at least around here . . .
(Note Thomas' fun shirt where the bug colors only come out in bright sunshine. So cool! Thanks Grandpa Peter and Grandma Susan! This one is in heavy rotation, along with the table of elements t-shirt.)
Our friends Kathleen and Curt are leaving at the end of the school year, and they hosted a giant goodbye picnic in the desert. It was meant to be an overnight but there was a sandstorm predicted for the first day (evidently you can forecast these things!), so we just went for the day after. They had also flirted with the idea of roasting a whole pig for the main meal, but then the mechanics of having the presumably Muslim Egyptian guides roast a pig and watch a bunch of americans chow down seemed well, awkward.
Curt and Kathleen are "oil." That means they work for Apache, a big oil company. Many of our friends here are oil, as well as "embassy", USAID, or American University people. Kathleen has been joking for a while that she would like a t-shirt that reads, "I'm Oil, Bitches." I would like a t-shirt like this too.
Many many of our friends are leaving at the end of the year. Mostly it's people deciding not to re-up for Egypt when their contracts come due-- for oil and aid people this is every two or three years. A few years ago, a greater percentage just stayed when given the choice. Now this is more of a hardship post. Everyone is sick of the security warnings, and the blackouts, and not being able to go to interesting places in Sinai and around town because there have been "incidents." There is a lot of concern about what happens this summer, when the blackouts will get worse, and there's a chance of a wheat shortage. The economy is terrible, tourism is way way down, and too many young people are unemployed. Could be a volatile combination.
On the other hand, while it's pretty clear things aren't going to get better any time soon, at least they have a chance of getting better. Under Mubarak, expats had a great time, but life for Egyptians has been pretty stultifying, corrupt and infuriating for a long time. That's not changing-- if anything it's worse. But it *could* change, maybe.
Also, over spring break, we went to Italy. It was lovely. More on this soon.