Monday, August 31, 2009

Out of touch

I have little to no internet access where I am staying now so sorry to those of you who have left comments over the last week. They are published now. However, since I am at a wifi cafe I won't have time to answer everyone now. I will be back in touch when I return to Cairo at the end of September.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A series of unfortunate events - Part 1: Cairo Airport

The first thing that went wrong was my fault. I told the taxi driver to take me to terminal 2. I told him several times, in fact. About an hour later we arrived at terminal 2 and I got out and he drove away. No sooner had he done so I realized he had shorted me 20 LE making change for my 100 LE note and I was in the wrong terminal. I needed to be in Terminal 1. After having to let a few shuttle buses go past me because they were full, I finally made it to terminal 1. Good thing I had arrived at the airport more than 2 hours early. But as I entered the terminal I realized my plan to beat the crowd had been foiled by my mistake. The line to get to the Delta check-in counter was snaked all the way back to the metal detector.

I was about to pick up my one suitcase and put it on the belt when a guy grabbed it out of my hand and did it for me. Then he asked me to give him a tip. No, I don't think so. I'm not falling for that dude I'm not a tourist - I live here. And I was so happy to be getting a little reprieve from Egypt, that standing in a really long check-in line seemed like a small price to pay.

So I'm standing there minding my own business filling out my luggage tag at the back of the line, and a Delta employee approaches me and told me to follow him. He maneuvered me around the barricade and into the business class check-in area. I got my boarding passes in no time at all. My earlier error would not cost me that much time after all, and I would have time to relax over a 15 LE cup of coffee before boarding.

Once in the gate area things were looking up. I managed to get on the first shuttle bus to the plane. They had the front and back doors of the plane opened but everyone was boarding through the back. I was in row 24, right in the middle, so it did not matter to me. Either way I beat the crowd. I found row 24 and seat G. There was a teenage boy with a big guitar in the vicinity. I excused myself and sat down in my seat next to the big guitar. I put my bags under the seat, got out my pillow and my blanket and settled in for an 11 hour 59 minute flight. I still did not know if the kid was sitting next to me or just his guitar was, but i noticed many seats in my vicinity were empty. I knew that I couldn't have gotten that lucky when I realized the shuttle bus was on its was back to the gate area to pick up the second load of people.

I just sat there enjoying the peace and quiet for a few minutes. A woman came up beside me and asked if I was in seat 25G. No, I told her, I was in 24G. The teenage boy came and picked up his guitar and carried it to the front of the plane. He returned a few minutes later without it and sat down next to me. The second round of people began arriving from the terminal and the seats all around me began filling up. I was glad to already be settled into my seat and comfortable. It was 1:30 am and I was exhausted. I could not wait for the meal to be served so I could eat and then go to sleep for the duration of the flight. I was hoping to arrive in NY at 7 am with a good 8 hours of sleep behind me and no jet lag.

Suddenly, the woman who had talked to me earlier was in the aisle next to me again. She informed me that I was in fact in seat 25G. Well crap - I had to move. I picked up my bags and moved them to the row in front of me. The teenage boy stood up, too. I moved one row ahead to my proper seat and was getting resettled when suddenly a young Egyptian woman sat down beside me. She said hello to me and I responded, but I was slightly surprised. What happened to the boy? I looked around and saw him about 4 rows behind where we originally had been. I guess he was not supposed to be in row 24 after all. I began to settle again and get comfortable, covering myself once again with the blanket. It was already freezing in the cabin. I reached up and turned my air vent off. The Egyptian girl stood up and took something out of her carry on bag in the overhead. It was a sweatshirt. One of those thick and snugly ones that feels best when you put it on straight out of the dryer. Watching her put her sweatshirt on, I suddenly realized I had not worn a long sleeve shirt even though I had planned to. I also suddenly realized that even with the airline blanket over me - I was still freezing.

I turned to the girl and told her I wished I had brought a sweatshirt, too. She gave me her airline blanket and told me she would ask for another. When one of the flight attendants passed by she asked for another blanket and was told there were no more. I offered to give her blanket back but she insisted I keep it. Not only was she nice - she had been smart enough to bring a long sleeve shirt. Now I had 2 paper-thin blankets covering me and I was still freezing. We had not even left the ground yet. Only 12 more hours to go. It was going to be a long flight.

