Category Archives: United States of America

“i love egypt” on facebook, a young doctor, two blizzards, & a detour to cairo on the way to korea

October, 2009 to February, 2010:   In October, 2009, two years after spending a month studying Arabic at Al Azhar University in Cairo, I joined an “I LOVE EGYPT” Facebook group.  Suddenly, I had friend requests from over 30 Egyptian young men.  I was still so enamored of Egypt after my time there, that I added them all.  Some of them started chatting with me.  Irritatingly, I found many of them were looking for someone to marry to get a U.S. passport.  Some of them just became friends and others I never really talked to at all.  But one young 26-year-old doctor, Ahmed, started chatting with me in late October.  I enjoyed our chats so much that I ended up talking to him by Yahoo or Skype or MSN messenger nearly every day, from late October through early February, when I left Virginia to go teach English in Korea for a year.

I liked Ahmed so much, from his looks to his personality, his sense of humor, and his persistence, that I fell a little in love with him.  It was really ridiculous, considering our huge age difference and our geographical distance from each other.  Despite that, I determined that on my way to Korea, I would make a stop in Egypt and meet him in person.  So, the ticket I bought took me to Korea via Cairo for four days.

During our many chats, Ahmed sent me pictures of himself.  One Sunday afternoon, he sent me YouTube videos of Egyptian composer Omar Khairat.  He had recently been to see Omar Khairat in concert with his friends and he also sent pictures of himself, with his friends and the famous composer.  I remember that November day, sitting in my room with a cool breeze coming through the open window and pumpkin and squash-colored leaves rustling in the wind to the melodies of Omar Khairat’s music.

Ahmed worked at a hospital and a private clinic, and every time I talked with him, he seemed to be at one of those two places.  I determined that I would arrive in Egypt on Thursday afternoon, February 11, so that I could spend all day Friday with him.  Friday is the holy day in Egypt and it was Ahmed’s only day off.  He would have to work the rest of the time I was there, but he would try to get off in the evenings.  I didn’t mind because I knew people in Egypt I could visit and I was familiar with Cairo from my time there in July 2007.

I was due to arrive in Korea on Wednesday, February 17 for the EPIK (English Program in Korea) orientation.  So I would have to leave Egypt by Tuesday, February 16.

Friday & Saturday, February 5-6:  In Virginia we had two blizzards in a row.  The February 5–6, 2010 North American blizzard, referred to at the time as Snowmageddon, dropped 20-35 inches of snow across southern Pennsylvania, the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, and southern New Jersey, bringing air and Interstate Highway travel to a halt (Wikipedia: February 5-6, 2010 North American blizzard).

My neighborhood in northern Virginia on February 7, after the first blizzard.

My neighborhood in northern Virginia on February 7, after the first blizzard.

view to the corner from my house, February 7

view to the corner from my house, February 7

my house with piled up snow

my house with piled up snow

our border collie Bailey and his frisbee in the snow after the first blizzard

our border collie Bailey and his frisbee in the snow after the first blizzard

the woods after the first blizzard

the woods after the first blizzard

Tuesday & Wednesday, February 9-10:  The second blizzard, the February 9–10, 2010 North American blizzard was a major winter storm and severe weather event that afflicted the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and New England regions of the United States, affecting some of the same regions that had experienced a historic Nor’easter three days prior. This storm brought 10 to 20 inches of snow across a wide swath from Washington, D.C. to New York City (Wikipedia: February 9-10 North American blizzard).

Thursday, February 11:  I had bought a ticket to fly out on Wednesday night, February 10, but as all area airports were closed due to the blizzard, I was delayed a day.  It turned out I didn’t arrive in Cairo until late Friday afternoon, leaving me little time to spend with Ahmed on his day off.   Sometimes it seems that life conspires against our best-laid plans.  Often these things that go wrong are a sign that something is amiss, and it turns out I should have heeded those signs.

On the flight to Cairo on Egypt Air, a flight attendant named Alaa, 42 years old, flirted with me constantly on the overnight flight.  At that time I could speak a little Arabic and he seemed greatly impressed by this. He gave me his number and invited me to call him while I was in Egypt.  I didn’t think I would since I would be with Ahmed, but I noted the number, just in case.

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Filed under Americas, Cairo, District of Columbia, Egypt, Middle East, Oakton, United States of America, Virginia, Washington

from cairo to new york city

Wednesday, August 1:  This morning, Lisa and I FINALLY get on a plane for our flight home.  I doubted it would happen after yesterday’s debacle, but Dr. Jones does manage to succeed.  I think some of our group is left behind to wait for later planes.  This Al-Ameen Associates program has been very poorly managed overall.

me with Lisa on the plane in Cairo

me with Lisa on the plane in Cairo

Lisa wants to drop by her old apartment in New Jersey before heading to Pennsylvania, so we decide to rent a car together from New York.  I will drop her in New Jersey and then she’ll make her way back to Pennsylvania from there.

we pick up a rental car in New York City

we pick up a rental car in New York City

It takes us a good long time to make our way out of the city, especially as I don’t know New York at all and I’m driving without any sense of where we’re going.  At one point, we see this guy selling hot pretzels and pull up to the curb to buy some.

We stop along the road in the city to get a couple of bagels from this guy

We stop along the road in the city to get a couple of bagels from this guy

Finally, we manage to wind our way out of the city and into New Jersey, where we make it to Lisa’s house.  She tries to convince me to spend the night, but once I’m on a road trip, I just want to keep driving.  At one point, I stop at a rest stop and sleep for about an hour.

Thursday, August 2: I finally arrive home at 2:30 a.m. after a long day and night of travel.  Once I get settled in, I will immediately begin to move out of my house to live with two young women, one of whom, Jenn, is in my Master’s program at George Mason and who went on the Mexico Study Abroad trip with me.

When I get home, utterly exhausted, I get this email from R:

If you get this, just let me quickly say– CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU.
PLEASE CALL AS SOON AS YOU CAN.  WELCOME HOME!!!

I write him back in the morning.

Dear R,

I want desperately to see you as soon as possible.  However, I know the weekend is coming up and you will be off-limits.  Tonight I guess might be our only possibility.  I have to take the rental car out to Dulles, meet Jenn at the house in Arlington to see how much space I have to fill, and then I might very well be free, if you are.  I would love to see you, but let me know if or when you can.

I didn’t get home until 2:30 a.m.!  I was exhausted and had to stop an hour north of Baltimore to sleep for an hour at a rest area.  Before that I just caught myself drifting off and edging off the highway.
Love,
C

Later in the day, I hear back from him.

C,

Me too.  It’s worse than you think as I have to go to S.C this weekend to see my sister.  But I may have a plan if you’re flexible today/tonight.  I’ll call you.

R

And so begins the continuing saga of  a relationship between R and me that lasts until the day after I arrive back from my Singapore and Thailand Study Abroad trip on January 22, 2008.

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Filed under Al-Ameen Associates, Americas, Cairo, Egypt, Middle East, New Jersey, New York, New York City, Oakton, United States of America, Virginia