|View from the Rooftop Bar, our favourite watering hole|
Talking of Uber, they get a bad press, but they saved my life in Cairo. I mean this seriously. I'm too scared to drive here, the taxis can be scary (see above article) and I live about 10 minutes walk from the main road where I could get a taxi. This might not seem a lot, but when it's over 40 degrees and you're prone to heat exhaustion, it's a long way. I have gone all over Cairo in Ubers, and whilst they have their issues, I am enormously grateful that they gave me my independence. That's not to say I don't have to yell "f*****g" slow down!!!!" on a weekly basis.
WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook and Messenger, but especially WhatsApp. I was crippled with homesickness when I first moved here. In fact, I still am from time to time. Homesick for my friends and family, homesick for Britain, homesick, believe it or not, for rain and cold. Until I moved to Egypt, my answer to the question "would you rather be too hot or too cold?" was, too hot. I have been living a lie! The answer is, undoubtedly, too cold. I have spent a good proportion of the last four years too hot. I truly hate it. Anyway, I digress. The point is that I missed everything. Thanks to my smart phone, messaging apps and Facebook, Britain was only a text away. My parents sent me photographs of the local area and my dog (who, I might add, was living a life of riley as far as I can see). I spent hours WhatsApping my friends. I could call people on Viber. I could feel part of people's lives on Facebook. As well as keeping in touch with people in the UK, Facebook has also been a key part of developing my life in Egypt. It's how we keep in touch, share events and arrange to meet up. It's also how I found various activities, such as Art Therapy. I've also joined a number of groups for expats which have been helpful. To be fair, I've probably left just as many (Women Married to Egyptian Men was a particular low). In all the criticism of Facebook (justified for the most part, I agree), I think some of its benefits have been forgotten.
There are so many people and things I have to thank, that I'm going to have to split this blog into two, not least because I'm going out with the above mentioned PW later. One has to have priorities! So I'll finish this part by thanking Expat Nest who are an e-counselling service for expats. One counsellor in particular, who knows who she is. Let me tell you, intercultural relationships are HARD. Without her support, I wouldn't still be in Egypt and I definitely wouldn't be married. It's been a real slog at times, made harder by the difficulties I faced with homesickness, culture shock and heat exhaustion. I have told my counsellor things that no-one else knows, and it's been such a comfort to know that I have the space where I can do that. I realise I'm waxing lyrical a bit, but it's made such a massive difference to my life.
I'll go off and live that life now. Look out for Part Two.