The meal was served and the movie was starting. My seat mate and I took out our headphones and plugged them in. No sound. We tried all channels and the volume but still nothing. A flight attendant told us they had to reset the sound. I checked back a few times while I was eating, but there was still nothing. Was it just our seats or did the whole plane have no sound? After I finished eating, I chatted with my seatmate for a while until we were both tired. I tried to watch the movie with no sound. I can't read lips or the Arabic subtitles so I just imagined what the actors were saying. Eventually, I fell asleep.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Easy money?

According to Bikya Masr, individuals from all over the US were hired to welcome Mubarak to Washington, DC this past weekend after the Egyptian embassy failed to find a large enough crowd of Egyptians willing or wanting to meet the Egyptian president during his arrival in the US.

According to the reports, each person was given $100 for their time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Email from American Embassy in Cairo

Here is an email I got from the US Embassy in Cairo. I'm posting it here because it has some useful information.

Egypt

August 12, 2009

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Egypt is a republic with a developing economy. It has extensive facilities for tourists. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Egypt for additional information.

REGISTRATION: Americans living or traveling in Egypt are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the Department of State’s travel registration page in order to obtain updated information on local travel and security. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. Tourists can obtain a renewable thirty-day tourist visa on arrival at an Egyptian airport for a $15 fee, payable in U.S. dollars. Visitors arriving overland and/or those who previously experienced difficulty with their visa status in Egypt should obtain a visa prior to arrival. Travelers arriving from Israel at the Taba border crossing are advised to obtain a visa prior to their arrival, otherwise they are granted either a no-fee, fourteen-day visa valid for travel within Sinai only, or they may buy a thirty-day tourist visa for $15 upon submission of a travel agency support letter. The letters are obtainable from travel agents at the border; however, their fees for providing this service vary. Military personnel arriving on commercial flights are not exempt from passport and visa requirements. Diplomatic and Official passport holders are required to have a visa before arrival in Egypt. The Egyptian Embassy in Washington is currently requiring 7-10 working days to process official visa requests, an expedite letter from the Department of State notwithstanding, so it is incumbent upon all travelers to submit their visa requests and passports to the Egyptian Embassy well in advance of travel.

Foreigners who wish to come to Egypt for work must obtain a work permit and work/business visa before arrival. Foreigners can acquire a work permit from the Ministry of Manpower and Immigration offices in the district of the employer, and accordingly are authorized residency in the country. Work permits must be obtained through the employer. Foreigners who arrive as tourists but want to change their status after arrival in country are allowed a three-month tourist/non- working residency visa to change their status from tourist to work. Foreigners in Egypt on tourist visas are not permitted to work. Proof of yellow fever immunization is required if arriving from an infected area. Evidence of an AIDS test is required for everyone staying over thirty days, for the purpose of studying or working in Egypt. The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors.

Foreign residents and their dependents aged 15 or older who are in Egypt applying for work, study or training permits and staying longer than 30 days require HIV testing. A test performed in the U.S. may be accepted under certain conditions. Please verify this information with the Government of Egypt before you travel. All passengers arriving in Egypt now undergo certain health measures at the Cairo International Airport as a precautiondue to the 2009-H1N1 virus. The passengers’ passports are examined and they are screened at immigration via infrared cameras. If flu symptoms (high fever, headache, and running nose) are evident in the passenger, they are isolated and transferred to a hospital for observation for at least 48 hours. If test results are negative the passenger is allowed to leave the hospital. If the test results are positive, the passenger will be quarantined until the Ministry of Health determines they no longer pose a health risk. Visit the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the most current visa information.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: In February 2009, a small bomb exploded in the main square in front of the Khan al Khalili bazaar, causing numerous casualties among foreign visitors, including the death of a young French tourist. A second explosive device was discovered and detonated by police. In September 2008, 11 foreign tourists and eight Egyptians were kidnapped for ransom in the remote south-western desert region, close to the Sudanese border. Tourists should avoid travel to the border region. The Egyptian-Gaza border has been closed on a permanent basis since June 2007, and the Egyptian Government only re-opens the border temporarily for short periods of time. These re-openings are announced on short notice. Travelers and especially humanitarian aid convoys who need to cross this border should contact the Egyptian Embassy in Washington and arrange for permission for their trip before travel. They also should approach the U.S. Embassy, Consular Section in Cairo upon arrival to execute an affidavit at fee ($30.00) after they have read the Travel Warning for Israel, West Bank and Gaza, which advises against traveling to Gaza. The affidavit is an Egyptian requirement but is not a guarantee for crossing the border. Official U. S. government travel to the areas of Rafah and Al Arish in the North Sinai is restricted. Egypt suffered a series of deadly terrorist attacks in or near tourist sites in 2005 and 2006 – often coinciding with major local holidays.

