Thursday, September 2, 2010

Friends

We have a few! Here's Juan, who is in Thomas' class at CAC. Here they sit sweetly looking at books about a magic school bus that teaches science.

The night before, at an elementary school-wide iftar marking the end of the day's ramadan fast, they together decided to attack some older boys in fun and try to wrestle them to the ground. This was evidently Thomas' idea. On the way home I told him Juan's parents might worry if they thought Thomas was the kind of friend who would involve Juan in fights. But, trying to highlight the positive, I said if they saw Thomas and Juan discussing books and playing nicely, his parents would be happy. The next day when Juan came over, Thomas brought out a bunch of books. I found this unbelievably sweet.


Juan's parents work for a Latin American oil company. They are from Columbia, but Juan was born in Brazil and his younger brother, Felipe, who is Emmett's age, was born in Houston Texas. There are quite a few Latin American oil families at CAC-- at least judging by Thomas' class. Here's Felipe kicking a ball around.


They are lots of fun. We also entertained them in our new splash pool. The pump I got didn't work so Judy generously blew the whole thing up herself. This is a picture of her doing that. I tried a few times to tell her not to, but she insisted. I am not sure if this was an elaborate protocol, and really I was supposed to say no one more time and then she would have quit. But I didn't, so she blew the whole massive thing up and must have felt very faint. But we have very much enjoyed the sea monster and castle, and now have a working pump.



And here's some pictures of us at Maadi House. This is a private swim and tennis place for US government employees. It's very near our house. Most of the members are military or embassy personnel but faculty and staff from the American University can also join. The club itself kind of reminds me of a shaggier, smaller and dustier New Canaan Country Club. It sure is convenient to have here. And you can get beer there, which is not available anywhere else. We are trying to convince them to let us join as a special kind of cultural exception. We'll let you know how that turns out.


This night we were guests of some new friends, Eden and Nate. Nate is a philosophy professor at AUC. He and Eden and their son Jules also play in a band called the Fuuls, which is named after some kind of Egyptian breakfast food. A while back Eden and Nate were part of a band called enormous out of San Francisco and they opened for acts like Better than Ezra and maybe Bush(?). They toured for a few years playing really big places! The Fuuls were playing a concert at Maadi House that night. It was Thomas and Emmett's first rock concert. They only lasted through the opening act, but we all enjoyed it.







It is nice to have some new pals around town. And of course, one of the best new pals T and E have discovered is each other. It has been fun to see Thomas and Emmett find new ways to play with one another now that they've been thrown together in this new place. It sure is nice to have a brother--


Monday, August 30, 2010

Souk

On Saturday we took a family field trip to the big market, the Khan al-Khalili. I made the mistake of telling Thomas we might find magic carpets and genie lamps there.


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After some hard bargaining, we paid about double what we should have for an old brass lamp. We'll let you know how that turns out for us.

We went early in the day to avoid the heat, so many of the stalls weren't open. A lot of the merchandise was touristy brick a brack. But you could still imagine the old medieval markets with the camel stalls and fountained courtyards.




While trying to find a way out, we stumbled accidentally back in time.







We didn't know where we were but we decided to explore.



Later our research suggested that we'd visited the mausoleum and madrassa of Qalawun, a turkish slave from the 12th century who rose to become sultan. Evidently he was a fierce opponent of the crusaders. One guidebook said his mausoleum is second only to the taj mahal.

After that we went to Al Azhar park, a new green space in the center of Cairo. Ostensibly it was built to give average citizens a place to go-- like a central park. There is a small fee to cut down on crowds which was working very effectively the day we were there.

We stopped at a the central restaurant for lunch with a view.





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