Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's all Arabic to me...

So I am still slowly trying to learn the language here. I'm not picking it up as nearly as fast as I would have hoped. Granted, Arabic is one of the hardest languages to learn...but being surrounded by people speaking it you would expect I'd be much better this.
These are some  words I typically hear everyday:

Sabah el Kheir. Ezzayek? Kwayyesa, Meyya Meyya. Ana bashrab shai akhdar. Shib shib el FACEBOOK. Bent beid ful toffah batteekh. Samik, Coca-Cola, Manga basal shawah.
And of course; Hey.....Basbusa! (I hear this one multiple times throughout the day)

And ok it's confession time. All those words up there? I actually do know. But they are in no kind of order so to any of my Egyptian friends who read this will be totally confused. Though I really will overhear two people talking rapidly in Arabic, then randomly hear words I know like Facebook, Coca-cola and most computer lingo. Definitely makes me smile.

This picture is from the set of our video shoot for a teenage discussion program. The teenagers we worked with were awesome and super cool. They learned a good deal of English from school so it was easy to talk to them.
We even started to play Egyptian Monopoly, but I kept doing things the English way and they would get confused and try to correct me, but then I would get confused and we'd have to start all over. The differences weren't ridiculously large, but they were enough to convince us to try something else. We started to play Never have I Ever, but I got called to go work. It was fun though.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My time in Minya

Minya is very different from Cairo or AlRehab. You see poor people all the time in Cairo, but in Minya the poverty takes on a whole other level. Now, there are certainly well off people there, but passing by the farms and seeing the majority of the buildings just barely standing really speaks to a person. And it was a normal sight to see two or three kids riding down the street on a donkey. I saw donkeys everywhere! Anyway, Nashaat and Fadi took me walking around some and we talked about what life is like there. 
 They also bought me a Coca-Cola. I rarely drink soda at home but I knew i would be inevitable here, especially since I promised to bring back Coke bottles for two of my really good friends. Well, here's one down! Though, I will admit I have been drinking a lot of 7 Up, it's hard to say no to people when they hand me stuff...
Getting to see more of Egypt was a really great experience and I cannot even write down all that I felt there. One of the producers I work with was just telling me that his church does a lot of outreach for the poorest of the poor in Minya. I was really glad to hear that, because really, these people are stuck in a never ending cycle. They work hard, but can never make enough money to create an easier life. As I go around and see how true this really is, I feel called to help make a difference in people's lives. One of my favorite travel photographers is Austin Mann, and maybe one day I'll get to show the world how to help just like he does. 
After the training course was over, we made the trip back to Rehab. We were supposed to take the train back, just like we came, but there was a huge miscommunication and somehow we only had two return tickets instead of three. And since the train station couldn't help us out at all, we sold our tickets and took a taxi back instead. We traveled through the desert which led to some crazy sights. 
              Transporting Camels in a truck.
             Plenty of sand and semi mountains.
And we took a break at this random resort-like place halfway through. The sunset was beautiful!
Now to go through all the rest of my pictures from yesterday...three different people were taking pictures with my camera at this monster long video shoot. Now I have 400 + pics on my memory card. Wow. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sight-seeing in Cairo

Yesterday I got to travel a lot around the city. There were two Algerians who were working here to produce a program and they wanted to go sightseeing before leaving Egypt. I tagged along and had a wonderful time. It was tough though, due to my long schedule. I woke up early to pray for my good friend, Paul Watson. Paul is only 24 but was recently diagnosed with cancer and is currently going through Chemotherapy. One of my other friends had organized a 24 hour prayer vigil for him, which I wanted to participate in.

Then I rode the bus all by myself to meet up with the small group (five of us, 3 spoke Arabic, 2 spoke Dutch, and 2 spoke English).

We left the meeting place at Ten, and traveled to this Church that had been carved into the Miracle Mountain. For more info about it, check out the link. We passed through this poverty stricken area called Garbage City.

