Gringo’s in the Middle East

Egypt Here we come

 

Last time I told you of the process of finally deciding our next stop.  So we booked a flight to Cairo, Egypt and packed up our bags.

We had a friend pick us up at the airport.  It was small and honestly, we weren’t one hundred percent sure what to expect.

Our friend had told us it was a huge culture shock.  Also that it was full of crazy drivers and there was trash on the streets.

Crossing the roads would be a challenge that we would have to get the hang of as well.

So we come out of the airport to find our friend’s waiting for us.  Getting into the cab, we were full of excitement and wonder.  It was another new city we had never seen before!

Okay so if you’ve never ridden in a taxi in Egypt, you’ll be like me.  You’ll watch out the window and almost have a heart attack!

Three lane roads are turned into four or five lanes of traffic.  People pull out in front of others and its utter chaos, well it looks that way to the observer.

More than one time I flinched as our driver cut off someone, coming rather close to hitting another vehicle.

“Don’t look out the window!”  That’s my advice to anyone coming to Egypt.  You’ll do much better if you simply look out the front window, well most times!

The city if beautiful, and even beneath the dirt and garbage that is carelessly thrown about by locals, you’ll see its true wonder.

Really, the architecture here is wonderful.  Some, well a lot, of buildings need repair.  However, you can still imagine what it was like several years back.  Too see Egypt in that glory would have been truly a wonderful experience.

We got back to our flat and unpacked.  All of us were a bit thirsty, so we walked to a koosk around the corner.  It was a bit sad to see the amount of trash lying in the streets.

The smell in the summer can be quite bad, but you know to avoid the large piles.  Experience will teach you a lot of things when you live here.

Trust me, we love it here.  It may not sound like it by this description.  But truly, through the stories I’ll share you’ll see what Egypt can be like to the foreigner.

John teaches and loves it.  I work from home.  Normally, I’m writing romances, but right now I’m focusing on this blog more.

I guess what I hope to share is not only our experiences.  But to maybe open up a few eyes.  The stories you hear about this part of the world are often made up and not true.  The people here have been quite amazing.  Through the coming weeks, I’ll highlight a few of our adventures.  Mention some of the good and bad things we’ve seen as well as the fun times we’ve had.

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American’s In The Middle East

Various Dubai Stories

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(Stella: Our neighbors kitten)

When we left Tampa, we missed a lot of things.  One of those was our cat.  Our neighbor, who shared the balcony had an amazing kitten.  We got our kitty love in by buying treats and sharing her as a pet, at least a little bit.

So getting back to Dubai.  We still were waiting for the school to give John his residency stamp.  They kept telling him excuse after excuse.  So we needed to decide what to do next.  Honestly, our reserves weren’t a lot and every month we were using our savings, or a big portion, to pay rent.

John had taken his TEFL classes online and had just received the 6 certificates.  With those in hand, I redid his CV, and started to hit every ESL job I could find.

It didn’t take long and we got numerous replies back.  Places in China, The Czech Republic, and Russia were among the choices.  Of course, we had to research the places, and John had Skype interviews.

He was nervous on each interview.  He hadn’t done a whole lot of teaching yet, but of course since that time it’s changed a lot.

There were quite a few offers from China.  We had to admit it was exciting to think of seeing Asia.  It would be another continent, and new territory.

However, as I researched I found a few disturbing things.  The pollution was quite high there.  But more so was the fact that you needed a bachelor’s degree to teach.  The places we talked to had said nothing about this government requirement.

Not only that, but I found reports of teacher’s being arrested who didn’t have the right credentials.  I asked the place we had been dealing with and they simply said, “Don’t worry about the degree we have a way to handle it.”

I worried at that point, and we both decided it wasn’t worth the risk to take any of the offers.  China was off the table.

The Russia interview went okay, but we weren’t excited about the cold weather in Russia.  Thankfully, they didn’t offer him a job.

Another school in Vietnam wanted him as well.  We almost went with that one, I can’t remember the exact reason we said no.  However, another school in the Czech Republic wanted him.  Now this was something we gave serious consideration too.

We had also talked to a school in Egypt by this time.  Though they didn’t offer him a job.  It was implied that when you land, show up and we will hire you.

We were down to the two choices.  In the end the fact we had connections in Egypt made our choice for us.

It was at this point we began packing up and getting ready for another jump.  Off to Egypt and a new world.

On a side note.  I didn’t want to write this part of the story, but it’s only far.  You know how guys find farts so funny.  Well on more than one occasion John or even my son Ryan have farted and left me in the stink.  When someone walks up and smells their not so nice scent, the person thinks it was me.

Have you ever heard of the phrase sweet revenge?  Okay so yes women do sometimes have gas.  One night we were down in the little shop in our building.

