We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

Suspended animation

It’s been several weeks, and it’s still dreamy here in Dream Town. And life is mostly normal. I’m working (the job is great), the boys are in school, we bought a car (a Honda Fit, which I love), and we have all our stuff from Cairo and College Town.

Giggle and Bug love the sidewalks, parks, backyard — all great, seemingly normal stuff we didn’t have in Egypt. We’ve been able to spend our weekends visiting local parks and natural areas. The green here is so refreshing after all that beige. And it’s been an absolute treat to have fall colors.

Mr. Four is not working for now, which has been a huge help in getting us settled. He brings the boys to school and picks them up in the afternoons, and he makes dinner most nights.

The conventional wisdom in the expat world is that repatriating is harder than expatriating. Moving overseas was pretty easy for us–well, at least as easy as that big of a schlep can be–in part because my employer does a really good job getting new folks settled into comfortable apartments. The hard part for us was figuring out how to get the kids outside playing.

But that’s been so easy here in Dream Town. And most everything about moving back has felt pretty easy. Maybe because it’s only been a few years since we moved. It feels, in a way, like we were in suspended animation in Cairo, with a different routine, no car, and a full-time housekeeper/nanny. Here we’re back to eating the same meals we used to make, and spending our weekends outside mucking about at the park or in the woods. And it feels great.

We really miss our friends, and it’s small consolation that many of them will be moving on from Cairo in the next year or two. But otherwise, I don’t miss Egypt.

Moving to Egypt was one of the best things I’ve ever done–and moving back has been even better.

17 November 2009 Posted by | bug, giggle, home, race, repatriation, school | 5 Comments

Well, hello there 3am

Usually jet lag is easier going west, but we’re awake in the wee hours as it’s mid-morning in Cairo. But we had a great day Thursday.

We signed a lease for a rental house. It’s a bit snug, but nicely laid out with an open kitchen-living room (with a fireplace!)-dining area, one bedroom, and one bathroom downstairs, and two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. The closets are generously sized. The small, fenced yard has plenty of room for Mr. Puppy to romp and fetch. It has a one-car garage that will be perfect for storing bikes, skateboards, and Mr. Four’s tools.

The best part is the neighborhood, with mostly older, renovated houses and, based on stuff in the neighboring yards, at least a few other kids. The sidewalks are well-maintained and street traffic is light. I’m looking forward to walking the dog and checking out the nice yards and houses on the streets nearby.

Plus we’re just two blocks away from a funky commercial district with great restaurants and shops. We’ll be able to walk to Giggle’s school as well as public transportation.

After we signed the lease and had a delicious lunch (burritos with spinach! fresh-squeezed apple juice! fresh guacamole!) at a neighborhood restaurant, we went to a nearby park with a playground and a dog park. The boys ran around outside, on the grass, with the pup for the first time since we left the US in July.

In the late afternoon, we got together with some old friends from our raft guide days. Mr. Four and I haven’t seen these folks in years. The boys had a great time with their five year old daughter, who is just as crazy as my two, and we had a great time drinking local beer, eating Indian food, and catching up. It’s quite a treat to move to a new city with old friends.

Now we’re biding time til we can start our Friday. Our friends loaded us up with sheets and air mattresses, so we’ll set up temporary quarters in our new house; our furniture should be somewhere close to Dream Town by now and we expect it to be delivered in the next week or so.

We have to do all that new house stuff, like setting up internet, switching the electricity our name, forwarding mail, etc. And we’ll start the car search (as soon as we decide what kind of car to get).

I’ll also take Giggle to his new school and get him registered.

So far, so good. I’m so happy to be back.

9 October 2009 Posted by | repatriation | 7 Comments

Repatriation, part I

We made it to Dream Town. The trip was relatively incident-free, but we were all pretty miserable by the end. We’re now crashed out in a comfy airport hotel, watching TV at 3am because we’re still on Cairo time (and by “we,” I mean my children; Mr. Four and I easily could have slept through the night).

Since I moved to Egypt, I have always loved coming back to the US. (Even London felt homey and familiar.) Here I savor all the little familiarities: familiar magazines in the rack, familiar brands on the store shelves, signs in English, plugs without adaptors, etc. I wonder how long the familiarity will be refreshing. When will it become simply normal?

My notion of home also has expanded. It’s no longer a house or a town or a state, but rather the entire US feels like home–even in this city we’ve hardly visited.

In a few hours we’re meeting a landlord at a potential rental. It’s a newish duplex/townhouse with a small yard in a racially integrated, gentrifying neighborhood. I hope we like it because the location is excellent, and the local school seems good too. Mr. Four and I would like to own our own home again, but we’ll be renting while we settle into Dream Town.

Once we find a place to rent, our next big task will be finding a new (to us) car. We sold our truck and car before we moved to Egypt, so we’ll rent a car for the next few days. As I scour CraigsList, I’m having the same problem as when I last bought a car: I want a family wagon in an SUV world.

A Honda or Toyota wagon would be perfect. But they have small SUVs instead, and I don’t want that. I had a Subaru and didn’t love it, and hate wasting gas mileage on all wheel drive. Minivans are too expensive. So what’s the best combination of reasonable gas mileage and some storage/cargo space?

This and other exciting adventures await.

8 October 2009 Posted by | home, repatriation | 8 Comments