 Then we went to the Egyptian museum, where you are only allowed to take pictures in the Courtyard. :(

The museum has a ton of historical artifacts and is very extensive. My favorite room was the one with all of the belongings of King Tut. His mummified body is on display in Luxor, but many of the items he was buried with are here. I couldn't believe how beautiful everything was, especially with how old these items were. Right after viewing King Tut's belongings, I went into the Mummy room. Wow. It was definitely a life time opportunity and I am very glad I got to see them. It was creepy, not going to lie. But definitely worth it. One of the mummies was a queen, and her description said that she was obese and had bad teeth. I looked down at her leathery skin and broken nose and could not help but think, 'Man, time has not been very good to you!' Then I laughed at myself for the absurdity of it. Still, it is amazing to see what some people will do to try to prepare themselves for eternity. And heartbreaking at the same time. After the museum we ate our dinner and explored downtown. We went through the fruit market street where everything looked so delicious, passed by multiple street vendors, and ended the day with a boat ride on the Nile. I didn't end up getting back to the house until midnight.

Oh sleep, how I miss thee.

      My favorite shot of the day!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Al Minya

Words cannot describe my time in Minya, I had such a great time! Even though my air conditioning in the hotel broke...
         Shot of the training/conference room
A good portion of the conference dealt with FGM, and ways to help the girls most at risk. This is a disgusting practice that has nothing to do with religion or medical reasons. While FGM is not completely widespread in the Middle East it is still performed in Upper Egypt as well as in Yemen and Somalia.
And here is a picture of me with a woman who is fighting this in her village. She was telling me that girls are now starting to tell their families who want them to be "circumcised" that it is their right to be healthy, that they want their body the way it is. It was very encouraging to hear, but still sad to have to hear it.
More on my time in Upper Egypt next time...As well as about my experience in the Egyptian Museum! I am going there tomorrow with some Algerians (who live in Holland) that are doing a series of programs through Media House. They speak English really well and have several American friends so I think it'll be a good day. Hopefully I don't get lost on my way to meet them though!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Nile!

This is just a super quick post since I am leaving for Minia in about ten minutes. But yesterday the video guys from Media House had a meeting on the Nile river and I got to go! I couldn't understand anything, but the scenery was cool.
      Candid shot of me on the boat
And here's a shot of some of the guys
One last shot of the Nile!
Ok, I'm off! Hopefully the situation won't be too tough...

Sunday, June 20, 2010


There is a fly on my desk. But not just any fly, a fly that has been here the entire day and will not go away. He has landed on my head multiple times, walked up and down my computer, and basically annoyed me for hours. No matter how hard or fast I fling out my hand, he comes right on back. It brought to mind this lesson that God has been teaching me about patience and such as I have been reading through Proverbs. Even though this fly is getting on my last nerve there is still so much more to be grateful for. The other day I was able to get out and just go walking around downtown Cairo with a guy who helps a lot of the missionaries that come through. We started talking about all the differences between the two countries and how Egyptians get treated here versus how Americans get treated here. I've had quite a few conversations about this with other Egyptains but speaking to someone who is going to college like me and is close to my age really brought it home. As an American, I get more privileges in other countries than I ever realized. Sometimes even more than the citizens of the country itself. I could do into much deeper detail, but a meeting is about to start and I gotta go run. So yes, this fly is driving me crazy, but I'm still grateful. Grateful for an opportunity like this, grateful for the blessings I have recieved, and grateful that I have the strength to go about in a different culture and learn from it. Tomorrow I am heading out on a three day trip to film some military trainging. I have no idea what to expect and I'm certainly not going to risk bringing my computer. It's a four hour train ride to get there and I'm not exactly sure what I'll be living in. All I've been told is that it is going to be very hot there. Way hotter than it is here. Anyway, I should learn a lot. Hopefully.
              Picture: They call me Basbusa! 
It is a really sweet Egyptian desert. I think they decided to call me this on the third or forth day. So funny.
Here is the song that made Basbusa famous.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I am now 21

