Do you know that feeling when you wake up in the morning and ask yourself “Why don’t I move to Cairo”? No? Just me?
Last time we spoke we where somewhere in the Balkans. We had this great idea of driving to India. We were on the way to the UK, about to buy a car and get a ton of boring paper work done while we’re there. But then, one cold morning in the Swiss alps, we discovered something that would change our plans completely.
A job offer in Cairo.
You see, Will had applied for a job in Cairo months ago. After not hearing back for a while, we had pretty much given up on moving there. But then, there it was: an invitation to an interview. And around three days later he was made an offer. And then suddenly flight were booked for us and we found ourselves in Cairo.
It all happened insanely fast. We didn’t really have the time to think about whether or not we want to move here. Seriously, we found out we were flying THREE days before our departure date. But it kind of felt right.
So here we are now. In Cairo. Well, technically we live in Giza.
Will’s got a proper job
This is the first time that either of us landed a proper ‘expat’ job. One that comes with actual benefits like having your flights arranged. I mean, to be honest, I got pretty excited when I realised that we had to do absolutely nothing ourselves. Our flights were booked for us, and so were 2 weeks of hotel accommodation in a five star hotel. And we both get health insurance. I mean, I don’t even work for them and yet I get proper international health insurance. Just because I happen to be married to Will. (Ha, I knew that wedding was worth it after all.)
We got picked up at the airport BEFORE immigration. I think it was the people from the travel agency, but I’m not sure. Anyway, they took our passports, got visa stickers from the people at immigration, put them in our passports themselves (we did have to pay for that though) and escorted us through customs. It was pretty nice.
Luckily, our backpacks didn’t get scanned upon arrival. Like any normal sane person, we were travelling with 2.5 kilos of vegan coffee creamer, 2.5 kilos of seitan flour and a lot of textured soy protein – all of which kind of looks like drugs. Oh and of course the year’s supply of B12 toothpaste. Would people really believe us that that’s for personal use? We will never find out, because nobody checked and I’m pretty sure noone would have cared anyway.
Anyway, the airport pick up people brought us to our driver who then brought us to our fancy hotel.
I don’t know how I feel about fancy hotels. In a way, I love how nice everything is. It’s all so clean and pretty and the rooms are air-conditioned and the beds are more comfortable than at home. But I don’t think I really like being served. Is that weird? Probably. I mean, I feel awkward when someone else is carrying my backpack for me when I would be perfectly capable of doing that myself. ESPECIALLY when it’s filled with 5 kilos of unnecessary vegan food and a bunch of heavy books. Then I feel embarrassed that my backpack is so heavy and I feel the need to take it from the whatever-that-person-is-called (concierge?) person, but I know that’s their job so I should just let them do their job and aaaah. Oh and I hate having my room cleaned by other people. So yeah, I’m weird and not made for fancy hotels.
But the free breakfast buffet was pretty epic.
Will and I have been joking that his company pretty much paid for our wedding, as the money we spent on paperwork for our Bangkok registry office wedding was less than what they spent on my flight and hotel. Not to mention the additional housing allowance Will gets for having a wife. It’s like I’m getting paid just to be here, it’s great.
First impressions of Cairo
After about a week we had found our apartment and sort of installed internet at home. Sort of, but not really. We’re paying for 16M, yet speedtests reveal a measly 1.5 Mbps. And let me tell you, getting someone to respond to complaints is a nightmare.
Last week we randomly saw the pyramids out of our Uber. I think that’s when it hit me..we’re in Egypt. Cairo doesn’t feel too different to other chaotic cities. It’s a bit like Delhi with way less people. I think it might be cleaner than Delhi, but Delhi feels like a million years ago, so I can’t really remember. I definitely wouldn’t describe it as clean.
Actually, it’s nothing like Delhi.
There’s a lot of sand, but then again, we’re in the desert.
Crossing the street is a nightmare, except during rush hour when it’s great. Because the cars aren’t really moving. There’s highways without lanes and a ton of people driving like idiots.
We live next to a mosque and the call to prayer is a rather loud, but nonetheless beautiful reminder that we are in a Muslim country.
There’s a lot of security, including bomb (drug?) sniffing dogs at hotel and mall entrances.
And for some reason we can’t find vacuum cleaner bags anywhere. I think it’s weird how, when you move to a new country, it’s often the simple things that turn out to be much more difficult than expected. Like finding where in the supermarket they store corn starch and what the hell that is called.
All in all, I think I was spared culture shock, perhaps because in my mind I expected more chaos, more complications. And of course, all the hard stuff (visas and residence permits) is being done for us.
I feel bad for changing our plans so much. I definitely feel guilty for letting other people down, for always leaving. But this was a great opportunity for Will. He loves his job and we’ll get to move every two years to countries we normally wouldn’t be able to visit at all. I had to make a decision, and I had to do it quick. So I chose what’s best for us and our future.
Will gets the whole Ramadan period off, so we’re planning our first holiday here. Weirdly enough, we currently can’t decide whether to travel to neighboring Sudan or whether we should stay in Egypt and go to a beach resort. Let’s see, maybe we’ll end up in Colombia. Who knows.