I spend the next few days getting to know my way around. I meet the other students, Sophia, Alice Elisabetha and Monica from Italy and Joanne from England. I am the only beginner. Since Joanne is not a common name in Germany it's the first time I meet another Joanne, and it amuses me big time. She takes me to meet a friend of her, another Hamada, on the westbank, and we spend the day in the garden drinking coffee.
English Jo and Westbank Hamada
As it gets dark, Zahwa rings me, but I can't work out what she wants from me. When I get home around nine I find out that she was worried about me, thinking I had got lost and couldn't find my way home anymore. She has also taken to buying me sweets. When she comes back from her evening classes she always has a chocolate bar for me. I do get lost in Luxor, but that is no serious problem. There aren't really many streets, and only a few major streets. The family lives in one of those minor streets that don't even have a name, off a parallel street of Television Street. I could just take the taxi to school and back every day, but I find it more interesting to walk and explore the streets. Since they all look exatcly the same I give the streets names, to help myself orientate myself. In one street I spot that they keep chickens on the roof of a five storey house, so that Street is Chicken Street. The egyptian men are very much in my face, but I don't think they realise that they're annoying. I think they sincerely believe what they do is regular western behaviour. They're not dangerous, I just walk on and the worst that happens is that I'm late for tea. The dirt in the streets is incredible. At one point when I explored the Christian Quarters I caught myself standing in a dead rat. Since I have all the necessary vaccinations I don't worry about myself in all that dirt, but the amount of litter does make me feel very uncomfortable.
The two Jos
View vom the roof top restaurant
The staff of the school and the other students show me some places to go out. English Jo takes me to a beautiful roof café with a stunning view over the temple, the Nile and the westbank, and we all go for a meal in another really beautiful restaurant. I took my mum to Luxor last November and in my mind I already collect places to go and eat or to shop or to show her when I take her to Egypt again.
In the family and in the school they ignore my name. I'm used to people not knowing how to pronounce my name from the provincial town where I grew up and am well trained to answering to literally anything. Here Mona calls me Julia or Joli, Johann, Jehann or Jeehann. Sayid calls me Jeejee. In the school it gets confusing as English Jo and I are both Johann. The internet in the school comes and goes, in the flat the computer dies and sometimes the electricity goes completely. When I open the window the whole quarter is dark, that is really dark. That doesn't stop the drivers from driving through the streets with no lights on, but I'm safe and sound up here and can just see a stretch of the sky with Orion in it above. Usually electricity is back quickly enough. I nick the internet cable in the flat so I can at least chat with Mitja and my mum. Without the support from them I wouldn't have lasted the first days here.
I start to adjust to life in the family and to adjust the flat to me. I change my rock of a pillow for some really soft cushions and at last manage to sleep better. The noise in the streets at night is incredible. The family stays up until 2 or 3 in the morning everyday. They don't seem to need any sleep at all, because they get up at 6 in the morning. But then of course you don't need too much energy for cooking, washing, watching telly and smoking. Some nights when I wake up and go to the bathroom I cross the living room where Hamada is sleeping and I find out that he even sleeps with the telly on. The sound is off, but the pictures are still on. I wonder why he does that. Zahwa is the only one who sleeps for hours. When I get up and turn the light on she just crawls underneath her blanket, tiny thing that she is, and stays there. When I come back from my lessons between noon and one she still sleeps. One night I am trying to sleep while the family is watching telly in the other room. Then I hear Mona shout Zahwas name and I think that she knows that I'm trying to sleep here and that she could really try and be a little les noisy. Zahwa gets up to see what her mother wants and comes back with a cough syrup. Turns out Mona has heard me cough and wants to help. After that Zahwa makes me herb tea, anise, everyday. I still need to get out of the house for long periods every day. But I think that's normal, I just need some time to myself. Apart from that I seem to get used to this world.