      Just writing that title seems weird to me. Growing up, I always felt like I had AGES till I became an adult, so why worry about it? Well the years have flown by and legally I am as adult as you can get. Yet many people in Egypt have remarked to me that I seem young or that I "have a young soul." Which is kind of funny to me because many of my peers from back home have said that I can be really mature for my age. Personally I guess I'm somewhere right smack in the middle.
      I do have a plan for my future and have many BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) but still one of my biggest wishes is like that of Peter Pan's, to always remain a girl, and to have adventures. And it's funny, stick me in a pool and I will act like I'm 8, flipping and diving and playing Marco Polo...but stick me in a room full of professionals and I can be just as reserved and polished as the best of them (If I don't spill anything on my clothes while doing it. I've dropped more food on my shirt the past two weeks at the office than anywhere else, sigh).
     So, I got an email from my dad yesterday containing a PDF of the birthday card I would have gotten if I was at home. The picture he used of me was me holding my cake on my 16th birthday! Man that brought back some great memories. It really made me want to go and track down all the pictures from my birthdays, just to see how much I truly have grown up. But since I don't have any access to old pictures, which is a shame, I really need to fix this, the picture of my 21st (missing 20 candles) Birthday cake and I will have to do.
Everyone who was at work yesterday came in and sang the birthday song to me! I wasn't expecting it so it was really great. The people here are awesome.

Anyway, yesterday I really didn't get much of a chance to celebrate my birthday but tonight I am going out to Cairo with a neighbor who speaks English really well. His best friends growing up were missionaries so he  knows a lot of American slang. In fact, the first  words he said to me were, "What's Cracka lackin? Haha, so funny. Anyway he's going to show me what people my age do in Cairo on the weekends. Should be fun!
Also, for my 21st birthday I signed up on Twitter. I can tell I'm going to like it already and it'll be a great tool for me to use in gaining information. If you want to follow me on there I'm EEwing390, I'll make sure I keep it interesting!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Cairo shopping is beast. I haven't gone to the touristy places yet to go shopping, so I don't have the full experience, but I went to the biggest mall in Egypt last night. Now I typically don't have the big of a problem dealing with materialism (though my mom might tell you otherwise...) but I saw so many amazing clothes if I could have I would have spent a fortune buying them all. But I'm actually quite poor at the moment and I hate buying expensive clothes, I'd rather spend my money on stuff that I can invest in my future. Like a new camera and underwater camera housing for said camera for example. Anyway, I ended up trying some stuff on and bought two shirts. Pretty sweet.
          Picture # 155 Trying on a dress that was way to expensive for what it was. Still cute though.
And I found this amazing shirt in a funny little shop and couldn't resist. No, I didn't buy it, but it did remind me of a certain person from back home! :) It's so funny, I literally laughed out loud. But I know we have the exact same type of shirts back in the States. Although as I was walking outI couldn't help but wonder how many Egyptian girls have actually bought this.
-Again, not much updating on Egypt, but I have actually been doing stuff around the office. I am a crap editor, and I can spend all day working on a three minute video only to have someone else come in and completely tear it apart (Yes, this happened today...and all last semester). But I am picking up little things here and there so hopefully one of these days everything will just click for me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Picture # 154

Today's post is super quick because I have been at work most of the day and I won't have internet access after I leave. But I have a surprise up my sleeve for later on this week, and I'm pretty excited about it. I can't say anymore than that with out giving my surprise away, but hopefully it will be good enough that I'll be able to talk about it on here once it's finished. :)
       Picture # 154  I love the sun! (But not too much... I wear my sunscreen)
Hmmm now that I'm looking at this on here I look a little scared. Not what I was trying to portray, but I still love the way the sun has hit my face so I'm keeping this image as is.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Swimming in Cairo?!

