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What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the 9th month in the Hijra Calendar. Ramadan for those of you who are not familiar with it is the Muslim’s holy month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. During this month Muslims world-wide go about their daily routines but while they refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and (uhmm) no hanky panky until sunset. The act of fasting is meant to be a way to teach Muslims how to be patience as well as modest. It is also a time for reflection, prayer and spirituality. In prayer Muslim’s ask God (Allah) for forgiveness for the sins that they have committed during the past year. They will also ask God to give them strength to guide them and help them stay away from temptation and evil. It is also a time for thinking of those less fortunate than themselves. You will find that people give bags filled with rice, pasta, oil, sugar, tomato paste and other things. These gifts are usually given to the hired help, bawabs (care taker of the building) and anyone whom you think is needy at the beginning of the month. There are tents that are set up across the city, to feed those who can not afford to feed themselves. The food is for free and they are often given money at a value of 10LE. The five prayers that a Muslim is expected to pray on a daily basis do not change. An additional prayer takes place only during the Month of Ramadan and that is known as the Taraweeh. You will find that after Iftar (breaking of the fast) many people will leave their homes with their prayer mats and Quraan to go to the mosque to take part in the prayer. Depending on the Sheikh of the month, the prayers could last to over an hour. Also during the month Muslim’s should read their holy book, The Quraan from beginning to end. It was during the month of Ramadan that the first verses of the Quraan were revealed to the Prophet Mohamed. So, as you can imagine, this is a VERY spiritual time in Muslim countries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramadan

What to expect during Ramadan

What I really like about the month is that it is a time when families come together to break their fast and relatives that aren’t seen often come over to break fast or to have suhour. Suhour is the late night snack/meal that people will have to help them get through the next day without being hungry. It is supposed to be a simple affair but over the years it has grown in to a BIG event, like a dinner party. During this time, it would be best that you eat at home. The restaurants will not be functioning to their full capacity and the food won’t be as good. Try not to go out to a restaurant for Iftar, because you will not be satisfied with the service or the quality of the food. Working hours (government offices, companies and schools) will start later and end earlier. You will find that most of the people who are addicted to coffee or smoking are not in the best of moods during this month, their cranky and can be quite stand offish too. A word to the wise, if you are doing renovations, work in a factory you will find that your staff will not be putting in 100% effort and are best described as lazy. They will use the excuse of fasting for their lack of concentration. When you go to supermarkets you will probably find a low supply of rice, pasta, oil and sugar. People buy all of this in BULK! If you want an easy time shopping then I suggest you wake up early on Friday morning and head over to your supermarket and shop while everyone is sound a sleep and tucked away in bed, otherwise expect to do some defense shopping. Peoples driving skills become worse and they lose their tempers a lot faster than they normally would. When it’s close to breaking their fast, people drive so fast like bats out of hell that I think that even Michael Schumacher would be terrified. At sunset the streets are deserted and peaceful! That is when everyone is home sitting around the dinning room table breaking their fast.

https://speakingupandspeakingoutfromcairo.wordpress.com/

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After a wonderful vacation with family in the UK and sight-seeing in London, I have returned to the reality of my every day life. It was a much needed break from my routine and I feel as though my energy levels have been revitalized and I am ready to face another year of teaching, studying, self-improvement and writing but I come back wishing I was still in England and questioning what possessed me to return. 

The BMI flight to Cairo from Heathrow was fantastic. It didn’t feel like a four hour flight and getting through immigration and customs at Cairo Airport was a piece of cake and stress free. It was quick and pain-free. Usually it’s a bloody night mare! 

My mother and I made it back to Alexandria in one piece and settled in like two peas in a pod.  By this time I’m thinking…’maybe this isn’t so bad’, that was until I was sent out to do the grocery shopping because the cupboards were bare and the fridges were hollow. So, I hopped in to my car and make my way to Carrefour, park the car, enter in to the building, and walk over to the hyper market and that’s when it hits me. ‘I AM BACK!’ 

The scene before me was one of shopping chaos. It can best be described as a shopping competition to see who can get the most groceries in their trolley. Why? Well, the Islamic month of fasting, known as Ramadan will be starting in about 2 weeks time. For some unknown reason it sends everyone in Egypt in to a frenzy! If you could see the way they shop you would swear that they were going to go in to hibernation for the Fall and Winter or they were going to go underground and want to take as many provisions as they possibly can. The pasta and rice section of the supermarket was as bare as the cupboards at home. What really boggles my mind is that they know Ramadan is coming, it’s not a surprise and the supermarkets aren’t going any where why do they have to by 20 Kilos of rice and pasta in one shot? They aren’t even on offer! 

