Archive for November, 2010

Shokrun – Thanksgiving in Cairo

This year for Thanksgiving, Erica, Sarah and I
decided to host a semi-traditional Thanksgiving party at our
apartment. As far as thanksgivings go, it was pretty
multi-national. We had Americans, Egyptians, and Brits (including
one Scottish girl) attend. Pretty awesome. In order to make it a
true Thanksgiving, Erica and I decided to obtain some turkeys. This
is not as easy as it sounds; turkey is not widely consumed in
Egypt. After asking around for a few days, we tracked some down at
a local grocery store. We lugged our 2 20-pound turkeys back home
to defrost in garbage bags on our kitchen floor. After this great
success, we realized we needed to somehow get these things cooked.
For a normal American sized oven, this would not have been a
problem. For a tiny Egyptian oven, this became an issue. One of our
work colleagues gave us a lead on a chef, who he referred to as
“The Chef.” On Thursday night, Erica and I carried both turkeys
into a cab and were dropped off in front of the Egypt Air office in
Nasr City. The directions we received suggested that the chef was
located in the floor above the Egypt Air office. Not true. 30
minutes later, after consulting several people and wandering the
streets of Nasr City with heavy poultry in garbage bags, we located
the chef. He eagerly took our turkeys from us, wrote out a receipt,
and assured us it would be delivered to us the next morning. Sure
enough, our turkeys arrive cooked and on giant platters of persian
rice (and surprisingly, on time). We all ended up eating too much.

Though living in Cairo can be
incredibly frustrating at times, when a plan is pulled off
successfully, it feels incredibly rewarding. It was great to spend
time with our fellow expats and Egyptian friends and enjoy a
holiday that I wasn’t expecting to celebrate this year. I hope you
all had a great thanksgiving weekend and I look forward to posting
about our future attempt to get a Christmas ham.

Cheers,

Dale

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Beirut photos

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One week as a Beirutian

This post is extremely overdue as I came back from Beirut a
week ago, but what the hell, better late than never.
Challenge: Stay at a hostel room with more than four
beds.

Our hostel: The Pension Al-Nazih

Our two
person room for six people

The first night
in Beirut, we stayed at some budget hotel that was indeed, a hotel.
However, we only had this booked for the first night as we planned
to fight cheaper accommodations. Of course, this led us to stay at
a Mariott the second night which in fact, was not cheaper. By the
third night, our fearless group members Scotty and Chris followed a
lead given to them by a drunken Beirutian which is how we ended up
at the Pension al-Nazih. The hostel did not have enough room for a
group of six, but that was no problem. The hostel owner, Hala,
converted what is typically a double room into a six person room.
There was one double bed and four mattresses on the ground.
Awesome. At 20 dollars a night we couldn’t complain…that much.
Despite the lack of a toilet seat on the toilet, having to step
over my group to get to bed, and a visit by the “FBI” (a hostel
employee who had a keychain FBI badge), I managed to have an
awesome time there. We bonded with some traveling American
students, played some drinking games in the lobby, and had in depth
discussions about Nancy Ajram (a Lebanese pop star) with our FBI
agent host. Challenge: Befriend a
local…kitten

Erica and
the AUB Cat


Ok so I doubt this well be an actual TrekDek
challenge, but who doesn’t like posts about cute animals? One of
the days we were in Beirut we went to look at the American
University of Beirut (AUB). AUB has an amazing campus. It
overlooks the water, is full of flowers and plants, and is full of
friendly feline locals. We stopped to pet the above cat and before
you know it, he was following us. He especially took to Erica; I
like to think of them as kindred souls.

AUB... Grad school
perhaps?


Challenge: Be lazy about
writing and just post pictures of things you ate while
traveling

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Some of the pictures will be repeats from earlier and non-food
related. I couldn’t figure out how to select which photos went into
the gallery. Ok so this post was by no means
comprehensive. Trying to cover everything that happened into one
week into one blog post would be impossible. I’ll be posting more
Beirut pictures up soon though so don’t be too disappointed.
Cheers, Dale

Potential Trekdek Challenges

So here are some potential trekdek challenges. I’m trying
to get up to 52 before launch and I need your help creating some
more and picking out favorites from this list (if any). I’m
heading to Beirut this week so I’m going to attempt to accomplish
some while I’m there. Let me know what you think! 1. Go to a
restaurant and find out where your server’s favorite place to
hang out is. 2. Learn how to say “Live well, Travel well” in the
local language. 3. Cook a location’s signature dish. 4. Volunteer
at a local charity. 5. Stay at a hostel in a room with at least 4
beds. 6. Spend a night hanging out at the hostel. 7. Attend a
locally advertised event (plays, concerts, art gallery openings.)
8. Find a bazaar/local market/flea market and negotiate the price
of a product down to at least 1/3 the original price 9. Take the
local public transportation , get off at a random stop and go
exploring. [Unsafe areas excluded] 10. Find a local bar and
learn the national drinking game or song. 11. Teach a local your
national drinking game. 12. Buy a meal for a homeless person. 13.
See a movie at the local cinema. 14. Invite another traveler out on
a trek. 15. Attend a local religious service. 16. Join in on a
local sports game. 17. Go somewhere via boat. 18. Go somewhere via
train. 19. Eat at a hole in the wall restaurant (it can’t be in
your guidebook) 20. Get lost in the city, and find your way back to
your hostel. [Unsafe areas excluded] 21. Take a cooking class or
have a local person teach you how to cook a dish. 22. Hang out at a
café all afternoon. 23. Find the best sandwich in town. 24. Find
the best place to watch a sunrise. 25. Find the best place to watch
a sunset. 26. Try couchsurfing for one night. 27. Get a piece of
clothing that locals wear and wear it around. 28. Get a picture
with a street performer. 29. Forego technology for one day. 30.
Play a card game with someone. 31. Do a pub crawl with 3 other
people. 32. Get out of the city if you’re in it, or into the
city if you’re outside of it. 33. Eat at a Chinese restaurant. 34.
Learn the local “Happy Birthday” song

My Big Fat Egyptian Wedding

Last week I was invited to one of the the social studies’
teacher’s wedding. Prior to this wedding, I’ve only been to one
other one (thanks Shenny) so I can now say that 50% of my weddings
has been overseas. Cool. Highlights of the night: 1. The Zaffa: A
bunch of traditionally dressed Egyptians with drums (and bagpipes?)
form a horseshoe around the bride and groom and play non-stop for
about 30 minutes. The bride and groom stand, smile, and try not to
get flower petals in their eyes. 2. Intense videography: There were
two projector screens on either side of the reception room where
the camera guys were broadcasting live the events of the night.
Throughout the night you might have been surprised to see your own
giant face on the wall above where you’re sitting. 3. Middle school
dancing: As Egyptian culture is a little more conservative than one
may find stateside, the men and women typically dance separately. I
don’t mean separately as in different rooms, but the all too
familiar middle school separation. Groups of men in circles dancing
next to groups of women in circles dancing. It is cute for middle
schoolers, hilarious for Egyptian adults. 4. The cake-cutting: The
cake cutting ceremony, broadcasted live on the projectors, was
accompanied by high-intensity techno music and a fog machine. Need
I say more? 5. Delicious food. I forgot to bring my camera but I
will definitely be tracking down some photos to post. Cheers,
Dale