Inolvidable Cairo

A compilation of tales, thoughts and images from the never-ending adventures...Click on any of the images for a blown-up version. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Scuba, Arabic and HEAT

I arrived one week after Genia following my assignment in Sarajevo. Since arriving I have hit the ground running. She wanted to make sure I immediately had things to keep me occupied, as she was in the midst of assisting with a training session with Egyptian microfinance practitioners (she is always looking out for my best interest!). In fact, Genia has had my schedule so packed that I have to go to Angola in August to get a break (more on that in the next mail).

So, the immersion included Arabic lessons two days after my arrival... I have been working on the letters and learning some basic conversation. The alphabet is actually very beautiful once you learn to decipher it, and it was such a cool feeling when yesterday Genia and I were looking for a restaurant downtown whose name we knew in English, but we were able to find it by reading the Arabic-language signage above it (there wasn't any English...).

The heat took a good bit of getting used to at first. The good news is that the heat is expected to be intense for only 2 months, July and August, and these are the months that most folks pack up and get out of Egypt. So, by September we will have done a good job of adjusting our expectations. In fact, the heat can be pleasantly nice at times. Two days ago we went for a run in Maadi, and it was glorious to run and sweat in the dry heat - I've always been a fan of the sauna...

As for the submersion, Genia had me enrolled in scuba classes the day after I arrived. My friend from Marist, Claire Newbern, had done a short-term stint in Cairo in the winter. She is an epidemiologist in the public health sector. She had returned for a one-month follow-up with the group she was assisting. Part of her goals for the follow-up was also to take advantage of the Red Sea and learn to scuba. So, Genia enrolled me in the scuba class that she had identified, and I spent my first week in Egypt learning how to breathe in the heat above the water and how to breathe from a tank under the water. We completed the class in good fashion, and then the instructor (who is the Egyptian equivalent of Jean Reno) took us to Dahab, a small, laid-back town on the Sinai peninsula, for our open water dives. Genia's already had her diving certificate from living in Mexico so she was able to join us in Dahab but went on more interesting dives while we were sitting on the sea floor 30-feet below the surface and being instructed to remove the regulator from our mouths and blow bubbles. Although I felt a bit claustrophobic with all that water above me, it was really cool to learn how to scuba with Claire, and the three of us enjoyed a few recreational dives once Claire and I had the certification. As for my future with scuba, I don't know... Dad, any chance you want to visit Honduras or Mexico someday???


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