As I stand at the entrance trying to regain my senses I get a cart and enter the Ramadan shopping madness. I felt like I was in a Play Station Game going around scoring points for every item I was able to find on the shopping list. I don’t think I would have been as calm as I was if I hadn’t had my iPod to listen too. The noise level in the Hyper Marché was as bad as the sound of Cairo traffic. I took me 2 HOURS to get the shopping done!! Why? Well, at first I was still in Euro mode, waiting patiently in line and following the universal rules of shopping etiquette, but when it’s Ramadan Madness shopping you throw those rules out and go in to defense shopping. You edge your way sneakily towards the items that you are targeting and as quick as a pick pocket you put it in to your trolley before anyone else snatches it. When you wait in line to have your veg and fruit weighed or when you are paying for the groceries you block any potential line cutters with your cart or your back. 

By the time I got home I wasn’t in the best of moods because the porter/bowab/care taker of the building was nowhere to be found, (surprise, surprise) and I had to make 3 trips from where I had parked the car up to the apartment to get everything home. Without a word of a lie, I remained silent for the rest of the night and didn’t utter a word. 

I just couldn’t believe the contrast in shopping at Tesco’s to shopping at Carrefour! I don’t know why I get culture shock every time I come back. I know how things are done here, but I suppose that I get used to a simpler and polite way of dealing with people on my trips abroad that I come back hoping that things have changed here.

To avoid the Family Fued of shopping, the best time to go shopping is at 10am when the shops first open.  Actually make it a GOLDEN RULE to shop at that time all the time!

From standing on the balcony of my parents apartment building and watching from the window of my flat in Cairo, I have come to the conclusion that there is an ‘ART’ on how to cross the roads in Egypt and on top of that it is also of entertainment value if you are a voyeur

This summer I have had the pleasure of being in the United Kingdom for almost three weeks for my summer holiday and during my time there I have noticed many things that are very different to how things are done in Egypt.
One of the many things that caught my attention, (it wasn’t that hard to notice if I’m going to be completely honest) is how people are able to cross the roads safely!
I still can’t believe that the drivers in England would break for pedestrians and not speed up when they see someone crossing the road or when the traffic light turns red. They actually stop before the marked yellow line and at a zebra crossing and politely wait for you to cross the road safely to the other side. How Bizarre!
I have grown so accustomed to the chaos and reckless driving of Egyptians that I can’t help but be filled with anxiety when I come to cross any road any where. Even, when I come to a country where I know and I’m comforted in knowing that there are STRICT traffic laws, I can’t help but look at the drivers with distrust because I can’t get used to the fact that they really won’t attempt to run me over.

When I cross the streets here I use a technique I like to call ‘the owl’. As I’m sure you already know an owl’s neck can rotate almost a full 360 degrees. When you come to cross the road here, you have to be prepared for anything coming or going in any direction. Owl vision helps you see the traffic from all possible directions and be prepared for the unexpected. On many occasions you will find that a car may come in the opposite direction of where it shouldn’t be coming from or an anxious driver has forgotten where his breaks are and has pushed down on the gas pedal as you happen to be crossing. Some drivers will drive will even speed up while your foot is in mid-air between the curb and the road and you will swear blind that he or she was aiming for you.

You are probably wondering how to use this technique of mine. Let me tell you. Your head can only turn as far as your neck will allow. So, you have to rely on other senses not just sight. Your hearing is very valuable, because like a driver you have a blind spot, your ears make up for that by picking up the sound of the wheels on the tarmac roads and the revving of the car engines. Your eyes and ears give you a 3D CineMax experience. So, if you have your i-pod in your ears when you walk the streets to avoid hearing the buzz of the city or the harassing comments, pause the tunes when you come to cross the road. If you don’t you will put yourself in jeopardy and ruin the CineMax experience. (Honestly, I some times wish I could strap a camera to my head just to show people what it is I am trying to describe)

The Rules of crossing the road in Egypt are quite different. For people who have never been to Egypt this will probably be one of the biggest shocks you get when you first arrive. The best way to describe it is ‘taking your life in to your own hands’. If you are a risk taker or a dare-devil, you may get some enjoyment out of this but it won’t compare to sky diving.

