The Egyptians don't usually start conversations about the weather,
but the last week or so has changed all of that. I've always said
that Egypt has boring weather, which is incidentally just the
way I like it! It is hot in the summer, mild in the winter, not
much variation from day to day . . . and most importantly hardly
any rain. All that has changed. Up until a few days ago it has
rained almost every day for a week and the city is having difficulty
coping with it. It is surprising to see that even in a downpour
Egyptians never think about using their umbrellas for the rain,
they only come out in the summer to provide shade from the sun!
It has all coincided with a very frustrating week for me. As I
mentioned in my last update, I have cancelled all meetings for
the first three months of this year so that I can concentrate
exclusively on Arabic. At my Arabic lesson on Tuesday last week
I assured my teacher that everything was going to be different
now . . . no more weeks of attending the lessons and doing no
homework, and quickly forgetting what we did last time. I told
her that the Arabic I will do from now on will be written down,
studied, digested, memorised and used by the following week. That
was on Tuesday . . . the rest of the week followed accordingly:
Wednesday: Meeting with the group here (I can't get out of these
weekly meetings!). This took up most of the day. Afterwards I
had a phone call from a lady who asked me to take a meeting on
Monday, I didn't get back to her to say no, so she went ahead
and arranged it assuming that I was coming. I gave in and agreed
to go Monday after all! After the children were in bed someone
in another flat in the same building asked me to help him with
a computer problem on his laptop. That problem took the rest of
the night, and still wasn't solved. I told him that I we had to
completely back up his system and reinstall everything, we arranged
to try this on Thursday. No time for Arabic.
Thursday: A visitor to Egypt wanted to see the sights, I had previously
agreed to take him in the car and show him three interesting sights
within Cairo: the pyramids, the cave church and the tourist bazaar.
We left just after 10 o'clock in the morning, I was hoping to
be back for 3pm. It rained heavily on the way there. My windscreen
wipers didn't work, in fact it has been years since they have
worked! Because of the obscured vision I missed a turning. I pulled
in and fixed the wipers, but because of the one-way system it
took me ages to get back to the right road. Arrived at the pyramids
over an hour later than expected. The rain kept the tourists away,
so all of the traders hassled us for custom. The visitor was taken
on a 10-minute camel trip, and arrived back over an hour later
after being over-charged for souvenirs. It rained on the way back
to the car and we got drenched. On the way back in the car we
were delayed because of flooding on one of the major roads in
Cairo, roads were impassable because there was no drainage. Tanker
lorries were brought in to get rid of the water. The tailbacks
were horrendous. A one hour journey took six hours, arrived back
home at 8:30pm without visiting the cave church or bazaar. The
rest of the evening was spent preparing for a church service the
next day where I was leading worship. No time for Arabic.
Friday: Lead the church service, went back home exhausted and
slept in the afternoon. Spent the rest of the day catching up
on pressing needs. Didn't feel like doing Arabic!
Saturday: Family day out to Alexandria visiting friends. We got
up at 6am and arrived back home about 10pm. Went straight to bed.
No time for Arabic.
Sunday: Went out with the family and did some shopping. Returned
and spent the rest of the day in preparation for the meeting on
Monday. Told my friend with the computer problem that I would
complete the work on his computer the next day. No time for Arabic
Monday: Left in the morning to do the meeting. The president was
out and about and two of the major roads in Cairo were blocked
for security reasons. A 20 minute journey took two hours. Arrived
and did the meeting anyway, the children enjoyed the program!
I had another meeting in the afternoon with the school board (which
I am a member of), arrived late to that. Returned home. After
supper, bath & bedtime for the children I called on my friend
and spent the rest of the evening finishing the work he needed
on his computer. Went to bed. No time for Arabic.
Tuesday (today): Arabic lesson in the morning. Explained to the
teacher that I really did intend to spend lots of time with studying
Arabic in the previous week . . .
Oh well. It is still my intention to learn 6 new words a day and
a psalm, song or sketchboard talk per week. I don't have a problem
with understanding the spoken Arabic so I just have to work on
getting the words right and thinking them fast enough! Now that
I've told all of my translators that I won't need them after March
it will be pretty embarrassing if I have to back-track and ask
for their help after all!
That all for this time. I'll write again when something interesting
happens, I don't predict anything exciting in the near-future,
but life here is never boring.
PS I thought you would all like to see a rare sight- the sphinx
in the rain! Also the sphinx's view of the world: looking at the
city of Cairo for evermore! (Sorry to disappoint those who thought
the pyramids and sphinx were in the middle of the desert!)
to Cairo Update Index
population is 66 Million
is four times the size of the UK
Only 3% of the land can be used for arable crops
has 18 million people and is growing by 1 millon each year.
is the Largest city in Africa and the Middle East
literacy rate is only 45%
total of 11 languages are spoken in Egypt
Debt per person is $790
annual income is $630
is estimated to be 17%
Approx. 85% Muslim and 15% Christian
Christians are affiliated to the Orthodox Church, less than
1% of the population are Protestant
- There are
an estimated 100,000 street children in Egypt