Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Walk to the Nile

The weekend here is Friday and Saturday, so we had the day off yesterday and decided to go for a walk to the Nile.  Our end goal was actually a market there called Alpha which has a big array of household things.  Here are some photos along the way to the store.

The food store is across from this view of the Nile, across the really busy street pictured above that is treacherous to cross (.... don't know that I've seen any traffic lights in Cairo!)

Now on to the store.
We still need some basics for our apartment like a longterm solution for drinking water.  Some people say it's fine to drink the water here (which is heavily chlorinated) and others say its safest to stick with bottled water.  I hate to have so many plastic bottles (... so bad for the environment) so we're looking into other options like perhaps a water cooler.  I also got a water purification tool from a camping supply store back home that supposedly kills harmful bacteria with ultraviolet light.  I'm just having trouble recharging the batteries for the tool to work.  Things can be a little challenging here with things like electrical currents and electricity in general.   There are quirky little frustrations.  We lose power once in a while and the shower won't have hot water unless the faucet in the sink is on at the same time.

Food shopping is adventure and a challenge at times.  You can buy Western produced goods but they are four times the cost of Egyptian made products.  Cameron sees Life cereal on the shelf and wants us to buy it but it costs $10 a box so no Life cereal this year.  We buy the cereal with Arabic writing (... thank goodness for pictures!) which is about $2 a box.  (He likes it ok.  He said this morning's chocolate flakes cereal tasted like brownie mix, which I'm sure is a vote of approval.)

All around the store we try to find products that we know how to cook (despite directions all being in Arabic).  Then we try to figure out what things cost when the prices are in Arabic (.... I know some of my Arabic numbers, but really need to learn them all, and fast...)  Then there is the check-out line... Our first store experience, when we didn't even know what the money was worth without looking really carefully at each bill, I watched the register total then noticed I had only received a fraction of the change back that I should have gotten.  I tried to explain in English and someone (not the cashier but someone standing a few feet away from the cashier) handed me a 10 pound note.  I still don't understand exactly what happened with that exchange.  It is all a learning experience.

There are also great things about shopping here as well.  I was buying a mango juice at the university the other day and the nice guy who is always there explained that the juice was fresh squeezed that morning.  I smiled and thought he was kidding.  (... how could juice be fresh squeezed that morning and be in a comercialized packaged plastic bottle in my hand at the university in the afternoon?!)  I later looked at the label more carefully to learn it was packaged by Cilantro (the same name as the food store) and it was produced in Nasr City, a part of Cairo.  The date on the top of the bottle showed it was indeed produced that same day.  He wasn't kidding!  The juice is full of big chunks of real mango.  Just delicious!  Not something I could ever get in New England!

The cheese is also really good here and there are lovely homemade breads.  The boxed cartoons of fruit juice that we often get are great, but also something to be careful about.  We learned, the hard way, that sometimes cartoons of juice have already been opened at the store (with a cup or two taken then put back on the shelf). Cameron got sick one day, throwing up his whole breakfast after having some juice that we later thought was the cause.  Jeff and I have stayed pretty healthy, just a little stomach problems here or there.  We're trying to keep up with disease prevention (... I brought what I hoped would be a year supply of Purell containers), but still there are gliches occasionally.  Cameron got a scrape that got infected, so I took him to the university clinic and have been applying antibiotic cream and bandaids for the past week.  But he's a happy little kid and is singing around the house now as I type.


  1. Hi, Carol & Jeff!

    I love your blog. How about boiling water? When Brit was in India the family she lived with boiled water every day, and she didn't get sick once.


  2. Hi Lisa,
    I was happy to see you're now "following" our blog! I think you're right about boiling the water every night. We bought an electric tea kettle so boiling water is as simple as filling it and hitting the button. One or two kettle's worth (1.7 liters) is enough to last the next day or two so it's easy and quick (and it saves money and plastic). Plus I think the boiling helps eliminate some of the chlorine flavor of the tap water.
    Hope you and Paul are doing well.