Most people are familiar with the rules of crossing a road at a designated area better known as the zebra crossing, standing on the side-walk and looking both ways before crossing the road and wait for the light to turn red so that you can make it to the other side safely. Those you ‘may’ use here but that doesn’t mean it will always work and that the drivers and other pedestrians will abide by them. People in Egypt cross the road at any given time, even when the traffic is at its busiest and cars are rushing by at top speed. They will step off the side-walk and walk across the road without a side ways glance at the incoming traffic.  They will even stand in the middle of the road as the cars whizz by them as they rapidly and mentaly calculate the speed, distance of the vehicles approaching and the time they need to make it safely to the other side. They have it down to a fine art. Watching them makes my blood turn cold, but I have to admit that they do have balls of steel. Personally, I would much rather wait for a BIG gap in the traffic before trying to cross the road. So, please don’t attempt it!

I have also noticed that when the pedestrians walk across the road, they have no fear in their stride or in their eyes. They walk across the street like they own it and that the cars are the ones who are intruding on their domain.  That is a look that you do need to have down pat because the drivers here smell fear and if they think you are afraid they will not slow down, they will intimidate you by speeding up.
You need to make eye contact with the driver and stare them down so that they know that YOU ARE GOING TO CROSS THE ROAD AND THEY ARE GOING TO SLOW DOWN. Think of it as a kind of Wild West show down.

Another tactic is to stand near a local who is about to cross the road and move with them as they cross. It will guide you and teach you how to make it across to the other walk path safely.  Like everything you do in life, it takes practice!

I could spend all night trying to describe the scenes along with various methods of how to cross the road but the only way you will understand or believe me is to see it for yourself.

Promote my blog

In Egypt we don’t just tip the waiter in the restaurant or the bus boy who transports your bags to your room. In Egypt you tip for almost everything!

If you are trying to park your car and can’t find a parking space, you will 9 times out of 10 find a man directing cars in to the tightest spots and for that you tip him. While you are out going about your errand he will be watching over you car and if you ask him to, he will even wash it for you, (just make sure you tip him well, because the next time you park there, he will treat you like a Pacha or a Brincessa (princess))

When you go to the cinema and the usher shows you to your seat, you tip him a pound or two.

When you pull in to the gas station and ask the attendant to fill her up and the other to clean your windows. You tip them for their services.

When you are at Metro or some other super market and the person packing your bags helps you carry it out to your car, you tip them for being so helpful.

When you go to the bathroom at a rest house, mall, and restaurant you will most likely find that there will be a person there handing out paper towels when you go in to the stall and when you come out. You tip them for maintaining the place.

When the porter in your building helps you carry your luggage in to the building and up the stairs to the elevator or right up to the apartment, you tip him for the extra effort he has made.

When a delivery is made to your house by the pharmacy, fast food restaurant, dry cleaners, grocery store and whom ever else provides that service you tip them for risking their lives on their vesper to deliver the goods to you.

To have a parking or traffic violation ignored or canceled you tip the traffic cops who’s uniforms are tattered and almost thread bare. DON’T even try to approach or tip the men who have brass stars on their shoulders. If you do, incarceration will be the gift he gives to you! 

The men who come to collect the due amount owed for your electricity and water bill should be tipped for walking around the streets of the city and ringing the hundreds of door bills to bring you your bill instead of you getting lost and trying to find where the companies are tipped for the door to door service.

By now I think you are getting the idea. I bet your asking yourself the same question that I had been asking myself for many years. Why and what for?

Well, to put it simply they have government jobs and don’t earn enough to live off of. So, to increase their monthly allowance all the tips they make give them a little bit extra to put food on their table. I think of it as me contributing and helping people in need.
Always make sure you have a wad of 1 pound coins handy!

Train Rides to and From Cairo As some of you may or may not already know, I am currently living and working in Cairo. My father’s family home is in Alexandria. I have become an expert of some sort when it comes to taking the train to Alexandria. I have been commuting between the two cities regularly for the past 5 years now.

