We woke up this morning unsure of what kind of Egypt we would encounter. I had been following the news and some Twitter feeds for this part of the country. Reports had indicated that there was widespread unrest and that a curfew from 7 pm to 6 am for the whole country was in effect.
Earlier this week, we had already planned to purchase a larger amount of groceries to prepare for any extended "snow days" that might come up. We didn't realize it would happen so soon. Sadik informed us on Monday that he would be out of town for a week because he was going to Cairo for vacation. He then gave us the number to one of his friends, Ahmed*, that would be his substitute while he was gone. Sadik said that he was a "rogel kwyees" (good man).
John called Ahmed this morning to ask him to take us on some errands. Ahmed said to give him 30 minutes. We continued with some work thinking that 30 minutes usually means 45 or so. When an hour and 30 minutes had passed, John called Ahmed. Ahmed said that he was having trouble with the car and couldn't come.
John called another one of our new friends, Yah-Yah. He told us he would be there also in 30 minutes. We settled in again. However, he did arrive when he said. Humdillalah!
We left our neighborhood to go into town around 1 pm. On Thursday, the area should have been buzzing. When we pulled onto the main street, we saw only a couple men with their small vending boxes. We needed to add some additional minutes to our cells so we asked Yah Yah to stop at the phone office, but when we pulled up it was locked. In fact, most of the businesses were locked.
We asked Yah Yah why. He said that people are afraid of trouble so they don't come out. Wow. He asked where we wanted to go next. We told him the grocery store.
We arrived and thankfully it was open with a few people shopping. I thought it might be like a mention of snow when we lived in Springfield, MO. Wal-Mart was always pandemonium. But not here. There were two young girls picking up a couple items who were giving me their biggest smiles. One finally got brave enough to say, "'ello! What. Ees. Your. Name?" I told her and asked her hers in Arabic. She told me and stuck out her hand. I shook it and told her that it was very nice to meet her. Her older sister was trying not to gawk but there are so few foreigners, she couldn't resist.
John pushed the cart as I loaded it full of rice, boxed milk, canned items (with pop tops/still haven't found an opener) and some frozen goods. That should be enough for a couple weeks minus produce.
Yah Yah helped us with our groceries and we made our way back toward our apartment. He took us a different route than Sadik does so we got to see new things. One store window had several drills...Hey we need one of those! But it was closed. We also drove passed a rug store. I need a couple rugs, too! Also, closed. It was like Ramadan all over again except this time the people don't know when to come out or how to earn a living or reform a new government.
It's a confusing, maddening and difficult existence for Egyptians right now. One of our local friends who has been so kind to us called today to ask if we needed anything. Amazing. We thanked him and assured him that we were fine. We also offered our assistance, friendship and prayers.
Tonight it's quiet in our neighborhood. Each day is different and unpredictable, but how grateful we are to be here. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. We have the privilege of praying for the friends we've made by name, to experience some of the same emotions they do, to live life alongside them in a difficult time, to offer hope when there seems to be none.
*Not his real name
*Not his real name