Friday, September 17, 2010

Re-Entry: Coming Back to Cairo


It didn't take long for the fact that we were back in Egypt to sink in.  Don't get me wrong, I love Egypt.  But there are things that I very much do not like.  I mean, I can handle them one at a time, spaced out with plenty of time in between - that much I can handle.  But if I have to deal with them in multiples or back-to-back...well, that's just a spastic culture shock moment waiting to happen.

And I certainly don't like them at 4 o'clock in the morning when we arrive at the Cairo airport.

Cairo has a beautiful new airport terminal.  I mean, this baby is state-of-the-art.  It's only a few years old and has so much more space, nice duty-free shopping, more space to lounge around in while waiting for your flight, more options for pre-flight eating (necessary in my opinion to tide you over for those itty bitty airplane meals)...yaddah yaddah yaddah...

But like my husband and I were saying...you can put this beautiful new international terminal in Cairo but you can't change the fact that it's still in Egypt.  You might be able to walk right off the plane into the terminal, but you'll still have to carry your 9-month-old the 10+ minutes it takes to walk all the way down those beautiful looong terminal halls until you reach passport control.  You still might have to fill out your arrival card in 30 seconds because they didn't have the English arrival cards on your flight (I know, I know, it was 30 seconds because we had our 9-month-old baby in our arms therefore they took pity on us and let us go through the short line).  And don't you know that when you finally get down to baggage claim, well, you might as well dig your heels in for the long haul because you'll most likely be waiting a while to get all your luggage.  

Now call me crazy but our luggage was sitting in the Frankfurt airport for over 14 hours.  So how on earth did our five bags manage to come out so spaced out?!  I mean, we got one bag and then another, and then we waited.  We got another bag and then waited, and finally came the last two.  At one point the carousel door where the luggage comes up actually closed and half the plane was still standing around waiting for luggage!  I was about to get worried until my husband pointed out that we didn't need to get worried when so many other people were still waiting for their luggage too.

The whole luggage waiting experience was interesting to say the least.  I was exhausted after carrying our son through the airport in my arms so I rushed to the nearest seat to sit down, moving only to get a closer seat to where my husband was guarding the two trolleys with all our duty-free chocolate from Germany while trying to keep an eye out for our luggage.  Right behind us at the next carousel over was a flight arriving from Saudi Arabia.  

I am not sure how to describe how the people arriving on the flight from Saudi Arabia differed from the people arriving from Germany.  It's kind of like a high school reunion in the back hills of KY where half of your graduating class moved to the big city where they come back in their tailored clothing in hues of black & gray, whereas the rest of them stayed in hick-town KY where they proceeded to go around barefoot, have babies before they received their diplomas, and just in general scream out "I'm a redneck" on the back of their wife-beater shirts (either quite literally or just figuratively).  
Okay, so maybe that analogy left you quite speechless and maybe even MORE confused as to what on earth I was getting at.  

Let me enlighten you...

Passengers on the flight from Germany were dressed in typical Western-style clothing.  By Western-style clothing (in case you don't already know), I mean your typical jeans, slacks, etc paired with any kind of shirt, jacket or sweater.  

Now the passengers on the flight from Saudi Arabia were apparently coming in from completing the Haj (Muslim pilgrimage) so most of the men AND women were dressed in long white gallibeyas (kind of like a wide loose dress-like garment).  The women were all veiled (heads covered only, not the face) and most of the men had their head wrapped as well.  

The luggage arriving for both flights was quite different as well...

The carousel for the Frankfurt flight was filled with sleek luggage while the one for the Saudi Arabian flight was either smaller duffle bag-type bags paired with enormous rice bags (up to 1/2 the size of a car) filled to the brim and wrapped in twine.

So while this diverse landscape was sinking in, the noise in this huge room had reached a dull roar.  So not only was I tired, grumpy, arms aching from carrying my son, I am assailed on every side by the very things that could send me into a downward spiral of culture shock.

Never was I so happy to see my husband pull our last bag off the carousel and onto our luggage cart!

Welcome to Egypt, right?  Again.


3 comments:

  1. Sarah Daniel9/17/10, 5:36 PM

    Welcome to Egypt Erin :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. i always do wonder why in the world the luggage takes so long at cairo airport... do they bring them from the plane one at a time or what?...
    can't wait to deal with that again in the spring... :D yay

    ReplyDelete

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