Hmm . . . how to begin a new blog? This is a new experience for me, so I guess I'll muddle through. Although this blog is intended primarily for friends and family, it's open to anyone, so I guess I'll start with a brief introduction.
My name is Deborah, and I am married to Jeff. We are late 20s/early 30s in age, and we have no children. I used to work as an investigator for the U. S. government, but I gave up that job earlier this year. Jeff is an employee of the U. S. Department of State. We just arrived a little over a week ago at our first international posting, which is Embassy Cairo. We're living in an American compound in Maadi, a suburb of Cairo, which is why I'm starting this blog. Many of our friends and family suggested that we do a blog in order to keep in touch and let everyone hear of our experiences, and it sounded like a good idea. Since Jeff works all day and I don't, I was nominated.
We arrived in Cairo on 16 June 2008, after approximately 14 hours of travel from the DC area. I'm not sure what I was expecting the Cairo airport to be like, but whatever I was expecting, that's not what it was. We filed out through security and were greeted by a line of men holding signs with the names of the various people they were meeting. We located our names, along with a third name, and went over to the man who was holding it. He introduced himself to us (I forget his name), told us that he was the expeditor arranged by our sponsor, and asked for our passports. We had been told to expect the expeditor and to follow his instructions, so we gave them to him without question. He told us to follow him and then he was gone. The airport was crowded, so we were bobbing and weaving through all the people just trying to keep him in sight, but we finally caught up with him at . . . I think it was baggage claim, or maybe customs came first, but that doesn't make sense. It's all a blur. But at some point we got our four huge suitcases, and at some other point, the expeditor led us to the very front of the customs line, and no one in the line objected to us breaking in front of all of them. The expeditor answered all the questions of the customs official, told us to follow him, grabbed a suitcase, and he was off again. We again followed him through the crowds (even worse once we exited the airport), and he led us to the American who was picking us up.
We were driven on the Ring Road (I guess kind of like a beltway) to Maadi, where we were left at our apartment. There was a note from our neighbor and my husband's coworker, inviting us to dinner that night, so we unpacked a little and started getting our bearings while waiting for our neighbors to get off work. Then we went to their apartment, where we met up with them and with another of Jeff's coworkers and his wife and went to a very good Chinese restaurant. Then we came home and just went to bed.
The next morning, we went to a newcomers' briefing at the embassy. After that, I took the family shuttle back to Maadi and spent the afternoon unpacking and trying to get settled. Jeff started the check-in process at work, which has him going all over the embassy to various offices to fill out their paperwork and familiarize himself with their locations. Since then, I've gone out for a least a couple of hours most days with Julia, who is walking me around Maadi to help me get familiar with my new neighborhood. We went shopping downtown one day, and she showed me a great little store with wonderful air conditioning, beautiful products, and fixed prices. (I haven't learned the art of bargaining yet, although I will.)
Jeff has been working long days. We aren't sure yet if that's going to be the standard year-round, or if it's only during the summer while a lot of people are on R&R. I guess we'll find that out this fall. We're both adapting to life in Maadi. I think it's been easier for me because I don't have the stress of a job, and I can take naps if I need to, so the adjustment is a relaxed, gradual process for me. Jeff, on the other hand, has to get up early, can't take naps, is busy all day at work, and then comes home and stays busy trying to set up our internet connection (still not up, we're using someone else's connection right now) or do other things in or for the apartment I can't do for one reason or another. He hasn't had enough down time. But we have a weekend starting tonight (weekends here are Friday and Saturday), so I'll try to make sure he gets some rest. And next week, he'll be off Thursday through Saturday; since Independence Day falls on a Friday, Thursday becomes an embassy holiday.
In future posts, I'll tell you about the apartment (including pictures), our first trip to the Khan al Khalili (a huge, confusing, and delightful market area), traffic, and whatever else I think you'll find interesting. Feel free to email me or post comments with questions, and I'll answer as best I can. I'm not sure how often I'll update the blog. This blog hosting site has a function where I can have emails sent automatically to up to ten addresses to notify the recipient of when a new blog is posted. If you want to be one of the ten, let me know. First come, first served.