Living in Egypt – Almost Eight Months Down the Line

Leila Quote

Since my first blog entry about our new life in Egypt a lot had happened. Our small family was transformed from overwhelmed hotel dwellers, into residents living in a house and becoming streetwise very quickly.

Our house is a ground floor ‘apartment’ as it is called here and not a ‘flat’ as we South Africans would call it. That earlier blog entry was written by a person new and still very confused by her surroundings. Since then I learned to find my way around our neighbourhood and can even navigate the way home when entering the beginning of our suburb. And I am starting to recognise roads previously taken. That is what is called forward motion in such a large city as this one.

It was a crazy, busy time these last almost seven months. We had stayed in hotels, did house hunting, moved into a house, furnishing the house, living in it and learned to breathe in it. (Which is not as easy as you think in a climate that requires 24/7 air conditioning.)

Work-wise things had gotten direction too. My husband is settling in nicely and I am playing my supportive wifey role pretty well, I think, attending dinners and receptions and other events and making a lot of small talk – because in the ‘business’ we’re in, that’s called ‘work’. And sometimes it is real hard work. Most of the functions we attend are in other parts of the city, a mere ten kilometres or so away, but going there three, four or five times a week, means travelling in peak traffic, which takes an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half. Fortunately, driving back only takes half an hour or so – normally. Sometimes we do this twice a day.

We have travelled a bit for official purposes, as well as for leisure and have seen quite a bit already of this vast and intriguing country. We’ve made our way to Alexandria and were happy that the sea there was more like ‘ours’ – with actual waves and sounds. We’ve made a stop at El Alamein and found the grave of my great uncle who died there on 23 November 1941 in WWII in one of the battles. We went to the Red Sea at Ein Sochna twice and we have flown over the breathtakingly, beautiful Sinai desert to Sharm Al Sheikh, from where we drove the 50km to Dahab – a diving and snorkelling paradise, where we lazied away five wonderful days in the very, very, very hot sun.

A few weeks ago we visited El Alamein again for the commemoration ceremonies. It was a touching experience, sitting there in the blistering autumn desert sun, thinking of the many people who lost their lives in those wars and wondering what life would have been like if they didn’t sacrifice their lives for us. I also couldn’t help to wonder what the future holds for us with the threat of fanatic terrorists taking lives as if life was theirs to take, not so far from us in the Sinai, Iraq and Syria. The previous night twenty plus Egyptian soldiers were brutally murdered in the Sinai, making the day of remembrance much more of a reality than just remembering history. With the young soldiers standing guard around us in a church service, I couldn’t help wondering what still awaits us in the near future.

Since being here, we have met with friends from South Africa visiting Egypt for various reasons. Some were old friends of ours, some were friends of friends and others were new friends, like Foeta Krige and Barend La Grange, who were finishing a trip from the Southern-most tip of Africa in L’Agulhas to the northern-most tip in Ras ben Sakka, Tunisia.

My brother-in-law, John, was our first stay-over guest. Our spare room was ready just in time for his visit. He stayed three weeks, but it rather felt like three days. Our son was in the last three weeks of his school career and we couldn’t entertain him as a guest should be entertained, but fortunately he is a seasoned traveller and no stanger to Egypt , so he entertained himself. He went about his own business and even went to the desert for a few nights. At least we took him for his first-ever quad bike experience to Sakkarah – something he took to enthusiastically and enjoyed immensely.

Michael’s friend, Wilhelm, is currently visiting and the two of them are enjoying their first few months of adulthood together. Both just finished school and turned 18 recently.

Life is treating us well and we feel very privileged and thankful to be able to have this experience. Things aren’t always easy and we miss ‘home’ and our family and friends and our pets. (We are warming up to the building cat however – or is he warming up to us?) And we miss the tastes and sounds and sights and everything that is familiar. But it is a fantastic experience to live abroad for a while and to experience so many different people from so many different nationalities that we socialise with on a regular basis. One learns so much from other people and from visiting other places. And you learn also to appreciate what is dear and sacred to you. One has to learn to live your faith, rather than just practice to believe. It is good for the soul. Very good.

Travelling, in my opinion, must be something that every person aspires to – even if you can do it only once in your life, you should. One should save as much as you can and travel as far as you can on what you have. Go experience the world and its peoples. Learn about new places and taste new tastes. And broaden your horizons. And if your savings aren’t enough yet, get onto your feet, onto your bike, or into your car, or on a bus or train and just go to a place in or out of your town or your city and experience something new. Go see how people who are different from you live life. It will change your opinions, views and just maybe, your life also.

I have a young friend who was a member of my writing club, who is exploring the world right now. She is only 19. She is beautiful, a talented writer and this is what she said about travelling on her Facebook page the other day:

With travelling there are many things that go along with it. Once you have been somewhere so different you undergo a form of transformation, a loss of innocence. You realise how messed up and beautiful the world is at the same time. The more you see, the more you realise how little everyone knows. It makes you want to live for others and not for yourself. You realise how little it means to have a lot of money or a nice face. To realise this at an early age of your life will change the way you think forever.

You get it, Leila!

© 2014

I, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock tries hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellentest wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful ‘wordpreneur’ all at the same time. I temporarily share my living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, almost-university-student son, the building’s ginger cat – and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters to live as a normal functioning human being.

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