We had a few things to buy, and my stomach was feeling somewhat upset.  In my defense I didn’t think it would smell.  But as soon as I allowed the gas to pass, I knew I needed the bathroom.

I turned to John, no smell as of yet, and said, “Hey I have to go up and go to the bathroom.”

He said, “Sure, I’ll be right up.”

When he came upstairs, he told me that the guys at the register had thought it was him.  They had given him dirty looks and mumbled a few things.

You know sometimes things happen.  Ma3lish my habibi!  (Sorry my love).  Come to think of it, I don’t think he’s done the old fart and leave trick since though.

Next time I’ll talk about our arrival in Egypt.  Culture shock and trying to learn how to cross the road!

More Americans in the Middle East

More Fun in Dubai

 

So John is now teaching part-time at this school, and each day he travels via the metro.  By the way the metro in Dubai is clean and amazing.  I mean spic and span clean!

One day he was on his way to work and he heard this loud American woman.  She was older, dressed in a very gaudy dress, as he called it.

She was with her husband, Earl, who was very hard of hearing.  This John knew because she kept yelling, “Isn’t that right Earl?”  Or something to that tune.

So they were busy talking to someone else on the metro, and the guy looked like he wanted to bolt.  But of course he’s stuck on the train until his stop.

sundress-gaudy

(She was wearing something like this!)

For some reason they spotted John, so the loud lady and her deaf husband come over to him.  John is standing there his folder in hand, thankfully his English book was not showing.  He had his sunglasses on and was just wanting to get to work.

“Hello, how are you?”  The loud lady asked him.

John looks at her dumbly and acts like he can’t understand a thing.  Now in his defense, she was discussing all kinds of physical ailments with the other guy on the train.  From how she had puss on her leg in one area, and so on!

Finally, he says, “Spreckhen de Deutsch?”  (Sorry for any misspellings).

She looks at him for a minute and turns to Earl, “Never mind Earl he doesn’t speak English.”

Earl comments back, “Huh?”

“He’s not English!”  She yells, as she’s leading him back to the other guy they had been talking too.

John says the guy was looking like he wanted to run again, but there were no places to hide from them.

Earl says once more, “Huh?”

“He doesn’t speak English, he’s one of those Nazi fellows.”  She yells loud enough for the whole train to hear.

“Oh okay.”  Earl finally says.

John was very happy that the next stop was his, as he tried to hold in his laughter.  He’d successfully avoided these two people.

Needless to say I died laughing when I heard the story later on that night.  I think it was one of the funniest things ever.

Next time, my embarrassing story and how I made John even more embarrassed!  It will be hard to write, but honestly I think I die laughing every time we talk about it to this day.

 

 

Dubai and Visa Runs

Visa Runs….

Yes since we didn’t have that desired residency stamp in the U.A.E, we needed to make a run every 30 days.  There was a way you could go a government building and pay something like 300 dirham, but it could only be done one time.

The fact that you could pay 120 dirham a piece and do the run every 30 days made it the best choice.  Of course, you have a bunch of places that offer to take you on the run, and the prices do range from the lower end to more expensive.

You could also rent a car and try to do the process yourself.  After our first run, half way through it, we were happy we didn’t rent a car and drive.

You have to stop at many checkpoints.  The driver handles the passports and questions at this point.  Nice when you don’t speak Arabic!

The van we rode in held about 15 people.  All of us from various countries.  Most of us just sat and looked out the window, not talking to anyone but who we rode with.

It’s an all day trip for sure, once you get to Oman, you have to go and get two stamps.  This was very important, that entry and exit stamp.  If you were missing the exit stamp, they wouldn’t allow you back into the U.A.E.

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(Some scenery from the visa run to Oman)

Thankfully, the driver of the van goes in with you and makes sure everyone has their stamps.  It was at this point we began talking to two other passengers.  They were a couple from the UK, and we had a lot in common with them.

This wasn’t the last time we would hang out with them.  We explored new places to eat with them, and saw some movies, and just hung out many times.

To this very day we Skype with them as well.  That one trip to Oman, gave us a chance to meet a great couple.

Also the drive back didn’t seem near as slow as the trip to Oman.  We talked and chatted the whole way back.  After we got back to the mall, we discovered that they lived about five blocks from us as well.

Talk about coincidences!  Colin and Judith were easily one of the best experiences we had during our stay in Dubai.  Lifelong friends that we met on a visa run, talk about luck!

Those visa trips for us continued, Colin and Judith had been making their last run.  Lucky them!  John and I had another 6 runs before we decided that Dubai just wasn’t the place for us and we moved on.

Next time a few little stories, some embarrassing, if I decide to include them!  Along with how the teaching academy he worked with dangled the residency for a few months in front of him.  This cost us another three months, staying in an expensive place, with hope of that residency stamp.

Also our choices after John got his TEFL, and various interviews, and choices of our next stop!

