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  • Writer's pictureErin Nixon

June 17: The Mogamma

Happy Fathers Day! Hope you two are having a great day relaxing:)

Why is it that I have three days off a week, and yet I only get to sleep in one day...if that...? Got up at 8 am, and got dressed. Meg dragged her feet the entire morning, so we didn't really leave here until 9:15 or so. We got to Medan Tahrir and went to get copies of our passports. Meg also wanted to go looking for a passport photo place, because she didn't bring extra photos with her. I thought that there would probably be one there, because there are so many travelers... We spent thirty minutes walking around without finding one. Great use of my time there...

We didn't get to the Mogamma until...10 or so. There was a passport photo place on the first floor of the building... Oh yes, who called that one...? After I waited on Meg to get her photo taken, we both went upstairs to the madness that is the visa extension area.

Imagine this: The DMV, no lines (just blobs o' people), about 30 different languages, nowhere to sit (either on chairs or on the floor), and the most unhelpful and bored people you have ever met working the counters. All this in a hallway that is about ten feet across... Yeah...that was fun... We got our visa stamps and then put in our applications. Our really nice teller (the only one in the building I SWEAR) said it would be two hours, so Meg and I went to The Pottery Cafe and had lunch.

Pizza, cheesecake, and a Seven later, we headed back into the fray. Getting our passports back was a lot easier. Then I had to apply for a multi-entry visa, so I can go to Jordan. That was a LOT faster. No one in line, and the teller was a nice African lady that spoke perfect English and smiled a lot. I had to leave my passport till tomorrow so that they can make sure I'm not a terrorist or a spy... So, the little foray into the Mogamma isn't quite over.

We got back to the flat around 2, and I decided to hop into another taxi and go to the Marriott to get my traveler's checks changed over (I have to pay rent and my tuition to ILI this week). I got there without any problems...score. I changed over my checks, in Arabic, then asked the nice man where the nearest optics store was, in Arabic, then thanked the nice men, in Arabic. Heck yeah. Three weeks and I think I've got the hang of this business...

I've been looking for an optics store because the cheaper Acuvue contacts that I bought (plain ones) are just not cutting it for Egypt. The air is way too dry, and these dry out in about 6 hours, which is just ridiculous... I found the store and asked them if they had contacts. No, not in the branch in Zamalek (where I was), but they had a nice shop in Mohandseen that carried contacts... *headdesk* Of course the shop is a five minute walk from my apartment and I rode to a different burrow looking for one...of course it is...

I walked around a little bit, then I got in the taxi to come back over to Mohandseen. I crashed in the apartment long enough to cool off before heading down Ahmed Orabi to find the optics store. The store wasn't that far away, however, I quickly realized that there was some sort of cultural disconnect between my concept of contacts and the Egyptian version of contacts. Egyptian girls wear colored contact lenses, because they all want blue or green eyes. So when I showed the lady at the shop my sealed up lenses, she went "I don't see them...". They don't sell prescription contact lenses, just colored ones... *sigh* so I went down to the grocery store and bought Sprite, just so that the walk wasn't a complete waste of time.

I got back to the apartment for the third time today, then crashed for a few minutes before Amelia called, asking if I wanted to eat dinner in Zamalek. I called David and asked him to come too, and we all met at Maison Thomas, a little French-ish restaurant in Zamalek, across from the Marriott. David brought his friend Mark, who teaches English in Dubai, and we all ate a lot of pizza and desserts and talked about random things for a few hours.

Sid and Phillip walked in a little later. They had been sorting out things at the Marriott since their family is coming to Egypt to visit. So, without really planning it out, 6 of us were in the same restaurant in Zamalek. Cairo really can't be that small.

After we finished eating, Amelia, Mark, David and I all took a taxi back to Mohandseen. David went back to his room to study, but Mark and Amelia came up to the apartment to borrow the internet for a little, since neither one of them have it in their apartments. Amelia and I introduced Mark to Facebook, since he graduated college in 1995, so he's a little out of the loop.

After they left I talked online for a bit, and made flash cards for the verbs I need to know for ECA. This is our last week, and it feels strange that I only have four more days in this session. I need to remember to get my passport from the Mogamma tomorrow...can't forget that...

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