Americans should be especially vigilant in crowded tourist areas, practice good personal security measures, and be alert to their surroundings. A heavy security presence is apparent to travelers throughout the country. U.S. citizens do not appear to have been targeted in any of these incidents. Three explosions in the town of Dahab in April 2006 killed over 20 people and wounded at least 80 others, including five U.S. citizens. In July 2005, three explosions in Sharm el Sheikh killed over 60 people, including one American. Evidence of instability in the Sinai has also been reflected in random attacks on vehicles transiting the interior and two bomb attacks on Multinational Force Observers near the Rafah border crossing in August 2005 and April 2006. While the Egyptian Government took measures against the perpetrators of the 2005 and 2006 attacks, the bombings reflect a persistent, indigenous threat of terror activities in the Sinai. U.S. citizens who still plan to visit the Sinai in spite of the persistent threat of terrorist attacks should exercise great caution. Travelers are reminded to remain alert to their surroundings and are reminded that crowded tourist areas have been the target of terrorist activities. Travelers should use caution when visiting destination resorts and hotels without significant physical setback and security procedures. Americans are encouraged to visit the U.S. Embassy in Cairo web site at http://cairo.usembassy.gov/ for the most up-to-date security information. There have been instances of instability and public disorder in some other areas of Egypt, most notably in the Nile Valley governorates of Assiut and Sohag, located between Cairo and Luxor. These governorates, along with the adjacent governorates of Minya and Qena, have been areas of extremist activity in the past. U.S. Embassy personnel traveling to these areas (apart from Luxor and adjacent tourist destinations) require advance approval. Egyptian authorities also restrict the travel of foreigners in these governorates. American citizens planning to travel in these areas should contact the Embassy prior to travel.

Public demonstrations occasionally take place in areas such as Tahrir Square in Cairo and in the vicinity of universities and mosques following the Friday noon prayers, including the Azhar mosque across from the Khan El Khalili Bazaar area. These demonstrations are typically accompanied by a heavy security presence. Roads in the vicinity are often closed. Americans should remain attuned to readily-available English-language media outlets and avoid all public demonstrations. Travelers to Egypt's frontiers, including the borders with Libya, Sudan, and Israel and parts of the Sinai off the main, paved roads, must obtain permission from the Travel Permits Department of the Ministry of the Interior, located at the corner of Sheikh Rihan and Nubar Streets in downtown Cairo Restricted Areas: Those wishing to visit areas near Egypt's frontiers, including oases near the border with Libya, Sudan and off-road areas in the Sinai, must obtain permission from the Travel Permits Department of the Ministry of the Interior, located at the corner of Sheikh Rihan and Nubar Streets in downtown Cairo. Travelers should be aware of the possible dangers of off-road travel. In 2008 a group of 11 foreigners was kidnapped for ransom while on an unregistered and unsecured safari. In addition, travelers should be aware that landmines have caused many casualties, including deaths of Americans, in Egypt.

All travelers should check with local authorities before embarking on off-road travel. Known minefields are not reliably marked by signs, but are sometimes enclosed by barbed wire. After heavy rains, which can cause flooding and the consequent shifting of landmines, travelers should take care driving through build-ups of sand on roadways. Though mines are found in other parts of Egypt, the highest concentrations are in World War II battlefields along the Mediterranean coast west of Alexandria, the Eastern Desert between Cairo and the Suez Canal, and much of the Sinai Peninsula. Travelers are urged to be especially prudent in these areas. For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs' website, which contains current the Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Consular information is also available on the U.S. Embassy's website.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or by calling a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad . CRIME: The crime rate in Egypt is low. While incidents of violence are rare, purse-snatching, pick-pocketing and petty theft does occur. Travelers are strongly cautioned not to leave valuables such as cash, jewelry, and electronic items unsecured in hotel rooms or unattended in public places. Unescorted women are vulnerable to sexual harassment and verbal abuse. The Embassy has received increasing reports over the last six months of foreigners being sexually groped in taxis and in public places. Travelers are cautioned to be aware of their surroundings and to be cautious going anywhere with a stranger alone.

