Thursday, March 29, 2007

Well I have had another wonderful taste of Egyptian bureaucracy - what a run around to get a car - yesterday we went to the police - I need a statement from them that they have investigated me - no idea why - no investigators around - so today we went around 9 - told to come back at 1:00 - then off to the Toyota dealer. They have fellow there that 'registers' the cars - we had to go to the Traffic Centre - near the dealer - then make a deal with them that we could do the registration there instead of near where I live - ARGH - then they checked the VIN and chassis number against the sales receipt - then I had to purchase a fire extinguisher - yep - such a safety conscious society- one HAS to have a fire extinguisher in the car - but no car seats and seat belts are definitely an option - I have seen little kids - and I mean little - like 6 months old sitting in their daddy's lap as he is driving the car - and no one is wearing seatbelts - anyway - then we had to have the car inspected - fellow said that because I was covered there would be no inspection - there is actually no inspection if it is a new car - just an opportunity for the 'engineer' to earn some more baksheesh. Then we were off downtown to get the license plate for the car - because I am a foreigner we had to go somewhere else to get a plate - and of course because we did not have the police investigation report we could not get one - but things are all laid out for Saturday. Seems I will be getting an old beat up license plate - they only manufacture so many licenses for foreigners and when they leave the country the plates are recycled - wonderful. Then on the way back to the dealer to drop off our helper - a guy cut Aymn off - turned left in front of him - he was driving - I refuse to drive with Aymn in the car - and besides it was downtown durng the peak time - ARGH - then the driver called Aymn a donkey and Aymn was off and running - man he was really hot under the collar. The guy finally gave Aymn the slip - thank goodness or there would have been blood flowing - Aymn was bound and determined to teach this punk a lesson. A rather severe case of road rage - I just could not get over it - Aymn was just livid - of course if it had been me - a) I would not have understood what was being said and b) even if I did I would have just continued on my merry way. We missed the chance to got and get the investigation report - so on Saturday Mohammed (Aymn's buddy) will pick me up and take me around to get everything finalized. I will be getting insurance on the car - through Toyota it is a bit more expensive but I am not going to worry about it much - the going rate is 2.5% of the value of the car and Toyota charges 2.95% of the value of the car - no deductible though - and it is just easier - rather than running around downtown trying to find a better price. I think it will be about $60 CAD more expensive - the total cost for insurance on the vehicle for a year will be about $2,593 - which translates into about $520 CAD a year - not bad - in fact very, very reasonable. When I got my Corolla in 1990 the insurance for the year was $1,200 a year. Anyway I still think anyone who complains about the bureaucracy in Canada should come here and try to do anything - then it will be a real cake walk.

I still have in my possession Sharon's cat and turtle. I have included a shot of the cat and the turtle for your pleasure. Must get busy and get them back home, Sharon is missing the cat.

