Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Mediterranean from the other side

Since the TEFL course we took was in Alexandria, a two-hour drive north from Cairo, we spent a month within walking distance of the Mediterranean Sea. I have swum in the Mediterranean in France and Spain, and now from Egypt's shores as well.

Taking the course kept us plenty busy, but we managed to enjoy a few trips to the beach. After the class each day, we had just enough time to do one of the following: go to a grocery store, eat at a restaurant, or go to the beach.

The kids loved the beach - Misha set to work digging a hole to America, and Sebby discovered how fun it is to grab and throw sand. The sand was so fine and powdery that even after a shower, you would still find it stuck to your skin.

We stayed in an apartment in Agami, a 40 minute bus ride away from the class in Alexandria. The class went about as smoothly as we could have hoped, considering we had two children in tow. The day care we had been told about worked out perfectly - it really was half a block up the street from our class. It had lots of children, lots of toys, and lots of Arabic. Misha came away learning several new words.

Misha and Daddy get ready to rock in the waves!

I got this lovely jellyfish sting as a souvenir from the beach. I had never been stung before, and this was quite the initiation. It burned for five hours, then swelled up, then itched, and finally faded away. Luckily, jellyfish are not a common guest on the shores. Maybe the windy days and the big waves brought them to shallow waters. I was not the only one who got stung.

Our travels kept us quite close to the Nile wherever we went, so we got to enjoy the greener side of Egypt. This is a pretty little side street by our apartment in Agami. Because the beach is so near, the roads are made of sand. Also, since the whole Alexandria area is a beach vacation town, the city never sleeps. Taking Sebastian onto the balcony at night to induce sleep only resulted in riling him up as he would start grooving to the booming bass of Arabic music reverberating from the cars below. The traffic, the music, and the happy voices on the street would continue all through the night, quieting down only in the morning when everyone was finally asleep. An interesting point of the beach scene here is that it did not involve alcohol. Though you could find places that served beer, it wasn't particularly common and the world of bar-hopping was non-existent.

Here we are with several of our classmates from our course. Taking the TEFL class in Egypt was fun because we got to be with plenty of Egyptians, as well as people from Jordan, Botswana, the US and England. This picture shows how the majority of Egyptian women dress - they cover their hair, arms, and legs (but not their face), but they wear bright, color-coordinated outfits that create quite a different feeling than the black shrouds of Saudi Arabia. Short sleeves and shorts are rare.

Josh in "teacher mode," beginning his class. The first part of our course focused on various teaching methods, grammar, and phonology. During the second part, we taught actual students while being observed. The teaching was quite pleasant because the students that came were volunteers, and therefore ideal students. We also got the chance to teach children, beginner adults, and advanced adults, which made it interesting.

An evening outside, waiting for our pizza. Interestingly, Egyptian pizza has no tomato sauce, but is served with packs of ketchup. Huh.

The streets are full of interesting things, like this knife sharpener.

In Egypt we decided it was high time for Sebastian's first haircut. Though cutting his hair is like trying to arrange your bookcase during an earthquake, he came through the experience with somewhat shorter hair and both ears still intact.

Sebastian shows off his new trick - making a kissy fish face. He looks older with his new haircut!

Sebastian looking adorable while munching on some grilled corn from a street-side vendor. Unfortunately, I have been spoiled by South Dakota sweet corn, and Egyptian street corn just can't compare.

The kids cuddle in our apartment.

Something about kids and cats - so photogenic!

Misha chasing a cat on our balcony. Notice the beautiful green garden behind!

We didn't know what we were in for when we ordered this dessert - it's a pastry covered with nuts, Nutella, AND honey!

Koshari is perhaps the most Egyptian food there is, and it is fantastic: a hearty vegetarian concoction of rice, noodles, chick peas, and lentils to which you add tomato sauce, lemon juice, and as much chili sauce as you like. Yum!

Misha woke up one morning and prepared a breakfast picnic on the balcony for us all by himself!


Tanya and Aaron said...

Nice to see and hear a bit more about your trip! Sebby's new haircut (and facial expression) is so cute. Very sweet of Misha to set up a picnic for you. :)

Bill said...

Nice blog, cute pics! I esp. like the one of Sebby giving Misha a hug--cute! --mom

kate said...

How cute to see Sebby get a haircut! I love the pictures. Misha is adorable as always. The food looks fabulous.