Many marriages between Egyptians and Americans are successful. However, the Embassy warns against marriage fraud on the part of the American or the Egyptian. Entering into a marriage contract for the principal purpose of facilitating immigration to the United States for an alien is against U.S. law and can result in serious penalties, including fines and imprisonment for the American citizen and the Egyptian. At the same time, it is not uncommon for Egyptians to enter into marriages with Americans solely for immigration purposes. Relationships developed via correspondence, particularly those begun on the Internet, are particularly susceptible to manipulation. The U.S. government urges Americans who meet Egyptians on the Internet or while touring the country, to take the time necessary to get to know them before considering marriage. Unfortunately, the Embassy sees many cases of abuse against American spouses and often the marriages end in divorce when the Egyptian acquires a green card or citizenship in the United States. These cases invariably occur when the relationship is based mostly on Internet communication and very little face-to-face interaction. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. More information on this serious problem is available at http://www.cybercrime.gov/18usc2320.htm.

VICTIMS OF CRIME : If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see end of this sheet or see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates). This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds may be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Posts in countries that have victims of crime assistance programs should include that information.The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Egypt is 122. U.S.-citizen tourists can forward their complaints for investigation by the Tourist Police Headquarters.

The Embassy has received increasing reports of US women subject to domestic violence, sexual harassment, verbal abuse and rape in Egypt. Women have been sexually groped in taxis and public places. The Consular Section strongly encourages women who seek our assistance to take legal action against perpetrators, hoping to bring them to justice. Some Egyptian NGOs provide assistance to victimized women within the Egyptian community. Women victimized overseas may be entitled to receive compensation for counseling and/or other services such as relocating back to the U.S. For further information visit http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/ . Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: There are restrictions on photographing military personnel and sites, bridges, and canals, including the Suez Canal. Egyptian authorities may broadly interpret these restrictions to include other potentially-sensitive structures, such as embassies, other public buildings with international associations, and some religious edifices. Visitors should also refrain from taking photographs of any uniformed personnel. In addition to being subject to all Egyptian laws, U.S. citizens of Egyptian origin may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Egyptian citizens. The Government of Egypt considers all children born to Egyptian fathers to be Egyptian citizens even if they were not issued an Egyptian birth certificate or a passport.

American women married to Egyptians do not need their spouse's permission to depart Egypt as long as they have a valid Egyptian visa. Dual nationals residing in Egypt for more than six months from the date of arrival require proof of Egyptian citizenship, such as a family I.D. card. Male dual nationals staying in Egypt for more than six months from the date of arrival and who have not completed military service are not generally required to enlist in the armed forces. However, they must obtain an exemption certificate through the Ministry of Defense Draft Office before they can leave Egypt. Individuals who may be affected can inquire at an Egyptian consulate abroad before traveling to Egypt. Dual Egyptian-American nationals may enter and leave Egypt on their U.S. passports. Persons with dual nationality who travel to Egypt on their Egyptian passports are normally treated as Egyptian citizens by the local government. The ability to provide U.S. consular assistance to those traveling on Egyptian passports is extremely limited. For additional information, please see our dual nationality flyer. Services for U.S. Companies: The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Officers and Commercial Specialists are available for counseling U.S. business representatives on market-entry opportunities and techniques. They actively support U.S. companies who are bidding on projects, advocate on their behalf and assist in removing trade barriers. For specific questions, please contact American.Products@mail.doc.gov or visit http://www.buyusa.gov/egypt/en/ussvcs.html.

Marriage in Egypt: The Egyptian government allows Americans to marry in Egypt. For further information, please refer to the web site of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo at http://cairo.usembassy.gov/consular/acs12.htm.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical care in Egypt falls short of U.S. standards. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo can provide a list of local hospitals and English-speaking physicians. Emergency and intensive care facilities are limited. Most Nile cruise boats do not have a ship's doctor, but some employ a medical practitioner of uncertain qualification. Hospital facilities in Luxor and Aswan are inadequate, and they are nonexistent at most other ports-of-call. The Egyptian ambulance service hotline is 123, but Egyptian ambulance service is not reliable.Beaches on the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts are generally unpolluted. Persons who swim in the Nile or its canals, walk barefoot in stagnant water, or drink untreated water are at risk of exposure to bacterial and other infections and the parasitic disease schistosomiasis (bilharzia). It is generally safe to eat properly-prepared, thoroughly-cooked meat and vegetables in tourist hotels, on Nile cruise boats, and in tourist restaurants. Eating uncooked vegetables should be avoided. Tap water is not potable. It is best to drink bottled water or water that has been boiled and filtered. Well-known brands of bottled beverages are generally considered to be safe. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