 Why the train you may ask? Well, there are many truths to the matter. When I moved to Cairo I decided to give my sister my car, so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the traffic and the tedious task of trying to find a parking spot whenever I decided to go some where. Plus, it reduced my expenses greatly! I suppose that in some very indirect way, I am also doing my part in trying to reduce the pollution that now looms over the city like a constant black rain cloud. Another reason I take the train is because after a long week and day of work, the last thing I would want to do is add to my stress level by driving through Cairo on a Thursday afternoon and fight my way to the desert road. I would much rather unwind. In addition I don’t really think I would have the energy or the alertness that I would need to drive. At least while I’m on the train I can sit back relax, watch a movie on my laptop, enjoy the view, read a book, listen to my iPod and even take a nap. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I was in the car. It is always best to book your tickets ahead of time.

The earliest you can book is two weeks before you are due to leave. If you live in Heliopolis, Cairo (the ancient city of the sun), then you have no idea how blessed you are. Instead of having to trek all the way down town, to Ramses station, you can just hop over to Central Almaza. There you can buy your train ticket. If you are visiting the country and would like to pay Alexandria a visit, then I am fairly sure that you can ask the receptionist at the hotel to book and purchase your tickets for you. Just make sure that you give the exact date that you would like to go. 1st class ticket 50LE. (If you are in Alexandria then you have no choice to go to either Sidi Gabr or Alexandria station to get you ticket). If you’re a spontaneous person and like to take trips on the whim, you can get on the train and try you luck. You will be able to purchase a ticket at the ticket booth, if you don’t you can buy one on the train, it will cost you double though and you may not have a seat for the entire duration of the train ride.

IMPORTANT NOTE!! Be warned that not all the trains are direct. (It makes a difference) A direct train will get you to Alexandria (or Cairo) in two and half hours, with a brief (possible) stop in Tanta. If you don’t take a direct train, then you will be stopping at every station between Cairo and Alexandria and that could take you 4 hours or more!

If you are planning on taking a trip to, or from Alexandria, then may I be so bold as to suggest that you should ALWAYS travel first class. The reason being is that the cars are air-conditioned, the seats are comfortable (they recline, have a foot rest and a pull out table) and it’s not as dirty as the rest of the classes. The up keep of the trains are unlike trains in Europe or North America. It’s quite….ummmm…..disappointing to say the least and misleading, especially since it is classed as 1st class. The pocket that is in front of your chair is caked in years worth of dust and dirt. The pull out tables that are in the arm of the chair are not as bad, because many people haven’t discovered their location. To be on the safe side bring along your hand sanitizer and your wet tissues to wipe it down before you place any perishables on it. The water closet is a HEALTH HAZARD! I don’t think it has been cleaned since the train was first put on the tracks. I don’t think you could carry enough wet tissues or toilet seat covers to make you feel safe. So, my advice is make sure you go to the toilet before you get on the train and try not to drink at least an hour before you depart for the station, you don’t want to be sat crossed legged with a bladder that is ready to explode for the whole journey.

There is a food cart that passes up and down the isles a few times during the trip. They offer drinks (water, canned soft drinks, tea & Nescafe) and pre-packed sandwiches. You can also order breakfast, lunch or dinner on the train too. It smells delicious but after seeing the condition of the toilets, I wouldn’t risk eating a meal on the train. I fight enough germs and bacteria on a daily basis. I strongly recommend that you have lots of change, to pay for the beverages or food you buy. Another helpful note; the man pushing the food cart will no charge you when you order the food, he will charge you 15-20 minutes before you reach your destination. (Don’t ask me why, I am still trying to figure it out)

 You will also need change to tip the man in charge of the car you are in, if you entrust him with your luggage or if he carries it on for you and places it over you seat. If you don’t have one or two bags 5 LE is sufficient. If you have more then 10-15LE is very generous. If you need a porter to take your luggage and push it on the big trolley, they charge the locals 5LE for that service. Don’t get suckered in to paying too much.

The train is usually arrives and leaves promptly. There have been occasions when the train pulls in to Sidi Gaber (1st stop in Alex), really late because of work on the tracks or problems with other trains. I hope this helps you. Enjoy your trip

http://www.egyptrail.gov.eg/docs/index.html

This past Sunday I accompanied Grade 5 on a trip to the museum with their Social Studies teacher who has 20 years experience as an Egyptologist and Tour Guide. I had heard about how informative her trips are and that they were a lot of fun. I had been to the museum the previous year with my Grade 2 students and I hated every second of the trip. For a museum that big with some of the most fascinating antiquities that the world has ever seen, you would think it would be air-conditioned a child friendly.

