Well, I made it! I’m in Cairo, in my apartment, I have food and water and a hot shower! It’s been quite a process, though.
The flights were delayed quite a bit, but I didn’t miss any connections on the way here. Actually, I got upgraded to Business Elite class for FREE!! We had been waiting and waiting at JFK for about 2 hours and we were ready to begin boarding the flight. My seat was 14A (that’s the inside seat, by the window, for those that don’t know). I hate sitting by the window, not because of heights but because of claustrophobia. Also, I like to get up and stretch my legs a lot and I always feel guilty asking the others to wake up or move. As I was waiting, I noticed on the big notice board that there were 14 seats in business class that were “unassigned” but that there were a number of people waiting on standby for coach. I went to the gate agent and asked in a tired stupor how much it would cost for me to upgrade to business class—I figured if it’s only a few hundred dollars it would be WORTH it for a 11+ hour flight. She told me that they don’t sell upgrades the day of the flight, but was I by myself? I said yes and she took my ticket, saying to the other desk agent that she found “one more coach seat” for anyone on standby. She totally upgraded me right there, claiming it was because I was “nice” to her. Holy cow, I was SO HAPPY!
This class of flying is like a whole new way of living they don’t tell you about in coach. We boarded first, we sat down in huge comfy chairs that almost reclined to a flat bed, but not quite. After we boarded, before the economy people were allowed to tarnish the plane, the stewardesses brought around OJ or champagne and the pilots came out of the flight deck to make sure we were all okay. We got menus for our dinners and appetizers, salad, desert that didn’t come in one small box! 5 pieces of REAL flat ware, not that crappy plastic that doesn’t cut anything, and real glasses, dishes, and more. Not to mention a big bathroom, our own private TV screens with noise cancelling headphones and our choice of movies. Normally, on other airlines where I’ve flown coach you get to choose what movie or show to watch, but not so on Delta unless you’re in Business class. I actually SLEPT on the flight, which I was worried I wouldn’t do because I’d be in coach. I almost wanted to stay up the whole time to take advantage of the experience!
Well, we made it to Cairo and I was met by Abdul from AUC who told me he was the oldest employee AUC had. He was a master at visas, customs, baggage (my suitcase made it the whole way with me!), getting me to the AUC van and to my apartment. From the airplane to my apartment was under an hour. So great. I was met at my apartment by two men from AUC housing who gave me the keys, showed me the kitchen and the food they stocked it with and then left me. There was bread, rice, tea, honey, milk (whole milk), feta cheese, 2 cans of coke and 2 of sprite and LOTS of bottled water. Thankfully I had brought peanut butter or I would have been lost that first night. I had a snack, relaxed a little and went to bed.
My apartment is HUGE, I really mean it. 3 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, a living room, dining room, smallish kitchen, and 3 balconies. (Pictures to come very soon!!) What will I do with all this space?? I’ve been to the back 2 bedrooms twice to manage the A/C units in there and haven’t touched the bathrooms other than the master bathroom. (Read: COME VISIT ME! I HAVE PLENTY OF ROOM!) It’s in a nice area of Cairo known as El Rehab or Rehab City, a gated community of “only” 100,000 residents so far (www.alrehabcity.com). About a mile’s walk from my apartment is a food court with quite a few restaurants and a mall. There’s also a place called the Souk that is more local shops and restaurants, much more local Egyptian than the rest of Rehab. I have a map so I don’t get lost, because the buildings look the same everywhere.
I’m sorry I haven’t emailed most of my friends, but my internet speed at home is 56kbps (VERY slow) and I’m trying to set up the wireless for this week. But, it’s Egypt so things don’t happen quickly, from what I hear. Except cell phone service. I had been here for less than 24 hours and my new friend, Lili, who showed me around my new neighborhood, asked if I had a cell phone. Everyone keeps asking me that. The answer is not yet, but hopefully by today. I haven’t had a chance! I’m on campus right now and must catch the bus back home very soon and I’ll do it then.
Keep checking here, I hope to post very soon about my first Cairene restaurant experience, and my first day on AUC campus. Missing everyone so much.