Wednesday April 27, 2016
A little less than a week ago, I arrived in Egypt. Now that the whirlwind has begun to die down, I can sit and put fingers to the keyboard to convey what the last seven days have manifested in my body, mind, heart, and soul. The 14-hour trip was challenging. By that I mean being told at the check-in counter for Turkish Airlines that I was assigned a window seat. For me, at 63 years old, this meant climbing over/around another passenger for my frequent trips to the restroom as well as getting up to stretch on this 10-hour stretch of the trip from Dulles International airport in Virginia to Istanbul, Turkey. When I raised an objection, the young lady behind the counter informed me that I did not need to worry, the seat next to me is broken and no one would be assigned to sit there. Imagine my dismay in finding out that not only was the seat NEXT to me broken but mine was as well! Neither of them would recline nor did the audio work for the conveniently placed video screen directly in front of me! I made a very humble complaint and was offered another seat. However, rather than inconvenience other passengers, I remained where I was. After all, the flight left Dulles at 11 pm that night, I was exhausted and I expected to sleep most of the trip. And apart from the 2 main meals served (dinner soon after we took off and breakfast a couple of hours before landing), that’s exactly what I did!
Istanbul airport was a zoo, to say the least. Fortunately, I had requested wheelchair assistance from the beginning of my journey. Unable to walk or stand for long periods of time, this was the best option for me. Was I ever glad to be wheel chair bound when we reached Istanbul! Aside from the obvious language barrier (me speaking English and no Turkish; airport staff speaking Turkish and very little English), just maneuvering around the crowds and confusion was a major event for a healthy, walking person! In the airport, they have what is called an “airport clinic”. Not to be confused for a place to treat sick people, it functions as the holding area for persons with disabilities i.e. wheelchair bound, using a cane, old/infirm, and even those travelling with young children. The most disconcerting part of this arrangement is that the person that staffs this area holds on to your boarding pass and passport! No thank you, I don’t think so! I don’t care WHAT policy this is supposed to represent; I’m keeping MY ish with me in a foreign country! I will NOT be the one stranded and NOBODY know what happened to my stuff. Just let me know when the plane is boarding and I will present my OWN documents! And they don’t speak English either? Oh, heck NOOOOO!
Even though I was probably branded somewhat of a troublemaker for politely demanding my documents, all went well. With no explanation, we were herded from the “airport clinic” in a somewhat crude looking transport apparatus (that appeared as though it may have been left over from the original Star Wars set or some other old sci-fi movie) and boarded the plane to Egypt, 25 minutes later than the posted boarding time. Of course this airplane would be a lot more comfortable, since it was only an hour and 45 minutes long. Go figure! Turkish Airlines won’t get my vote for the “Best in Europe” for 2016!
Ahhhh, Egypt! The people here are some of the kindest, gentlest you will find on Earth! From the time the plane landed and I was placed in the wheelchair, a young man by the name of Omar escorted and cared for me, taking me through immigration, getting my luggage, and getting them through customs without a stint! He delivered me, unscathed, to the front door of the airport and into the loving arms of my daughter, her husband and my 4 lovely grandchildren. Jidda Samira had arrived!
My son-in-law is a “strategic planner” by nature, which I love! One of my favorite sayings is “He/She who fails to plan, plans to fail”. So the next several days’ plans involved shopping/choosing/ordering/and purchasing everything I needed to make my bedroom quarters comfortable. After visits to IKEA (where the Adhan is called over the loudspeaker at prayer times), several furniture stores, and a mattress store over 2 days.
I settled on my choices to include a desk and shelving units from IKEA, a bedroom set (bedframe, nightstand, and closet) and a memory foam mattress and box spring from a bedding maker. H picked up and put together the IKEA purchases and assembled them in one evening! Everything else has been ordered and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival! In the meantime, my oldest granddaughter has graciously allowed me to stay in her bedroom until mine is officially completed.
Family meals of breakfast and dinner are a mainstay in the household. And let’s not forget the late night snack of bread, cheese, fruit and yogurt, or other delicacies that occurs more frequent than not! The fresh BREAD is to die for! H usually picks it up daily and brings it home for the next day. AND he does the majority of the grocery shopping, the norm for males in this culture. Boy, have I ever been deluded being born and raised in America! Late night jaunts can happen for a drink at the local juice bar or the Thai-inspired ice cream that has now surpassed hot apple pie with ice cream AND Cheesecake Factory cheesecake as my most favorite dessert on EARTH!
The past week has been filled with highs and lows, plots and plans, twists and turns. I am loving my new adventures and the beginning of this chapter of my life. I am still able to connect with family and friends via FB messenger (go Mark Zuckerberg!), whatsapp, and imo for those who care to download them on their smartphones; received word of the passing of my youngest uncle R (made me very sad); trying to figure out the hook for muriel.blogs (look out for the launching soon); praying/planning to make umrah to Mecca soon; and, finding out that single beds are not common here so I had to have a mattress custom-made to fit all the linen I brought with me from America! That was a tip I received from my daughter N before I left, to bring it with me. Just in case you’re wondering “Why doesn’t she just get Egyptian cotton since she’s in Egypt?” FYI- it’s pretty much nonexistent here and one of the top-rated EXPORTS for the country. Too expensive for the locals!
NEVER MISS A POST: SIGN UP NOW
Show Muriel some love by signing up for the Mailing List.
The weather has been somewhat kind. Only experienced a couple of reallllly hot days so far but there are more to come! When I say hot, I’m talking 101F and above. But who needs to go out on those days when EVERYTHING can be delivered to your door – groceries, laundry, pharmacy, food – even Mickey D’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut! Now if I can just figure out how to get some of that Thai ice cream I love delivered on those days…hmmm, something to ponder.
My daughter and I walked to 7 Stars Mall today, shopped for a housewarming gift for a sister, outfits to wear (under our abayas/overgarments) to the housewarming dinner party, my prescription meds, and then caught a taxi back.
I have been walking every day since I arrived, EVEN the day it was 106F! I typically go out early, around 7am. That day (yesterday), by the time my 2 grandkids and I arrived back home around 8ish, it was already 90 degrees! I won’t do THAT again. We even stopped for a cool drink at Gulf Market but that didn’t even help! I was exhausted and slept the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon. My walking goal is 60 minutes per day and so far, I have been successful in achieving it every day since I arrived. Mind you. I keep my Samsung S6 on me so that it measures ALL of my steps throughout the day.