Joy of joys!!! We got the word last week that our “UAB” shipment had arrived! This was the smaller “unaccompanied baggage” shipment that was restricted to a mere 400 pounds. The rest of our stuff is still slated to arrive in July, around the time that we move to our permanent housing.
We patiently waited for the okay from the shipping division that our UAB had cleared customs – or rather, I pestered Ron daily to check, knowing it would happen when it happened. He got the word and arranged with the delivery team to come when I would be home – so we were set for Wednesday, at 9:00am. So exciting!
At 5:15am on Wednesday we were awoken by a ringing telephone. It was Mr. Gamal, the guard at the front gate saying that we had a delivery. Ron got dressed and stumbled downstairs. After some sleep-affected discussions, and group musings whether the boxes should be x-rayed for security, Ron cleared the 5am fog and realized it was our “9am” UAB delivery so he accepted the packages and they were brought up. (This is a perfect example of how Egypt works – and I say that with complete love and resigned acceptance – though I did fully expect them to be hours late, not early.) I corralled the felines in their sunroom so we could open the door without any feline-door-darting games and the deliverymen slid two huge boxes into our house. One was marked “180 pounds.” Yikes!
Ron showered and stumbled off to work early, since he was up, and I dug in to the task at hand. It isn’t specifically a “Dip Wife” duty, but I figured I really had no excuse not to do it (my bon-bon order wasn’t slated to arrive until after my massage at 2 o’clock anyway).
The boxes were full of more boxes or items wrapped in heavy brown paper. The boxes were so big that in order to get the last box out of the bottom, I had to lay the large box on its side and literally climb in to grab this last box and drag it out with me backwards. Nice picture (“Dip wife in action”).
Everything was labeled, but I still found myself completely clueless as to what we had selected for this delivery. We were hoping our entire DVD collection was here, as we couldn’t really remember where we’d put it (it was neatly packed in this delivery – yeah). There were some clothes, another set of sheets (no towels, but I swear I put them in), a tool box, our video camera and my still camera accessories and lenses, ipod speakers, the Wii, a box of blank disks (with my “UAB” label on them – why??), a container of miscellaneous wires and plugs (again, labeled and why??), and a very eclectic range of kitchen items. These included the obvious, kettle, coffeemaker, espresso maker, some glasses and mugs, spices, some bowls, silverware, and three small plates (no dinner plates though, no idea where my brain was at that moment). In the not-so-obvious category, I chose to send cupcake wrappers, frilled toothpicks, a nutcracker, red and green colored sugar (for decorating said wrapped cupcakes), and a half-empty container of tiny silver balls made out of sugar.
Okay, so it’s fairly obvious that I did not understand the concept of a “UAB” shipment. In hindsight, that oh-so-clear visionary tool, the “UAB” shipment should include items needed for basic everyday usage. We are technically required to return our “welcome kit” items now that our “UAB” shipment has arrived, however that would leave us without pillows, blankets, a flashlight (we do get blackouts), a can opener, trashcans, a shower curtain and bathmat for Ron’s bathroom, and extra towels. Luckily though, Ron asked whether we could keep our welcome kit items and return them once our larger, “HHE” shipment arrives. Yeah! I’m still going to use my pots and pans, though.
We learned after-the-fact (good ole hindsight) that deliveries involving large trucks in and around Cairo can only be made between midnight and 8am, as they restrict the trucks from being on the road at other times. Now, wouldn’t you think someone at the Embassy would know this… ??? Well, no need now, we know it.
TAXI TALE: Ron shared a great taxi tale from the other morning when he took a taxi to work. He got in a typically-old taxi, being driven by a typically-old driver and they puttered off up the Corniche to downtown “Garden City” where the embassy is located. He said the issue started when the driver suddenly stopped the cab and started slowly backing up… which is like backing up on the autobahn, bad idea. I’m sure this induced a fair amount of honking from other drivers (note understatement). Then he went forward a little, then back again, and forward. He did this a few more times before Ron realized that he was trying to get his little white cap that had apparently blown off and was flitting about the center of the Corniche. At one point he even opened his door and got out and began chasing the little cap around. He finally grabbed it, got back in the cab, plunked it back on his head irregardless of the tire tracks all over it, and continued on.
The fun continued when Ron noticed that the driver was slowing down again (despite cap remaining on head, and all other clothing apparently in place as well). This time he got out, jacked the car up and changed his tire, which had apparently gone flat (or had been flat since 1976, either way, it was flat). I asked Ron if at this point he got out, paid him for the half-trip, and got another cab. He said no, he felt sorry for the guy and wanted to give him his full fare and was admittedly intrigued by what could possibly happen next. Well the rest of the ride was uneventful and Ron paid him his full fare and a little extra to get a new cap if he so chose.