me. So I figured it couldn’t possibly be the same person. But when we rang the bell to pick up the bed and desk on Saturday morning, who do you think answered the door? Of course, it was the same woman we’d let go only a week before. Just my luck.
When we were done moving furniture, Marco took us for breakfast to a tameya (Egyptain falafel) stand under a bridge, where we ate street food like real Egyptians. Even more exciting than the new furniture, really. Then home to set everything up, more napping, some of FaceTiming with NY friends on Theo’s part and dinner at a delicious new Greek restaurant with newly made friends. All in all, a terrific weekend.
Finally, we have more additions to our menagerie. Kittens. They’re not ours, really, and I will do everything in my power to keep it that way, but there’s a cat who seems to claim our back yard as her home who has adorable offspring. Three or four of them, as far as I can tell. The boys want me to buy food for her.
And, oh. The dishwasher continues to give us little electric shocks from time to time. As does the kitchen sink. And possibly the running water. I’ve put the bawab on the case.
That’s life in our bubble. Outside of the neighborhood things remain less than idyllic. There was an attempt on the interior minister’s life on Thursday when a bomb detonated near his convoy, and on Saturday an improvised hand grenade went off in a police station. These are new developments in Egypt and no one knows quite what to make of them yet.