Egypt - Day 1
This is my first experience traveling outside of the United States. I have never even crossed the Canadian border to gamble in Windsor or party down south in Mexico. I was a bit nervous about the flight; would I be able to survive in the seats? would i have room to stretch? will I fall asleep? and about a hundred other thoughts...
After a brief two hour nap I woke up to stretch my legs. I headed towards the back of the plain to get some water. The flight attendant was sitting there and we started talking. She asked my if this was my first time in Cairo, etc. I answered and told her briefly what I was doing in Cairo.
She looked at me and said, "my brother has autism." He is older, about 27, and lives in Kuwait with his father. She went on to tell me more about him and that he writes her and wants her to come and visit. She lives on the east coast.
But what struck me was the struggles this boy has faced, and the family. The father is a single parent taking care of his son. He struggled to find him the services he needed/needs but from what she said and my interpretation he seems to be a very blessed child. But one thing her and her father were challenged with over 10 years ago was not just their son/brother having autism, but at the same time trying to find help in the middle of a War....could you imagine?
We talked for a bit, she told me about her dreams of opening up a facility in the states where he could work and she could take care of him. I assured her, if you put your mind to it...you can accomplish anything. But as Coach Doyle, iowa Football Strength Coach, once wrote to me, "sometimes you have to be flexible." I am still learning on how flexible i can be.
We arrived in Cairo around 4:10pm and went to get our visas and meet the person who was going to pick us up. As we waited in line to get into the Country I could see people holding signs, with peoples names. I didn't see my name. No those hundred thoughts turned into a thousand thoughts.
We grabbed our bags and still nothing. I must admit I was very nervous. I didn't have access to an international phone but ended up using my cell phone....AT&T I'm sure will be happy. But after about an hour we got in a taxi to head to Maadi. The agency that was supposed to pick me up made a 10 hour mistake, they also claimed they were looking for me in the airport, and they still must be. But I trusted Maha and she assured me everything would be fine, and the taxis were controlled by the government.
We got in the cab and the driver spoke some English. The traffic in Cairo and Egypt is nothing like Chicago. I was trying to count the lanes, i think at times there were 4 but when counting the lines of cars, there were 6. The cars were so close together that I could reach out my window and shake hands with the person next to me. As the driver navigated through the traffic he then pulled over. He then said something about a "drink" and pointed to this vendor on the street. I had no idea what was going on...he said "one minute..."
No less than a minute later he was back....and handed us each an orange Fanta. Pretty tasty but I wanted to get to the hotel.
He continued to drive, we were in the car for at least an hour. The traffic never changed and neither did the stop lights because they don't have any. He told us that we were about 70km in total from the Cairo Airport to our hotel. Along the way there was many people pulled over, car trouble i think. Also, at times when traveling about 90km per hour, people would be walking across 4 lanes of road.
The driver then pointed out the Nile River and I pointed out the food vendors on the street. He turned around and stopped again. He stopped for the food. He bought us what was basically, chick peas in what seamed to be a flavored broth. It wasn't too bad, and the described what I think was...this snack made him fat.
After over an hour in the taxi we were at our hotel in Maadi. I was greeted by Maha, the woman who founded the ADVANCE Center and we went to dinner with her and her colleagues.
Time to fall asleep again...its about 4am and I have to present at 9am.