The following story is a series of emails and journaling from Craig and Terry Paul. They emailed Wayzata.com a couple of weeks ago from Egypt expressing an interest in following Wayzata Football. Craig has just retired from WHS as the principal and expressed a desire to stay connected. I indicated that the Wayzata Community would like to stay connected to them as well.
As a result of that conversation, Craig and Terry forwarded the following email / journal entries from abroad as they have began a new challenge at the American International School of Egypt in Cairo. Wayzata.com will publish these in a new segment called: CRAIG PAUL and TERRY PAUL: Living in Egypt!
End of August/Beginning of September-2008
Terry took a 6 day whirlwind trip to Sweden for a wedding of one of our former exchange students. Ulf married Kajsa on 8/30 in a church built in the 1100s. The reception was held in a castle built in that same time period. It was breathtaking! But before I get to that day, let me back up.
I flew out at 4AM from Cairo, and you never would have known it was the middle of the night! The airport was absolutely a mob-like atmosphere and the outside was swamped with people! It was Ramadan, and it was like there was a party going on of hundreds of people in the middle of the nights!
Off to Amsterdam, then Stockholm to be picked up by Charlie, our 6th exchange student (1990-1991). When I landed, my first thought was- Wow, everything is so civilized here, compared to what I have been experiencing the past 10 days! And it is VERY chilly up here!
We went to a small town from Stockholm to meet her fiancé Nisse and daughter Ellinor. I spent the day and evening with them and it was delightful.
Early the next morning, she took me to the train to ride from Solna to Vasteras where I met Ulf, exchange student #2 (1974-75). He whisked me off to meet Kajsa at their home, and to see David, his father, and then he took me to his former mother-in-law’s home. I had lunch with Kerstin and Maria (Ulf’s former wife). We picked up Maria’s daughter Frida and then went to Maria’s home for fika (afternoon snack). They dropped me off at Ulf and Kajsa’s where I finally met Andreas and Daniel, Kajsa’s two sons. How nice to finally meet these two young men whom I had only met through Emails! We had a wonderful dinner that night, topped off by a fantastic marzipan cake made by Daniel, the ten year old son!
Friday was a BIG day because lots of people arrived! Gail Morrman-Behrens and her daughter Heather arrived from the US. Gail was a classmate of Ulf’s from Strawberry Point 34 years ago. Ian, my son, and his girlfriend, Nelly (daughter to our first exchange student) arrived from southern Sweden.. Birgitta (our 3rd exchange student (1976-77) and her family arrived. The evening was spent having grilled supper and relaxing.
Saturday was the big day. The wedding was at 4 PM, and as I said, it was at a very, very old church and castle. It was the most emotional wedding I have ever attended. The bride and groom were perfect and are so meant to be together and so happy , that there were tears from them all through the ceremony and from all the guests. Everything about the wedding was perfect! The reception was full of games, singing, tributes/speechs. And to make it a storybook setting, there was no electricity, so everything was by candlelight in this 11th century castle. More tears during the tributes and the songs. I even gave a tribute as the American mother to Ulf, so it was emotional for me, and Ian did a very nice job speaking as the American brother.
Sunday everyone left at different times, and my time to leave was with Ian and Nelly when we got on the train to go down to southern Sweden to see Nina, exchange student #1 (1973-1974). We had an exciting ride as we missed our connecting ride and added 2 hours to our trip by going west to Gothenberg and then south! So our ride was 9 hours rather than 7 hours!
We toured Trelleborg and Malmo in the most southern part of Sweden along with Gail and Heather with Ian as our guide. In Trelleborg, we walked through the downtown and saw where Nelly had gone to school and did some shopping. Everywhere, you see bicycles. It is a mode of transportation for all ages, and there are hundreds of them parked, as well as being ridden. People of all ages!
In Malmo, we did A LOT of walking. We saw the famous Turning Torso, which is a residential/commercial building, along the sea. It is quite spectacular looking and has heavy security.