It has been a hectic week - last Thursday we went to a Mother's Day luncheon (Sharon and I) that was put on by a group we belong to - WIACA - we had a great time - they played music and I got up and danced - I could tell I was one of the youngsters in the group - because the music was before my time - but I got up and twisted anyhow - one of the Egyptian women commented that I could dance really well - LOL. I was the only one that was up there that was covered - little do they know that I am not Muslim - I am so bad. Then the leader - Suzy - donned her belly dancing outfit and performed for us - it was a hoot. Then this past Monday was AWA meeting - drove the car there - then Sharon and I took off for Carrefour - did a little touring - in other words got lost - but managed to find our way. I spent lots of money - bought two mattress pad covers and more towels - the towels I have I bought when I bought the house in Whitehorn - which was about 13 years ago - how time flies when you are having fun. Spent that evening and the next morning (Tuesday) doing laundry - washing all the new things - also washed the bedding and made up the bed. Then Tuesday Sharon and I took off and went to visit a friend from AWA - Suzanne - she had obtained a copy of 'The Secret' that Oprah has been raving about - so we went to watch it - very interesting - need to get a copy so I can watch it on a regular basis. Aymn got his knickers in a knot because I had made plans for Tuesday - as it was my day - so he did not even show up - so he spent three days with his family - he came over yesterday morning - and left for Libya this afternoon. So now I have a few days of peace and quiet - if I can just manage to stay home - LOL. Must admit that after being on the run for the better part of a week I am looking forward to some R&R time - need to catch up on my blog and a few other things.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the newest member of my small family - LOL. Bella was brought home on Sunday, March 25, 2007. Ta Da - my new car - YES - finally managed to get everything going at the same time. Intended to purchase a Toyota Yaris but ended up with a Toyota Avanza - a small van that seats seven, has a hatch back, and the last row of seats flips up to allow for lots of cargo space - very nice. She is champagne in colour - against Aymn's wishes - he does not think the contrast between interior and exterior is good enough - wanted me to go for white - I wanted red - but there were no red Avanza's to be found in Egypt - so it would have meant waiting for a month to six weeks - and I was not inclined to wait any longer. Bella is very much a plain jane - the only thing she has is air conditioning. No power windows, power locks, power mirrors, central air conditioning, cd player (does have a tape deck though), air bags, console between the front seats, but she does have a gas pedal, brakes and a clutch - yes she is a standard. Have been having fun getting out and about - causing a bit of friction with Aymn - he is not really happy
that I am so much more independent now - but he is going to have to adjust. He sold his car Sunday night - needed the money for his business - so .... I have found a place to park her - so she is not left on the streets. The 'car park' is a vacant lot 2 blocks from my flat - not covered - but at least she is off the streets and I am not worried that she will be dinged, dented or somehow damaged while she is 'resting'. She is the same size as a Corolla - not much bigger than the Yaris - but it is nice that she has seating for seven so that when I take the family somewhere - they can all be buckled in - a very foreign concept for them - but they will soon learn that this crazy canuck does not drive unless everyone has their seatbelt on. She was made in Indonesia - but I am not at all concerned - as she is still a Toyota and I am sure their standards are just as exacting no matter where she was assembled.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Today I went for my usual morning walk - against my will - if I had not had company I would have bailed - it was a miserable morning. Windy - walking was a challenge - and you dare not open your mouth or you would get a mouthful of sand - gag. And of course you got an eyeful no matter what. My 13 year old nephew opted to join me this morning - I think he regretted it. On the way back home it rained and hailed on us - there was thunder and lightning and a rainbow - so a real mish mash - just no nice weather. It has been really windy for the last couple of days - makes it tough for me to sleep - as the wind just howls through the place - just what this insomniac needs - another thing to keep me from sleeping. After I got home and warmed up a bit I did have a snooze - such decadence and I even managed to get a bit of sleep - missed a phone call - no idea who it was - not going to call back and find out either.

My downstairs neighbour came up - with the bowab's wife - to see Popeye - not sure what that was about - but you should have seen the bowab's wife when the cat showed up - she just about jumped out of her skin - she was also quite taken aback when I came to the door with Popeye on my shoulder - what a hoot. And of course like most kids he would not perform for them - shut the door and he started going a mile a minute - typical.

Not much else to report - Aymn is still in Libya - no idea when he will be returning - he was supposed to leave last night (Wednesday) now it is tonight (Thursday) - needless to say I am not holding my breath on that one - he is waiting for a truck to show up - he spends a lot of time doing that.

