... tiered of waiting for answeres from places I applied to, I finally accepted a job here in Cairo. Since a few days I am working in a small hotel in downtown as guest relations and marketing manager. So basically it is my job to make our tourists happy ;-) I am also "selling dreams", as one of my friends expressed it, by organising trips through all of Egypt.So if you are planning to travel to the land of the pharaos and need some information, you know who to contact ;-)
Apart from that, the working environment is very friendly, nice guests, cool boss (who after the first day announced he was going on vacation; "dont worry, just go ahead, if there are problems, call me"), comfortable big chair, laptop, dsl connection, tea and coffe service as much as I like .... basically all you need to be happy and productive :)
Did I say snow? Well, not really, but I actually thought so for a moment, this morning .... the sky is white and also everything outside has a much lighter color than usual.
It took me a little bit to understand.... not snow (anyway impossible with almost 20 degrees outside), but sand! Yes, we again have a sandstorm and the powder fine desert sand is all over the place, there is no surface also in the appartment (no use of closing the windows and doors, this fine dust gets in everywhere) that is not covered by the light beige dust ... the trees, the cars the street, even my laptop that was stored in its bag in a closet .... you can not see further than a few meters ahead, and everything outside traded in its color agains the same light beige...
Sand storm, .... sounds exciting.... but let me tell you, my lungs are not that happy about it.... going outside means constantly inhaling the amount of dust you would breathe in, if you were stuck under your bed, which you haven't mopped under for the last 3 years.
Wish you all clean lungs and a colorful world around you ;-)
... or Good luck in Germany but forget it here... these were some of the messages that Egyptian supporters wrote on big signs before getting into the stadium for the final of the Africa Cup. And yes, I was there as well :) Of course we had to buy the tickets on the black market triple price, but it was worth it. The stadium was packed and we had to get there 4 hours before the game started, as the doors were closed early to prevent people from "sneaking in" without ticket (unimaginable for at least northern Europe, but common practice in the land of the pharaos ;-)) The time went by quickly beeing entertained, as usual by drum beats, cheers and interesting cloths and face painting combinations to be observed around us. Then, at 6pm local time, the wistle announced the beginning of the match. After a difficult 90min. for Egypt, where only the goal keeper was exellent, the score between the "pharaos" and the "elephants" was 0:0, another difficult15 min.followed.... and there it was, some confusion and commotion on the field and ....GOAL! the crowed went crazy, 80000 filling the stadium jumping screaming dancing, waving flags, so that it took a while until the news broke through: the referee did not count the goal (later on, video confirmed that he made a mistake)... huge dissapointment, but the game went on, suddently foul from the side of Cote d'Ivoire - the referee gives a severe yellow card AND a penalty, probably to make up for his earlier mistake, especially that not only 80000 Egyptians but also Hosni Mubarak, Egypt himself, is in the stadium watching. ... Bad luck however, the ball hits the goal post, but the whole stadium is screaming "Masr, Masr, Masr" giving the signal to the players that they still believe in them. Despite this amazing support, the score remained 0:0, which ment decision by penalty shootout. Egypt starts and marks a goal, Cote d'Ivoire's ball is kept by the Egyptian goal keeper, Egypt scores a second goal ... the crowed prepares to celebrate... but then Cote d'Ivoire scores as well and, oh tradgedy!, Egypt misses.... yes you counted right, the score is at 2:1 Once again, Cote d'Ivoire's ball is caught by the Egyptian goal keeper, who proves to have nerves of steel, Egypt scores once more ... the tension in the stadium is almost unbarable... will Cote d'Ivoire miss? No! The ball is in! Still the Egyptian crowd is cheering, Masr, Masr, Masr,... and there it is, the 4th Egyptian goal! 4:2 and the supporters go mad, the stadium trembles, red, white and black everywhere, the players on the field jump on each other, start running around, catch some flags, which are thrown on the field by some supporters and join the cheering. The goal keeper klimbs up the goal post and starts a little dance ontop of the goal.... Joy and pride are great, absolutely friendly without any violent excess. Still the streets are crowded, people dance on top of cars, flags everywhere, people stopping their car in the middle of the street in order to hug some strangers and express their happiness over the victory... 2,5 hours after Hosni Mubarak handed out the cup and honored the Egyptian trainer with 2 kisses on the cheek, we finally arrived home (usually this drive takes about 30 min), it was a great event.