In all honesty, (I know I’m going to get booed for this), I find it to be very cluttered and disorganized. The artifacts aren’t displayed as well as they could have been and not all the antiquities are described and those that have an explanation were done by that ancient machine, called a typewriter and the paper has yellowed with age. They haven’t been up dated in god knows how long. If I was to describe the museum, I would have to say an over priced warehouse for tourists. However, having said that, if you are in Egypt you have to go to the museum, to see the mummies (which is in an air-conditioned enclosure, Thank God! But, it costs a whopping 100LE for foreigners and 20 LE for Egyptians), The Tutankhamen exhibit (is partially air-conditioned, the room which holds the famous gold death mask along with other breath-taking items are in a small room. This room is very crowded).

 If I were you I would go there as soon as it opens at 9am, otherwise you will not get any pleasure out of the trip. If you are in Egypt between the months of May and October, then the earlier you go to the museum the better. It will be cool enough for you to tolerate from 11am on wards you will be in a furnace and will come out of the building drenched and stinking of perspiration. Make sure you have a bottle of water with you too, you will need it. You may want to have some tissues hand too, incase you need to tinkle.

When you go on vacation a camera is a must have! You would think that you would be allowed to take pictures in the museum….consider this a BIG heads up, the Cairo Museum does not permit ANY pictures taken inside the building. If you have a camera you have to turn it in, take a number and it will be taken and put in to holding until you come out and reclaim it.

On my most recent excursion to the museum with a pro, I found it to be really enjoyable! It makes such a difference when you go with someone who knows the place and all the ins and outs of the place. The Social Studies teacher had all the kids and accompanying teachers wear earphones that were on the same frequency as her microphone. It was GREAT! We could hear everything that was explained and pointed out to us. The noise of other tour groups was just background noise to us. The frequency of the packs are really good, I had to leave the students to find the newly opened Children’s Museum. I had to go out of the main museum and I could still hear the teacher. (I believe it costs 10LE per pack, I’m not 100% sure, and I’ll have to get back to you on that)

If you have your back to the entrance of the museum and walk to the right side of the building and turn right there and follow the signs you will find the children’s section below the building. I have to be totally honest, I wasn’t expecting much! I thought it would be a hogpog of things thrown together, but to my delight and surprise it is actually very well done and the set up is better than the main museum, (sad but true).
The explanations of things have been simplified and among the ancient artifacts are Lego replicas of some of the famous statues and portraits that we have seen on documentaries and in history books. If you have children or are planning to take your class to the museum on a school trip, then I highly recommend that you go in to the main building first before it gets too crowded and over heated and then make your way to the Children’s museum. (Entrance is free)

From dreading my trip next week with my class, I am actually excited about going there and teaching them about all the new things that I learned from the Social Studies Teacher. I will let you know how the trip goes.

As the weather in Egypt starts to climb so do the risks of getting food poisoning. I used to think that I had an iron stomach, but 7 years ago I learned the hard way. I had sever food poisoning, I had para typhoid! To this day I am unsure where I got it from, because I would go out quite a lot with my friends in the evening after spending the day on the beach in Bianki, Agami. What made it even harder to pin point was the incubation period, its approximately two weeks. Since then I have become very anal about where I eat out and when I eat out.

During the HOT season, the shelf life of produce is cut in to a quarter, food rots faster.  Any dips, sauces made of cream and especially mayonnaise will go off really quickly if it isn’t refrigerated and covered well. Flys seem to multiply during the summer and they seem to have hyper SENSORS. They can detect food from miles off and before you can tuck in, you are being bombed by kamikaze flies  left, right and center. They will pull out every trick they have just to have a chance to land and spit on your food.

Consumption of water and Sodas sky rockets during the summer too. Before you pop open a can of your favorite carbonated drink to chug down to quench your thirst, wipe the surface of the can really well or even go as far as washing it. When the cans are waiting to be shelved, the roaches have a field day climbing all over them and sometimes even lay eggs on them. When buying bottled water make sure that the plastic seal is on the bottle. If the removable seal is not there, there is a possibility that it isn’t a fresh bottle of mineral water

Restaurants and Cafes get really busy too, so the pressure on the dishwashers in the kitchens is tripled. You will often find that the plates, glasses and cutlery are not very clean. If you have an inkling that it isn’t very clean or you are uncomfortable with the way it looks, then go with your gut instincts and politely ask the waiter to change it for you. It’s better to be safe than sorry. It isn’t fun being quarantined during the summer and having typhoid isn’t anything I would wish on my worst enemy.