So 'til later - TTFN.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Well - as promised - a couple of days late - but hey - noone is perfect - here are some pics of the new kitchen. It is about 2.5 times bigger than the original one. In the pics where you can see the stove - the kitchen ended at that wall that goes behind it - so it was tiny to say the least. I am so glad to have a bigger kitchen - makes cooking so much more enjoyable - although maybe I should have left it tiny and cramped so I would not enjoy cooking and baking nearly as much. The fridge has three doors. The top - as usual - is the freezer - and the bottom door opens up the vegetable crisper - so you are not opening it up every tim you go into the fridge - kind of neat. I am planning on getting a freezer - all I have seen here are upright freezers - and they are kind of neat - no shelves - just drawers - so we will see how that goes. Am kind of anxious to get one soon as strawberries are in season and I would love to buy a whole wack of them and freeze them for in the summer - they are sooo expensive - 2.5 LE a kilo - about 50 cents CAD - oh hurt me - bought two kilos last night - got one kilo for 2 LE and the other for 2.5 LE - gotta keep up that dollar averaging. Came home and washed one of the kilos and then had some with cream - mmmmmm - then had a second helping this morning before I went for my walk. Must admit walking is a tad bit painful at the moment as I have developed blisters on the back of my heels - not sure why as they are not new shoes - and had worn them walking a few days before the blisters developed - very frustrating and makes the first 15 minutes quite uncomfortable. Today I stopped at my SIL's place and picked up Mawada and walked with her to school - Mahmood asked me if I could go walking at 6 so he could come with me - I said sure - no problem - am awake then anyway - having a tough time with getting sleep these nights. Last night was even worse than usual - was very windy - so it was very noisey - windows rattling - YUCK. When I made it outside it was kind of cool - and of course very sandy - so did not go for a prolonged walk - but long enough to get my heart rate going. Am faced with dusting - although not sure I should bother - as it is windy - and nothing here is sealed properly - will just end up with another fine layer of sand - not dust - but sand to work at tomorrow. Actually got the dishes done and the kitchen tidied - finished cleaning up the master bedroom - keep putting off the 'dusting' - because it seems to be such a futile task - but alas cannot leave it nearly as long as I managed to in Canada - if I did I think I would have my own personal desert in the apartment. Because I do not have carpets I sweep every other day - and the amount of sand I collect always surprises me - especially when Aymn is not around - of course when he is around there seems to be twice as much sand - he has trouble with the concept of taking your outdoor shoes off when you come in - and then switching sandals when you go out on the balcony - so you can leave the dirt outside instead of bringing it in - he claims it is because there are no carpets - and that is the way it is going to stay until the windows are fixed so they are better sealed - so when it rains I do not have floods.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Yesterday I made my way to my SIL Gehan's place in Smoha - took a taxi - had my niece Yasmeen with me - she had been at Mom's place - and she opted to come back home with me - preferred to take a taxi rather than microbus and then the tram. Had a good evening with the family. Left around 9 - came home and had plans of going straight to bed - but wasted a bit of time watching some television - made it to bed around 11:15 or so.

Well today was a relatively quiet day. Got up around 8 and puttsed around - had great plans - but somewhere along the line my get up and go got up and left me in the dust. Spent some time outside reading and enjoying the sun - was quite windy - but the sun felt good. Then Mahmood called - wanted to know if he could come and play his game online - said sure - then he informed me that Mohammed and Mawada were also coming- Mohammed to ride his bike on the balcony and Mawada to keep me company - truth of the matter is they came to watch cartoons as they no longer have TV - which is fine. I actually got busy and hung up my pictures - got my rogues gallery up at least - dragged out the drill that I had purchased and drilled a few holes - not a pretty job - but the pictures are hung - which is a step in making this place really feel like home. Have lots more to do - but ran out of inspiration. Am debating putting up my pics of 'my' prophet and counsellors, as well as some pics of the saviour - talked with my g/f who is a Canadian married to an Egyptian - both of them are Muslim - wanted her two bits - she suggested that I not put up my Christian things as this might cause Aymn to feel even more as if this place is mine alone - but then we talked some more and I said that I would not mind putting up some verses from the Quran - they are not allowed to put up pics of the Prophet Mohammed - so now I need to talk to Suzanne and see if we can find somewhere where I can find some pictures and/or verses to put up so we can have a mixed religious wall. I do miss having my pics up - so hopefully we can figure something out and have it all done before Aymn gets back home - I have no idea how long he will be gone - he had said 2-3 days - but I am not holding my breath on that one - have learned that 98% of the time 2-3 days ends up being a week or more. Have included a couple of shots of the rogues gallery. For those of you who spent time in my home in Calgary it will look very familiar. I even got busy and put up my maps of Canada and The World - may end up moving them - may put the other pics there and move the maps to the hallway to the bathroom and the master bedroom. Who knows - I am just hoping that the pics stay up - in Canada I used push pins to hold them up - but push pins just do not do the trick when workng with concrete walls - so for the pics that do not need 'nails' I have used sticky tack - hope it holds up - I tried it in Libya - and they held - until it got to 45C - then everything just fell apart - this place does not get that hot - thank goodness.

