When people found out that I was going to Cairo, Egypt, or find out that I recently returned from there, the response was almost inevitably "Oooooh. Cool! Why?"
That's really the answer, but with an added bonus of having friends who live there, the Heisses. A place to stay in a country where my hosts speak the language and have lived there long enough they're practically locals and I have the money and time to make the trip? I'd be a fool not to go. They're coming home at the end of this month, and when I found that out, I realized it was now or never.
It was amazing.
I didn't make any plans, just notes of things I'd like to do . I figured the Heisses knew what was best and how to factor their adorable children into the mix, since traveling with children changes everything.
I figured right, and happily so. It was a perfect ten days of hitting everything I wanted to see, several things I never expected, and still having some time to relax, just as I had hoped.
But first, I had to get there, an adventure all on its own, as it took one five hour drive, one cab, three(!) trains on three different rail systems, one plane, and one more cab to make it from my place to the Heiss' front door. I also picked up an Egyptian boyfriend on the way.
In researching my flight options, I discovered that a direct flight from JFK (plus the drive and trains to get there) would cost less and take approximately the same amount of time as flying from DC and having a layover somewhere in Europe.
As for the boyfriend, after a lifetime of living and traveling in countries where being an average sized blonde allows me to blend in, I knew that I would stand out in an Arabic country, but I didn't realize quite to what extent.
Until I reached the airport terminal.
There were a handful of other Americans, but even so, a blonde and purple-haired fair-skinned woman stands out.
My boyfriend spotted me as I was charging my cell-phone. He tried to strike up a conversation, and we introduced ourselves.
"So, we are friends now. We sit together on the plane?"
"Um. Maybe. If there are extra seats."
Then I walked away, hoping I could avoid him for the next hour. Which, of course, I didn't. I even had a plan. I was standing near a nice looking couple, so if my boyfriend started coming my way, I would ask them to talk to me and not be available for him to approach me. Of course, they'd disappeared by the time he found me again. We talked about where I was headed, and what he was doing in the States (though all he really said was that he travels the world for business).
"So, all my family was killed in a car accident."
"Oh, I'm so sorry."
"So, we can be family now?"
And then he put his arm around me and tried to kiss me, but as I moved out of the away, he only caught my cheek. That's weird in my culture, but public kissing is absolutely taboo in his, so I'm not sure how he thought that was okay. Fortunately, it was time to board then and he was not so bold while standing in line surrounded by people. Our seats were in the same row, but, thankfully, on the opposite sides of the full plane, so I only had to see him again when I ran into him back by the bathrooms in the middle of the night. For all I know, he saw me go back there and came back to meet me.
I told the American couple I was seated with about him, and they looked out for me up until I found the cab driver the Heisses had hired for me.
For the rest of trip, I did what all the guidebooks suggest single women do and wore a ring on my ring finger (even if it was my silver butterfly ring turned around so just the band showed).
This means that everyone probably thought I was married to Andrew when he was around (as were Josie and Nancy, since one man can have up to four wives there), but I'd much rather be a sister-wife to Andrew than some unnecessarily forward anyone else.
As long as that's okay with Nancy.