Just last week a friend of mine went out to satisfy his sweet tooth and bought himself ‘Ruz Bil Laban’ (Rice Pudding) and regretted it a few hours later. Luckily he only had very mild poisoning, he was fine the following day. AUC (American University of Cairo) has had to have Tobasco close on campus because of cases of food poisoning. (I wish other restaurants would do the same and have a BLITZ clean)

I try very hard to eat at home more during the summer to avoid mild or even extreme food poisoning.  Your home is the only guaranteed place you can be sure of having  well-cooked food and clean utensils.

I just recently celebrated my 32nd Birthday. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to spend any part of the day with family. They live in another city, (Alexandria) and I couldn’t be with them due to work. They were the first to send me birthday text messages and call me, because the date is forever engraved in their memory, (and they LOVE me to pieces). My celebration with them will be postponed until the weekend and I am truly looking forward to it.

My colleagues and friends in Cairo once they found out that is was my Birthday, they made sure that it would not be an unnoticed or quiet affair. My co-teacher told the students that she would bring in a cake, plates and candles for them to celebrate. They took the initiative to participate in the celebration and contributed as well, bringing chocolate to share, home-made cupcakes, pop corn, dozens of balloons blown and tied on the bus on the way to school as well as hand-made cards. I was deeply touched by the effort that they made and the gesture.

My Birthday fell on a Tuesday this year. Every Tuesday evening, my friends and I make a conscious effort to break the grueling routine of the week and meet up for a movie, arcades or dinner some where in Cairo. The turn out isn’t always big, due to traffic, work load, kids and other things that tie us up. That night, we were expecting around ten to twelve people to show up, but to my surprise 21 one people put everything on hold and came out to Le Pacha ( a boat on the Nile with many restaurants) to celebrate my birthday. Having my friends around me when I couldn’t be with my family was comforting and the best substitute I could have ever hoped for. I was deeply touched and as I looked around the table at all the faces that had congregated for the occasion, I couldn’t help but think ” I am lucky and I am liked”. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends or present.

The celebrations continued to the following evening where a few of my girlfriends and former work colleagues came over to my house to celebrate my birthday. Even though we had agreed that we would be ordering in food, they went out of their way to bake me some cupcakes and make a cherry cheese cake, (which is my favorite). We  sat around talking, catching up on each others news and telling each other stories as we dug in to our Thomas pizza. In the midst of their visit I also had an unexpected visitor who turned up at my house to surprise me with a gift. A colleague from work hadn’t wanted to embarrass me at work with a singing helium balloon and a gift, so she decided to pass by and give it to me in person.

It’s people like these who make your birthdays special and whom make you feel special. They keep insisting that ‘I Am Special’. I don’t see what they see in me, but I’m going to take their word for it. (I still think it’s them that make me special, because they  see something in me and they help to bring out the best in me)

I leave today, to spend the weekend with the most important people in my life and whom make every Birthday a special one.

I know some people like to go all out when they celebrate their birthdays to make them memorable, I personally find that the simpler the celebration and the lower your expectation is the more enjoyable and authentic it is.

So, I would like to thank every single person, who sent me a text message, called me and made an effort to see me for my birthday. I truly appreciate it.

This morning I awoke from my slumber short of breath and feeling far to warm for first thing in the morning. This indicated to me, that summer has officially arrived.  Instantly I knew that today was going to be scorching hot! When the air seems to be hot, still and dry, you know it’s going to be an uncomfortably hot day. In Cairo it’s a dry heat. In Alexandria, it’s humid and hot. Frankly, I no longer know which is worse, nor do I particularly care as long as I can keep cool.

I have found on days like today when the temperature reaches 42 celsius, that the best thing to wear is a long-sleeved light-colored top,  loose trousers and comfortable shoes.  Wearing tank tops or spaghetti strap tops, doesn’t help make you feel cooler. It has the opposite effect, it actually makes you feel hotter because your skin is exposed to direct sun light. Keep hydrating your skin and applying lotion or sunblock. Drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated and if you have to be out doors a light-colored cap to protect your head from the sun. If you can dip the cap in water, that’s even better. I personally avoid drinking carbonated drinks and eating foods that are loaded with sugar or are extreamly salty because it just makes you more thirsty. You can not drink enough water on a day like today. 