I know, I know - I need to get busy and get pics taken of the flat and post them - soon - I promise I will endeavour to get my act together and get some pics taken and posted. Maybe do a room a day until they are all done. But that means I have to get busy and get the rooms all cleaned up and ready for inspection - such a drag - LOL. The spare bedroom was fine until I started working on pictures - now the bed is a mess - but should not take all that long to get it organized - she says so blithely.

I have enjoyed my two day break from walking - my legs have just about recovered - so tomorrow I will be back at it and they will be protesting - oh well such is life.

Friday, March 09, 2007

FINALLY - yesterday Suzanne and I managed to work through all the bureaucracy that is required to switch over the water and the electric - and now both are in my name. Anyone who thinks things are tough to do in Canada - just come here and see what has to be done - what a hassle - I can certainly understand why people do not bother changing things over until they want to sell the place. The water changeover was a real walk in the park - the electric - what hassle - we were at both places twice - but the electric you had to fill out the form - then come home and wait for someone to come and check to see the meter - then go back - and hand in the application with a copy of the sales contract of the apartment as well as a copy of my passport and other things - then wait - then we had to go to another floor and pay 42.50 LE for a bill that is coming out next month for garbage pick up - then to another floor to pay 30 LE for the old metre - then another window - where we are given another form - then we have to somewhere else for them to look at it - make six copies of the form we were given as well as another copy of the sales contract and purchase seven stamps - then back to stand and stick the stamps on the appropriate papers - and then the guy hands back the first copy of the sales contract - ARGH - then pay 184.75 for the new contract and away we went - took only 3 hours - I am so grateful to Suzanne for her assistance in this matter and all the other things she does for me. Aymn got his nose out of joint because I did not ask him for his help - and he did not want to see me in trouble - having to take microbusses and that sort of thing - but when I asked him about making the change he said it was no big deal - not important - at least now I can sell the place without any problems - maybe that is why he was not keen on my making the change - I don't know - but it is done and Suzanne and the rest of the family are happy as is Margaret's hubby Mustafa - he was also pushing to get the change in contract made.

I had been hoping to have a nice quiet day at home today - as I have been out and running for the last three days - but I had said I would go visit Gehan and family - so I will be heading to her place in a few hours. Will be nice when I get a car and do not have to rely on public transportation or taxis - getting a taxi on Friday in the evening is a real disaster - and of course not many of the drivers want to go all the way to Miami - so it sometimes takes 30 minutes to find a taxi.

So next on the list of fun and games things to do is to get the car - joy oh bliss. Going to be another challenge I am sure.

I managed to walk for three days last week - will be taking Friday and Saturday off - back to it on Sunday. I even managed to drag Aymn along with me yesterday - he was not thrilled - but he keeps commenting on gaining weight and wanting to walk more - so ...... after the walk he crawled back into bed and slept for an hour or so. Then I took off to work on the electric contract and he went out and bought some liver to make sandwiches with as he was planning on heading out to Libya. He had dropped his passport off on Wednesday to be renewed - I had washed it and the stamp signifying he had fulfilled his military service was washed out - and much to his chagrin he did not get it back on the same day - but he got it yesterday and he was off to Libya by 1:00 p.m. I am assuming he has arrived safely - have not heard anything from him. So now I am on my own for a few days - YEAH.

Today is looking like a nice day - was wondering when I got up - was cloudy - but the sun has started shining and it looks like it will be a great day. I managed to get some laundry hung up - washed it yesterday before I headed out - but did not get it hung up - so it is hanging up now. Should be a domestic diva and sweep floors and do dishes - may just do that - so at least tomorrow I do not have anything to do.