Influenza: As of October 15, 2008, the Egyptian Ministry of Health has confirmed fifty human cases of the H5NI strain of avian influenza in Egypt since March 2006. Commonly known as "bird flu,” the disease has resulted in twenty-two deaths. Travelers to Egypt and other countries where the virus is being isolated or identified are cautioned to avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, and any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from poultry or other animals. In addition, the CDC and WHO recommend eating only fully-cooked poultry and eggs. As of August 2009, the Egyptian Ministry of Health has confirmed approximately 300 cases of 2009-H1N1 influenza and one H1N1-related death in the country. 2009-H1N1 influenza (sometimes referred to as novel H1N1 or “swine flu”) is a new virus causing illness in humans that was first detected earlier this year. The virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza spreads. Most people infected with 2009-H1N1 fully recover. You cannot catch 2009-H1N1 by eating properly cooked pork products.

For the most current information and links on influenza and pandemic preparedness, please visit the federal government’s flu website.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to determine whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page .

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Egypt is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance. Driving in Egypt, a country with one of the world’s highest rates of road fatalities per mile driven, is a challenge. Even seasoned residents of Cairo must use extraordinary care and situational awareness to navigate the hectic streets of the capital. Traffic rules appear to be routinely ignored by impatient drivers. Any visiting Americans thinking about driving in Cairo should carefully consider their options, take the utmost precautions, and drive defensively. Drivers should be prepared for unlit vehicles at night; few, if any, road markings; vehicles traveling at high rates of speed; vehicles traveling the wrong way on one-way streets; divided highways and connecting ramps; pedestrians constantly dodging in and out of traffic; and a variety of animals on the roads. Most traffic lights in Cairo appear not to function, but rather intersections are staffed by policemen who use subtle finger movements to indicate which cars may move.

Pedestrians should also exercise extreme caution when traversing roadways, especially in high-volume/high-velocity streets like Cairo's Corniche, which follows the east bank of the Nile River. Motorists in Egypt should be especially cautious during the rare winter rains, which can cause extremely slippery road surfaces or localized flooding. Public mini- and microbuses are not safe; the Embassy strongly recommends that its personnel not use them. In 2006, there were two serious accidents involving international tourist buses on highways outside of Cairo in which a number of foreign tourists were killed. Intercity roads are generally in good condition, but unmarked surfaces, stray animals, and disabled vehicles without lights or reflectors are among the many hazards that can be encountered on highways, especially after dark. Embassy personnel in Egypt are prohibited from traveling outside Cairo on official business after sunset. In addition, some roads, especially in the Sinai and southeastern part of the country, are off-limits to foreigners. Traffic warning signs should be respected. Trains are usually a safe means of transportation in Egypt. In 2006, there were several accidents involving the collision of third-class passenger trains in the Delta area in which a number of Egyptian nationals were killed or injured. Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of Egypt’s national tourist office and national authority for road safety.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Egypt’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Egypt's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

EMBASSY LOCATION: Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates .

U.S. Embassy Cairo
5 Tawfik Diab Street
Garden City, Cairo
telephone (20) 2-2797-2301

Walk-in working hours are 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday except for official holidays (U.S. and local) and the last Tuesday of each month. Phone-inquiry hours are between 1:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. The latest Embassy warden message can be heard on (20) 2-2797-3000.

For emergencies after-hours, U.S. citizens may reach the Embassy duty officer via (20) 2-2797-3300. The Consular Section American Citizens Services unit fax number is (20) 2-2797-3602.

Americans without Internet access may register directly with the Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The mailing address from the United States is: Consular Section, Unit 64900, Box 15, APO AE 09839-4900. Within Egypt or from a third country, it is 8 Kamal el-Din Salah Street, Garden City, Cairo. The Consular Section's e-mail address is consularcairoacs@state.gov . Consular information is available via the Internet on the U.S. Embassy Cairo website. Visa-related inquiries should be directed by e-mail to consularcaironiv@state.gov.