I went swimming today! That is definitely one of my absolute favorite summer pastimes. Fayqa and I went to a sports club with her sister and her nephew, David. It was weird because when I was actually in the water it was so similar to home, there was really nothing different. But out of the water there were situations I would never see at home. First, there was a women's only pool in the morning, till about noon. We started off in there first. The majority of women in the pool were actually wearing bikinis, which I never expected in an Arab country. But as soon as the annoucement came on about the pool opening up to be mixed, nearly every woman got out and I saw some scarves coming back on. We moved on over to the other pool that was better and I saw quite a few women in head scarves and a couple in full Burkas. It was the weirdest sight to see a teenage girl walking aorund in a tankini with a woman in a Burka right behind her. I'll keep my opinion about Burkas until I write the post about clothes here in Cairo though. It's coming soon!
         Picture # 153 Just a candid from drying off by the pool, it was odd, soon after we sat down on the deck we were told we had to put some sort of cover on. I just had my t-shirt. Whatevs. *Note, I was not wearing a bikini, I did not mean to allude that I had been. I just thought it was ironic that women were allowed to wear different types of bathing suits in the water, but just sitting some feet away they can't.
  Here's David again!

*Don't really know why this is looking so stretched out. It might have to do with my connection though.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Differences in Culture Part One

Drinking. In regards to alcohol, it’s actually very similar to what happens in the states. People drink wine and beer at parties and small gatherings, that’s no different. The legal age is 18 here, but I’m sure that the reality is probably the same as in the United States, where many underage teenagers drink. I think that many more do here, because there does not seem to be anything culturally (Unless devoted Muslim) against drinking, and I don’t think the police could be bothered about it.

No, the biggest difference in drinking actually is related to food as well. In America, when you go out to eat at a restaurant you can expect to order your drink first and get it before your dinner. Then when your dinner arrives the glass is never empty unless you say you don’t want anymore. But here in Egypt it is slightly flip flopped. The habit is to eat your food and then get a drink. Now, water is always provided, so it is right there on the table, but since I’ve been here I have noticed that most Egyptians do not really drink anything while eating, rather waiting till the meal is finished. There are of course, exceptions to this and whatnot, but I’d say this is true at least 90% of the time.

Some might say this is a weird topic to write a post about, but I thought it was interesting and the first time I went out to eat I was really surprised that you do not order your drink before the meal, but rather after. However, it is acceptable request it with your meal, which is what I did. I have also tried requesting a drink after a meal too at a different place, but I think I will stick to having a (non-alcoholic) drink as I eat. I guess I’m just too used to it from home.

Picture # 152

*I think I might write about food next, after I learn some more about the cooking here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The little yard...

There's a yard in front of the office in Cairo. With palm trees! So I was trying to take my picture of the day when a friend walked out to cross the street and gave me the funniest look. This is the result.
          Picture # 151

Haha, I did have the shot lined up pretty well, but I didn't go tripod today and I think it slightly slipped over on my bag. Oh well. Even though I am extreme right of the shot, I still think my expression sells the photo. It's a unique shot, that's for sure!
Cultural differences part one should be up tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Back to the 365

So I haven't been keeping up with my 365 project since after my first day in Cairo. Well, not any worth posting...
But I really miss it and want to get back into that habit, as it really did challenge me as a photographer and I have to think outside of the box to get a shot that the main subject isn't even in yet!
Now, I'm not exactly sure how well I can execute this since the streets of Cairo are very crowded (There are more people living here than New York! A lot more people actually) and because of several limitations in my traveling situation I cannot carry my tripod around everywhere. Sad I know, I miss using it.
         Picture # 150
This is the balcony right outside the office that I'm working in. I've got my own desk and everything right across the room from one of the main directors. She's really talented. And she's so sweet, I'm looking forward to working with her.
And yes, I wanted a silhouette. I intentionally set the exposure so I would be way darker.

