Sunday, August 31, 2008

Old Campus Visit/Dividing up the Intern Stash

The purpose of the visit to the old campus was to divide up the things that the former interns had left behind for us. For those of you that have seen the "D.B." episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia, when Charlie and Frank take all the trash, this was just like that, only with 7 people (instead of 2) rooting through all the stuff looking for interesting things to find. I got an old chess board, a few things to put on my shelves, a few items for the kitchen, and a party game.

To make things even better, just like in the aforementioned episode, there was an Ali Baba sword!

The sword was given to the president by some billionaire in the Middle East.
Probably the coolest thing I've ever held. One of the perks of being a presidential intern.

Too bad we didn't get to keep it.
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Old Campus Visit

The Friday after orientation ended we took a bus to the old campus and visited the president's office.

This is the view from my apartment that morning.

This is the marble staircase leading up to the office

Cool wall in the office.

A gift from a Saudi prince to the President. Never been used.
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Random Pics from Orientation Week

This was from the first dinner with all of the Interns at the Four Seasons Hotel (sponsored by AUC, of course).
Millions of candy canes! The view from the rooftop bar of the Nile Hilton, where we went out on Thursday night.
Same, lots of "S"s

The dance floor
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Pictures of the New Campus

These are my first pictures of our Monday orientation at the New Campus. Click on any of them to see them at their full size.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day One - Misc

Good to see the Barcelona love extends to Cairo as well.

Wash me?

Next post I will put up pictures of my gigantic apartment.
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Cairo Day One - Al-Azhar Mosque

These pictures are from the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo next to the Khan El-Khalili. The mosque was built in 975, and the University associated with it is the second oldest surviving university in the world.

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Cairo Day One - Ahmed's Underground Spice Tour

This is Ahmed. After the factory tour and lunch, he took us on the underground spice tour of Khan El-Khalili. This spice shop is actually underneath a large mosque and has probably been around for hundreds of years.

We bought some spices that are apparently (literally) 100 times more expensive in the U.S. I paid the same price for 100 grams of one spice that I would for one gram in the U.S.

Vanilla Steak? Blue Pepper?

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Ahmed's Factory Tour

Immediately following our first experience in one of Cairo's many tourist traps, we decided to jump over to the Egpytian side of the souk, where real Egpytians buy necessary household items (you won't find any replica pyramids or sphinxes here).So I was a little concerned when I turned around and saw the other three interns talking to an Egyptian named Ahmed outside a shop. However, it was immediately clear he wasn't trying to just sucker us for money. He had on nice clothes, he looked fairly clean, and he actually had all of his teeth(as opposed to Abdul, who only had three or four)!
It turned out he was very friendly and helpful, and even though he was supposed to be helping out in his uncle's store, he gave us the underground tour of the Egpytian side of the market, including the factories where they make both the real and fake trinkets that the stores sell in the souk.

This was the first place we went in, the shoe factory

This was the most interesting of the factories - and maybe I should clarify when I say factory, which in most of these cases were one or two men working on tiny, intricate designs by hand in a small 100 square foot room. This guy was the box/board maker, and he used shells and camel bone to make the designs on top of the wood. You can see the large backgammon board on the right side of the picture.

This guy carved animals out of some kind of tusk. In each case, the factories sell the fake things to most of the tourist traps, and the real things to most 5 star hotels. Either way, the original makers of the products are paid only about 1/5 to 1/10 of what they end up being sold for.Ahmed provided quite the learning experience for us on our first day there.

Later on, we ate Egyptian pancakes for lunch, which are like a cross between crepes and calzones, with meat on the inside and vegetables and spices on top.
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Cairo Day One - Pictures of Khan El-Khalili

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These are just some more pictures from Khan El-Khalili.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

First Full Day in Cairo

Hello everyone,
I decided to do another blog for my ten-month stay in Cairo, Egypt.

For those of you I haven't been in contact with, I have an internship in the American University in Cairo in the Office of Communications & Marketing. So far, all I know is that I'll be writing articles for the school's various publications and helping out in the office in any way I can.

I wanted to post a bunch of pictures from my first full day in Cairo to give everyone an idea of life in Egypt.

The first place we went was Khan El-Khalili, a souk (market/bazaar) created as early as the 1380s.

This picture is of the Fishawy Cafe, which is famous for having never been closed for the past two centuries (except for Ramadan).

This is the outside of the famous Al-Azhar mosque (more on this later).

In the picture above, we (Lauren and Muriel are two of the six other interns) have just been pulled into one of the tourists traps with Abdul, the shopkeeper. (Just for the record, I knew full well what I was getting into here; i wanted to practice getting out of situations like this while I was with friends and in good spirits, so that I could successfully resolve similar situations on a bad day).
This was a cologne/perfume shop tucked away in a little back alley in Khan El-Khalili. We were walking by when the guy came over and started pestering us, asking what country we were from. I wanted to see what was going to happen so we followed him into the store, where he offered us tea, gave us some samples, then tried to charge us an exorbitant rate for the cologne. I got him down to 1/10 of his initial price. I still probably overpaid a little bit, but it was good practice the first time.

The Blogger site is limiting my posts to only 4 pictures so Day 1 will take us a few posts.