That is the extent of the excitement in my life.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

TADA - Well today I finally got my act together and got out and did some walking. Just hoping I can keep it up until such time as I can get time and money together and get myself a treadmill so all I have to do is roll out of bed throw on my shorts and t-shirt and go instead of having to get all dressed up - must admit that is a real drag. And I actually even did some stretching after I got home.

Aymn showed up - he was supposed to call me - he wanted me to go with him while he went to the Toyota service centre to get some work done on his car - but he had to get up early - translation (I am speculating as I did not ask) he had to drive his eldest son to school - really is amazing how unable these kids are to get out there and get to school on their own hook - and if they get up late - no way can they find their way to school. Poor Miles had such a mean mother - did him so much harm. But anyway - I was not able to join Aymn as I had made arrangements with my SIL - Suzanne - to go out with her and start working on getting the water and electric transferred into my name - apparently until you have this done - the apartment is not considered mine - even though I do have a contract - not worth the paper it is written on - well we went to the office and were told we had to have the original owner along with us - so Suzanne found out where the manager hangs his hat - and went and talked to him - so he agreed to do the switch with just the contract and my passport - but someone had to come to the flat to ensure that I am actually living in it - gotta love it - man sure is a challenge to deal with the beauracracy in this country - I am very much spoiled. So we headed back in a mini bus - gotta love them - really will be glad when I have my own wheels and can just come and go instead of crawling into a mini bus - of course we could have taken a taxi - but I try not to do that when I am with Suzanne as she feels she needs to contribute. On the way back we got a call from Suzanne's hubby - Sadeek - I had an appointment with their dentist at noon and he had received a call asking us to come now - so we were very grateful that the fellow from the water company showed up shortly - he verified that I do in fact live here - I gave him a little baksheesh - and in shaa allah everything will be ready for us tomorrow - must admit it does kind of amuse me when they try to figure out my name for 'legal' purposes - the guy has my passport in his hot little hand and he is asking Suzanne what my name is.

Then we were off to the dentist - she is the head dentist at a hospital not far from here - a Christian hospital - not sure what that really means - but - well it was an interesting experience - makes me think about waiting and just coming back to Canada to get my dental work done - have never had the privilege of the dentist poking to find out what is wrong - just about hit the ceiling - she poked at the sore spot twice - went for a third go round and I just about bit her - at which time she decided maybe she should get an x-ray - well talk about realizing that I am in a developing country - the x-ray machine was taped together - it took the x-ray tech two tries to get a film of my tooth - not sure if it will be good enough - and I have to hold the film in my mouth - no fancy x-ray films with wings so you just chomp down on it - oh well - gotta love the new experiences.

I think Aymn is quite chuffed at the moment - when he came he was not his normal 'cheery' self - and I commented that he was not a happy camper and he agreed. Yesterday he went to visit Mom - and he was back in less than 20 minutes. He told me she raked him over the coals because he does not visit her every day - hmmm - then I talked with Suzanne and got the scoop - she was after him for her money - so things are tightening up for him. He also has to find 5,000 LE to pay for his son's private school - after transferring him from the Egyptian school to the new Libyan school that opened up (and that is so very ironic) - because the curriculum is 'easier' and so with less work he can still attain a position at a university - but he is now hanging out with his cousin Mohammed who has no interest in school whatsoever and his marks are slipping. The irony of this is that Aymn and Amal decided six years ago that Amal and the kids would come back here from Libya so the kids could get a better education and now they are sending the eldest to Libyan school because it is easier - DUH.

Sunday saw us at a garden centre - I could have just lived there - lots of 'western' flowers - pansies, silva (?), nasturtiums, petunias, snap dragons - we brought home 500 LE of new flowers - a lot of pansies - which I ended up paying for - which did not really sit very well with me as I had told Aymn that I was not going to spend another pence on the garden - but there you go - I got rooked again - and now he is saying that we need more flowers because the garden is not completely covered - but I am not saying anything. If he wants more plants he is going to have to pay for them - after all he has 5,000 for his kids schooling - I think he should pay for the plants - but then he does not see it that way.

Guess that is about all the excitement in my little soap bubble at the moment.