Greetings from Egypt!

I’m writing to you from a teacher’s house in a city about an hour and a half north of Cairo. Melissa Kauffman and I are living on the fourth floor of the school we’re teaching at during the week, but spending almost every afternoon and weekends with teachers and their families from the school. I’m not sure whether this will be the norm, but here’s what happened to me yesterday:

7:00 a.m.: Woke up.

7:30: Ate breakfast to thousands of students singing the Egyptian national anthem and doing “nationalistic exercises” (yelling and responding to questions with “Masr! Masr!” or “Egypt! Egypt!” while waving their arms or touching their toes) immediately outside our window on the recreation field.

8:30: Got our schedule for where we’ll be everyday during and after school.

9:30: Got a three hour tour of the school. We met every teacher and saw every classroom in the three buildings except on the fourth floor, which Melissa and I now call “The Forbidden Floor,” or the top of floor of the secondary school where we aren’t allowed to go. Apparently the intrigue of foreigner women (and Melissa’s blonde hair) are too much for high schoolers.

1 p.m.: Drank some Nescafe.

3:30 Had lunch at the house of two teachers. I was actually hungry for this meal.

4: The husband left to tutor students for five hours. During this time Melissa and I saw 15 years-worth of family/wedding/vacation photos, ate fruit, helped their eight-year-old daughter with one out of her three hours of homework, drank tea, talked, ate more bread and salted cheese, watched Oprah in Arabic, ate more food and drank more tea, looked at jewlery and put on perfume.

9: The husband came back and we went out to dinner at a traditional Egyptian restaurant. The family ordered falefel, tahini, vegetables, potatoe chips, two different kinds of fool (beans), bread, and eggs.

9-10: The food was delicious, but I spent most of this meal preoccupied with trying to figure out how to make it look like I ate more than I actually did.

10:30: Got taken to the school and were let in by our friendly but intimidating security guard (he occasionally smiles but he’s definitely packing heat and looks like the type of person who could kill you with very little exersion on his part).

1:30 a.m.: Collapsed into the leopard and heart printed sheets the school had provided us with and finished reading “Ender’s Game” and started “Still Life With Woodpecker.”

Side note: I got interrupted while writing this to learn how to debone and eat a fish!