We looked at the bridge that now connects Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark. It goes above and below the water. 30 years ago, we went by ferry (1 1/2hours) or hydrofoil (3/4 hour) but now this bridge takes you across in 10 minutes. We saw the skateboarder’s park, fishermen’s huts, the old castle from the 1500s, and the old City Square.
Malte took us on a tour of the countryside and showed us many Viking burial sites, showed us where there are excavations going on right now for other Viking remnants. He showed us an old farm site that was in the traditional square- built setting with white-washed walls, thatched roof with wood beams holding the thatching on. We saw old windmills besides new power mills. We saw old churches. The fields had crops in them with a unique type of cropped willow tree as a wind break between the rows. Red poppy flowers were sprouting amongst the rows of willow trees.
It was very fun to hear Ian speaking so much Swedish with everyone. He has picked up so much of the language and is talking as much as possible. He takes lessons 4 hours each day, and it definitely is making a difference for him.
Wednesday Heather and Gail left for Stockholm by train, and I left for Copenhagen by train. From there, it was Paris followed by Cairo. I was eager to get back as I had been cold the entire time I was in Sweden! I usually had 2 long sleeve shirts/sweaters on and a sweatshirt on. And sure enough, I get back, and I take off my sweatshirt and feel like it is comfortable! I must be adapting to the heat.
To be back in Cairo…..the traffic is out of control, and there are honks blowing everywhere and people walking on the highway and crowds everywhere. Aah, I’m back in Cairo!
Craig was very busy while I was gone with school issues, and with driving solo! I knew he was destined to be a bumper car driver! He has definitely enjoyed this driving more than he should be! He is driving to and from school solo now. After a week with school driver Faiz, who spoke only Arabic, showing him the landmarks, as most signs are in Arabic, and how to drive aggressively, he feels he can make it. He has described it to some as bumper cars and go-cart racing combined. As Emily said, “there is a flow, just find it” as he glides across 4 lanes in a half block to u-turn and does it again the opposite direction to get his right turn home. The goal is to move quickly and be first to the spot. Always look forward and peripheral but not behind, and GO. Do not turn sideways to check!
His first solo day encountered 3 manhole covers missing that were there the day before, one family of 4 on a small motorcycle, taxis or mini buses stopping in the middle of the street to drop off or pickup at will, two spots where locals removed the government barriers to prevent cross traffic on this major road, two donkey carts with loads, motorcycles and mopeds weaving to any open spot, two vehicles coming the wrong way, and two jerks trying to be first too. But as he said, he survived!
We are sending pictures of the traffic in Cairo. There are pictures that show the heavy traffic with several lanes in a road that are really made for only 2 lanes. Instead, there are at least 3-4 cars/buses/donkeys/walkers/bikers/motorcycles all playing chicken to use those lanes. Their way of getting their way is to honk and keep nosing their way into place, hoping that the other cars will let them in. Sometimes they will go the wrong way on the street, sometimes they will just decide to do a U-turn in a lane, sometimes they will just plain stop in the middle of the road to let someone out and everyone needs to be prepared to stop as well. Most times the drivers don’t use their turn signals. Many times they don’t use headlights, even in the middle of the night.
If there are roadblocks and they disagree with it, they will remove the roadblocks so they can get to where they want to go. If they need to run into a store, they just double park somewhere and leave the car running. If someone needs to move it they can, the keys are there.
It is quite common to drive with only an inch between you and the next vehicle, and to have your side view mirror hit as you drive by slowly trying to inch your way through a very narrow space on the extremely tight street. Every day of driving is an adventure. I don’t want to drive myself, but I thoroughly enjoy driving with my driver, Khaleed. As he says. he has been a driver for 22 years, and he knows all of Egypt like the veins of his feet. I just close my eyes and say a prayer and trust he knows much more than I do.
Today we will go to the Tentmaker’s area and also to Khan al-Khalili, both very famous shopping areas in old Cairo. We’ll update you soon.
Craig and Terry
Click the following link for the first installment of CRAIG PAUL AND TERRY PAUL: Living in Egypt – Part 1.
Wayzata.com is your Craig and Terry Paul leader.