Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles

June 23, 2009

Going, going…

Filed under: Chaos — Kaddee @ 10:42 am

The packing is finished.

The boxes have been taken away – to be air freighted to the US in time to meet us there.  The pick-up was at 5:30 this morning.  Nineteen boxes, 603 kilos – our life in Cairo.

We are out of our flat – paranoid fear of getting locked in again has pushed us to “couch surf” our last few days in Cairo.

Attempting to tie up the last few loose ends and then….


May 30, 2009

Spinning – out of control

Filed under: Chaos — Kaddee @ 10:33 am

Most of you, who know me, know that I have a tendancy to be anal-hyphen-retentive about things.  I like to, at least give the appearance of, be in control.  Mostly this works well for me (and gozi – since HE benefits from my control issues).  In the run-up to departing Egypt, this is turning out to be a MAJOR hindrance to my mental health!!

The Scream

Yesterday the crew from the University came to begin our “pack-out”.  Leila, the overseer/boss, and her 3 minions were here from 9am to 4pm.  In that time, they packed 14 boxes with 430kg (YES, you read that correctly) of stuff.

This is in stark contrast to my packing of our stuff to come here.  It took me the better part of the summer to sort, pack, inventory and organize our 9 boxes to move to Egypt.  My inventory was a 7 page Excel spread sheet that itemized EVERYTHING, down to the number of pairs of socks, Immodium tablets and packets of Post-it notes.  I knew exactly which boxes contained which items, AND (this is one of my odd packing quirks) I had a visual memory of where within each box I could locate said items.

This type of order and control suited me in such an otherwise turbulent time.

I do not have that order or control now.  Our boxes are numbered and the inventory to leave states things like “Womens & Mens clothing”.  That is the ENTIRITY of the inventory for some boxes!!!!!! I don’t know which items are in which boxes.  Boxes of books just say “Books” – not which kinds (computer books, Biology texts, cook books etc.) – just “Books”.

Signs of the Times

And the problem is, that is not the end of it.  We will have a “final pack-out” just before we leave for the “last minute” items.  This includes the computers, the SCUBA gear, the last of our clothing! When we move here, we came directly from Seattle, with 4 checked bags.  On our way back, we are enjoying our trip – so we are taking minimal luggage, and visiting new and exotic destinations.

This means that ALL our clothing and the stuff we “carried on” to come here has to be shipped.  There are minor problems with this – batteries are not allowed in air freight.  What are we supposed to do with laptops?  Sonicare toothbrush? The batteries, themselves, are nearly equal to the replacement costs of some of the items, and other items it is impossible to remove the batteries.  I don’t know what/how to deal with all this.  I just keep reminding myself that it will all work out somehow – it always does.


September 6, 2008

New Campus and Meeting Impotence

Filed under: Chaos — Kaddee @ 7:03 pm

AUC is moving to a brand new campus in the middle of the desert, about 45 minutes outside of Cairo. I have read their descriptions, AND I have been out to New Campus, and I think my description is more accurate.

The campus is being built from scratch. It began as a vast expanse of the Sahara, and is being turned into a self-contained 260 acre university campus (a la Large, Private, American-style University). They have been working on this construction project for five years and on Sunday, September 7th, 2008 the university operations will begin at the New Campus.

There is only one problem – the campus is not done. Many buildings are still active construction sites. Classrooms do not have projectors, computers, basic teaching facilities. Offices are not completed, although our stuff has already been boxed up and taken away from the old campus. Internet is not working reliably, if at all, on many areas of the campus. Buildings are not marked from the outside as to what they are, and rooms inside do not have numbers.

As you can probably guess, I am a little freaked out by this. I have said in the past, I AM TYPE A. (And anal-retentive is ALWAYS hyphenated :) ) I need to be able to organize myself and my immediate surroundings in order to feel that I can work productively and efficiently. This is not currently happening.  I don’t have a warm-fuzzy about the situation.

AND it is going beyond simply my “sphere of influence” – or just me and my classes.  This is also my first semester as the coordinator of a multi-section CORE curriculum course called “Scientific Thinking”.  I am arranging and managing 20 sections of the course, each with 30-35 students.  I have 15 professors teaching in this course.

I had an  organizational meeting to discuss our “challenges” and what we can and cannot expect when we arrive at the New Campus.  I have NEVER felt so impotent in leading a meeting.  Professors asking, what should be, simple questions.  To which I could only answer, “I don’t know”, or “From what I have been told…”, or (the worst) “We will have to wait and see.”  Informing professors that all of the technology that they have so diligently built in to their courses over the last few years will be useless for AT LEAST the first 2 to 4 weeks of the semester.  All the while trying to “put on a happy face” and discuss these disasters as “challenges” even though I could not give ANY hard information to the faculty on which to build strategies.