If you are lucky enough to be at home on a day like today, then turn on the air-condition and make your movements minimal.  Galabeya’s ( long cotton shirt dresses that can be worn by men and women) are garments that lots of people wear in the comfort of their own home. My mother has an abundance of them and loves wearing them around the house to keep cool.   I personally wear shorts and t-shirts in doors. It’s days like today where you can have the air-conditioner on the coolest temperature and it may not feel as though its making a bit of difference. To help the air-conditioner work better switch off unnecessary lights and close the blinds, shutters or curtains to help cool down the room.

I love home cooked meals but on days like this, the thought of being in the kitchen and cooking is like being in a sauna. I recommend that you go with salads, cold cuts and fruits.

If you’re vacationing by the sea or pool, try to avoid the beaches at the hottest time between noon and 3:30pm). If you want to be out at that time make sure you wear a VERY high factor sunblock (I’m a fan of Nivea and Coppertone), keep applying it generously even if you are sitting under the shade of an umbrella (trust me, you can still get badly burnt. I am speaking from experience).  For those of you who want a tan, believe me when I say, even with sun block on, you can get a tan. Keep your head cool to avoid sun stroke and drink lots and lots and lots of water.

If you are unfortunate and get sun stroke, then go back to your room, take a bath (add Ice if you can) or shower in cold water. If you get burnt, take a cold shower and apply 100%  Aloe Vera gel it is great to reduce the prickly heat feeling and the itching. Another ulternative solution is to apply plain yohgurt to the burned areas. It works like magic!!!

If you are a car owner, then I strongly suggest you put the sun visor up. I think having 2 is better than having one. One for the windscreen and one for the back window. It helps keep the temperature inside the car a few degrees cooler. If you don’t have a visor or don’t want to use one, well at least put a cloth over your steering wheel and your gear stick. The temperature is hot enough to burn your hand. When you head back to your car, leave the windows or the doors open for at least 5-10 minutes before switching on the air-conditioner. It helps get rid of the hot air that was trapped inside the car and will help the car to cool down faster.

If your kids are tired of being cooped up and being indoors and you don’t feel like going to the pool. The malls (City Center, City Stars..etc)are another alternative. They can have fun at the indoor amusement parks or take them to the cinema. It is more costly, but you have central air-conditioning!!

My favorite way to keep cool is drinking watermelon juice or lemon juice. My favorite things to eat in weather like this are watermelon, salads and ICE CREAM!

If you have any suggestions that you would like to share, please do so !

I am in love and fascinated with the history that Egypt has! I am always curious and interested in learning and finding out more about places here in Egypt. There are two reasons why I go out of my way to learn more about the country that I live in. The first, I love to learn and it keeps my mind sharp. Secondly, although I am not a member of the diplomatic corps, I am never the less a diplomat and representative of the country. So, I find it important to point out the good qualities about the country to others because the negative issues always seem to gain media attention and hype, while the good aspects are lost in the shadows.

I came across this short article on the net. I just had to share it with you.

 Mon Apr 12, 10:16 am ET CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian archaeologists carrying out excavations at the site of a planned youth center have found 14 tombs dating back to the third century BC, including one with a female mummy adorned with jewelry. The Greco-Roman tombs, in Bahariya Oasis, 300 km (190 miles) southwest of Cairo, were discovered during probes that indicated they may be part of a much larger necropolis, Egypt’s Culture Ministry said in a statement Monday. A 97-cm (38-inch) tall female mummy, found in the stair-lined interior of one of the rock-hewn tombs, was cast in colored plaster inlaid with jewelry and eyes. Archaeologists, who dug at the site ahead of the planned construction of a youth center, found the tombs contained other treasures as well. The area has now been turned over to Egypt’s antiquities authority. “Early investigations uncovered four anthropoid masks made of plaster, a gold fragment decorated with engravings of the four sons of Horus, and a collection of coins, and clay and glass vessels,” the ministry’s statement quoted Egypt’s chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass as saying. The four sons of Horus — Imsety, Duamutef, Hapi and Qebehsenuef — were ancient Egyptian gods. The engravings show the influence of Egyptian religion well into the Greco-Roman period. The gods were believed to protect the stomach, liver, intestines and lungs of mummified bodies. Bahariya Oasis is home to Egypt’s famed Valley of the Golden Mummies, where a collection of 17 tombs with about 254 mummies was discovered in 1996. (Writing and reporting by Dina Zayed, Editing by Jeffrey Heller) Click image for more photos