Friday, December 17, 2010

Weird things

So last week I finally got a taste of what expats complain about in cairo: sometimes one encounters scams and a "lack of work ethic" in Egyptian business. I have heard lots of complaints about this, but really have been treated nothing but kindly since august. It is annoying that sometimes there is a price for Egyptians, and another price for foreigners that is 10 times the local price, and no one sees anything wrong with openly charging foreigners more because we're foreigners. But whatever, there's a lot of privilege in being an expat in cairo. I wouldn't myself back the dual price system as the most advantageous way to level the field, but it doesn't bother me that much.

But last week I finally got around to taking Egypt and the kittens to the vet for vaccinations, spaying etc. This wasn't so much for them as for Thomas and Emmett, since these cats spend a lot of time in the garden and I'd just as soon they were healthy. I went to a place our driver recommended, but it was kind of sketchy. The vet assistant seemed genuinely terrified of cats, and then I saw that the vaccine they were about to give was expired. I took the cats home and later saw that this place is not only unscrupulous, nobody there is actually a vet. They advertise in expat magazines, and charge expats who bring in pets for "vaccines" that are never administered and travel paperwork that is forged. One man evidently tried to board his golden retriever there when he went on a trip only to get a call after six hours that they'd lost the dog. He strongly suspected that they'd actually just sold it since it was a purebred and could get a high price.

I should say that I'm quite sure that Mohammed, our driver, was totally on the up and up in recommending the place. But I think that vets are hard for most Egyptians to wrap their heads around. There are plenty of people here who can't afford basic healthcare, and cats are dime a dozen all over the streets. I did eventually find a good vet and took the cats for treatment, but I think it was completely mind-boggling to Mohammed when he heard me talk about the cost, about $200, with Dave. I think to him I'd done the equivalent of picking up three random pigeons in central park and spending $10,000 on them.

Even for me it's all a bit much. Having cats in Egypt is not the same thing as having a cat in the states. Since I have to keep them outdoors because of dave's allergies, there's no way to stop every other sick and decrepit stray cat in the area from coming in the garden and trying to share their food. And since there is garbage all over the streets here, the cats will bring back tasty morsels of rancid meat to enjoy on the lawn. They also climb into emmett's stroller and sleep there. The whole thing is not very sanitary, even after getting vaccinations etc. I kind of wish I could just cut the cats loose, but that feels immoral, even while getting them basic healthcare also feels immoral because they are just cats and the care is expensive. What do you think, loyal readers? I'm trying to find homes for the kittens, but if I can't, should I cut them loose? Accept responsibility for all 4 cats? Blow off their heads with a shotgun like my aunt carola did once? Suggestions appreciated.

Other weird things: here's Santa arriving by camel to maadi house.

Here's Thomas explaining his list:

Check out his awesome "volcano" shirt- a birthday present from Grand Kathy. It's part of the "science" school series.

And here's Emmett:

Here's the City Stars mall in downtown Cairo, where we went on an expedition last weekend.

And here's me and Emmett riding in the women and children only cars on the metro to downtown:

Finally, here's Thomas and Juan on December 8th, the day Thomas turned 5!!!!