Only in Egypt: Woe is me!

Only in Egypt! How many times have you seen that as a title for yet another ridiculous picture of an overloaded donkey/bicycle/ truck or bus? It's what I would class as a hackneyed phrase; overused and overly simplistic. Yet, here I am utilising the self-same cliché!

I'm confident, though, that you Dear Reader will indulge me. Many of you will have already been to Egypt, and will therefore have an idea of the hap-hazard 'rules of the road' in this topsy-turvy land. Those of you who are yet to have the privilege of visiting the Land of the Pharaohs; pin back your lug-holes and rub the sleep out of your eyess!

It's just very recently that I've realised one of the simplest of the 'Egyptian Rules of the Road', and that is that a driver is wholly responsible for driving into anything, but not at all responsible for anything that happens behind his direct (frontal) field of vision. Once this becomes clear, then a great deal of the stupidity (or that which we Westerners would view as driving stupidly) comes more into focus, and seems less stupid, after all. So, driving around roundabouts the wrong way, or pulling out into a major road without bothering to look first, becomes 'not my problem' (another very common Egyptian phrase). Like this:

Yes, we drive on the right here in Egypt. That's the left ear of our caleche hose in the bottom right hand corner, and a small car toodling along in the 'fast' lane. On the opposite carriageway, there's a tourist coach coming in the other direction, possibly from Luxor Airport, as it's the airport road that we're on. But, the next coach, right in the middle of the picture, above the car,  overtook our caleche a minute or two previously and is  now travelling on the wrong side of the dual carriageway! It's alright though, as it's big enough to see. As I said, "Only in Egypt".

By sub-titling this post "Woe is me!" I thought that I might pre-warn you of impending written 'doom and gloom'. (That's one of the Master Carpenter Jim Crow's old sayings, I hope you don't mind me referring to him yet again, but I still regularly imagine him looking over my shoulder whilst I'm attempting some woodwork!)

Honestly, why any sane person would contemplate living here is completely beyond me! It's like some sort of debilitating and incurable viral infection; once it's taken hold, there's no stopping it! And, as well as there being no cure; none of us sufferers want to be cured anyway.

(Sorry, that was just a little frustrated aside, and not a genuine complaint.)

So, back to the current woes! You'll remember the debacle of  Mr Hashim's 'tradesmen'? Well, to further the job, I decided to carry on myself. I set to with my lovely Aldi angle-grinder and equally lovely Aldi stone and ceramic cutting discs, and cut out the old shower tray and surrounding tiles:

Although I'd had the vacuum running to try and catch some of the dust, and was wearing a mask and goggles and a plastic bag over my hair and ears, the dust still managed to get on my chest. So much so, that the following morning I was struggling to breath and my chest was very painful. In fact, I was convinced that I was actually gasping my last, right then and there!! Of course I wasn't, and it turned out that I (again) had a belly bloated with wind,  which was pushing upward and interfering with my lungs; hence the pain and the difficulty in getting much air into them.) Anyway, it meant a day off.

I had almost decided to just persevere and complete the whole job myself, but reality kicked in when it came to chiselling out the concrete shower-tray base; I'm not young and energetic enough for that kind of hard labour any more!  

A female English friend and her husband are busy constructing a flat, and she kindly put us in touch with her plumber. He, eventually, landed with a 'boy' and the two of them spent two days with hammers and chisels digging out the whole floor and more of the bottom row of tiles, God bless them! They also helped me to move the electric water heater from where the new extended shower will be and into, the spare W.C. next door. (It really should have been in there in the first place!)

They came with a load of sand and a bag of cement, the man with the motor-bike-truck thing wanted 100le, but I got him down to 50. Seeing as he carried most of it up the stairs, I don't suppose it was all that bad. He looked pretty plugged by the time he'd finished.

The plumber, Ayad, and his labouring boy got the shower tray in place, and promised that their tiler (ceram-IQUE) man would be here "after tomorrow". That was three days ago, so we're not sure how many 'after tomorrows' he meant!

I'm sorry about the picture quality (sound familiar?) but I just don't know how to improve these, all the pics I've taken of the guest bathroom are rubbish, they're an embarrassment on our adverts too. It must be something to do with the camera settings, about which I haven't a clue! Anyway, you get the gist don't you?

I'm not being completely idle, mind you. I have been doing bits with the large and expensive pieces of timber which I've been acquiring for the stairs, and doing a great deal of thinking about how best to tackle that job. More about that on another day.  

Of course, all this is going on in the midst of irregular power cuts! Here's a shot of my beloved searching her pockets for her phone, which has a good torch on it:

It wouldn't be so bad if the temperature was in the normal range for May, but it's getting just too hot for comfort. In fact, Freda decided, yesterday, to move downstairs, as the A/C units down there are so much better than our own. Of course, that means moving everything else as well! 

The electric kettle down there hasn't been de-scaled since the last guests were here, so I part filled it with white vinegar and set it to boil, with the lid open, so that it wouldn't switch off automatically. That's a wonder cleaner that white vinegar! After a minute or so of letting it boil away, I switched it off and poured it down the sink; spotless!  After refilling it and boiling another couple of times, to get rid of the vinegar smell and taste, I poured the last lot into the sink just in time to get newly boiled water splashing all over my plastic sandalled feet! Lo and behold; the heat had expanded the piping below the plughole in the sink and it had come apart. There was water everywhere, as you can imagine! I've slathered silicone sealer all over the inside of the pipe joint today, and we'll see how it performs by tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm having to cart dirty dishes up and down the stairs in the scorching heat to be able to wash them, it's getting rather tedious.

Another catsafterme (Colloquialsim: catsafterme is Stan-Laurel-speak for catastrophe.) occurred yesterday as well. Freda was just about to step into the shower, when the water stopped! At first we thought that the water might have been cut by the powers-that-be (like happens regularly, apparently, on the Side of the Dead), or maybe a charming child of one of Dr Al Malach's patients had clambered onto the wall and turned off the main, which has happened once before, or possibly the water filter had become blocked? Armed with a screwdriver and a new filter, I trudged down the stairs. 

Yes, everyone else had water. No, the main hadn't been turned off. And, I would change the filter anyway, now that I was here.

I normally open the bleed screw for a few seconds, just to, take the pressure off the filter bowl before unscrewing it. I was mystified as to why, after about five minutes, the water was still emitting from the bleeder under a seemingly enormous pressure. Removing the screw altogether, I got a jet of water which bounced off the ceiling of the stairwell! The water was red hot! So was the water pump and the pipework leading away to the upstairs apartments. It seemed as though the pump taken a wobbler and had just gone on and on building up pressure without the actual water going anywhere, how could that be? (That was a rhetorical question, by the way.)

With much to-ing and frowing,  up and down stairs, switching taps and the pump on and off, it all seemed to be back to normal, the filter hadn't been ready for a change, but I've no idea what had happened. 

Only in Egypt? Who knows? What I do know is that it's still too hot for May, look at this:

That's what greeted me when I carried some dishes up the stairs this afternoon. You cannot get much closer to 50 degrees Centigrade than  that without it being 122 Fahrenheit, can you?

I'm off to luxuriate with my three and a half horse-power A/C! Goodnight.

1 comment:

  1. yes the traffic does do what it wants over there as i have seen it a lot of times rather scarey