The Middle East As an American

Continue of Dubai

Before we moved to Dubai as I said many people thought we were crazy and that we wouldn’t be safe.  They claimed that we wouldn’t be able to attend church.  That I would have to be completely covered up when dressed, i.e. no shorts whatsoever.

Well I can tell you that there are plenty of churches to attend in Dubai, and we did go.  We were no harassed in anyway because we were Christian.  In fact, along the street to the many churches you found people selling food.  It was cheap and good, we bought some and had a rather nice meal on the walk.

So all those claims that you can’t be a Christian and go to church were simply propaganda, and lies.  Imagine that!  Western propaganda at its best trying to create fear among the population.  They’ve done a great job of it.

Moving onto shorts, you know what I wore them outside.  They weren’t short-shorts, but ones that came down to my knees.  They were fine and no one said anything to me about them.  Again another lie that is told about this part of the world.

My husband and I are the type of couple who like to hold hands when we walk.  Well this was one thing we could not do in the country, unless we wanted to possibly be fined.

So we still held hands from time to time and didn’t get caught.  Yes we were lucky.  But honestly, with everything we enjoyed was well worth the one thing we were not able to do.

Next time I’ll talk about our Visa renewal trips, fun times, and people we met along the way.  Possibly a few embarrassing times as well.  Along with our search for a place to live in a very expensive country.

The Phone Call

My now husband was walking into Walmart and the payphone was ringing in the entry way.  As you can tell this is a while ago, since phones are no longer in the entry when you go into stores.  So he picks it up, and hears, “Is this so and so collections?”  He replies, “Yes, yes it is, how may I help you?”  The person on the other side went off, apparently he owed money to a company, they sent him a letter, and also called neighbors and left messages for him, so that he would pay his bill.  He was not happy at all about this, but he was avoiding calling to pay his bill.  Obviously he dialed incorrectly, getting this Walmart location instead.  The guy began screaming at the top of his lungs, threatening legal action, and making physical threats.

My husbands reply was, “Sir you need to calm down, take a deep breath, take off the dress, grow a set of balls, and pay your fucking bill.”  (Can you imagine actually hearing this from someone you had called to talk about a bill, I mean not at all)!

He then screamed going irate, demanding to speak to a supervisor.  In which my husband replied, “He’s currently snorting lines of cocaine on the ass of a hooker, in the men’s bathroom on the second floor.  Can I take a message?”

The guy hung up.  I wonder when or if he ever realized he got the wrong number.  

The very first time I heard this story, I cried I was laughing so hard, and still to this day, it makes me laugh.  

Wow, Long time no write

I swear, I’ve said it before, I need to blog more often.  But for some reason, I’ll be good for a bit, and then I fall right off again, and I sit here and wonder why?  It may be because my life is a bit boring, or at least I feel that sharing certain aspects of my everyday life really won’t be quite entertaining as it should be, so why write about it.  However, there are some days where things happen that are just so darn funny, and I guess maybe I should share those.

It just so happens that at times the things that take place are told to me by a friend and well, I guess I just laugh for too damn long and by the time I’m done, I forget to write it down.  However, here I want to try and remember a few of those things.

Keep in mind I can’t really disclose where he works, because I don’t want to get him in trouble.  But lets just say he gets call from people all day long, people who haven’t paid their bills.  The funny thing is the reasons why some of them don’t pay the bills, and thus they want to have more time.

One example is a person who had an unexpected expense and lost the payment, he gambled too much money in Vegas.  Doesn’t seem unexpected, but merely stupid.

Another person called in to see if they could get an extension for their payment, their reason, “my father died”.  Okay this would be a good reason, however, looking in the notes, my man saw the father died the year before.  So on top of his job he asked was that your father, or maybe your spouses father?  Giving the person the benefit of the doubt.  But when they said it was their father, and that’s exactly what the notes stated from the year before.  Well let’s just say it becomes obvious that the person is lying, and who knows what they spent their money on.

How about the person who called in and said, “I got 4 words for you, Obamacare.”  Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that one word, and what the hell does this have to do with their payments.  Especially since it was three months before you even had to buy the insurance.

However, my favorite that I can recall right now was a recent call.  He tells me that the person is calling in because they had to get an extension.  Again he has to ask why this is needed.  “Well someone died in my family, they were shot, and we still have the body in the house.”  Wait, that’s all I needed to hear.  How long was the body there?  What the hell?  It was just too much, I can’t even imagine what the hell this family is doing with this body in the house, did the person just get shot, are the police really slow to come.  But better yet, if it did just happen, why in the hell are you calling about a bill that you need to pay?

When I can think of more I’ll be back, and yes I’ll try and find out more of these entertaining calls, and perhaps even about some of the stupid stuff that goes on around here.

Take care, and hope you laugh at least once!