Hoppa-e hoppa-a el hamdulillah kesabtna! (hoppa-e hoppa-a, thanks to God we won)
As if to celebrate Egypt's vicotry in the semi finals (2:1 against Senegal) a sand storm broke lose today. The sky looked white, trees were bending and window screens were banging, transmitting a feeling of apocalypse. The sun was hidden by powder fine sand coming from the desert and transported by a cold wind, entering through any little crack or hole, leaving stair cases, living rooms and nostrils covered by the golden-beige powder. ... One good reason not to put my nose outside today ;-)
A couple of days ago it was a friends birthday, we had cake, sang some birthday songs, gave the presents and then music was put on. Loud techno music came out of the boxes played from a …. tape!
It happened again! I went to Sharm el Sheikh for a job interview (which in the end did not takeplace – long story), so when I checked out of the hotel again, the nice receptionist said goddbye, I took my bag and took the bus back to Cairo. About an hour later, I get a phone call: “your passport is still at the reception” Great! Again! I called a friend who managed to get my passport on the next bus to Cairo, so in worst case I would have had to get off the bus at the checkpoint and wait for the next bus carriing my passport. Luckily my “sleeping beauty tactics” worked again perfectly. (If you don’t know what I am talking about, have a look in the archives at the story “how to travel without a passport”). I got to cairo without having been asked once for my passport once. 2 hourslater my precious travel document arrived safely to Cairo as well.
The only solid things men are allowed to take into the stadium are drums. All kind of drums, heating up the atmosphere with their rythms, next to the colourful view of waving flags and cheering people. I have to watch the game on TV this time… all tickets were sold out within the first hour they were on sale… the black market is florishing and tickets are sold 10 times their initial price. … hoppa-e hoppa-a inshallah haneksab!
Out of fear of violent outbreaks, no solid objects are alowed to enter the stadium, not even plastic water bottles unless….. they are carried by a woman! Men are carefully searched before entering and all solid things, like lighters, bottles etc. have to be left outside of the gates. As there is no female security, women can walk through without even having their hand bag searched. Therefore you often see whole family picknicks in the stadium, juice and water, bread, bananas, oranges, the lighter for the husband’s cigarettes and even the perfume bottle for refreshment went through in Madame’s bag.The story goes that when the FIFA representatives came to inspect the newly renovated stadion, one of them asked to see the women’s toilets… puzzled faces from the side of the Egyptians were the answer, what would you need women’s toilets for? And indeed now there are men toilets every 20 meters inside of the stadion, women have to get out of the stadion and enter the little toilet houses built in time before the beginning of the Africa Cup.
The picture is quite amazing… usually you see half of the stadium filled with supporters from one team and the other half with supporters from the other team. Well, not here! The whole stadium is filled with Egyptians, dressed in red, white an black, many have their face painted in the same colors, some are wearing hats or scarfs and almost everyone is waving a flag with the national colors. There are quite a number of women who also attend the games, either with their husband or in a group of friends. Those wearing head scarfs usally chose for a combination of red, white and black, of course. “La Hola” works very well and usually makes 4 to 5 rounds around the stadium, as supporters of the other teams take up so little space in the stadium, that by not standing they wont stop the wave. No wonder that with this support Egypt went far… first match against Lybia 3:0, against Morocco 0:0, against Cote d’Ivoire 3:1, then the quarter finals against Congo 4:1. The situation turned to the absurd when two teams were playing right before the game Egypt against Morocco and the stadion was already filled with Egyptian supporters waiting for the next game, cheering for…none of the teams playing but screaming loudly “Masr, Masr, Masr” (Egypt, Egypt, Egypt)
Yes again 22 men and a ball are involved. Cairo has been hosting the African Cup of Nations for the last 2,5 weeks. The opening was very nice, colorful and surprisingly well organised. The reason for this is probrably that in contrary to olympic games, where volunteers take part in the opening, here in Egypt it is the military. So we got into the delight of seeing thousands of soldiers dressed up as pharaos, scarabs (sacred beetles during pharaos’ times), sun Gods, or carrying 3 meter high obelisks made out of carton, all executing well prepared coreographies to epic music. Highlights were huge fireworks and parachuters landing inside of the stadion, each one carrying the flag of a participating country. President Hosni Mubarak was also present, holding a little piece of paper in his hand, from which he read in Arabic: “By the name of God, I declare open the African Cup of Nations 2006”.
Here a picture from the opening ceremony: