Pack-in, Pack-out, That’s What it’s all About

Well, we are officially habitating in our “permanent housing” in Zamalek. We’ve been here just over a week, have all our shipped items unpacked (for the most part, just a few “Misc. Ron” boxes which most likely hold the oh-so-necessary 549 electrical cords for any possible device invented), had all (and I do mean all) of our electrical plugs re-wired so they’re actually grounded (the fact that we have to keep doing this in each apartment makes me wonder if, after moving out, the plugs are reverted back to non-grounded for the next tenant), and are awaiting a minor swap-out next week of our dining set and bedroom set (we prefer the style that we had in Maadi and have been told that it’s possible to switch them, so we are). Whew!

The move-in day went relatively smoothly. We had scheduled the movers to be at Zamalek at 6:30am, knowing that they had to get there before 7:00am because of the no-trucks-on-the- road-during-the-day law. At 5:30am we got a call in Maadi from the guards here telling us our truck had arrived. We told them great, and we’d be there in an hour, as scheduled. When we arrived, one guard said to us, “Oh, they’ve been waiting a long time for you.” Snide. I’m no morning person anyway, so this inappropriate comment did not endear this guard to me (and subsequent behavior has kept him on the not-endeared list).

The movers were great! Probably some of the best we’ve had so far, and that’s basically because they brought a lot of men (quantity helps). They unloaded all the crates in the main courtyard then brought the stuff up via the elevators. Since Cairo is technically “furnished” housing, we didn’t have to bring anything in terms of furniture. However, we opted to bring our own bed (and thank goodness we did – the “furnished” one we had in Maadi was like sleeping on a spongy life raft – every time one of us moved, the other had an equal and opposite reaction and I often found myself being hurled about when Ron got into or out of bed), and we brought Ron’s sleeper sofa and a big reading chair, Ron’s desk and a whole slew of bookcases. Ron had heard that we were only allotted two bookcases, and considering the 10,000 pounds of books we had to have with us, he felt we should bring bookcases. Once arriving we realized that while we are initially given two bookcases, we can request more. Oh well, learning continues.

I sat at the dining table, out of the way as the movers piled things up in the apartment. (As you can see, Ron was, as always, a big help – what is it with the ability to recognize fort-potential in any pile of boxes?) Once it was all in, they then proceeded to unpack and unwrap things, put the bed, desk and some bookcases together (the pack-out team had packed the hardware for some of the bookcases in miscellaneous boxes, so it took a few days to find it all) and overall be amazingly helpful. But it did get to the point where they kept asking me where I wanted them to put something they had just unpacked and I truly had no idea. I had to start asking them to NOT unpack boxes, especially in the kitchen, as I hadn’t had time to mentally organize things yet. Plus, we knew we were going to be swapping some furniture, so we really couldn’t put anything away in dressers, the sideboard or hutch. We were delighted to see that our boxes of "loot" had arrived safely, but we were completely perplexed by a box marked, "Head wear and bow rats." It wasn't until I unpacked it that I realized it was a box of hair bows, hair bands and barrettes. Gotta love it.

We continued unpacking a bit until we just pooped out and drove back to Maadi. The plan was to have porters help us the following morning move our stuff from Maadi, and we’d take the cats. Good plan, however at 3:30am we received a phone call from the Zamalek guard (I believe he was the same snide-comment guard from yesterday) asking us if it was okay to release the empty cardboard boxes that were stacked outside our apartment to the moving company who was back to retrieve them. Ron stammered yes, and went back to sleep. I barely remembered the conversation happening at all and had to ask if it was all a dream the following morning.

The portering of our Maadi stuff to Zamalek went without a hitch and while the guys unloaded the big heavy things, Ron and I unloaded the odd loose items from our car, including felines, a free plant I’d acquired, hanging clothes and food. At one point I found myself riding the elevator carrying a cat in a carrier and a bowl of apples and bananas (and maybe an expired mango at the bottom). With everything moved in and cats exploring, Ron and I dove into the task of seeing exactly what we had deemed oh-so-necessary to live with three months ago that we now had forgotten we’d owned.