This week I needed to leave work early on Wednesday. I HATE taking a taxi from downtown Cairo all the way to our home 8 miles away. Because it takes like 45 minutes (if you're lucky) in traffic. Plus my Arabic really blows, so it's pretty much an adventure trying to get home. If the corniche is uber-busy (and it always is), then the driver would probably take the bridge to over the river (that's the Nile) and then another bridge to back over to our side. And if he didn't really understand where I asked him to take me (and he wouldn't...because my Arabic blows!) then I could be lost.Somewhere.In.Egypt. Oh, I get lost all the time. But it's usually in our neighborhood and it's usually close to home. Not over the river in Giza kinda lost.
So, I thought I'd be all urban and take the metro (subway). ALONE. That's right. Me with my non-existent Arabic. But a friend had shown me the way weeks ago, and the fab hubby had accompanied me a week ago, so I know it well enough to get home. It's cheap (1 Egyptian pound to ride! =17cents American) and clean and fast (20 minutes to home).
I left the clinic and slung my purse over my shoulder. I put my fast-walking-I-live-here face on and went to the Metro station. Down into the tunnel (it's stifling - can't imagine what it's like when it's 100 degrees in the summer), had my ticket in-hand. Found the right direction train and walked the platform. I was feeling so cool! I live here now! I can find my own way home!
And a train had just pulled in. I hopped into a line of 20+ women (cars are segregated by gender, although women can ride the men's car, just not vice versa) pushing to get into a car. I was gonna do it. I didn't want to wait for the next train. Pushing and clamoring for a ride! So not fun. But I was determined. The whistle blew. What does it mean?! Almost to the door. It blew again! The doors were closing!! NOOOOOO!! The whistle blew again!
I threw my body into the train. An EPIC fail. I got caught in between the closing door. Cut right down the middle - my head, right arm and leg INSIDE the train. My left arm (with purse) and left leg OUTSIDE the train. The train was moving! I was terrified that my outside-the-car body parts were going to get ripped off. I looked desperately at the women in the car. HOW DO YOU SAY HELP ME IN ARABIC??!!!
It didn't matter. Turns out my OH-MY-GAWD-I'M-GONNA-DIE face said enough. Three women started prying the doors apart. I was panicky. The doors wouldn't move. But then, they inched apart, just a little. We forced them open a bit! I managed to get all of my left leg and a bit of my left arm inside the train. But I was still caught - my purse! My left arm from elbow to hand and my purse were still dangling outside the train. It occurred to me I might have to drop my purse to save my arm and hand. But I refused! We pried some more, and pulled the doors open just enough that I was able to just squeeze my arm AND my purse into the car. ::sigh of relief::
I turned and said "shokrun" (I got 'Thank You" down in Arabic!! Yes!!). And then....everybody laughed. Giggled. Howled. That's right. Because something like this is hysterical, no matter what culture you come from. And I had the added bonus of maintaining ALL of my body parts and not losing my purse.
At my metro stop, I hopped off the train and went to a grocery store. I grabbed a few items and then hailed a taxi. Dude. This guy's taxi was super-shagadelic. I mean pimped OUT! Shag purple carpet on the dash, shag covers on the seats! Fuzzy dice. I was so enamored by the pimpiness that I hopped in without doing my patented 'make sure he speaks enough English to get me home' conversation. And wouldn't you know it. The man spoke less English than I speak Arabic.
Good news though. We have now lived here long enough that I knew how to navigate him home. I used the universal point and talk loudly communication. (I really hate myself sometimes. I don't know why I fall into the talk louder trap). But I also found I knew enough Arabic to tell him "no" when he tried to turn the wrong way ("LA!" followed by crazy pointing) and when to stop 'here" ("Henna!").
In fact, I am finally starting to really know our neighborhood. I went for a run today. AND DIDN'T GET LOST. It's a first.
In other, unrelated news, we took the kids to a Halloween party at the local American club this afternoon. Lots of candy, lots of good times with friends, lots of Halloween music, and lots of swimming. Because it's still 80 degrees and sunny here. That's for all of my friends back on the East Coast! Welcome to perpetual summer.
Happy Halloween, all! No matter where you are in the world. I'm just happy to have lived through my subway escapade to enjoy this Halloween!
|The fab hubby with our adorable Ewok.|
|Abby the Fairy with her super cool vampire teeth.|
Owen flat-out refused to let me take his picture.
His friends were there and I think he wanted to be cool.
Apparently, Moms taking photos aren't cool.
|Who doesn't love perpetual summer??|
|One more Ewok photo for all his adoring fans!|