Once a month, American Citizens Services are available at the American Center, 3 Pharana Street, Azarita, Alexandria, and every five to ten weeks, American Citizens Services are available at the Cairo American College, Maadi. Please check the Embassy web site for dates and times of available services.

* * *

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Egypt dated December 15, 2008 to update sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Threats to Safety and Security, Victims of Crime, and Medical Facilities and Health Information.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Crops irrigated with sewar water

You have already heard the warning about washing fruits and vegetables really well in Egypt, now there is another concern about Egypt's crops. Just watch this video:

Vegetables and fruits irrigated with sewar water.

This is very disturbing.

Friday, August 7, 2009

You know you're not an EXPAT if...

I've been very frustrated with Cairo lately - well Egypt in general and have been looking for expat groups to join. You know, to meet with other people in similar circumstances (people born and raised in other countries but now call Egypt home) who I can vent my frustrations to. Let's stop right here and examine the definition of the word expat. Expat is short for EXPATRIATE and according to Wikipedia the term is defined as being "a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing or legal residence. The word comes from the Latin ex (out of) and patria (country, fatherland)."

A country other than their upbringing or legal residence. OK. I understand that, why don't other people? Why are all the expat groups and websites dealing with Egypt full of Egyptians then (and 99% Egyptian men)? I know as I write this I will get tons of hate mail and frankly I don't care. But we all know the reason and it is for one thing only. To pick up foreign women. I know that by now someone reading this is saying "hold the phone" - I join expat groups to learn about other cultures. Well that's all well and good and you should join the "learn about other cultures" groups and not EXPATS groups. Admit it guys - you join expat groups to pick up women.

Don't believe me? Try creating a fake profile on some site. Call yourself Ann, say you are from Iowa, upload a picture of an attractive woman, and then sit back and wait for the messages to start pouring into your private message inbox. And they will by the dozens. Within days you'll get all kinds of messages from Egyptian guys wanting to be your friend, wanting to teach you Arabic, wanting to be your private tour guide, etc. Guess what guys? The women are sick of it.
It's not cute or attractive and not one woman ever saw one of those messages and said "Thank goodness he wrote to me because I had no idea how I was going to learn Arabic otherwise".

My friend "N" gets messages like:

hi i like to have good friendship please i am man, teach music piano guitar violin and play violin in orchestra for 12 years i am very calm lonely need friend so much i live in ***** ,i dont think about sex believe me ,, i can play violin in party at home i play classical and jazz and soft musici am good person and need firendship so much i am christian ,i have 34 ,, pls we can chat by sms if u want *** *** ****thanks alot ,,

Sorry, but this message came to her on a board that was meant to be an expat site. It's not only happening on expat sites. Anyone on Facebook? "S" got a rather amusing private message from an Egyptian man who claimed he was magically drawn to her picture and felt as if they were meant to be together and blah, blah, blah. It was more like an essay. In conclusion the guy told her to contact him if she felt the same way. As if any woman would respond in kind to a mass email that was copied and pasted into just about every profile of a foreign woman in the Egypt network. And they are branching out everywhere - I recently got one in my YouTube account.

So getting back to the issue of EXPATS, bottom line: if you were born and raised in Egypt you can't call yourself an expat by any stretch of the imagination. There are plenty of forums and groups that will offer cultural and language exchange opportunities to all nationalities. But guys - don't use these sites as your own personal dating site or a place to find a wife. If you are looking for a wife, why not join sites where you will find women with a common goal - like e-harmony or yahoo personals? All you will find on chat forums when you come looking for a wife is a bunch of women fed up with being hit on constantly who will, no doubt, rip you a new one.

Get with the program guys! If you are old enough to get married you are old enough to know that posting things on forums like "where should I look for a wife, seriously" is an absolutely sickening (sticking finger down throat and pretending to vomit) way to find an actual wife. Seriously. We all know that things are done differently in Egyptian culture, but honestly most foreign (or Western women) wouldn't take kindly to being "hunted" or "fished" for and do not go about securing long term relationships in this manner. Again, there are plenty of dating sites out there made specifically for that.

For all the women out there who are being bothered here is a little trick that will make it stop: Go into all your accounts (Skype, Yahoo, MSN Messenger, FaceBook, MySpace, emails, etc.) and change your country of origin or location to KAZAKHSTAN. You will never get an unwanted message or chat from any man again. It worked for me.