I am well-versed in presenting “challenges” to faculty to attempt to get buy-in (Gozi calls it manipulation – I think that is unnecessarily harsh).  In this case, the challenges are not within our ability to “overcome” for a “beneficial outcome”.  These are logistical nightmares, and all I could do in the meeting was smile and reiterate that we will have to be flexible and resourceful.  I don’t think anyone really believed me.

Gozi and AJ have a running joke – they call me D.I.T. (dean in training).  They “foresee” my successful rise to academic administration as a foregone conclusion.  My impotence in today’s meeting calls that conclusion into SERIOUS question.

July 21, 2008

Chaotic Times

Filed under: Chaos — Kaddee @ 1:44 pm

Yes, I have been a lazy bum about keeping up with the blog! Things have been hectic.

We have been talking about spending an extended stay (1 month or so) in Dahab, and FINALLY put in the time to find a place and make it happen.

Last week we were in Dahab looking at flats for August rental. It wasn’t looking too good, AND we were supposed to be changing apartments in Cairo, so hell was breaking loose all over the place.

Long and short of it – we found a nice place in Dahab, close to the beach, our favorite pizza place, and a nice pub; we are not changing flats in Cairo, life has settled down.

I have to admit, I am VERY bummed that the apartment in Cairo didn’t work out. It was SUCH a nice place. AND it was not in the dorm, so I could avoid seeing my students day and night, I could have privacy! But, alas, the housing office decided to be EXTREMELY unhelpful, and eventually told us that IF we wanted to move to that flat, we would have to do it in a span of about 3 days – after the current residents left, and before the start of August or Tough Sh*T.

One opportunity lost, but another gained – August in Dahab.

Last week was a lot of reconnoitering interspersed with some really nice dives – for BOTH of us! Soon we will head back for more diving, interspersed with work (and, for me, Dive Master Training!).

I, apparently, am living in INTERESTING times! :)

July 23, 2007

Catching up

Filed under: Chaos — Kaddee @ 8:22 am

Still writing up the Spring break stuff from Jordan – one more post should do it. Recently returned from nearly a month out of Cairo. A brief visit back in Seattle, for Jack to deal with some “work related stuff” and then about 2 weeks in (mostly) Belgium.

The summer independent study is FINALLY done. Grade submitted. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I won’t hear any more about this – no calls from students or administrators is the goal.

I’ve been working on a number of “projects” – knitting, crochet – and doing a bunch of brainless reading. The change of pace has been welcome although I occasionally find myself restless and blue for no apparent reason. I’m pretty sure that it is simply due to the relative newness of a lack of time pressures and constraints.

That will end soon, however. Beginning next week, I’ll be taking an intensive Arabic course that meets daily. I’m looking forward to the challenge, and to increasing my ability to communicate here. I miss a lot because I don’t understand, or lack the vocabulary to really comprehend what people are saying and/or to respond appropriately.

March 23, 2007

In like a lion….out like a lamb

Filed under: Chaos — Kaddee @ 4:25 am

Yes – It has been a LOOOOONNNNNGGGG time (a month – almost to the day) since my last post. Yes – there are reasons. Mostly because it has been unbelievably busy here.

In a nutshell -

The beginning of March was also the beginning of midterms. Student panic. Papers. Writing and grading exams.

The weekend of 8-10 March we “jetted” off to Doha, Qatar for the opening round of the MotoGP season at Losail International Raceway. Life is rough.

Beth and Flash arrived the day after we got back from Qatar for an excellent 6 day visit.

Lisa and Dan arrived 3 days after Beth and Flash left.

On top of all that I’m still in assignment and grading hell.

We have a week after Lisa and Dan head to Upper Egypt before we leave for Spring Break in Jordan – Dead Sea, Petra and Wadi Rum, here we come!

Now I’m gonna be hyperloading the blog to “remember” all the stuff that March has brought us!

January 25, 2007

Brief hiatus

Filed under: Chaos — Kaddee @ 7:38 am

After being soooo good about posting most of the family’s visit – Jack and I went off to Dahab for a week of relaxation.  Refreshed, here’s what is “in the pipeline”

  • Valley of the Kings – part II
  • One Last Christmas Present
  • “They say”…
  • My maid won’t let me water my plants

Gotta get these done before school starts, so hold onto your hats (oh yeah – I’ve got a hat now!!!) lotsa new stuff coming.