My first week

It's official. I have been in Egypt for an entire week. And I have only learned about four words in Arabic. >_<
To be fair, I took a full day to unpack and adjust in a quiet apartment. Then we had a half day at the office where I'm working, and then it was the weekend. And Arabic is tough. I can repeat words pretty decently, but memorizing them is another matter entirely. When I learned how to say thank you I kept trying to turn it into a completely different word because I could not remember the correct pronunciation. I am planning on trying to learn more though. 
Anyway, I have to run to go work on an project, but next post I hope to write about the cultural differences I've experienced so far. I think some of them are really interesting.
           First day I went out shooting. We interviewed four different people, and our last shoot didn't start until nine at night. But it was cool, I got a tour of downtown Cairo in between interviews. 
           One of my favorite shots I took by the Pyramids. This is the sketch-looking lot we went in to get the horses for our tour. 
And...I'm off to go work with a client!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Pyramids

Well I officially have a full day of work in the office under my belt. I really liked it, the environment is great here. But today is full of shooting interviews out in the field, and I have absolutely no idea what to expect. We are leaving now and I'll probably make it back home around mid-night. Then get up at 6  and be back here in the office on Tuesday. No there will be no updating for awhile.

The tourism industry in Egypt is well and booming, that's for sure. I wish I had more time to write down everything, but I have to go work now. :(

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Two Parties in my first two days!

I think I came to Egypt at the perfect time. The first day of my internship we stopped early to have a party. I wish I could say it was for me...but it was for the boss. It was his going away party since he is leaving the company as a boss. But it was a lot of fun and many people went in the traditional garb, including me! I was not expecting anything but one of the women gave me a galabia and I had a lot of fun.
           The Parade into the party
          They had dancers come as well
       Me in my Galabia, alongside a women who works in the office. She's really sweet. 
And here I am at the second party. It was a birthday party for Fayqa's nephew who turned ten. He has lived for three months in the States and could speak some decent English. He and his friends taught me some new words, and helped with my pronunciation! 
David is the one in the purple. 
Not sure what was on the cake, but it was awesome. It was some kind of sparkler thing that they have for birthdays and it stayed lit up for a couple of minutes. One thing that surprised me was that they sing the birthday song here. It's amazing how far some American expressions and traditions have reached. 
*Post on the Pyramids to come soon!!! 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My new home for two months

Well, I am completely unpacked and am actually updating at the office where I'll be interning. I believe I offcially start in about half an hour or so. I've already met a few of the people I'm going to be working with and they all seem really nice. Most of them seem to have a solid understanding of English, but I have a feeling that I'm really going to have to work hard to be able to talk clearly to everyone. But on the plus side the woman who I am living with (Fayqa) and I made a deal last night. She will do her best to teach me Arabic if I help her to practice her English. She's already tried to teach me a few words, but I forgot them already.
        Picture # 149
My lovely Headboard
The entire room

The main living room
The first room/dining room
And finally, the kitchen.

I feel truly blessed because I'm staying in one of the nicer places in Cairo. :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I finally made it!

I am loving it so far! My host family is really great and they have a lovely apartment outside of Cairo in a safe area. Oh, and there is an American food court right down the street with Burger King and others so I know I definitely won't go hungry. Though Fayqa, the woman I'm staying with cooked up a late dinner last night and it was delicious. Fadi (the husband) said she cooks a lot and is really good at all kinds of dishes. So who knows, maybe I'll come back to the states with a solid understanding of Egyptian cooking. Sounds like a good deal to me.
         Picture # 148
Picture in the airport. Just sitting there, waiting. I went with braids today! A bit different from my normal hairstyle, but I wanted something to keep my hair out of my face. Plus, I probably spent a good 45 minutes just playing around with hairstyles in the bathroom, and nothing else was working out. It kept me busy though! I also spent a good portion of my time reading, both the Bible and my favorite book, Watership Down. I've read through it so many times the book is literally falling apart, but I always catch something new in it. Yesterday was no exception.