January 12, 2007

Family does Cairo – 1

Filed under: Chaos — Kaddee @ 1:22 am

29 December 2006 – They are here and settled. They slept REALLY late – go figure! Once everyone was awake and somewhat alert, they got their Christmas from Jack and me. Nothing big, the “girls” got silver cartouches and embroidered Bedouin scarves as a momento of Egypt, and Steve got a galabiyya for hanging out it at home. Simple reminders of Egypt.

I’d “planned” that it would be a quiet day, to allow the jet lag to abate a bit. The big adventure for the day was to wander around the neighborhood, pick up some juice, fruit and groceries and relax. We also found a silver shop for a chain for Kenz’ cartouche. All in all a very quiet day, with an evening drink atop the Nile Hilton for views of the Giza pyramids at sunset.

30 December – the Great Pyramids of Giza!
Everyone was up early to get to the pyramids. We taxied out to Giza on the quietest morning I’ve ever seen in Cairo. Today was the first day of the Eid el Adha – the new year feast. The streets were deserted of cars, but filled with sheep being butchered and meat being distributed. The streets literally ran with blood. It sounds gory and disgusting, yet there was nothing nasty about it. This was joyous.  This was the affluent sharing their meat with the poor.  This was how it was supposed to be. Bloody hand prints on walls and cars were talismans symbolizing prosperity for the new year. For a Western first-timer it was both fascinating and unsettling.

We arrived at the Giza plateau, got tickets and headed in. The area was relatively quiet, with far fewer visitors than we’d expected (much to Steve’s pleasure!). We spent the better part of the morning and early afternoon just wandering and exploring. We did not enter either of the pyramids (Sakara was recommended for entering) but did go to the Solar Boat Museum. I, personally, think the Solar Boat is unbelievably cool and was very glad to see it again!

Highlights of Giza:

  • Very few people, so a really mellow exploration
  • Walking forever around all the pyramids
  • Mom finding her Bedouin camel jockey boyfriend while Steve, Jack and I just watch
  • Steve paying LE2 to get mom back!
  • Some pics of Giza (some shamelessly coopted from mom)

The rest of the post… (more…)

January 11, 2007

The Family arrives in Cairo

Filed under: Chaos — Kaddee @ 1:59 am

Yes, it is true. Now that I’ve found my Christmas in Cairo, now it is time for the fam-damily to arrive with more holiday joy. I know that sounds cynical, but it really isn’t. I’m a family person. I LIKE my family. The holidays are always (IMHO) better with family. Mom, Steve and Kenzie arrived on the 28th for about 2 weeks. We have adventures planned! I, of course, spent the days prior to their arrival stressing about everything little thing that no-one really cares about – welcome to the mystery that is me!

The arrival was…interesting. I’d arranged for airport clearance and transportation thru AUC. The clearance is a great service, as an “insider” meets your visitors inside immigration and customs and “expedites” them thru the paperwork and processing. It seems minor, but there is no long wait in line, he speaks the language, and he knows the airport officials. That part went really well. It was the baggage that caused the problem. Steve and Kenz’ checked bag came thru almost immediately, Mom’s bag of stuff for me and Jack came thru but her clothing didn’t. It took a long time, with the help of the expeditor, to fill out all the paperwork and get them on their way. I was at the airport, with the driver and car, and my stomach was in knots until they emerged from the customs area, looking tired but happy.

Kenzie, for a 5 1/2 year old, was quite a travel trooper! I think that adrenaline had a lot to do with it, but she really came thru well.


Before leaving the airport, I escorted the weary travellers (and their passports) to the duty-free shop to pick up a few “supplies” for the house. As liquor can only be purchased in bottles within 48 hours of entering the country, I took advantage of the family to stock up!

Their arrival day was a long and tiring one for us all. By the time we got back to Zamalek and got everyone settled, happy hour and some pizza from Thomas was about all we could manage. Jack and I got our Christmas in the form of opening “Brutus” (the world’s ugliest, poop-brown, hard side Samsonite), the bag that had all the Stateside supplies that we’d requested. People had said that, when living outside your “home” country, you’d be ecstatic about getting some of the oddest things delivered. Well, they were right! I nearly broke down at the sight of the right tampons, Emergen-C packets and the right deodorant! Oh how easily thrilled I am these days!

December 1, 2006

Sorry for the hiatus

Filed under: Chaos — Kaddee @ 1:07 am

Between our server getting updated, and the crunch time of 2nd midterms, and the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, it has been a blur here. I just looked back at my last post, and it was a LONG time ago. I’ve got a bunch of stuff cooking, so now that I’ve gotten my head above water again – WATCH OUT more posts coming!

You’ve been warned. :) Hee Hee